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U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill has been a prosecutor, a state legislator and Missouri’s chief fiscal watchdog.

But she drew on family to set the tone and win over a potentially antagonistic crowd at a health care forum Tuesday in Jefferson County.


After several rounds of initial boos and more than a few interruptions, the crowd seemed to warm to McCaskill’s mix of frank talk and tough love.

In the end, McCaskill presided over the two-hour forum mostly without incident – there was one arrest – and left to collegial applause.

The crowd who believe that “Obama is a Nazi who wants to kill your grandma and make you pay for abortions”; who booed Claire for pointing out that states with strong tort reform, like Missouri and Texas, still suffer from rising health care premiums; who jeered when she said that V.A. and Medicare recipients like their care (“It’s a broken system!”) did not, excuse me, “warm” to Claire McCaskill.

She sufficiently defused their fury to prevent a riot. That’s not Kumbaya. About halfway through the event, for example, the euthanasia nonsense came up, and Claire did a masterful job of describing a study done at the Mayo Clinic of people facing end of life issues. The Clinic very consciously made sure that patients and their families knew exactly what was taking place in their bodies and in their treatment. The study compared how satisfied those patients were to patients facing similar circumstances at UCLA and found, of course, that the Mayo Clinic patients were more satisfied. It also found that Mayo Clinic patients spent half as much on end of life care. The sort of explanation that the Mayo Clinic patients got is what the bill provides for. It reimburses doctors for the time spent conferring with patients.

The crowd took Claire’s description pretty calmly, though one man near me yelled, “Then why has Mayo come out against the bill?”

But that subject was a lead in for Claire to talk about fair treatment for seniors:

“One of the groups that’s most important to anybody to get elected, anybody, the most reliable, the most upstanding, the most sought after (inaudible) in America are our seniors. Do you think I would kick seniors in the knees? Really? I would not.”

The wingers went nutballs over that question. After the furor died down, Claire asserted that the public option will not turn into single payer. The teabaggers got hot about that statement, but getting hot is not the same thing as warming to her. Listen for yourself to their reactions on both points. (Please excuse the dizzying camerawork.)

To say that the crowd “warmed” to Claire is like saying that a kindergarten teacher calmed Bobby down. Yesterday, he hit five kids and broke ten toys. Today, he only hit three and broke five toys.

Treat yourself to Angry Black Bitch’s take on yesterday. She’d agree with me. “Warmed” to Claire? Their version of warming to a liberal is not to harm her physically. (And Claire isn’t even that liberal. She’s centrist.)