Remember Dick Gephardt? Longtime Missouri Democratic congressman? Styled himself as an enemy of the status quo and warrior against the “special interests?” Well, it seems he’s crossed over to the dark side.
Writing about a Gephardt op-ed that appeared in the Huffington Post attacking a vitally important element of the Affordable Care Act, specifically the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), Sebastian Jones of the Washington Monthly notes that the HuffPo somehow failed to indicate Gephardt’s status as a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry. Big Pharma is, of course, fervently dedicated to gutting the IPAB and Gephardt’s little disquisition hewed closely to industry talking points.
Jones’ article lays into both Gephardt and the Huffington Post, but is notable for the level of contempt it directs at Gephardt:
… Gephardt’s real value as a lobbyist is his ability to approach and solicit support from progressives in ways that big banks, the pharmaceutical industry or coal companies could not dream of doing on their own. Even if he fails to win over liberal constituencies, Gephardt’s agitating pays for itself by muddying the waters and sowing confusion in liberal ranks. This was what has made his sellout so complete: he is not simply putting a price tag on his ideals, he is selling the reputational capital he spent years accruing among progressives and using it to manipulate the people who have come to trust him.
This guy, along with lots of Missouri Democrats, thought he had what it takes to be president. And that’s not all – in his primary bid in 2004 Gephardt proclaimed universal health care “the moral issue of our time.” A few years and mucho drug dollars later, he’s trying to gut health care reform. I’m not sure if there’s a lesson here, something about the inherent moral squishiness of centrist Democrats, or, on a more abstract level, the nature of politics and politicians and the corrupting influence of money on same, but I am sure that it’s a sad spectacle any way you look at it.