I was wondering whether or not news behind this weekend's vote on health care reform in the House of Representatives would lead to an early Chutzpah of the Week award. The good news is that I was right: It was pretty easy for find grounds for the award. The bad news, as one might guess from what actually came out of the House, is that this is an award for the negative connotation of chutzpah. Even so, the recipients are those who voted against the bill, even after interfering with watering down the version actually put to a vote.
Once again, I have The Notion, the blog site maintained by The Nation, to thank for digging up the material on which I can base my award. Today the useful post came from Ari Berman:
The New York Times has an excellent graphic up today profiling the 39 Democrats who voted against healthcare reform in the House of Representatives on Saturday night. The Times notes that 31 of these Democrats represent districts won by John McCain, as if that's a sufficient excuse. But take a closer look at the numbers. Paradoxically, those Democrats voting against healthcare reform represent constituents most in need of health insurance.
Dan Boren of Oklahoma, arguably the most conservative Democrat in Congress, leads the way. Twenty-nine percent of his non-elderly constituents lack health insurance. He's followed by Harry Teague of New Mexico (25 percent uninsured), Waco's Chet Edwards (23 percent), North Carolinians Mike McIntyre (23 percent) and Heath Shuler (21 percent), Blue Dog leader Mike Ross (22 percent) and fellow Southerners Gene Taylor (22 percent), Jim Marshall (22 percent) and John Barrow (21 percent).
Needless to say, the Chutzpah of the Week award will be shared by the nine Democrats enumerated in that second paragraph for betraying the needs of their constituents, many of whom probably put them in office in that spirit of change that Barack Obama had invoked in everyone's hearts on Election Day. These are all individuals who would rather sell out to the influence of the highest bidder than give their constituents the fair shake they deserve. That is chutzpah enough for me; and, since it emphasizes just how difficult it will be to reform our pathetically broken health care system, these guys (and, yes, they are all men) deserve to share the Chutzpah of the Week award.