In the interview I did with Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley last month, she expressed the unabashed truth about the health care debate on a topic that is usually nuanced to death or sold as inconsequential by other politicians. That Coakley drew a line in the sand shouldn't shock anyone, because she's not afraid to stand on a line for principle. Women also know this issue all too well, because it's not just political for us, it's also personal.
I have no idea why Politico chose to frame the Massachusetts race for Ted Kennedy's seat as it "fizzles," because Coakley's is another voice very important to the larger debate on health care, which makes this special election next Tuesday actually very important. Especially with senators like Ben Nelson and Russ Feingold choosing just yesterday to vote against women, which inspired a very terse remark to Feingold's office from me.
Coakley on the importance of retaining women's access to full reproductive health care.
Coakley was more explicit at a debate Tuesday when an opponent, Celtics co-owner and former private equity executive Steven Pagliuca, criticized her for having said she would have opposed the House-passed health care bill because of the abortion restrictions it included.
"Steve," Coakley responded, before pausing for a moment. "It's personal with me, and it's personal with every woman who's in this, who's watching this."
Well, almost every woman. Except, of course, the first female Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who sees voting against a health care bill that strips women of rights already won as an "excuse," Pelosi preferring to get a "win" for the sake of winning, never mind the content of what's included.
Remember, it wasn't until just yesterday that Sen. Mikulski got preventive coverage for women put into the health care package through her amendment, making sure we could get preventative mammograms and other life saving exams like pap smears as part of the package.
And once again, Speaker Pelosi is ignoring the tough fighting woman in the Massachusetts race in order to put her full weight behind Rep. Michael Capuano, someone who also is more interested in a "win" than what that health care win would actually mean, especially to women. Of course, the incumbency racket is what Pelosi is charged with protecting. Remember that Pelosi also stood behind incumbent Al Wynn against a phenomenal female candidate Donna Edwards. Pelosi lost and she deserves to lose in Massachusetts too, as far as I'm concerned.
When you think about men like Sen. Ben Nelson and even Sen. Russ Feingold voting against women on issues of preventative health, the last thing Democrats need is another politician in the Senate who has priorities like Pelosi. From all I've seen, maybe Rep. Capuano is a nice guy, but he's just another "win" for the sake of winning health care politician, with few principles involved in his decision making process, let alone imperatives that make him committed to women getting full coverage of preventative health care exams that could save our lives.
Martha Coakley is someone who would stand up for health care imperatives and put principle on the line, regardless of what leaders like Pelosi are trying to sell. In other words, Coakley is actually the leader on issues impacting people, whereas politicians like Pelosi and Capuano want to give Democrats a health care "win" just for the sake of winning. Never mind what we actually get for their efforts.