MSNBC’s 'Countdown' Plays Hurricane Katrina Card in Health Care Debate

Remember those free health care clinics MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow played up back in October after Olbermann's hour-long "Special Comment," about Republican opposition to ObamaCare and/or PelosiCare?

Well, now it's time for their brand of AstroTurf to be put into action. On MSNBC's Nov. 13 "Countdown," fill-in host Lawrence O'Donnell raised the issue about the potential opposition Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., might have over the current health care legislation being debated in the U.S. Senate. And, Landrieu so happens to represent Louisiana, the site of one of Olbermann's politicized free health care clinics.

"Republicans, in a new ad, are targeting conservative Democrat Mary Landrieu of Louisiana for indicating she might, might, allow health care to come up for up or down vote on the Senate floor," O'Donnell said.

O'Donnell's labeling of Landrieu as a "conservative" Democrat is hardly honest. Landrieu has a low "conservative" rating according to the American Conservative Union, and might more appropriately be called a moderate. But O'Donnell decided a proper comparison to the current health care gridlock to make would be the debate over judges senatorial Democrats tried blocked in 2005 and the current situation and he compared to video advertisements.

"Of course, Republicans also put out ads arguing for exactly this kind of flip-flop when they wanted Democrats to allow up or down votes on things Republicans wanted, namely judges," O'Donnell continued.

But the key difference - a compromise was eventually reached when the infamous "Gang of 14" intervened and brokered a deal. The Republican threats of a nuclear option never came to fruition, making O'Donnell's point moot.

Dr. Corey Herbert, the medical director and volunteer for the clinic, that will do some good no doubt, but has also been used as a political tool by Olbermann and others at MSNBC, was one of O'Donnell's guests. He invoked Hurricane Katrina into the discussion.

"Well, it's so important for this city, number one," Herbert said, as footage from the New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina played. "This facility was the place so many people died four years ago. Now, four years later we are giving life to this city. This is so important."

O'Donnell asked his other guest, Nicole Lamoreaux, the executive director of the National Association of Free Clinics, if she thought Olbermann's vision - if she though this would sway Landrieu in favor of a Democratic version of health care reform.

"Nicole, one of the reasons Keith wanted to do this in New Orleans was precisely so that Sen. Landrieu how real this need is in her home state," O'Donnell said. "Now she has Republicans telling her to block a vote on health care reform. What message did you think tomorrow has for Sen. Landrieu?"

Lamoreaux took the high road, sort of - but she emphasized the larger point was to get more people involved in her initiative.

"Well, I think what message we have, not just for the Senator, but every member of Congress, is while you're discussing health care and you're having this debate, there are people every single day providing quality health care to those people who need it," Lamoreaux said. "So there are opportunities right now for people to get involved in. I think that's the first most important message while everyone else is talking about the debate."