Now a Blue Dog Democrat gets caught talking chickens for checkups!
Chickens for checkups is back! Only this time, the culprit isn't a Republican. It's a Blue Dog Democrat -- Rep. Ben Chandler of Kentucky.
Chandler is disliked on the left for his opposition to health reform, and this might not help matters: In a conversation with a constituent, Chandler appeared to talk approvingly about bartering chickens for health care.
In an interesting twist, I'm told that Republicans are going to make an issue of it to paint him as out of touch and clueless about health policy. Chandler faces a challenge from Kentucky attorney Andy Barr, and national Republicans view the seat as one of their top pickup opportunities.
Chandler's chickens-for-checkup moment took place in a meeting with constituents in November 2009, and was captured on video by someone present at the meeting.
In the exchange, a woman who identifies herself as a farmer objects to health reform, noting that when she was young, her family didn't have insurance and paid their own way when it came to medical care -- and that this is how it should be.
"They didn't have any kind of health insurance, they went to the doctor, and we paid for the call," the woman tells Chandler. Whereupon he nodded and replied:
"When you didn't have money, you gave him a chicken. You could barter if you didn't have enough money."
Now, this isn't quite Sue Lowden territory. As you'll recall, Lowden endorsed chickens-for-checkups as an appropriate policy response to soaring health care costs. But Chandler -- who, again, voted against health reform -- did seem to cite the idea of bartering chickens for checkups in an approving tone, as if it represented a real salt-of-the-earth alternative to having insurance.
The Chandler campaign dismissed the significance of this, sending me a statement: "Yes, and of course before we had electricity, people burned oil lamps. Before we had automobiles, people used horse transport."
But Republicans plan to pounce on this as proof of Chandler's unseriousness, and they're curious to see whether it will gain anywhere near the traction that Lowden's chickens-for-checkups tale did.
It seems everyone wants a piece of that chickens-for-checkups magic!
UPDATE, 3:37 p.m.: The Chandler campaign sends over another statement clarifying what he meant:
"Congressman Chandler was noting a rural historical practice first raised in conversation by a constituent. His comments had nothing to do with the present healthcare debate. To claim otherwise is a distortion of the truth."
July 27, 2010; 1:57 PM ET
Categories: 2010 elections , Health reform
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