DailyKos Exploits Conservative Writer's Illness to Score Political Points

Every once and a while in American politics you read a story that breaks the mold and, in doing so, warms your heart. On the surface, that is the case with this story: A conservative and liberal blog joining forces to help an ailing conservative blogger. 

Except there's more. While the liberal DailyKos did the right thing by appealing for help for the former RedState editor Caleb Howe, if you read some DailyKos blog posts you can't help but get the feeling that they exploited a horrible situation in order to score political points.

You see, Howe — now in critical condition with a failing liver — is uninsured. For obvious reasons, many liberals couldn't help but point out the irony of an uninsured conservative blogger who had previously ranted against Obamacare now being in a position where he would have benefited from it. As DailyKos blogger SemDem wrote, "I could rant about the irony, or the fact that conservatives elected in NC rejected the very Medicaid expansion that could have helped him — along with a half-million other North Carolinians with NO insurance. (Not to mention helping to prevent the skyrocketing state spending for uncompensated medical care.)" 

In his original DailyKos blog post — which has been edited — he went on to attack Caleb's friend and RedState editor Erick Erickson. He also commented in a rather distasteful manner on a RedState blog post asking for help for Caleb's family, blaming Erick for not paying "a decent wage" (RedState doesn't pay wages, but relies on volunteer bloggers) and calling our "insurance-based health care system" trash. 

Leaving no doubt that his rant and perhaps even the DailyKos donations were politically motivated, SemDem wrote (after a half-hearted retraction of the harsh language he'd prevously had for Erick Erickson), "I seriously doubt a self-righteous conservative would ever do this [donate money] for one of our members." 

A few of you probably know that I'm pretty darned liberal. But to exploit Caleb's illness, to use the illness of a man with a wife and two daughters in such a manner, to comment in a community this man was a part of and, in the midst of comments asking for compassion and prayers for Caleb, to post an ill-timed political rant, seems like a step too far. The fact that DailyKos is helping out Caleb is great; but its motives, from everything I have read, are not pure. Whatever one's political feelings on the matter, you can't help but feel disgusted with the way DailyKos appealed for help. SemDem and the DailyKos could have chosen to show true compassion; instead, they exploited a crisis. No matter how much money they raise for Howe, they've already tainted the giving.

Whatever the case, SemDem eventually relented, writing to Caleb, "I will say that you are in our prayers, get well, and I hope to engage in Twitter arguements [sic] with you soon." 

We here at PolicyMic can wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. Get well soon, Caleb!

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Michael Shammas

Second-year Harvard Law student, politico, Breaking Bad fan, cynical idealist, coffee addict, & Duke sports fanatic. Contact me at mshammas@jd16.law.harvard.edu.

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