Archive for August 11th, 2009

Louise: ‘We Can Get the Job Done This Time’

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Louise Caire Clark, better known as just “Louise,” starred in the “Harry and Louise” ads that helped kill Bill Clinton’s health care reform in 1994.

Remember her?

Louise, it turns out, is going Robert McNamara on us. In an interview with Judith Warner of the NY Times, Louise says she “always wanted reform” and “felt bad it didn’t happen.” She’s actually a fan of socialized medicine, and had campaigned door-to-door for Clinton in 1992. In 1993, she was a single mother of two, trying to finish college, and living in fear of losing her health care insurance, when she showed up and read the script for the anti-health reform ad. She very nearly walked off the set.

“I was in a very bad mood,” she recalled. “I was going to make as much as it would cost to pay a baby sitter for the day. I got a script and said, ‘Whoa, Houston, we have a problem.’ I had to stop production to have the director explain to me who was funding it and what they were trying to do.”

The director was the political consultant Ben Goddard. He told Clark that the ads were being paid for by the Health Insurance Association of America. But, he said, the insurance lobby’s goal was merely to “open communications with the White House, to bring everyone in,” she recalls.

“He said, ‘It’s just one ad, and everybody knows there’s going to be health reform.”

She needed the money, apparently. So she played the part. And played it well. So well, in fact, that it killed her acting career — she became too widely recognized as the face of the anti-reform effort. (She did wind up marrying the director; every thorn has its rose, I guess.)

She’s in a new ad this time around, “Get the Job Done,” sponsored by a trade group representing drug makers and a nonprofit advocating affordable medical care.

In the new ad, Harry drops a newspaper in front of Louise, sitting at the kitchen table, and says: “Well, it looks like we may finally get health care reform.”

“It’s about time,” Louise answers. At the end, she concludes: “A little more cooperation, a little less politics, and we can get the job done this time.”

I think it would have been more effective, frankly, if, instead of having Harry and Louise act out a new tableau, the actors had done a confessional, explaining that they erred in doing the ads against reform 15 years ago, they regretted their role, and were now fighting for President Obama’s reform effort.

When I went to YouTube to watch the ad, though, it immediately became clear that it had gotten under the skin of one viewer, who wrote:

What the fuck do these two oldsters know about anything? When the fuck is this whole goddamned “Big Chill”? generation gonna fuck off and die??? Let two young people talk about how IT IS NOT UP TO THEIR NEIGHBORS TO PAY FOR THEIR HEALTH CARE!!! FUCK YOU, HARRY AND LOUISE!!!!! JUST SAY NO TO BIG GOVERNMENT!!!!!!

I don’t know who the poster was, but it’s safe to assume it was not Paul Krugman, the nobel prize winning economist, who began his column this morning:

It seems that we aren’t going to have a second Great Depression after all. What saved us? The answer, basically, is Big Government.

So why don’t we all just say no to people who put their heads in the sand, blinding themselves to reality.

Take it from Louise Caire Clark — it doesn’t end well.