Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder showed up at the annual Medina County Republican ice cream social last week - and let me be the first to say there is nothing untoward about a political leader casually spending Sunday afternoon schmoozing with his Republican friends and contributors.
But according to the Medina Gazette, his hometown paper, he didn't let the opportunity pass without damning President Obama on count after count, hitting more of his constituents' sweet spots than a triple dip chocolate sundae. (The paper reported 60 of the party's disciples were there to greet him,which seems like a spare number in a county teeming with GOP worshippers.)
Batchelder, a man of considerable wealth who has been tip-toeing on expanding Medicaid, focused particularly on Obamacare to his crowd, a word that serves as the Republicans' open sesame to everything from the Great Depression to swine flu.
The Gazette said Batchelder asserted that the Big O was responsible for massive cutbacks at Cleveland Clinic. "I've been amazed at what happens up in Cleveland," he said. "One of the very best medical centers in the world, the Cleveland Clinic is laying off 3,000 employes because of the impact of Obamacare on that hospital."
Batchelder may have been prompted by something reported on Fox News, whose host Greta Van Susteren, later retracted the story by saying it was possible that her network had taken something out of context.
The Clinic quickly responded with its own disclaimer to Batchelder's empty charge. Eileen Sheil, the Clinic's executive director of Corporate Communications, applied the coup de gras to Batchelder's spin by noting to another publication: "We've been working on reducing costs for years...We felt health-care reform was absolutely necessary."
Batchelder is term-limited and said he might return to his 182-acre farm in Medina County.
We can hope.