Gary Peters' Shameful War on a Brave Woman

Powerful allies are helping this Senate hopeful silence a woman and her health care story.

Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., addresses supporters during the Michigan Democratic election night party at the MGM Grand Detroit.

Gary Peters wants to be a U.S. Senator, and the price is vilifying one woman for her courage.

By + More

U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., wants to be a United States senator, but he has a problem. He’s engaged in a “war on women” – make that a single woman – whom he’s trying to silence because he doesn’t like the story she has to tell.

Her name is Julie Boonstra. She’s a Michigan mother currently battling leukemia. Her medical coverage has been adversely affected by the onset of Obamacare. She’s had the courage to let people know about her struggle by speaking truth to power in an ad sponsored by Americans for Prosperity’s chapter in her state.

“My insurance was canceled because of Obamacare. Now the out-of-pocket costs are so high, it’s unaffordable,” Boonstra says. “I believed the president. I believed I could keep my health insurance plan. I feel lied to. It’s heartbreaking for me. Congressman Peters, your decision to vote for Obamacare jeopardized my health.”

[See a collection of political cartoons on Obamacare.]

For her courage in speaking out she is being vilified by those who argue she is simply not telling the truth. Peters, citing a so-called “fact checking” by the Washington Post, is trying to shut her up by having his lawyers send letters to television stations around the state telling them to demand more proof of what she says or pull the ad.

What Boonstra is saying about her experience with Obamacare is not helpful to Peters’ ambition to fill the seat of fellow Democrat Carl Levin in the U.S. Senate. To win the point, he is relying on the observations, conclusions and judgments of the same kind of people who – if you can remember back that far – took far too long to figure out that former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney was not, as once charged, responsible for a different woman’s death from cancer.

This is not the first time the national media has ridden to Peters’ rescue. The New York Times editorial board criticized a previous Americans for Prosperity ad about Peters' vote for Obamacare, a strange bit of business considering he’s not going to be on the Empire State's ballot. For the Times, the issue involved not just what the ad said but the so-called “dark money” behind it. In its commentary, the paper questioned the motivations of those who paid to put the ad on the air in Michigan and waxed grandiloquent about the corrupting nature such ads have on the political process as opposed to, say, misleading or inaccurate editorials in the New York Times.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

If it weren’t for AFP-Michigan, probably no one would have heard Julie’s story. The public wouldn’t know about this mother struggling to raise a family while battling cancer and the way that a law that was supposed to help her, a law she believed would help her, actually made her life much more difficult. No one would know and, given the life or death issues involved, shouldn’t everyone?

It’s a story the New York Times or the Washington Post should have uncovered on its own and put on the front page above the fold. That it took the efforts of an outside actor, a third party group engaged in the intellectual and policy debates defining politics in America today, to bring the story out is a reason for the Times and the Post to take a good hard look at themselves rather than the ad’s sponsors. By making excuses for Obama and the Affordable Care Act, by trying to find ways to split hairs in order to disguise the harm this law has done to the American people, they are doing everyone a disservice. That they are also behaving in a way that insulates Democratic candidates for office betrays their bias and removes the aura of neutral observer from their tarnished journalistic halos.

Gary Peters wants to be a U.S. senator. He’s involved his lawyers and is getting assistance from powerful allies in the media to help get his prize. The price is to silence one woman brave enough to call him out on his vote for Obamacare because of what it did to her. Julie Boonstra deserves a medal for what she is doing. Peters should hang his head in shame.