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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Marcelas Owens

Tavis Smiley spent the weekend trying to convince African Americans, in Barack Obama's hometown of Chicago no less, that the president wasn't doing enough for black people. His efforts coincided with the triumph of the most important social legislation in nearly half a century. Conservatives are as thrilled with Smiley's efforts as they are disgusted with Marcelas Owens'.
That little boy standing at President Obama’s right hand as he signed health care reform legislation into law is, somewhat improbably, one of the nation’s preeminent reform advocates. Marcelas Owens, 11, has been sharing the story of his mother since she died in 2007, uninsured and unable to afford treatment for pulmonary hypertension, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. “I'm signing it for 11-year-old Marcelas Owens,” Obama said of the bill.

“In her memory he has told her story across America so that no other children would have to go through what his family has experienced,” the president continued as Marcelas looked on. The White House website describes the Seattle fifth-grader as “a nationally recognized spokesperson for health care reform,” according the Seattle Times.

Tavis Smiley's bedfellows, are, predictably, furious:
Conservative talk show hosts and columnists have ridiculed an 11-year-old Washington state boy's account of his mother's death as a "sob story" exploited by the White House and congressional Democrats like a "kiddie shield" to defend their health care legislation.

Marcelas Owens, whose mother got sick, lost her job, lost her health insurance and died, said Thursday he's taking the attacks from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin in stride.
"My mother always taught me they can have their own opinion but that doesn't mean they are right," Marcelas, who lives in Seattle, said in an interview.

Marcelas' grandmother, Gina, who watched her daughter die, isn't quite so generous.

"These are adults, and he is an 11-year-old boy who lost his mother," Gina Owens said. "They should be ashamed."
After the signing, Marcelas said “It's tough not having my mom around. But she's been with me in spirit every time I talk. I hope I've made her proud.”

That, he surely has.

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