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The Return of “Harry and Louise”

There’s something a bit bizarre about a new ad that will start airing this weekend. It’s the return of “Harry and Louise,” the couple that the health insurance lobby featured in an ad blitz ($14 million) back in 1993 and 1994 to defeat President Clinton’s healthcare reform plan.

In the new spot, financed by Phrma and Families USA, the latter a group that advocates for affordable coverage for families, Harry and Louise now argue for healthcare reform.

We’ve known this was coming, as they also appeared in spots that aired during the Democratic and Republican convention. What’s ironic is what they say. “It looks like we may finally get healthcare reform,” Harry says. To which Louise replies, “It’s about time.” It is about time, and you could argue that Harry and Louise have had a big hand in the 15-year delay. Their ads proved so effective back then that Bill and Hillary Clinton even took to doing their own spoof of the couple.

On Wednesday, the actors who play Harry and Louise, Louise Caire Clark and Harry Johnson, appeared at a Senate event to mark the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions committee passage of a reform bill. They are both about to enter their senior years — and therefore eligible for Medicare — so perhaps the idea of universal coverage is something that is a lot more pressing in their personal lives. They told the AP that they supported President Clinton back then, but had doubts about his proposal

“With a little more cooperation, and a little less politics, we can get the job done this time,” Louise tells Harry. Translation: Politics can screw it up, but an encore from two veteran propagandists won’t hurt.


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