Healthcare.gov Firm Wins Award for … Keeping People off Healthcare.gov

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Oct. 22 2013 5:09 PM

Healthcare.gov Firm Wins Award for … Keeping People off Healthcare.gov

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As far as Generation Opportunity's concerned, these healthcare.gov error messages are a win for America.

Photo by KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

The best offense is to get your opponent to punch himself in the face. This is lesson No. 1 from healthcare.gov’s generally disastrous deployment.

Lesson No. 2 may be not to trust Canadian firms to deploy your namesake legislation. One anti-Obamacare organization, Generation Opportunity—which apparently thinks very little of previous generations—is happy to emphasize that second moral of the story.

So happy, in fact, that it’s bestowing on CGI Federal, the American subsidiary of the Canadian firm behind healthcare.gov’s deployment, the “first ever Youth Defender Award … for doing more than anyone to date to save young people” from Obamacare.

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And yes, this is the same group behind the stunningly rape-y commercials that recently lit up the country’s collective gag reflex by putting Uncle Sam in a gynecological exam room.  

I spoke to David Pasch, Generation Opportunity’s director of communications, to learn more about the organization’s plans. Pasch told me that they “have plans to give CGI Federal the award in person in the near future,” which feels rather Michael Moore-esque—a comparison the group would surely shudder at.

Whatever your opinion on Generation Opportunity’s media campaigns, the ads are getting in front of people. It launched the two “Creepy Uncle Sam” ads on Sept. 19—and now have more than 3.5 million hits between YouTube and Facebook. Given the predecessors of this campaign, perhaps the right has finally found an answer to the left’s Daily Show spitballs in the form of viral marketing.

I asked Pasch if there were any numbers regarding the favorability of those views. He said they don’t have any to share. The two Creepy Uncle Sam ads—one is aimed at vaginas, the other at prostates—have an aggregate 5,468 thumbs downs and 4,058 thumbs ups.

Generation Opportunity’s guerilla campaigns have been criticized by some as a Koch brothers’ venture. Pasch points out that Generation Opportunity doesn’t disclose its donors, but does note that “[i]t isn’t any one organization or individual.” He continued by saying that while their donors are “free to talk about their contributions to us any time,” Generation Opportunity “respect[s] their anonymity.” He’s also quick to point out that he sympathizes with that wish, considering recent scandals regarding IRS targeting groups critical of the government.

“In an era in which the IRS is targeting political opponents of the administration, I can understand why some of them would not want to disclose their contributions,” said Pasch.

Oh, and the group is running a video contest for people who want to replicate Creepy Uncle Sam—and it’ll send you a free mask for you to do it with. And you thought you didn’t have any plans for Friday night.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Sean Vitka holds a J.D. from Boston College Law School. He was a legal fellow at the Open Technology Institute and a Google Policy Fellow at Georgetown Law.

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