In an interview with TPMmuckraker this morning, McKalip says that the e-mail has so far gone to about 200 people, including many who had called him a racist. Asked whether the e-mail marks a shift in emphasis -- from critiquing an expanded role for government in health care, to a focus on corporations -- he said, "this has always been my position, that giving control of our health care over to corporate America is bad."
McKalip acknowledges, however, that he wouldn't agree with Howard Dean -- whom he quotes in the e-mail, along with Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald and MSNBC talker Ed Schultz -- on some points of health care policy, like single-payer.
It's not clear how well the gambit is working. One recipient of the e-mail tells TPM that he was at once amused and appalled that McKalip spelled the president's name "Barak Obama."
In an effort to salve the bad feelings engendered by the Obama-as-witch-doctor image he mass-emailed over the summer, McKalip includes in his latest appeal a brief essay on "Why should we work with a man who insulted President Obama?" In it, he says forwarding the e-mail was a "very bad mistake" and "I talked to my black colleagues and friends and came to understood how truly offensive it was and made amends with them."
He even invokes Saul Alinsky and the sky-high profits of the insurance industry:
You have been asked to attack me over a carelessly forwarded offensive email because the goal was simple: shut me up! Shut me up using Saul Alinsky rule #13: personalize and isolate a political opponent and cut off their support network. That is what happens in a war - the enemy gets attacked. I just want you to know who the enemy really is. It is not me - it is the unholy corporate/government cabal that will control your health care.
... There is a reason I was targeted: the insurance companies and the government officials they have working for them don't want the message I have to be heard. That message is the same one that so many of you agree with: the insurance companies are taking unnaturally high profits. They are using their government connections to get those profits.
McKalip also explains the provenance of the original "witch doctor" image, which, as we suspected, is not from Africa but rather Papua New Guinea:
By the way, I have come to learn from a representative of the Huliwigman in Papau, New Guinea. That image was not a "witch doctor", but an altered image of one of their respected leaders: a "Huliwigman". They are deeply resentful that CNN and others are showing it over and over when it is so offensive.
Even if Congress succeeds in passing health reform -- a prospect which "saddens" McKalip -- the fight is not over. "In the next stage of this battle, we will continue to tell the stories of people who are getting hurt," he told us this morning.
What's McKalip's ultimate aim in the next stage? "Repeal the bill."