Kelsey Addresses That Book He Gave Sebelius

By Andy Meek

The only warning State Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, gave of what he intended to do at U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ visit to the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library Friday, Nov. 1, was that he would appear “in protest of the visit.”

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was in Memphis Friday to discuss health care and the beleaguered healthcare.gov insurance website.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Before it was over, though, he’d done a little more than that. He presented the secretary with a copy of the book “Web Sites for Dummies,” in response to the problematic rollout of the federal health insurance website. And a Daily News photo capturing the result – Sebelius holding the book, the title clearly visible, preparing to hand it off to an aide – was circulated widely across the Web, picked up by outlets like BuzzFeed to the Huffington Post and sparking plenty of social media engagement.

Kelsey told The Daily News he has been among the most outspoken legislative opponents of a Medicaid expansion in Tennessee, and because of that he wanted to convey to Sebelius during her visit that he didn't want her "designing an expansion program for us."

"I only had two seconds to convey that message to her, so I thought the book would be a creative way to ensure she remembered the message," Kelsey said.

He said she didn't respond when he gave her the book, and he also didn't think anyone else in the room had noticed.

As for the reason the photo resonated, he said he thinks it’s because “the American people are tired of the federal government spending trillions of our grandchildren's dollars on programs that don't work.”