It's been a eventful few weeks in politics.
First, we had the news that Rush Limbaugh was rushed to the hospital while on Christmas holiday in Hawaii with chest pains. As one radio talk show host put it, he apparently wasn't yet "shovel ready," so he made several pronouncements on health care as soon as he got to a microphone.
After directing anyone who has chest pain, "Don't mess with it. Any time you have heart pain or chest pain and you have no idea what it is, and it's something you've never experienced before, turn it over to professionals right off the bat. Don't tough it out. Don't try to make it go away on your own, because it's not worth the risk." Of course, Mr. Limbaugh has excellent health insurance and doesn't have to worry about unpaid hospital bills, or if he'll be able to feed his kids if he misses a few days from work, but, hey, Rush says, just do it! After all, if you don't have health insurance, it's probably your fault anyway.
Next, he was lavish with his praise for the care he received: "Again, the treatment I received here was the best that the world has to offer. Based on what happened to me here, I don't think there's one thing wrong with the American health care system. It's working just fine, just dandy. And I got nothing special. I got no special treatment other than what anybody else that would have called 911 would have gotten had they been brought in with the same kinds of symptoms. The care was extensive, it was personal, and it was complete, and it was very confidence-inspiring. And I never once -- once I got here -- had any fears, because of the manner in which I was treated." He failed to acknowledge the embarassing fact that Hawaii's health care is excruciatingly similar to the "socialized" system he's been excoriating the Democrats for trying to bring about for the entire nation. As noted by Paul Abrams on the Huffington Post (and many others), Hawaii has among the lowest costs for health care in the nation, even though almost every other consumer item costs more. Why? Because it's socialized. And it doesn't affect the quality of care - at least according to Rush's experience.
Why, then, does he rail so loudly and annoyingly against the same high-quality, low-cost care for those who don't have his monetary and societal privilege? Why does he encourage people by lying about what a universal system of care for the nation would mean to all of us - not just the fortunate few? And - this is the important piece - why in hell do so many people believe him?
Of course, Rush's brush with socialized medicine wasn't the only big news over the holidays. We also had the Christmas Day "underpants bomber" who not only failed to blow up a plane (thanks to the passengers), but also failed to become a martyr - although he may well have consigned himself to a particular kind of hell in the afterlife: 72 virgins and he won't have the stuff to enjoy them with.
It didn't take long for Dick Cheney and other Republicans to criticize Pres. Obama for not rushing immediately to the microphones to make a statement. Yes, he waited three days; that's still three days less than it took Pres. Bush to comment on the shoe bomber, but since Rudy Giuliani thinks the shoe bomber and 9/11happened before Bush became President, they apparently don't count.
Nor does Liz Cheney seem to ascribe any terrorism attacks to the Bush Administration. Instead, channeling her father, she chastises Pres. Obama for not going on television sooner to address the attempted Christmas Day bombing attempt. I think both former Vice Pres. Cheney and his daughter are causing more harm to our national security by their continual attempts to characterize Obama as soft on terror. As the junior Senator from Minnesota stated recently, “We are entitled to our own opinions; we are not entitled to our own facts."
Although Sen. Franken was referring to the health care bill currently before Congress, his words certainly ring true in the case of the recent mischaracterizations regarding Obama's policies on terrorism.
The truly unfortunate aspect of all these incidents, however, is that so many on the far Right are accepting the lies and distortions by Limbaugh, Cheney, and Cheney, et al, as the unvarnished truth. In all my years following political arguments, I've never seen so many who are so willing to ignore the truth just to further their own agendas.
This doesn't bode well for the future of our nation, as we move more and more toward grandstanding and historical revision by people who hold the populace in such low regard.
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