Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Politics Over Productivity

Children's health care is a subject we cannot get away from, especially recently. The SCHIP legislation and President Bush's veto are impossible to escape when one surveys the morning news. Vitriol pours from both sides of the issue as thick and bitter as service station coffee.

As one digs through the multitude of vituperative articles, blog posts, and paid propaganda, it becomes more and more apparent that most of the discussion is politics rather than objective analysis. The Democrats are now experiencing the backlash from their recent radio campaign. In that campaign, Graeme Frost, age 12, made a radio address asking President Bush to sign off on the SCHIP legislation on the grounds that he and his siblings would not have received hospital care after their auto accident without it.

From the Baltimore Sun

But while the Frosts were helping a bipartisan majority in Congress sell a plan to expand the program, they were not prepared for comments such as this one, posted over the weekend on the conservative Web site Redstate:

"If federal funds were required [they] could die for all I care. Let the parents get second jobs, let their state foot the bill or let them seek help from private charities. ... I would hire a team of PIs and find out exactly how much there parents made and where they spent every nickel. Then I'd do everything possible to destroy their lives with that info."

The arguments continue, as chronicled in the Baltimore Sun, over the state of the Frost family's finances and their reliance on SCHIP. Rush Limbaugh discussed the family's assets and financial status on his show last Monday, while conservative blogger Michelle Malkin posted about visiting the family's business and driving by their home.

Quotes such as this one (again from Redstate) seem par for the course:

"Hang 'em. Publicly," the contributor wrote. "Let 'em twist in the wind and be eaten by ravens. Then maybe the bunch of socialist patsies will think twice."

You do not have to be an advocate of public hangings or destroying lives to make your point. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is a fine example:

Are the Democrats grandstanding? Are they playing politics with a critical issue? Of course, they are. When don't politicians play politics? But at least they're blanketing the airwaves and blitzing the phone lines with an issue that matters — health care for children of working families.

It's a little vexing to listen to ultraconservative Republicans berate Democrats for trying to score political points. For the past several years, the GOP has made a fine art of scoring points over issues both petty and private: for example, the overblown travel office "scandal" during the Clinton years; for another, the intrusion into the difficult decisions faced by the family of Terri Schiavo. They've exploited flag-burning, same-sex marriage and religious faith, all to gain political advantage. It seems a bit churlish for them to complain when the tables are turned.

And so the debate rages on.

SOURCE: "Frost Family Draws Ire of Conservatives" 10/10/07
SOURCE: "Democrats Politicking for Good Reason: Peach Care" 10/10/07
photo courtesy of Graniers on Flickr, used under this Creative Commons license

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