An Idle Word: A column
by BILL CUNNINGHAM
Perhaps I spoke too soon. In my column last week, which touched on how politics both local and national could change the political makeup of Hays County (again—we’re a real swing county), I focused mainly on the events surrounding the recent Court At Law Judge appointment and the possible ramifications of the controversial process.
I also noted that as an off presidential election year in 2010, the party out of power (the Republicans) could normally be expected to make gains but predicted while President Obama has as normal for new Presidents experienced some “bumps and bruises” that I didn’t expect as much “blowback” because of his standing.
That was before I saw the most recent poll figures, showing how the President’s once soaring approval rating has slipped to around 50 per cent, primarily because of the national health care plan he is pushing.
Town hall meetings have turned into shouting matches, senior citizens are alarmed at the prospect of changes in Medicare despite the fact that the President’s plan has the endorsement of AARP and our own local Lyndon LaRochers are down at the post office with their posters comparing Obama with Hitler because of the creation of “death panels.”
Through it all, President Obama has been calm and reasonable in responding to these questions, both from the truly concerned citizens to the lunatic fringe. Now, I believe it’s time to change directions.
I’m old enough to remember when President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through Medicare, despite all the hand wringing about “socialized medicine.”
The first recipient of a Medicare card was former President Harry S Truman and I think it’s time to borrow a page from Truman’s playbook and “give ‘em hell.”
Our present national health care system is something we should hang our heads in shame about and Obama needs to take on the special interests that are seeking to maintain the status quo.
I’m one of the fortunate ones. Through my spouse’s employment, I’m covered by a top grade insurance program. But before she re-entered the workforce, I had to purchase our own insurance as a self-employed consultant. By the time, I was approaching 50, premiums—even working with my dedicated local agent on deductibles to keep the costs down—were approaching nearly $1,000 a month and none of us had experienced serious health problems.
And I harbored the suspicion that if serious health issues began to arise, the private carrier could simply walk away from the deal.
In these current economic times, how many American families can afford those types of premiums? It is a detriment to starting one’s own business and thus an affront to American initiative.
And while, I may be insured up, I know others who either have to fork over premiums that reduce quality of life or simply go without.
Obama knows who the culprits are in propagating these mistruths and can articulate the truth—we’ll be able to keep our insurance, Medicare will remain, there won’t be any “death panels”—and take on the fear mongers’ lust for profit and political gain.
AIG got their bailout money and resultant bonuses for executives. How about something for the single mom I know who is uninsured and needs periodic testing for a chronic health issue? Or for an adult with developmental needs whose parents purchase insurance coverage for him? Or for countless others who are the weakest among us?
Obama got where we is by being a calming presence during a turbulent time. Now it’s time to go Samuel L. Jackson on ‘em.
Well, I was certainly successful in finally matching my fellow columnist in getting comments from readers, hitting double digits for the first time. Of course, the first comment was from me correcting an error in the column, two were from the same reader and one refers backed to a prior column about the role of modern crime novels in seriously exploring socially relevant issues. I won’t respond to my own, but for the others, thanks for sending in comments—both positive and negative—and keep them coming.
TO DJANGO (2 comments): To be honest, I really know about Django Reinhart and the Hot Club of Paris. In mentioning his influence, I am surprised that you omitted the fact that it extended all the way to Abbott, Texas, home of Willie Nelson, whose singing and songwriting abilities overshadow his reputation as one of the great modern guitarists and who cites Reinhart as an influence, even sporting a T-shirt bearing his image during some performances.
TO THE GRLS: ”Much ado about nothing.” Shakespeare. Heavy.
TO WINCHESTER: I agree with you that the Court should have appointed a caretaker, rather than someone planning to run for the job, but still think that in this case incumbency might not prove to be that big an advantage. As to your music you were going to listen to, I don’t know Gun Club or Diamond Galas, but Robert Johnson is a favorite of mine too. Just beware of those “hellhounds.”
TO BILL HANEY: “Ethel Burman” claims to remember some of my early writings in previous comments. I was disappointed Ethel didn’t have an opinion on this one.
TO CHARLES SIMS: How did you know I was talking about you?
T0 MI: I couldn’t agree with you more on your assessment that the country would be a better place if all right wing nuts were like Charles.
TO JIM GREEN: “Faux intellectuals?” “Mindless numbskulls?” You neglected to mention that MSNB is also the home of Joe Scarborough, former Republican Congressman who was elected during the Gingrich revolution, and my favorite celebrity ring wing nut Pat Buchanan (Anyone who traded shots with Hunter S. Thompson is not your everyday conservative). P.S. You’re one of my favorite ring wing nuts too and I expect to be hearing from you on this week’s column.
TO WINCHESTER: I believe your comment about Andrew Vachss referred to the prior column on socially relevant crime novels as mentioned earlier. I have a friend who is hardboiled enough to enjoy James Ellroy but finds Vachss too intense. Given his subject matter (trafficking in sexual abuse of children), I’m not sure you can be intense enough. Incidentally, having wrapped up the “Burke” saga last year, Vachss has a new novel, “Haiku” coming out late this year intruding a new group of characters who sound motley enough to match the crew at Mama Woo’s.