…You might want to check out Susan from 29’s diary over at GOS, in which she writes on the moral horror that was a Republican Presidential debate in which the audience cheered the death of an uninsured man — Susan’s brother, Steve Patience.
I won’t say that the moment — or that audience — defines America.
But America is a place where poor — and not so badly off, in fact — suffer and die with what a medical student I once knew termed “financial arrest” within a badly broken medical system.
It’s a place where we know we can do better, and are in fact beginning to do so — not enough, but it’s a start — as long as the health care bill survives.
At the same time, America is indeed the place in which the “I’ve got mine, Jack” crowd that gets loud at the news of Steve Patience’s death could define who we all are for decades to come.
So when you think of all the ways Obama has betrayed you this week, or how the Democratic congressman or senator representing you or the next door district or state just hasn’t gotten on top of what this country needs, or really, how both major parties are tied in way too tightly with the monied interests — there’s reality to be found there.
As a practical matter, for the next thirteen months, whatever truth there is to any of our grievances with our Democratic leaders doesn’t matter. Not one damn bit. (I.e. — what Tim F. says.)
Bonus video: Susan of 29 in her own words, courtesy of Move On:
<div align=”center”><iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/tCN6VlfkGR0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe></div>
Could we get her diary published on the op-ed page of the New York Times, in place of the latest ravings of Dowd, Douthat, or Cornel West?
Is she prepared for the Republican attack weasels?
@Mino: Based on what I read/see, I’d take her over the weasels.
Sorry, but that diary was too shrill for the NYT editorial page. Talking about actual human consequences of our decisions is not what VSP do.
I think you mean, “It’s time to check her countertops!”
@Roger Moore: That seemed too cliche.
A brave and eloquent counterattack.
There need to be more stories like this out, about the people who fall through this or that crack, because a lot of Americans (not just the crazies) will not consider it unreasonable that a healthy person who can afford insurance and chooses not to buy it be left to his fate. That was a terrible question Blitzer asked; it conflates not having insurance with not wanting to buy insurance, which is exactly the opposite of how the argument for any national health care bill should be expressed. And now anyone who’s pro-health care reform has a little higher hill to climb when they make their case.
Thanks, CNN. Also, fuck you.
Christ, Tom, as obviously intelligent as you are, when it comes to politics you are a credulous tool.
As someone from Canada, where we have single-payer insurance, the typical story of the uninsured in America reads like a horror story, punctuated with large numbers.
Blitzer’s example was what, $200/month? Who can get non-employer-supported insurance for that? The whole question was disingenuous, as she points out, yet still the utter lack of regard for human life came through loud and clear.
Tom – I normally like what you write, but this is disingenuous. The debate question was about a generic 30 year old who can afford health insurance but chooses not to purchase it. The diarists brother was a 60 something year old who could not afford to buy health insurance. It is absolutely horrific that what happened to the diarists brother actually occurs in this country (and it needs to be shouted from the rooftops), but that is not what the GOP debate audience was responding to.
I have faith in the flying monkey’s ability to find a reason why her husband deserved it.
That’s a powerful story. Too bad they just don’t fucking care about people after they’re born. There are thousands and thousands of stories like this, but the IGMFY people don’t care.
Mainstream journalism won’t challenge this cowardice. They know where their paychecks come from. If Blitzer had challenged the answers or the silence she spoke of, he’d be out of a job sooooo damn fast…
what’s astounded me in this story – not quite as bad as the event itself or the media’s or even the candidates’ lack of reaction to it – is the fact that no one is commenting on the reality here that THIS IS PRECISELY THE LACK OF HUMANITY WE GET FROM INSURANCE COMPANIES NOW!!
not covered? let ’em die. we have a profit margin to keep up.
@MattR: See Susan of 29s discussion of this exact point”
Exactly so. See [email protected]gogol’s wife:
Oh my god, thank you for linking to this, although it made me cry. Could there be a more compelling example of why we need universal health care?
@MattR: If you can’t stand a slightest bit of disingenuousness or misdirection in service of story that crystalizes your attacks on your opponents, then don’t get involved in politics. This isn’t for namby-pambies and goo-goos. You don’t defeat barbarians by playing by the rules. You beat them by cutting off their heads.
@Tom Levenson: I completely disagree. Sure, the question might be ridiculous. But it is what was asked and what the audience was repsonding to. You and Susan are blaming the audience for responding to a version of the question that was not asked.
PS. And it is not like the use of extreme hypotheticals to see where somebody stands on an issue is an outrageous, never before used strategy.
@goblue72: Given the media environment, which do you think will get more attention – the substance of the diary (that our health care system sucks and allows people to die for no good reason) or that the Democrats are twisting things to try and make the republicans look bad? The attempt is gonna be made to diminish the Dems attack, but it is so much easier to do when the attack is built on faulty premises.
moveon did a really good job of putting this powerful story in video format.
I feel like an idiot for asking this, but how did Kos, get changed to GOS?
from the diary entry, for those who are splitting hairs over Blitzer’s assinine framing of the issue.
OK, here is my follow up question: Why is it OK to subsidize (big oil and ag) and bail out (big finance) rich corporations, but then kill US citizens for similar behavior?
And for Blitzer: You are an idiot and a craven hack and despicable corporate tool masquerading as a journalist, so you get extra time for the responses.
What do you mean by ‘chooses’ and ‘afford’. Is a man who has to decide between shelter, or a car, for saving for his children, and buying health insurance making the same choice as someone who has to choose between a couple weeks of party in Vegas and buying health insurance?
Do you know what the proportion is of the former to the latter? If so, what is it?
If not, why not? (Short essay, three sentences maximum).
I agree that the moment does not define America, but it is part of a worrying trend. And it seems to be about more than just an “I got mine” attitude, but an angry and infantile attempt to separate people into “winners, e.g., Real Americans(tm), and losers and parasites, with the belief that the “losers” deserve any bad thing that happens to them.
@harlana: And I agree completely with that. IMO, the over the top rhetoric may help to amplify that point among those who already agree, but it actually diminishes that point among the rest of the population.
@ant: GOS = Great Orange Satan
@jl: The actual Blitzer question where he is very careful to point out the person is absolutely making a choice based on his belief that he is healthy and not based on finances.
@ant: Great Orange Satan – I think coined by Atrios
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
You all will have to excuse and ignore MattR. He gets into debates here over the wrong issue to completely avoid having to make any choices and deal with tough situations. Actually, I’m probably being charitable. He doesn’t think Susan’s brother deserved health insurance, he just can’t come out and say so.
Yes, Matt, I read most of your comments in ABL’s posts as well.
If this had been asked to a Democratic candidtate at a Democratic Party debate this woman would be on every channel non-stop.
The problem? Its the media stupid.
I’m not buying your carping.
The question was stupid and sensationalistic, and Blitzer should be ashamed of asking it, or refused to ask it if it was part of the script he was given. I don’t see how ‘making a good living’ and ‘I’m healthy’ changes my point. And there are plenty of markets where 200 or 300 bucks a month is a fantasy number on the individual market. So it as a loaded and dishonest question.
That set up does not address the seriousness of the choices many people have to make regarding getting comprehensive health insurance. (Edit: including the completely undefined and unspecified ‘afford’ ‘healthy’ and ‘good living’ weasel words).
How about “this lesser person wanted to save for his kids, so he bought a cheapjack but state approved policy he saw advertized in the back of a magazine, and it never paid a dime after he got sick. Should this clueless fool who can’t make responsible decision be left to die or be allowed to suck off the teat of the productive part of society”?
How does this in any way make the hooting and cheering any less despicable?
We all know they weren’t just cheering the death of the healthy, well-to-do 30-year-old (who is not your typical uninsured person). And I loved Ron Paul’s eventual answer, that the churches would take care of him.
MattR – September 16, 2011 | 3:37 pm · Link
“Tom – I normally like what you write, but this is disingenuous. The debate question was about a generic 30 year old who can afford health insurance but chooses not to purchase it. ”
First, that means that the question was f*cking BS.
Second, Ron Paul himself was lying when he talked about charity; one of his staff died due to lack of insurance,
as guy who had raised millions for him. So much for charity.
@Brachiator: It doesn’t because it was. But it doesn’t mean they were cheering the diarist’s brother.
@Belafon (formerly anonevent):
God forbid I think we can make the point as effectively without having to twist what was actually said and done at the GOP debate to do so.
As for Blitzer’s question, I am sure that none of you have ever seen anyone make an argument and then have taken that argument to the extreme to see if the original person actually believes that argument.
@Barry: All good points. I think we can beat up the republicans on those without creating straw men to do so.
(EDIT: When I was a few years younger and working as an IT consultant I knew plenty of folks near 30 who weighed the cost/benefits of health insurance. Not because they really needed the extra money but because they were trying to decide if it was a worthwhile investment. The cost may have been a bit more, but it is not like these people don’t exist)
At the end of the day, the issue is simply this: the wealthiest nation on earth shamelessly leaves tens of millions of its own citizens flapping in the breeze when they need medical care. We are the only industrialized nation on the planet that does this and it is only because our health care system–a system that evolved to its present-day form by accident rather than planning–is profit driven rather than health security driven. You would do better as a citizen of Costa Rica, for Chrissakes.
It ought to be a national embarrassment.
The question was full of sleazy dishonest implications and weasel words.
The question was such a mess, that I wonder if some liberal media type lurking in the cubicles engineered it to draw out a Pavlovian and vicious response from a audience whose psychological health I question, at least from the clips I saw.
The question stunk in every way (loaded, vague, biased, tendentious, on a topic of minor relevance to health care reform) and it is not straw manning to say that. The audience’s response was scary.
Paul’s response where he appealed to his responsibility as a medical doctor, his willingness to give charity care, and appealed to the community to have the conscience and sense of responsibility to see that care is provided was admirable.
Too bad it is a fantasy, and always was a fantasy.
@jl: Matt: reason it out.
Blitzer asks a question that is designed to elicit a response. I think we all know what that response is supposed to be: That person has full agency, the means to make any choice freely, and has done so — which means he must bear the consequences.
(BTW — anyone who writes prompts knows that the form of the question directly shapes the answer — so don’t give me any “you can’t know what was in Wolf’s mind” stuff.)
At that point, you’ve stacked the deck: a government mandate for health insurance (which would prevent this scenario from occurring) is unacceptable is because it’s unnecessary: rational people can make rational choices, and we as a society should welcome that, with all its implications.
Next step: it’s not the government or society’s job to impose any obligation on either health care consumer (patients) or providers.
The logic will mean that some people die — but that’s life.
What’s wrong with all this? it leads directly to — it validates, a conclusion based on an original false premise, which is that people without health insurance have chosen to do so with full freedom to have made the alternate choice.
The reality is what Susan from 29 points out: millions of individual Americans, Steve Precious over and over again don’t have that choice. They really must decide between medicine and food, and all kinds of things. Providers can’t make that choice even if they wished to — the cost structure in health care right now is so f**ked up that there are real limits on the amount of free care anyone can provide. Churches, last time I looked (Paul’s solution) aren’t awash in six and seven figure sums to cover the costs of chronic or acute illnesses amongst their congregations, much less the strangers at their gate, and so on.
So, you ask me to give honor to a rigged question. I say no — let’s put the question, and the audience reaction, to the test of reality. And I genuinely don’t think that anyone in the room or in teh larger audience had any real doubt about what the question actually meant: “Should poor people have guaranteed access to care, or not? And if not, are you OK with the deaths that will follow?”
The audience and the candidates answered that question very clearly, as I interpreted the moment. YMMV
@Tom Levenson: This.
I’m just happy Paul didn’t suggest trading a couple of chickens for the treatment, as Ms. Louden did. Has any of these candidates ever visited earth?
For the love of pete, DO NOT LET THE GOP/TEANUTS dissuade you from voting Democratic. That is what they are trying- to wear our side down, to claim that things are hopeless, but they are as wrong now as they were in the 1930s. GREEDY AMORAL FTARDS
Republicanism is a disease and should be put to pasture once and for all. I for one am glad that the mask of reasonableness is off these Confederates. We will defeat them again.
IMO you are making an unsupported leap here. I know people who have chosen not to have health insurance with full freedom. I’m sure others have as well, although maybe you don’t see it as much in a university setting. Similarly, while car insurance is mandatory, collision insurance is not. There are plenty of people who forego that coverage and make the bet that they won’t need it even though they can afford to make the payment. (Yes, the cost of losing that bet is vastly higher with health insurance)
I obviously don’t agree with this conclusion. I took the question at face value (and as a way of pushing Dr Paul’s views – which actually did lead Dr Paul to say that the patient should be cared for even if he made that choice and could not pay). I don’t mind that you have a different opinion about it. But I think it crosses the line when you go from having an opinion to making a declaration of fact about how others interpreted it.
(EDIT: IMO, the takeaway from the whole back and forth between Paul and Blitzer should have been the fact that in the 60’s when Paul was practicing medicine, the hospitals were non-profits being run by churches whereas now they are just one more corporate money making machine. Even better would be to tie this in as just one example of Republicans thinking policies from the 60’s will work when the world has changed in the last 50 years in ways that make those policies obsolete)
Gosh, what a shock — the glibertarians who support Ron Paul are the same ones who would take this stupid gamble themselves, and then whine and cry about how unfair it was if they did get into a car accident or have cancer. Hoocoudanode?
When I was working shit minimum wage jobs at places like Crown Books, I ALWAYS bought their crappy health insurance, because unlike glibertarian IT types, I was under no illusions that nothing bad could ever happen to me. Came in handy when I had an appendicitis scare and ended up hospitalized overnight.
You are right. There is nothing shocking about it. Which is one reason why I think the question should be taken on face value.
EDIT – This clip seems appropriate ;)
I really don’t care about the particulars of the question, but even if I go along with your logic–it is still disgusting to cheer the idea of letting someone die because they made a poor decision!!!
But the reason I don’t care about the question is because it was a completely unrealistic, BULLSHIT, question. Blitzer is clearly out of touch and should have done some fricking homework/reporting before presenting at the debate. With the resources available to CNN, Blitzer couldn’t go out and talk with actual uninsured people???!!!!
@gogol’s wife: When I became unemployed I wasn’t going to continue my health insurance because the cost was $543 a month. Then I found out that under the Stimulus Bill, the feds would pay 65% of it or approximately $353. I was able to pay the rest ($190). When the Stimulus program ended, it coincided with an increase in the insurance cost to $643. There was no way I could afford that — it was another rent. It was a little less than my actual rent. I let the insurance lapse. That was a group policy. A non-group policy is a lot more expensive and forget it if you have a pre-existing condition. (At the time, I didn’t but now I do.)
@PurpleGirl: I’m very sorry to hear of your health insurance troubles. I hope you’ve got coverage now.
Yes it is. And we need to shout from the rooftops that very point. But we don’t need to use someone as a symbol who wasn’t part of the hypothetical.
Which bring me to the fact that it is quite clear that you and I see the point of the question quite differently. While I agree Blitzer should have made sure his numbers were acurate ($200-300) is not, I don’t think he was trying to find Dr Paul’s opinion about the uninsured in general or how we fix that problem. I think he was probing Dr. Paul’s libertarian tendencies to see how he would handle those who followed that philosophy and lost the ultimate bet (and Paul did kinda bend by saying we shouldn’t let him die but without specifying how exactly it would be prevented)
@Tom Levenson: Ditto this. Best wishes PurpleGirl
@Tom Levenson: Thank you. Luckily I live in NYC and eventually started to use the Clinic at a nearby City hospital. We are working on getting me approved for Medicaid but in the meantime I’m able to be seen at the Clinic and get medication for nominal charges.
(I’ve said this before, I think the doctors, nurses and staff at the clinic have given me very good care. Yeah, NYC has high taxes but it also has the services. A little strained right now but still working to actually help its citizens.)
Yeah. The GOP is vile. Obama is better. Owning both houses of Congress, the President managed to pass an inadequate stimulus (after which, he ignored the unemployment rate, for whatever reason, for over 2 years), and a better than nothing health care bill, which delayed many provisions from taking effect for years, giving the GOP the maximum time to scuttle it.
Is Obama a good person? Probably. Time will tell. Is he a mediocre president? Yes he is. Can I name another president who was a good man and a mediocre president? You bet. Jimmy Carter.
Will I vote for Obama over the GOP nominee? Yes. Will I donate? No. My money is going to Congressional races. A Democratic Congress would limit the damage done, and how much our “post-partisan” president gives away, although it isn’t very likely just now.
Now comes the point where someone replies that I am a racist. What the heck happened to this blog?
Evolved Deep Southerner
Marcus Bachmann, is that you?
Giving MattR the benefit of the doubt IRT Blitzer’s question, the proper answer is “a public mandate is the only way to make sure we all pay into the pool. It benefits everyone to make the pool larger.”
Alan Grayson was right about the GOP: “Don’t Get Sick! And if You Do Get Sick, Die Quickly!”
You must deal with kinder, gentler glibertarians than I do if you actually think that their answer would change between a 30 year old who didn’t buy insurance and a 60 year old who couldn’t afford it.
They would cheer the second guy’s death just as hard, because he wasn’t a brilliant Galtian like themselves.
It’s not so much kinder as younger. I think 30 year old libertarians might answer differently. I know they will all say screw the 60 year old. But a good number of them will find a way to twist it so the 30 year old (ie. them) gets a way out. (EDIT: I guess you could say it weeds out those who aren’t true believers)
Dr. Paul does not deserve his honorific, in my humble opinion.
@gogol’s wife: I can’t disagree with that, but since I get annoyed by Republicans trying to diminsh Democrats in various ways via nicknames, just using a last name (or first name), etc I try not to do the same myself (though admittedly I often fail)
(EDIT: And his son most certainly does not)
You seem to agree with the rest of us that the concept of letting people die is bullshit so why are you harping on blitzer asking an absolutely loaded question? Do you think the people in the audience are parsing the question such that they are thinking only about a 30 yr old who doesn’t buy insurance he can afford or are they actually against anyone who doesn’t purchase insurance for any reason? IOW if you don’t have money you don’t have any value and you may as well die. Cause given the audience I go for number 2.
What I want to know is “Did Steve have granite countertops?”
Evolved Deep Southerner
I don’t see a single thing in your post that carries the faintest whiff of racism.
It positively stinks of douchebag assholishness. But not racism.