Suffer The Little Children

It’s strange, how some events can have tremendous influence on our attitudes and beliefs, but we forget the actual incidents themselves.

For example, one of my pushbutton issues is the use of children in political events. I stopped listening to Rush Limbaugh when he had the infamous “Chelsea Clinton as White House Dog” incident, and still don’t listen to him today. I get infuriated when people talk about “drafting the Bush twins.” And I got seriously annoyed when Harry Reid had his staff get a 12-year-old boy to make their pitch for the S-CHIP program.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what really bothered me about the Frost/Reid/S-CHIP incident, and it suddenly dawned on me what was at the root of my anger, what event had set such a potent trigger in my subconscious that was easily set off.

Randall Terry.

More specifically, that asshole and his “Operation Rescue,” more specifically their “Summer Of Mercy” in Wichita, 1991.

I recall seeing news coverage of those rallies. The Operation Rescue people were protesting at an abortion clinic. The police kept them across the street from the clinic, but they would routinely breach the barricades and cross the street (often crawling to symbolize the helpless nature of the aborted fetuses) to assail the clinic.

Then one day, I saw that a bunch of the protesters had brought their children, and were encouraging them to participate along with everyone else.

These people, supposedly there “to save babies,” were leading — sometimes sending — their children across a city street, sometimes through traffic, to make their point.

“Go play in traffic.” It’s a common phrase, one used as a form of dismissal, with the cynical twist that it’s a very, very dangerous thing to do. These parents were literally making their kids do just that.

Ever since then, I’ve been very, very angry about the use of children in politics. I have a great loathing for those who attack children for the “sins” of their parents (Chelsea Clinton, the Bush twins, Mary Cheney, Al Gore Jr., just to name a few), but I save my greatest anger for those who exploit their own children for their own political gains, who push their children on to the national stage for their own gain.

And that’s how I saw the whole Graeme Frost/S-CHIP brouhaha. There is a need for a serious discussion on the program, and whether (or how much) to expand it. But to send out as your champion a 12-year-old boy is the political equivalent of the Eddie Gaedel stunt.

Gaedel, as some might recall, was a midget who was signed to a major-league baseball contract as a stunt. He was walked in four straight pitches, as his “strike zone” was only an inch and a half high.

The idea here is the same: to give the other side an impossible target. Trying to strike out a midget is a good metaphor for trying to rebut a serious political issue when the front-man is a 12-year-old boy — especially one that is still recovering from major injuries from a car accident.

If the Democrats want to have a serious debate on the SCHIP program, then let them send forth people who can make the arguments on its own merits, and not send a boy to do a grownup’s job.

Ezra Klein took a stab at that, challenging Michelle Malkin to just such a debate. It’s too bad that Klein had already poisoned the well with Malkin. Good idea, lousy execution.

The thing is, we already have (in theory) a forum and debaters for such a discussion. It’s called “Congress.”

Pity that the Majority Leader of the Senate has already decided to have a kid take his place.

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