(Another in a series of essays demonstrating precisely why I should never be entrusted with any sort of political power or authority)
Ever since I started asking awkward questions and challenging the wisdom of the push to expand the S-CHIP program, I’ve been assailed — publicly and privately — for doing so. It’s not been fun. So I’ve decided to surrender and back the expansion.
In fact, I’ve decided to cover myself and push for it to be made even more encompassing. The bill wants to define “children” up to the age of 25. Well, there’s an old saying that “life begins at 40” (something I’ll find out in a couple of weeks), so let’s push it up to that age. This silly debate about whether it should be available to families whose income is up to three times (the current bill) or four times the poverty level (the original proposal)? Forget that silly math. Make it available to anyone who says “we’re too poor to afford our own insurance!” And forget that “tax on cigarettes” to fund it — make it a tax on oxygen. Calculate how much oxygen an average person consumes in a year, run that against the estimated costs of the program, multiply it by 50% to cover the inevitable overruns, miscalculations, inefficiencies, and outright frauds that will be bound to occur, and that might — just MIGHT — cover it. S-CHIP for everyone! And if anyone dares question it, we try them for treason.
Whoops. I forgot. We don’t do that any more. “Treason” is such an outdated concept. Instead, we’ll charge them with “hate crimes.”
But I’ve learned another valuable lesson from this whole thing. I would like to call on President Bush to adapt the tactics used by the backers of the S-CHIP expansion. For his next weekly radio address, he should find the child of a US soldier or Marine killed in Iraq. He should have his staff write a poignant speech for the boy or girl to read, talking about how his father (or mother) died while serving our nation and in pursuit of a free, independent Iraq and the reshaping of the Middle East into something besides a motley collection of tyrants (of the thuggish, thieving, and theocratic varieties), and how he or she hopes that America will not let that parent’s death be in vain.
At that point, the anti-war forces will have no choice but to shut up and yield the argument entirely in the face of this unassailable position. After all, to disagree — or even question — the words that political staffers put in the mouth of this child is nothing less than an attack on the child itself, and that is simply intolerable.