I would take comfort in the fact that the thirty percent who opposed the recent S-CHIP bill are the same folks who oppose bringing the troops home and fundamentally changing our strategies in the Middle East if it weren’t for the fact that they have a tendancy to muck things up for the rest of rational America.

Enter Graeme Frost, a twelve year old boy from Maryland, and the young man who shall play the role of Strawboy for this little episode.  About three years ago, Graeme and his sister were injured in a car accident, and it was CHIP that allowed them to get the medical attention that they needed.  It was this story that Graeme told during a Democratic radio address delivered in response to the president’s threat to veto the expansion to S-CHIP funding and coverage.

What Frost might have missed was that even as he was speaking into the microphone, there were right wing blowhards already gutting him and stuffing him full of straw.  Why?  The intellectual, moral, and emotional arguments against S-CHIP are for the most part losing arguments.  To engage the issue honestly is for people to stand up, look children in the eye, and explain to them why they think they are not good enough to receive health care.  It’s difficult to weigh the precious free market corporatocracy against daughters and sons.

So it’s strawman time for a particularly insidious argument especially when you think that these folks waging it are folks that will never have to worry about whether their children will have health care coverage.  For them, it is a choice.  And here, their choice has been to discredit and smear the Frost family as much as humanly possible.  From making claims that the Frost family were rich and living in a lavishly spacious house, to insinuating that the family was paying for the brother and sister in question to attend expensive private schools, the goal was to demolish the credibility of the Frosts, the Democrats, and the program.

Meanwhile, the ever odious Madame Malkin has decided to grace the Frost neighborhood with her presence, talking to neighbors and refusing to believe them when they say that the Frosts are struggling. She says snooping around the Frost family’s backyard is reporting, but I have a tendancy to side with Richard Blair. It would be reporting if you were a reporter, Madame Malkin, but you’re not, you’re a partisan hack, thus it’s stalking.

Now, I would be tempted to cede ground on one point. Maybe, just maybe, it was a low blow using kids for political purposes. But then… wait… Madame Malkin does the heavy lifting for me on this one:

No, children have been used in political messages and photo ops for as long as I can remember. Usually, they show a candidate cares about their future, and is investing in their education. They typically stand as silent props, the big eyes and snaggle tooth smiles melting the hearts of the electorate while the politico in question stands around them, wise, but caring, sharing a sort of youthful energy. So yeah, kids are fair game. If you want to use them for your photo op, you better be wary of what they might have to say when someone gives them a mic.

2 Responses to “Strawboy”

  1. lester says:

    I support immediately bring the troops home and fundamentally changing our strategies in the middle east, but I’m also opposed to this bill. first, smokers are paying a ton of taxes already. I fthey are going on a Pay as you go system, why not cut something out? we have a 3 trillion dollar budget and they can’t figure out how to cut a paltry 30 billion?

    plus, the states idea of childrens healthcare generally involves ladling out as many pills as possible so that all health problems can be solved by turning kids into zombies.

    I’m sure this families story is genuine but there are many many other ways they can get he treatment they need.

  2. mick says:

    I’m sure this families story is genuine but there are many many other ways they can get he treatment they need.

    There aren’t actually, that’s the whole point. The for-high-profit health care industry (anything under 20% is considered a failure nowadays) has made or is rapidly making health care in the US something only the rich can afford. As corporations bail out of providing insurance as a bennie, there are increasingly fewer options available for the middle class and -in many cases – none whatever for those at low-income or even lower-middle income levels.

    I tend to agree with your other criticisms, I’m afraid. For the record, the House version paid for the SCHIP increase by “adjusting” the obscene amount of money in Medicare Advantage, currently, as eRobin put it, “bleeding tax dollars into the accounts of insurance companies.” That would have been a much more sensible solution, so of course it was vetoed by Republicans.


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