The commentator, Steve Inskeep, was speaking to Lord Ara Darzi, a surgeon and British government advisor, about Britain's National Health Service. During this interview Inskeep asked Lord Darzi to listen to a clip from Senator Chuck Grassley, the Senator from Iowa. In this clip, and I'm paraphrasing, Senator Grassley said "I've been told" that if Senator Ted Kennedy was in England with his brain tumor and advanced age (77) the British system would look at Senator Kennedy's age and would not treat him as he gets treatment here because Kennedy doesn't have enough years to contribute back. (The news story I'm referencing can be listened to at NPR by searching Lord Darzi.)
Lord Darzi said, after hearing the clip, "that's the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard. Absolutely not." Lord Darzi said Senator Grassley was a liar (he may still be upset about that whole 1776 thing though). I wished Darzi hadn't used "Absolutely not" because I can easily envision a far right fringe group taking what he said and splicing out the "not," so Darzi's emphatic denial becomes an equally emphatic affirmation.
"And the British system kills disabled people according to Lord Darzi who should know." Lord Darzi's voice: "Absolutely!" "And the British system is the worst, most horrible, terriblest [from Joe the Plumber, or President Bush] form of socialized communistic Nazism ever encountered by the human race according to Lord Darzi." Lord Darzi's voice: "Absolutely!"
And, please let me explain. I'm a strong supporter of President Obama. I wasn't that keen on the bailout program and still am not, I'm not that impressed with the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (if that's what we're doing) and my jury is still out on this whole "heal..." debate. And I'm a supporter? Two words "You betcha." I remember the last 8 years, I remember tinkle down economics, I remember fear and smear, I remember Administration after Administration that was so disconnected from the American people as to be Saudi royalty. "You betcha" I'm an extremely strong supporter.
I'd like to have a debate, though. The debate shouldn't be about what ass is wearing a gun at what event "BECAUSE WE CAN!!!" "IT'S IN THE CONSTITUTION!!!" "OUR STATE ALLOWS US!!!" Whew. I've seen whack-jobs before, but boy there on television, right before my eyes is the very epitome of the definition. It shouldn't be about what was wrong with the British Model in the 90's (although if they had a system in the 90's we should ask "what's the matter with us," which I guess, in our own special Americans sure can scream way, we're sort of asking now). It shouldn't be about rumor and innuendo. And it shouldn't be about the corn-fed Senator from Iowa lying about something as serious as Ted Kennedy's brain tumor and treatment under one plan or another.
And that's what disappoints me. Not that a Senator lied. Shoot if that were what disappointed any of us we'd just go from moment to moment throughout the day becoming progressively more disappointed until we isolated ourselves in a soundproof room. No I'm disappointed because Senator Grassley is from Iowa.
I grew up in Iowa and if Missouri is the "Show me state" Iowa is the "no, I mean it, Show me" state. Senator Grassley is a horrible representative for a state not typically known for its progressiveness, but a state whose history is all about progression. He's a liar.
Liar is a tough word. I guess he mis-spoke. He's a mis-speaker. In Iowa, when I was there, we called "mis-speakers" liars, like Lord Darzi did. We probably used this word because it was shorter and faster and it was sometimes really cold and so getting short and fast was a lot better than standing outside freezing body parts off.
Liar is a tough word. But Senator Grassley is either a liar or he's incompetent. If he knew what he was saying was false, then he's a liar. If he failed to check the, "this guy told me," part of his tale regarding Senator Kennedy and his brain tumor and being put to death by the British Health Care System, he is incompetent. On the one hand he should be impeached; on the other his "service" to the state of Iowa and our nation should be done (mercifully). Or, maybe Lord Darzi is a liar;" if he is, he's a really good one.
I'd like a debate about health care. I'd like to know why the British system is so much cheaper. I'd like to know if the Brits like their system. I have an internet friend who was born and reared there and he thinks their system is topnotch. I'd like to know if there are others who think it's topnotch, or others who think it sucks. I'd like to know this about all the other single payer systems in the world. I'd like information current--say as of this year or last. I'd like to understand what is wrong and what is right. I'd like to know why the U.S. has such high infant mortality rates compared to say places like Haiti (not really; I just made that up, but our infant mortality rates are embarrassing). I'd like to know why others in other systems live longer. I'd like to know why we're not calling out the McGovern Food Pyramid people and talking about food as the source of this poison--in Iowa we brag about our "corn fed beef." Now we're a grain-fed population and we're just about ready for slaughter. "But people aren't cattle," is the argument to which I say "have you looked around lately?" I'd like to know what part prevention plays in this and if we think "20 more minutes of PE" for grade school kids will curtail the epidemic of diabetes, I'd like to get a hold of whatever it is these people are smoking. Man alive, I'd like a debate.
I'd like a debate and the lies being told by Senator Grassley, the lies being told by other right wing fringe "just say no" (to everything) groups are not helping. But perhaps they're simply mis-speaking. It's summer, it's warm and I don't mind using this word at the moment. But, Senator Grassley, winter's coming.