Not much new with the Frost kerfuffle, but there are two things worth discussing this morning:
1.) I have noticed a trend regarding those who think it was acceptable to savage this family, and it is best illustrated by a comment from Jay Caruso in the comments section:
I have to laugh at the irony of a bunch of nimrods blubbering like schoolgirls about the big mean Republicans, yet nobody seems to care that the Democrats chose to use this 12 year old boy as a political prop. And John, before you climbed out of your pod, you’d have been one of the first to hit the Democrats right between the eye for pulling a stunt like this.
They’re going to get their political mileage out of this, but guess what? If the program doesn’t change and this family doesn’t get covered, the same Democrats who weep for this poor family WON’T DO A FUCKING THING FOR THEM.
Once the tank runs dry on the political gas the Dems get out of this, they’ll say, “Who?” when asked about Graeme Frost afterwards.
So get the hell over yourselves.
Look, I can understand why you might be frustrated when you think the Democrats (or anyone, really) are using people as shields to promote policy. I remember a certain blogger who was livid that the Democrats seemed to be doing just that with a certain individual named Cindy Sheehan. I can understand why people would get frustrated if the Democrats put up a little boy who stated “Please don’t kill this bill or I will suffer.” It would be demagoguery and shameless and it would be hiding behind a kid.
But that isn’t what happened here. What happened here is that the Democrats chose someone who had been helped by the program, and they stood up and told people that it had helped them and an expansion might help others. I am not the brightest guy on the planet (entire websites exist to point this out), but even I figured this out. Hell, you might read what the kid said:
“Hi, my name is Graeme Frost. I’m 12 years old and I live in Baltimore, Maryland. Most kids my age probably haven’t heard of CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program. But I know all about it, because if it weren’t for CHIP, I might not be here today.
“CHIP is a law the government made to help families like mine afford healthcare for their kids. Three years ago, my family was in a really bad car accident. My younger sister Gemma and I were both hurt. I was in a coma for a week and couldn’t eat or stand up or even talk at first. My sister was even worse. I was in the hospital for five-and-a-half months and I needed a big surgery. For a long time after that, I had to go to physical therapy after school to get stronger. But even though I was hurt badly, I was really lucky. My sister and I both were.
“My parents work really hard and always make sure my sister and I have everything we need, but the hospital bills were huge. We got the help we needed because we had health insurance for us through the CHIP program.
“But there are millions of kids out there who don’t have CHIP, and they wouldn’t get the care that my sister and I did if they got hurt. Their parents might have to sell their cars or their houses, or they might not be able to pay for hospital bills at all.
“Now I’m back to school. One of my vocal chords is paralyzed so I don’t talk the same way I used to. And I can’t walk or run as fast as I did. The doctors say I can’t play football any more, but I might still be able to be a coach. I’m just happy to be back with my friends.
“I don’t know why President Bush wants to stop kids who really need help from getting CHIP. All I know is I have some really good doctors. They took great care of me when I was sick, and I’m glad I could see them because of the Children’s Health Program.
“I just hope the President will listen to my story and help other kids to be as lucky as me. This is Graeme Frost, and this has been the Weekly Democratic Radio address. Thanks for listening.”
Got it? “This helped me, I want it to help others.” It wasn’t hiding behind a kid, it was the picture of advocacy by citizens who had been helped by a government program (Given the governance of the past few years, I will admit that it is entirely conceivable that a certain subset of those screeching are unaware that government programs are allowed to help people. Not all of them are designed to whisk people away to secret CIA facilities or read your email and listen to your phonecalls.).
It is, also, not the first time something like this has been done. By now you have heard of Noah McCullough, the nine year old who traveled with Bush to advocate on behalf of social security. Or the snowflake babies, on stage with Bush when he vetoed the stem-cell bill. My memory is not perfect, but I do not remember similar campaigns to viciously attack these kids and their families.
Aside from the disgusting nature of the attacks on the Frost family, this is one of the things that has many of us aghast. To what end are these Freepers and Malkinites and Corner readers attacking these people, as even if the Bush veto of the expansion holds, they are going to still qualify for the program? The inability to recognize this, and the instinctive need to just attack, attack, attack and smear, smear, smear is what has surprised me the most. This is not a policy dispute to these folks- this is tribalism, and something deeper and darker and more sinister. It was a mob whipped into a frenzy, a blind rage, and there was no point to it other than the rage itself.
Which, I suppose, was the point to these folks and their ringleaders. Which leads us to the second thing worth discussing this morning.
2.) Michelle Malkin, in a ranting, frothing, and incoherent screed that appears to have been co-written by Bill O’Reilly and the Unabomber, has, politely declined to debate Ezra Klein on the merits of SCHIP and other health initiatives:
On behalf of all liberal bloggers of purported good faith, the Respectable Liberal Blogger Ezra Klein has chivalrously stepped up to the plate to challenge me to a debate about S-CHIP.
A good-faith debate would require that Respectable Liberal Blogger Ezra Klein actually be a person of good faith. He is treated as such in some elite conservative circles, where his work is linked frequently and intellectual repartee among the Beltway boys’ club is warm and chummy. He is free to continue traveling in those cozy circles where highbrow right-wingers are not so mean and scary.
But I’d just as soon share a stage, physical or virtual, with Respectable Liberal Blogger Ezra Klein as I would with Chris Matthews, Geraldo Rivera, or an overflowing vat of liquid radioactive waste.
Good faith, eh? What would Ezra Klein know about it?
Now, run along and thump your chest over your “victory” at BloggingHeadsTV or something.
I have to get back to work. You know, “stalking.” “Assault.” “Savagings.” “Howling. “Braying.” “Hateful orgies.”
It really speaks for itself, and is worthy of a chuckle or two as you re-read this Captain Ed post cautioning the right to bring this debate back to policy.
This never was about policy to Michelle and her net followers. This was about rage. This was about “us” versus “them” and “they” had to be destroyed because “they” are evil leftists who dared to challenge Bush. It was about fomenting anger, about whipping people up into a jealous rage- “LOOK AT THE BIG HOUSE THE FROST FAMILY HAS- WORTH A HALF A MILLION- AND THEY WANT YOU TO PAY FOR THEIR CHILDREN,” and then letting the mob do the rest. Goebbels truly would be proud.
But like all schoolyard bullies, when punched in the mouth, they back down. Given the chance to debate the policy she clearly feels so strongly about, Michelle wimped out. She turned her tails and fled. One could say she gave the French response.
I hope a lesson has been learned this week- when Malkin and her cohorts attack, you stiffen your spine, put on your hip waders to deal with their bullshit, and you throw it back in their face. Behind all that bluster, there really is not much there. Just scared, petty, loudmouth bullies.
*** Update ***
Alternate working title for this post: “Cheese Eating Surrender Malkin.”
*** Update #2 ***
This may be the greatest comment on the Malkin/Klein non-debate:
“Debate” Ezra Klein? What a perverse distraction and a laughable waste of time that would be. And that’s what they really want, isn’t it? To distract and waste time so they can foist their agenda on the country unimpeded.”
Yes, that was the plan. And now that she’s on to it, I might as well confess our scheme: Dispatch Klein to tie up Malkin for an hour or so, and while she’s distracted, push universal health insurance through Congress. Indeed, we’ve used similar tactics in the past, such as 1993, when we passed the Clinton tax hike after luring Rush Limbaugh to an all-you-can-eat buffet for much of the afternoon. Next time we’ll have to be even smarter.