By William Rivers Pitt
"A segment of Truthout's readership has made statements to me bemoaning the harsh tenor of my writing in recent weeks. To wit: I am too insulting and belittling in my descriptions of the Republican Party in general, the Tea Party phenomenon in particular, and the hatefully deranged nature of their philosophy in its entirety. It is a turn-off, they tell me, and serves only to drive people away who might otherwise be convinced by a more moderate tone. I might have been convinced to cool it down, to approach the matter with more balance and equanimity, but that's all over now. After this past weekend, the gloves are staying off, and anyone who doesn't understand why is just going to have to simmer in their disapproval.
It's personal now.
This past weekend, an event called the Values Voters Summit was held in Washington DC. It's a kind of big-tent showcase for the fundamentalist far-right base of the Republican Party, sponsored by such leading conservative lights as the Family Research Council, the Heritage Foundation, and Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. Some of the featured speakers included Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Insane), Gary Bauer, Bill Bennett, the wildly fertile Duggar family, Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity, anti-masturbation candidate and occasional dabbler in witchcraft Christine O'Donnell, Phyllis Schlafly, Mitt Romney, and of course, Sarah Palin.
You can imagine the sort of demented gibberish that came from the podium over the weekend, and frankly, most of it was too mind-numbing to repeat in any detail. Newt Gingrich did his little song and dance about how Islam is coming to eat your children. Christine O'Donnell reprised the nonsense about "death panels." One fellow, a senior aide to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), argued that all pornography is by nature homosexual, and therefore watching any form of pornography will make the viewer instantly gay. Gay people in general, a woman's right to choose and all things Obama took it in the chops, with plenty of birth certificate speculation to go around.
So, yeah, it was pretty standard stuff, given the roster of speakers who made the scene. But at one point during the event, new ground was broken in truly astonishing fashion. One becomes accustomed to cruel, insensitive, hate-filled rhetoric from the kind of people who dwell in this particular region of politics, but when Mike Huckabee took the stage, a whole new standard was set.
Now, I used to have a certain twisted affection for Mike Huckabee. I agree with virtually nothing he says, but I credit him for handing the 2008 GOP nomination to the very beatable John McCain during the primaries. The two most viable candidates, you will recall, were Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, both of whom were jockeying for the all-important GOP base vote. But Huckabee was the darling candidate of that base, and kept getting 50% of that vote in every primary, which served to drastically undercut the Giuliani and Romney campaigns. Huckabee stayed in the race just long enough to ruin Rudy and Mitt before dropping out himself, and McCain won the nomination pretty much by default. The rest, as they say, is history.
After this weekend, however, that lingering affection has curdled completely. Huckabee took the podium at the Values Voters Summit to attack and denounce the Obama administration's health care reform legislation, which was par for the course as far as the event went. But Huckabee was not content merely to repeat the "It's a government takeover, let's repeal it" rhetoric, choosing instead to carve a bold new path into the annals of infamy:
When Republicans attack health care reform, Democrats like to counter by accusing Republicans of wanting to repeal a law that requires insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions. According to Republican Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, that's exactly right. People with pre-existing conditions, he explains, are like houses that have already burned down. "It sounds so good, and it's such a warm message to say we're not gonna deny anyone from a preexisting condition," Huckabee explained at the Value Voters Summit today. "Look, I think that sounds terrific, but I want to ask you something from a common sense perspective. Suppose we applied that principle [to] our property insurance. And you can call your insurance agent and say, "I'd like to buy some insurance for my house." He'd say, "Tell me about your house." "Well sir, it burned down yesterday, but I'd like to insure it today." And he'll say, "I'm sorry, but we can't insure it after it's already burned." Well, no pre-existing conditions."
Let's look at some numbers, shall we? According to the American Heart Association, more than 81,000,000 Americans suffer from one or more forms of cardiovascular disease. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 11,000,000 people in America currently suffer from some form of cancer. According to the American Diabetes Association, 23.6 million Americans currently suffer from diabetes, and the Center for Disease Control has estimated as many as half of all Americans will suffer from the disease by the year 2050, thanks to our deplorable dietary habits. According to the National Parkinson's Foundation, between 50,000 and 60,000 new cases of Parkinson's Disease are diagnosed in America each year. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, some 400,000 Americans currently suffer from MS. That's a pretty substantial portion of the population, with more being diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's and MS every day.
All of them, every single one of them, are like a house that has already burned down, according to Mike Huckabee and the sick bastards who cheered his comments. All of them, every single one of them, are not worthy of health insurance because they had the misfortune of getting sick before they got insurance. All of them, every single one of them, therefore, are not worthy of health care in any real form, unless, of course, they are wealthy and able to afford the staggering cost of ill health in America.
All of them, in short, every single one of them, can basically just go die in Mike Huckabee's world. They are not worthy of coverage, treatment or consideration. The five diseases I listed account for well over a third of the American population, and if Mike Huckabee or someone who agrees with him somehow becomes president someday, those millions of people should just dig their own graves and lie down in them.
Yeah, that's why I'm not polite to these people. My wife has multiple sclerosis, and Mr. Huckabee this weekend compared her to a burned-down house. My wife is a vibrant, active woman who deals with a terrible, terrifying disease that costs upwards of $50,000 a year to treat. Thankfully, my wife was already insured through work when she was diagnosed, but there are many thousands of people out there with MS who have no insurance, or who won't have insurance when they get diagnosed. If Huckabee has his way, people with pre-existing conditions will be treated as burned-down houses and essentially left to die.
To hear a man who gets treated like a legitimate voice in American politics basically consign my wife and millions of other Americans to suffering and death is to hear nothing more or less than flat-out hate speech from a presidential candidate. What Mike Huckabee suggested is tantamount to eugenics, to the extermination of "weaker" people simply because they are ill.
If this kind of talk isn't enough to convince Republicans that the fringe of their party is to be avoided at all costs, then nothing in the world will. There have to be at least a few unwell Republicans in the country, right? There have to be some Republicans with heart trouble, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's or MS, right? If so, those people had better start digging that grave for themselves, especially if they are stupid enough to support Mike Huckabee or anyone else who agrees with him.
Be polite to these people if that's your nature. It is not in mine, especially after the display this past weekend. These people are the sick ones, the ones with pre-existing conditions, and they should be barred from holding public office by the voters because of it. They are all sick bastards, and I have no interest in being nice about it. Do you know anyone with heart trouble, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's, MS, or some other illness like these? Maybe Alzheimer's? If so, you shouldn't be nice, either. Someday, it may be you on the wrong end of such a diagnosis, and if people like Huckabee and his ilk have their way, dig a grave and lie down in it. You're a burned-down house, and your country has no use for you."