Andy Stone: A Stone’s Throw
August 5, 2009
When I was in college, there was this guy in my dorm who kicked the Coke machine.
I know, everybody kicks a Coke machine sooner or later – when the damn thing steals your money.
But this guy would kick the machine again and again and again, day after day. Wham! Wham! Wham!
He was a big hulking guy, a math whiz or maybe a science guy – some kind of nerd/genius with severely limited social skills. (There were a lot of those where I went to college. Now that I think of it, I may have been one of them – not so much on the “genius” side, but definitely heavy on the “nerd” and the “limited social skills.”)
This guy would back up a couple of steps, stride forward and slam his size-12 foot directly into the front of the machine, somewhere close to the coin slot.
Somehow he’d figured out that if he managed to hit exactly the right spot he’d jiggle something loose inside the machine and get a free Coke.
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I don’t know if he really liked Coke, but he couldn’t resist the lure of something for nothing. So he’d spend hours kicking the machine.
Every once in a while he’d get a free Coke. He’d guzzle it down and go right back to kicking. Wham! Wham! Wham!
Eventually, he did so much damage to the machine, splintering the plastic, caving in the sheet-metal, that it stopped working altogether. No more Cokes for anyone.
I think about that guy as I follow the debate over reforming our health care insurance system.
Actually, I think of him when I follow politics in general.
In the world of politics, lying is the equivalent of this hulking weirdo kicking the Coke machine.
It’s doing something you really shouldn’t do, to get something you really don’t deserve.
It’s something destructive that you do over and over again, heedless of the damage, ignoring the risk of destroying the entire system – because it worked once and, who knows, if you keep doing it, it just might work again.
Of course, there’s another way to get what you want. You could put a quarter in the Coke machine – you could hold an honest debate on political issues and try to persuade people that your side is right.
In the health care fight, there are countless examples of this, but let’s settle for one: The “health care expert” (that’s how she bills herself) declaring that one section in the Democrats’ plan, would “would make it mandatory… that every five years, people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner.”
Shorter version (which immediately became a Republican talking point): The government’s going to kill seniors when it gets too expensive to keep them alive.
That is simply not true. Period.
The actual plan says that people on Medicare can choose (their choice) to meet with their doctor (their own doctor) once every five years to discuss “end-of-life issues.”
That doesn’t mean “how to end your life.” It means how to make preparations for the time when your life will be coming to an end – such as writing a living will. (A good idea. Unless you think the whole Terry Schiavo incident worked out really well for all concerned.)
Republicans of all sorts have been howling about how the health care bill will wind up with the government putting old people to death.
That’s not true. In fact – technical term coming up – it is what is called “a lie.”
And yet, the Republicans are repeating it over and over again – because they’ve had good luck in the past repeating lies over and over again. (Does the term “Swift boat” ring a bell?)
Can’t you just see that big nerd slamming his huge foot into the Coke machine? Plastic cracking. Sheet metal buckling. Wham! He doesn’t care. He wants a free Coke.
Look, I’m not going to argue that the proposed health care reform is the best possible solution. I’m just saying it’d be nice to have a real discussion without all the lies intended to destroy the program.
Is destruction all that they’re after? Maybe it is.
They’re calling the attempt to reform health care insurance outrageous! Socialism! Destruction of the American Way of Life!
But here’s another way to look at it: Obama and the Democrats are trying to keep a campaign promise.
They ran for office promising to reform health care. They got elected. Now they’re trying to keep that promise.
The Republicans say they’ve got a better plan. Curious. They never mentioned that when they ran the country for eight years. Now they’ve suddenly got the answer?
Right. Unless, gee, they just really don’t give a damn about health care?
Hmmm. Well, who can forget South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint saying, “If we can stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him”?
If what they’re trying to do is “break” Obama, they’re certainly not trying to heal America.
I’m guessing that almost everyone reading this has had a problem either getting health insurance or getting insurance that actually pays the bills. And if you haven’t had problems yourself, I’m pretty sure you know someone who has.
Our country is suffering. And the Republicans? Wham! Wham! Wham!
They don’t care what they destroy.
They just want to “win.”