Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues

Send Lady Liberty Back to France

During Obama’s struggle to bring about health care reform, fall of ‘09 brought, on the heels of ugly Town Hall meetings across the U.S., a new low in Congressional behavior from Joe Wilson of South Carolina and indications that our “nation of immigrants” no longer tolerates its own kind anymore. This begs the question: why not return the Statue of Liberty?

Rush Limbaugh (in)famously has said he hoped Obama “fails,” then hedged what he said, before repeating the first remark–calling to mind Gen. Westmoreland who, during the war in Vietnam, said the Vietnamese didn’t feel pain the way we do, then took it back, then said it again (once to me).

Rush–uh, excuse me, “Rusty,” as he is known in the home-town that he and I share–is the nontitular head of the Republican party, and some pols in his camp will do anything to stop Obama’s health care reform. Like Rusty, they truly want the president to fail. There’s real patriotism for you: sons of the pioneers, who built this country and made it strong. Excuse me, I think I’m going to be sick.

Rep. Joe Wilson is the latest American Behaving Badly, following the Town Hall Meetings from Hell. So we’ve gone from “I hope he fails,” to Wilson’s “You lie,” and at last we know just how ridiculous a year this has been. If there’s anything to the notion that reality is a circle, or that a pendulum at last swings the other way, we can only hope that such comes soon in America.
Obama, of course, is smarter than his critics think. He may get less than he hoped for in a new bill, and people will love any reform much more than they think. The tragedy is that public option may be left out this time–the only thing that would bring down health insurance costs. The GOP loves competition, except for insurance companies, meaning that prices will continue to rise, and when they do, they’ll blame the prez. But should Obama gets his public option, they’ll change the subject to his birth certificate again–after all, he’s up against real intellectuals here.

As Alice would say, what gets “curiouser and curiouser” in this debate is many people’s attitude toward immigrants. We’re a nation of them, right, so if we don’t want our own kind anymore, why not send the Statue of Liberty back to France? After all, it’s about “…your tired, your poor, your hungry masses yearning to be free…”–but, darn, nothing about their health. I guess that means the Lady Liberty is irrelevant, now that the cry from here is, “I’ve got mine, so pull up the ladder!”

No one complained when presidents Reagan and Bush made speeches to school children–but when Obama gave one, a lot of schools opted out–and somebody needs to knock their heads together together. A school in Texas shut out Obama’s speech, then bused the same kids to Cowboy stadium to hear former prez Bush speak live. How fair, and patriotic, is that?

The Immigration Bill that Reagan signed in 1986 allowed legal status, or amnesty, to those who could prove continuous residence, and while barring new migrants from welfare and food stamps, it provided funding for “emergency medical care, and aid to the aged, blind and disabled” among them–and “set up an office to prosecute immigrant-related discrimination regarding employment.” I don’t recall conservatives throwing up their dinner over that, but, after all, it was their precious Ronnie who had signed on to it.

If we can get over this national hypocrisy, and certain legislators get a grip on their real purpose for being in Washington, we might actually get some decent reform. If not, there will be a steep new price for missing the health care boat–which till now has meant that when somebody fell out of it, no one could hear the splash.

By now, however, we should know who’s really to blame for what ails us–and who really lied.

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