Monday, February 20, 2006

Menschlichkeit (or menschliness)?

After Friday's rant, Bush, you won't be surprised that I took a couple of days off. I needed some time away from all this madness, to take a good, deep breath of sanity and reason, and enjoy the view of Hollywood in rain and sunshine, both, from our new home. I didn't manage to quite fully escape, however. I was ill-advised enough to watch your Frist on a Sunday morning talk show.

What is it exactly about you guys? There's a quality you seem to share in common. I was interested in Paul Krugman's column in today's New York Times, because he tried to put his finger on that quality and had to define it as a negative, a "mensch gap". What's a "mensch", you may be asking? As a fellow goy, Bush, I understand that you might need some explanation. A mensch, as Krugman puts it, is "an upstanding person who takes responsibility for his actions." In his column, he took a look at your Cheney, your Rumsfeld, your Chertoff, your Leavitt--not to mention your good self--as examples of men who notably failed to take responsibility for their actions, with very specific, very egregious examples in each case to back him up. There are others, many of them, as we know, but these sufficed to make his argument.

Now comes your Frist, on Sunday morning, as if to prove in advance the point that Krugman made today. Asked about the Cheney incident, he attributed the blame not to Cheney, for having made the shot, nor the subsequent knee-jerk effort to blanket the whole episode in the usual secrecy, but to unnamed subversives who turned it unfairly into "partisan politics." Can you imagine, Bush? I mean, I understand that "partisan politics" is one of those coded phrases used in your administration to deflect any and all criticism, but this was taking it a little beyond the sphere of simple reason. It sounded like what it was, an empty phrase, devoid of meaning or applicability. And then, Bush, then--as though he had learned nothing from the ridicule that followed his long-distance medical diagnosis of the hapless Terri Schiavo--he presumed to make a medical assessment of the health of your Cheney's vitim, Harry Whittingon.

Okay, enough of the Cheney farce. I agree. Back to serious business. One of Frist's questioners was interested to know "what went wrong" with the implementation of your much touted new program to address the cost of drugs. It has not been hard to detect certain problems in its implementation, with thousands of sick and elderly confused by the befuddling multiplicity of plans, and many simply unable to get the medicines they needed--and with states forced to step in to resolve the worst of the emergency situations that resulted. The question was a clear and a direct one. And, I thought, a fair one.

Can you believe, then, that your Frist was unable to concede for one moment that there had been a problem, let alone to answer the question, "What went wrong?" His answer was pure "partisan politics": nothing, apparently, went wrong at all. The program was an unalloyed success. Thousands of people could now get the drugs they needed at affordable prices. No mention that the law expressly prohibits the negotiation of prices. No mention of the windfall profits for the insurance and the pharmaceutical industries. No mention of the chaos, the fear, the grotesque disparities in costs. Everything, thanks to your power play in shoving this absurd piece of legislation down the throats of the American public, everything about the program, in Frist's view, was hunky-dory.

This is exactly, as I see it, what Krugman was talking about. All evidence to the contrary, there were no mistakes. How could there be? Oh, in any big new government program, the argument goes, there are bound to be minor glitches here and there. Nothing serious, though. So in the chaos that followed the implementation of your drugs act, no one was responsible, no one was held accountable. It was all, I guess, one "heck of a job."

I've been trying to think of the right word to describe your Frist's appearance. The best I've been able to come up with is "mendacious." I like the sound of it, and it says what I mean. So look that one up in your Webster's, Bush. (By the way, in checking the word in my OED--yes, Bush, I still cling to my old English sources!--I first opened the tome to this delightful term: nestle-cock. I had no idea what a nestle-cock was until this moment. It's apparently "The last-hatched bird, or weakling of a brood; hence, a mother's pet; a spoilt or delicate child." A propos of nothing, really. But kind of a nice word. I'll try to find some place to use it, one of these days.)

1 comment:

PK said...

Being "spoilt, and delicate", has to have another do all his thinking for him, as he is unable to do for himself. Excellent post there Peter.