Friday, October 4, 2013

Todd Rokita: Crossing the Line from Offensive to Evil

Look up at the top of this page, right under the title Me Me Me Me Me. Do you see what it says there? “A chance for me to share my thoughts (or, maybe just vent a bit).” Well, please bear with me, but the time has come for some of that venting.

I’m in the process of writing a much longer post debunking Rep. Todd Rokita’s [R-IN] explanation for calling Obamacare “insidious”. But that post will have to wait. Because I’ve just come across something else that Rep. Rokita said that … well … if I said it made my blood boil, it would be an understatement.

First, let’s recall why the government has been shut down. The Republicans demanded that Obamacare be defunded (or, perhaps, delayed in its implementation). That is the core of the dispute. But now that the government has been shut down, Republicans are finding that, gee, some aspects of government aren’t so bad; maybe they’re even good.

So, as reported yesterday by The Huffington Post (emphasis added):

The politics behind the government shutdown reached a new level of absurdity on Thursday as a group of conservative House Republicans — the same ones refusing to fund the government unless Obamacare is delayed or defunded — pleaded with Democrats to pass a bill only funding services for children with cancer.

Dressed in lab coats, members of the Republican Doctors Caucus made the case that pediatric cancer research trials at the National Institutes of Health deserve to be funded, even if the rest of the government is not.

“There are times that the private sector cannot be reasonably expected to do the research and development needed because the issue, the syndrome, the disease, might be so rare that it is economically prohibitive,” said Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), whose son suffers from Angelman Syndrome, a rare neurogenetic disorder.

“I ask the president himself to stop this nonsense,” said Rokita. “Let us help people. Let us help children. Please.”

I want to make it clear that I have the utmost sympathy for Rep. Rokita’s son and the entire Rokita family. You see, as I think I’ve mentioned before, my wife also has a rare illness; an illness for which the private sector has not done much research and an illness that prevents my wife from getting individual health insurance and causes our family’s health insurance premiums to be very, very high.

That’s one of the reasons that I’ve been a major supporter of Obamacare. I think that it is terrible that people suffering from illnesses can’t get insurance or, if they can, have to pay astronomical premiums. I think that it’s terrible that insurance companies can cancel insurance when people get sick and that many policies include lifetime coverage caps.

But Obamacare does away with those problems.

And Rep. Rokita wants to repeal Obamacare. However, like a true self-sentered asshole with no self-awareness, he’s willing to use his son’s illness to make a political point. He’s willing to plea to “help the children”. But why do the children need help? Because Rep. Rokita and his sociopathic colleagues have shut down the government. And why have they shut down the government? Because they don’t want people — like those children — to have access to affordable healthcare.

Please, please help my child, just don’t help those other children. Government is bad, except when government helps my child. Shut down the government, except the part of government that I like or need. (It’s also worth noting that Republicans spent the first day or two of the shutdown complaining about the closure of the World War II Memorial while people on the left talked about the closure of NIH medical trials; when Republicans saw which of those issues generated more sympathy, suddenly the focus shifted…)

If Rep. Rokita really cared about children, his own or those of his constituents, he could help end the shutdown today. He could join the caucus calling on House Republicans to pass a clean continuing resolution and separate budget and debt issues from their dislike of Obamacare. He could stop trying to blame President Obama and Senate Democrats for his own conduct and do something.

Instead, Rep. Rokita is grandstanding (when he’s not calling Obamacare “insidious” or being condescending to a CNN reporter) about his “concern” for children because his child would benefit from the care. Rep. Rokita wants to use words like “insidious”. Perhaps Rep. Rokita needs to go into a cancer ward and tell the children why he thinks his child deserves medical research but they don’t deserve the opportunity for affordable healthcare. Maybe he could explain to the families of those children why they don’t deserve protection against unscrupulous insurance companies willing to terminate coverage or include lifetime caps. And then he could explain why he was willing to shut down the government only to shed crocodile tears when it might have an adverse impact on his child.

A public servant willing to cry foul because his own conduct puts his child at risk — when that very conduct was designed to put other children at risk — isn’t just stupid or misguided. No. That sort of behavior deserves other words. Words like vile. Or evil. This has gone beyond politics. Rep. Rokita has proven that he doesn’t really understand what it is to be human. Compassion is not a political football and the lives and health of children are not something to use for political gain. Rep. Rokita has shown the true face of many in today’s Republican party; a face that is repulsive and repugnant to anyone with a shred of dignity or decency.

This blog may be called Me Me Me Me Me (it was a joke), but the Republican Party and its billionaire backers have proved that “me me me” is really all that they care about.

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