Friday, December 6, 2013

Health Care and Apartheid: Basically the Same Thing

As Republican politicians fight their never-ending battle to out-stupid one another, one of the more consistent front-runners is Rick Santorum. Santorum's regularly demonstrated ability to combine right-wing dogma, pseudo-Christian hypocrisy and general tone-deafness is nothing short of breathtaking. That someone with multiple university degrees is capable of saying so many profoundly dumb things (as reported previously) just goes to show that book-larnin' ain't everything, I guess.

Today's award-winning demonstration of Santorum's ignorance took place on Bill O'Reilly's show (an appropriate forum for that sort of thing). Discussing the passing of Nelson Mandela, Santorum told O'Reilly, "Nelson Mandela stood up against a great injustice and was willing to pay a huge price for that, and that's the reason he is mourned today, because of that struggle that he performed… And I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people's lives, and Obamacare is front and center in that."

Wow! I'm impressed. And he said all that with a straight face, no less. Yes, Rick believes that a law enacted to extend the benefits of affordable health care to tens of millions of Americans, and to keep millions more from getting screwed over by their health insurance providers, is pretty much the same as a brutal government-mandated system of racial discrimination that regulated where you could live, where you could work, where you could go, whom you could associate with. The similarities are pretty obvious, no?

You're right, this does remind me of Obamacare

I think that with this pronouncement, Santorum has secured himself a comfortable lead in the stupid sweepstakes, ahead of perpetual challengers Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. Not that they aren't putting up a fight, mind you. Palin's recent statement about the federal debt and slavery come to mind (helpful hint: when someone prefaces a statement with, "and this isn't racist, but…", you can safely assume that whatever comes next will be pretty offensive). Bachmann has since countered with claims that Barack Obama "has rewritten the Constitution for himself as a part of his effort to fundamentally transform the United States of America"—golly, I didn't learn in my high school civics class—the one in which I scored 100% on every test but only got a "B" because the teacher said I "had a bad attitude"—that the president gets to rewrite the Constitution. But I think Santorum, with his "ACA=apartheid" equation, once again leaves Sarah and Michele in the dust.

What is it about these right-wing Republicans that enables them to make these pronouncements that attain an almost magical level of stupid? I am simultaneously fascinated and repulsed; I guess it's the same thing some people get out of watching those "Saw" movies. I don't need to watch that stuff—I can just watch Republicans being interviewed on Fox News to get the same kind of sick thrill.

Turn that thing off! It's frightening the children.

Nelson Mandela was, and I'm sure will remain, an inspirational figure to people the world over. He was a man who fought against outrageous injustice, suffered his punishment for that with dignity and ultimately emerged triumphant. Where others might have sought retribution, he worked for reconciliation. He was a respected statesman who was elected to lead his country and, unlike so many of his peers among African leaders, when his term was up, he went. I cannot for the life of me imagine a Santorum or a Palin or a Bachmann (or a Cruz or a Paul or practically any of the more vocal Republicans) ever rising to even a small fraction of that level of moral authority. That Rick Santorum, the supposed champion of Catholic teachingswould somehow link this figure, who for the good of his country truly turned the other cheek to seek rapprochement with his former tormentors, to his own immoral crusade to deprive America's least privileged citizens of a little bit of progress toward health care security tells me everything about him (and his fan base) that I would ever care to know.

Wait… Jesus said what??!!