Bob Franken

Health Care Disruptions and the Bonehead of the Day Award


Forgive this self-indulgence. Normally I don’t like to brag, but there’s a conservative Web site out there that has named me the recipient of its “Bonehead of the Day” award. Applause, please. The honor is bestowed because of my columns decrying the health care frenzy — columns that allegedly overlook similar disruptions courtesy of the far left.

The site Bonehead of the Day complains that I “conveniently forget how groups like ActUp, Code Pink, MoveOn, ANSWER, ACORN have encouraged activists to shout down (and sometimes pie) conservative speakers at colleges, and mobilize millions online to ‘push back’ during political campaigns. ”

I cannot disagree with that at all. The people on the right are absolutely, uh, right.

Now it’s Democrats who are on the receiving end. One can only imagine Sen. Arlen Specter, wishing he had never switched from the Republican Party as wild constituents at his shout-fest called him everything but “senator.”

The crazies from the far-right reaches are merely employing tactics refined by the crazies on the other fringe. It’s quite remarkable when you think about it. Conservatives have always despised demonstrators. In my lifetime, they would sometimes organize their sympathizers to break up loud protests. Times have changed. The shoe is on the other wing.

Instead of demanding change, the current crazed crew is resisting it. Health care reform will unleash the apocalypse, or something like it. They really seem to believe that — or they do after those who think for them whip them into a frenzy. They are easy to exploit. Those who feel powerless always are.

They feel there’s little they can do but watch our country spin out of control, abandoning all the fundamental values that define this nation. They see government takeover after the bottom has fallen out the economy. Now they perceive that their uniquely American health care will be stolen away and replaced by one of those “socialist” systems that cover other countries.

Just like those on the far left fighting for their issues, they’ve concluded that civilized discourse is futile. Why bother with constructive discussion. It’s a waste of time. Disruptive behavior is the only way to get anyone’s attention. Just ask those who fought for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. This is nothing new. Just a different cause to outrage very different people and spur raucous behavior.

Those of us in television do our part. We’re always pleased to put this stuff on the news. I hate to put it this way, but it’s great entertainment. And that’s what TV news is about. We don’t like to spend the time, mental energy and, most of all, financial resources actually covering an issue. Great video is all we ever care about. Give us a good mindless demonstration anytime.

So, you bet — most of the focus is on the uproar. Little attention is being paid to all the complexities of health care, which is what the uproar should be all about. Instead, it’s about partisan politics and protecting special interests. Those special interests who want to continue gaming our present medical system and making big bucks must be chortling.

This latest pack is hardly the first to howl when threatened. Oafish behavior has been a favored tactic for a long time. Will we able to get past that and seriously discuss health care reform? Or is that a bonehead question?

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