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« The Human Toll of America's Health Disaster | Main | Ask Maggie Mahar »

Michael Winship: Even Camelot Needed Health Care

(Photo by Robin Holland)

Below is an article by JOURNAL senior writer Michael Winship. We welcome your comments below.

"Even Camelot Needed Health Care"
By Michael Winship

Toward the end of George McGovern’s failed presidential bid in 1972, I was helping advance a bus trip for vice presidential candidate Sargent Shriver. The final weekend of the campaign, his caravan would start in New Hampshire and work its way down the Eastern seaboard, holding rallies along the way and winding up in Washington, DC, just before Election Day.

As we spoke with mayors whose cities would be visited, the draw wasn’t Shriver but the news that his brother-in-law, Senator Ted Kennedy, would be accompanying him. Even though Chappaquiddick had taken place just a little more than three years before, it was the Kennedy charisma, the power of that family that still got even the most seasoned local politico excited.

Imagine how popular we were a few days later when we had to go back to tell them Teddy wasn’t coming. His bad back from that near fatal plane crash in 1964 made a long bus journey impossible to endure. Shriver still drew crowds but it just wasn’t the same.

Nearly 20 years later, I ran into Kennedy on an escalator at the AFL-CIO convention in Detroit as he arrived to make a speech. No bodyguards (visible, anyway), no entourage. I thought that I had never seen him look so healthy and vigorous. The gregariousness that made him such a consummate politician was on full display as we chatted and he loudly greeted union officials as we ascended, each a hail fellow, well met.

To those belonging to the post-baby boomer generations, it may be difficult to comprehend the change that took place in America when Ted Kennedy’s older brother Jack became President in 1961 – although the successful embracing of the Obama candidacy by young people comes close.

As we ended the years of the Eisenhower administration, even though the nation was more prosperous than ever, there was a grayness to everyday life that seemed to shift to Technicolor with the advent of those brief Kennedy years, like Dorothy shaking off the dust of Kansas for Oz.

John F. Kennedy’s presidential race against Richard Nixon split my family neatly in two. My dad and older brother were for Nixon, my mother and I favored JFK (but I still have a gold Nixon tie clip my father prized, with an engraved caricature of Tricky Dick that looks more like Bob Hope than the presidential incubus we all came to know and love).

My father and brother came around. I witnessed Kennedy’s inauguration on the elementary school’s TV set, and was allowed to stay up late to watch the inaugural balls. My mother kept scrapbooks about Jack and Jackie and Caroline and John-John. All of us snapped up stories about family life in the White House and wept when the President died in Dallas. A few years later we would do the same for Bobby.

As time went by we would learn that we had been fooled about a lot of it; that the Wizard was a man behind a curtain, that much of the Camelot legend’s glitter was media hype as bogus as fool’s gold. But there remained about the Kennedy family a sort of grand, Shakespearean sublimity that applied as equally to the hubris and heartbreak as the good luck and achievement.

Or, in the words of playwright, journalist and Republican Clare Boothe Luce, cited in some of this week’s obituaries, "Where else but in gothic fiction, where else among real people could one encounter such triumphs and tragedies, such beauty and charm and ambition and pride and human wreckage, such dedication to the best and lapses into the mire of life; such vulgar, noble, driven, generous, self-centered, loving, suspicious, devious, honorable, vulnerable, indomitable people?"

But how interesting that despite their grossest and most callow foibles and failings, throughout the life and times of the three Kennedy brothers who survived their older brother Joe there was a deep, moral concern for the nation’s health that continued right up through Ted Kennedy’s death. Notice in their memories of him this week how many friends and colleagues mentioned help that Senator Kennedy got for them during medical crises of their own.

Vice President Joe Biden remembered that when his two sons were recovering from the car crash that took the life of his wife and daughter in 1972, Kennedy “was on the phone with me literally ever day in the hospital… I’d turn around and there would be some specialist from Massachusetts, a doc I had never even asked for, literally sitting in the room with me.”

And in Thursday’s WASHINGTON POST, Howard Kurtz reported that, “Chris Matthews, a Type 2 diabetic, spoke of Kennedy calling him with advice after the ‘Hardball’ host had an attack of hypoglycemia. Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist, recalled on CNN that when his father had received a cancer diagnosis, Kennedy called and ‘gave me the name of one of the world's foremost experts in cancer treatment. He said, “He's expecting your call. I just talked to him." And he helped pave the way to get my father the treatment that, frankly, saved his life.’”

Perhaps such concern was inspired by the example of the matriarch Rose’s selfless devotion to service in the name of the Catholic Church or simply all the time the Kennedy family has spent in hospital wards through the years, nursing or mourning their own.

The first time I ever heard the dreaded phrase “socialized medicine” was during John F. Kennedy’s presidency, when the GOP fought his administration’s attempts at health care reform. And during his own, all too brief presidential campaign in 1968, when Bobby Kennedy told audiences that decent medical care should not be a luxury of the rich, he quoted Aristotle: “If we believe men have any personal rights at all, then they must have an absolute moral right to such a measure of good health as society can provide.”

The only one of the brothers to live beyond the age of 50 and make it to senior citizenship, Ted Kennedy honed his skills as a legislator over nearly as many decades in the US Senate, and universal health care was, in his words, the cause of his life.

Through his years there, Kennedy pushed for it incrementally with the Americans with Disabilities Act, creation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-Chip), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act allowing folks to hang onto their insurance after leaving a job, the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), increased funds for AIDS and cancer research and community medical centers.

But many believe the time for increments has passed. In Edward Moore Kennedy’s name, it’s time to do the right thing, the big thing; time to revive flagging support and step up to universal reform. Already there has been far too much shouting and far too little healing.

In NEWSWEEK last month, Kennedy wrote with his longtime speechwriter and advisor Bob Shrum, “I’ve thought in an even more powerful way than before about what this will mean to others. And I am resolved to see to it this year that we create a system to ensure that someday, when there is a cure for the disease I now have, no American who needs it will be denied it.”

Ted Kennedy, resolute in his faith and passionately, unabashedly liberal to the last breath, said he wanted “a good ending for myself.” Universal health care – at its best with a public option – would be it.


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Comments

Turned the Timmy G show off about halfway through...once I made up my mind that he deserves a quick, 1940s movie star slap...

Compare his schtick at the Town Hall tonight with his deference to the sheikhs in Saudi Arabia just a few weeks ago...yup, he's a "public servant"...

"Run on the banks"

Translation - 8 years are up take the $$$ as you leave

"Never happens again...."

He was the LAW enforcer that threw out the law put in place to prevent another "depression" (there's that word again)

I'm running too "hot" on the insulted and indignation scale right now to blog about Timmy G....

Timmy G. has his own little show tonight on MSNBC. Now that one-sixth of the populace is officially living in poverty already, he will do balloon tricks with the next speculative bubble.

Jack Martin wrote, in part, "The bailout usurps our labor to extend the game, by paying the fraudulent markers."

Geithner announced today that since the "worst" of the recession is over, "government" programs meant to help humans beings survive will be withdrawn.

I could make a really bad "sex and the city" comment, but I'm sure people would out-gross me with what they would have to say about bailing out early...

I find it impossible to believe that Obambi is not a "corporate" autobot for one reason and one reason alone - Geithner.

Yet another thing "slackers" DID NOT do while burrowed into their who-you-know jobs in NYC - enforce ANY SEC rules. Instead we are to believe the MadeOff PR machine spin - he was SMARTER than SEC lawyers and auditors.

Yup, health insurance companies are going to do a 180 and process the paperwork instead of processing people OUT of any "care"...sure, and I'm the Queen of England.

The BIGGEST investments made by the medical industrial complex that jacked up premiums was in "information technology". To this day, the IT anti-social geek who does the "delete" programming gets paid more than the imported Doc from Bengal doing colonoscopies in Vegas....no wonder so many really smart young people gave up and do nothing else but play texas hold-um...it's exponentially a more moral way to lie, obfuscate, mislead and count on luck...no one has to die for you to increase your "profits" through "bad" relationships (no one is your "friend" at the table).

Flash cards held by the patient is the CHEAPEST and safest "improvement" in electronic "medical records". But then that would cut out all those people who really enjoy their jobs of finding ways to screw you out of "care"...appartchiks with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) are MUCH more dangerous than second hand smoke :-)

Answer: For Madoff it was a lifelong dare, but like the mystic science of a board game. Manipulating minds is far more challenging than manipulating money. Bernie harnessed all the innate negative tendencies in the financial system to surf it.
But the bigger truth is that global monopoly corporate capitalism is a pyramid scheme that operates on the same principles as Bernie's game. The bailout usurps our labor to extend the game, by paying the fraudulent markers. New passengers continue to board the crashing plane though a long series of pilots have long ago bailed out. (Taken from A.L. Williams insurance scheme) Maybe that's what bailout means: It allows particular clients time to jump safely. And Anna is correct again: the "counterparties" are burdened with electronic moneybags "to large to manage" and still filling. Only a police state could protect them from retributions and let them keep their spoils. Who will provide such discipline?

Also, if the local religious entrepreneurs, realtors, developers and corporate clones cannot relent the fuel of manipulable minds is inexhaustible. Capitalism is over, in principle, but has entered a phase of infrastructural and mass mental cannibalism. In short: It eats brains.

Jack Martin wrote, in part, "Why cannot African working people (in their 50+ post-colonial nations) have solar panels, solar ambiance and wind energy to meet their domestic needs;..."

Because hedgehogs are "saving" their money for better things...

What do you think would happen if people who knew how to recycle some of the computers being dumped in Africa as "waste" went over and set up the business of solar/wind/water energy...?

Yikes, huh?

Interesting study of human nature - Mr. MadeOff...he set up that whole aura about himself that created a SOCIAL culture where people basically were begging him to choose them and their money. What did MadeOff HATE about every single individual that he "chose"...? And how did he rationalize his hatred in his own mind?

Why cannot African working people (in their 50+ post-colonial nations) have solar panels, solar ambiance and wind energy to meet their domestic needs; and why cannot the working people of these 50 United States have these things as well? Why have so many things, technologically in reach and easily feasible been delayed for so long? Why does Duke Energy, by stacking my town council with their shills and greedy opportunists prevent me personally (through ordinances and zoning) from having these things? (corporate free speech) And why are they planning to rent me solar panels for my home, that they will continue to meter for billing?

Today I visited a Northern Tool, a Lowe's building products and a Home Depot, only to find that a 1/4" hanger bolt (small wood stud) that I needed for my Labor Day project was unavailable in any of these retail outlets. I turned on the TV to check the weather and a crawl between reports of violent crime read (verbatim)"Thousands of Charlotteans used their Labor Day in an attempt to protect their jobs: They worked." Life in our mysterious land is getting curiouser and curiouser.

Note on Africa: When resource extraction disrupts the best survival efforts and perverts government people of empathy are eager to send aid. When a misinformed sex partner contracts AIDS through lack of information or a condom it costs us all, because HIV brings on prolonged suffering, expensive drug regimens (quite profitable), the disintegration of society by epidemic and frustrated violence. The American sickness is to claim we are human but that our overseas victims are not.

Chris: Have you never met a (living) "good" African? It was by service as a barrister in Africa that Gandhi achieved insight. The survival of useful African customs allowed the survivors of American slavery to retain their humanity and resist institutionalized sadism. Wage slavery in this country might be far worse today without the resultant struggles (civil, gender and human rights- and the peace movement) Every resistance of corporate power is part of a greater peace movement. Latent racism undermines this struggle by dividing the victims of corporatism. Labor Day would be a good time to consider these ideas. I recommend meditation on peace, the resources belonging to the peoples of Africa and corporate repression right in your own community. (Corporate free speech is censorship by glut.)

'scusa my friends, have to take my homemade peach pies
out of the oven.

wip wrote, in part, "Lets have AFRICA build wind and solar farms on u.s. taxpayer dollars and have them forget all the billions that the U.S. taxpayer sent to help them."

Our own money is now being used to PREVENT us from being energy self-sufficient. Is that what "don't tread on me" signed up for?

ANNA D Lets have AFRICA build wind and solar farms on u.s. taxpayer dollars and have them forget all the billions that the U.S. taxpayer sent to help them.So they can charge the U.S.taxpayer big bucks to buy power.Did anyone see all those oil tankers coming into U.S. ports to pay back our investment in IRAQ,AFGHANISTAN for their freedom NO!!!! All money we can have to spend on our own so everyone legally in the U.S. has healthcare.

We the People, need to understand that corporations are now trying be a "citizen" and have rights like human beings which they are not-
Corporations have taken over healthcare- their biggest coe- and are able to control who lives and who dies and that depends on how much they can get from you. Let's get back to "We the People, in order to form a more prefect Union...." Democracy is not socialism. Protect your government from the tight fists of multi-national corporations. And see what happens. Not even lobbyists can win when Americans wake-up.

wip wrote, in part, "The U.S.does all the fighting in wars while they play jacks and with them selves 5 miles behind the lines.I am tired of paying taxes to have U.S. subs patrol Canadas shoreline and like all middle east countries bitch about us.Ever notice how the U.S. taxpayer feeds all the poor nations( AFRICA) and nothing ever changes."

The gauntlet was thrown down by the Saudis recently. They (sheiks) said that USA was going to have the Saudis as our rulers for a long time to come. Not kidding - comment from them was aired on the "inwestor" cable station this past Friday...

I think it is FAIR for USA military to take a look at how well "they" have "ruled" Africa...the continent STILL suffers from famine because the human being is not on top of the food chain, yet. People can't get to water because the herds of animals get to the water first.

And what was their big "plan"? Genocide. It seems you can be too black to be black in Africa.

Let's flip over to the Karakoran Pass. "Health care" is all about keeping everyone stoned on opium.

Such RECENT accomplishments of "government" is what they BELIEVE that they can enforce in the USA!?

Seriously, they need to stop smoking their own dope. They're delusional.

And someone, puh-leeze, SELL THEM on the idea to stop freekin' digging those ever-deeper holes in the sand to get at the last bits of oil and set up solar arrays in your deserts instead.

The future is ELECTRICITY. You know - lightening bolts - NATURAL, high energy stuff. It's not about ALL dinosaur juice that was underground being dragged up to trash the whole above-ground planet!

Folks do you know why countries like CANADA& FRANCE can have government heath care that is rated way better then the U.S.A.!! The U.S.does all the fighting in wars while they play jacks and with them selves 5 miles behind the lines.I am tired of paying taxes to have U.S. subs patrol Canadas shoreline and like all middle east countries bitch about us.Ever notice how the U.S. taxpayer feeds all the poor nations( AFRICA) and nothing ever changes.Enough allready because all they do is bitch want to kill and spit on us.The U.S. taxpayer arms these countries and in case of mother nature flooding,burning,blowing etc.etc.them up we pay to help them.If we had been in war there we rebuild there country,cities etc,etc,.Look at all the money we have put out that we should be spending on our own health care.BUSH cut taxes to help the rich they did not help the middleclass/poor while starting a war and giving billions of taxpayer dollars to AFRICA to do what? It never changes a thing.

If you watch Al Jazeera in English you will see that "their" public is better informed than "our" public: So much for them good old evolved institutions. (Ever hear of the cover-up of the 1916 Black Tom explosion? That conspiracy lasted until 1944.)You can't get misled people together to do anything good. (And why are you so ethnically biased? What did an Arab do to you?)

Posted by: Grady Lee Howard

Well, Grady, far be it for me to take on a expert, like you, in political correctness....talk about a tool for mis-informing people! PC-ism...

The philosophic chaos you swim in is beyond my capacity to address. Let me repeat - it's NOT the institutions. It's the people who are dismantling them with INCOMPETANCE and disdain. So what's YOUR replacement for "institutions" that progressive CIVILIZATIONS evolved over centuries?

You certainly can redeem yourself as an "educator" of us stupid normal people who are fortunate enough to not know what the heck you are talking about most of the time (ie - re: "1916 Black Tom explosion") with the "documentary" you and Jack are filming. I'll be sure to watch.

I was talking about the CULTURE of the semite peoples of the middle east. Noblesse oblige never has been and never will be an ideal or a value that their RULERS respect. An "Arab" "educated" me to that FACT of his "culture".

Sorry to make you work harder at the politics of personal destruction with that FACT - it's NOT me who came up with the insight.

If you watch Al Jazeera in English you will see that "their" public is better informed than "our" public: So much for them good old evolved institutions. (Ever hear of the cover-up of the 1916 Black Tom explosion? That conspiracy lasted until 1944.)You can't get misled people together to do anything good. (And why are you so ethnically biased? What did an Arab do to you?)

GLH wrote, in part, "Noblesse oblige was a new thing with each generation depending on what they had to contend with."

That's true. The generation who developed EXTREME efficiency in providing the needs of human life (needs, not wants) had enough "noblesse oblige" present (and make no mistake about it, SELF-interest drives the "obligers" on course, not off a cliff) to come up with the LAWS that prevented the all out social suicide that EXTREME selfishness creates. Selfishness (POWER MADNESS) is even a MATH force of hate and destruction!

As soon as the first batch of thousands of poisonous aspirins were shipped out the door anyway (recent example is the peanut butter scenario), the "oblige-ing" invented an institution (FDA) which is based on the basic TRUTH of human imperfection - people WILL NOT do the "right thing" unless they are REWARDED for doing the right thing - ie. not shipping the poison as "medicine".

Who has been rewarded lately? And for doing what...?

It's not as complicated as restless brain syndrome loons BELIEVE - the institution is not what needs dismantling since it EVOLVED through efficiency and need.

The people in charge of our CIVILIZED institutions are INCOMPETANT. They conspire to cover up their incompetance by CRIMINAL activity (MURDER, theft, DEPRAVITY) and shamanistic WORD worship (religious "theology" gone horribly awry) - heck, it's ALL your 20th century-long stupid stupid "isms"...

So, GLH, it's YOU who have CHOSEN to hate ANY and ALL competant HUMAN BEINGS, beginning with Jesus and Bhudda....

Hitler sought to "save" some group of people, Stalin sought to "save" himself as a genius by killing off every real genius. And the Arabs NEVER practiced "noblesse oblige" and never will. The problem with the neo-nazis is that they are too stupid to know that they are stalinistas.

But in the end, USA is a whole different "history" - if for no other reason than all the annie oakley types :-))

After all the "surveillance" and terror inflicted on us all over the past 8 years - we're finally getting our boots on to go to "war".

You can rabble-rouse your "neos" with hate. We've seen that schtick a billion times already and it's STILL spewing 24/7 on the PRIVATE electromagnetic waves (EMFs) called "news".

"YOU PEOPLE ARE STUPID AND DESERVE TO BE POOR, WRETCHED, and DRUGGED."

How the non-rabble comes together is beyond your reach.

Social constructs do not evolve although language persists. Noblesse oblige was a new thing with each generation depending on what they had to contend with. Jesus and Buddha ain't what they used to be.

AD: Computer warfare exists outside of video games. Bereco.op had a number of hard drives and servers fried by the "government" before we mastered the proxy server arrangement. I think many people are taken into custody due to secret intelligence documents or illicit sexual materials planted on their machines. Right now I can access a program that allows me to witness every keystroke, address pull-up and download on desktops in Dallas, NC (and elsewhere). I watched my co-worker stealing my M&Ms through my work office desk camera yesterday. People fail to be circumspect online as they might when in a Target fitting room trying on bathing suits. Even disregarding space aliens and ghosts, we are not alone. Neither art thou. The Big Head on a stick has operative ears, eyes, memory, and fictive capability; remote predators kill while operators text on-line "models". The plug-in drug is psychedelic and psychotic.

Grady wrote, in part, "To construct noblesse oblige one assumes nobility. When wealth is the only requirement then what of ability or merit? A just regime cannot come about with disparity of wealth institutionalized."

No one CONSTRUCTED "noblesse oblige" - it EVOLVED from the hundreds of thousands of years where ABILITY and MERIT is what kept a person and his "tribe" alive.

INSTITUTIONALIZING disparity of wealth keeps failing! What part don't you get about "communism" and "capitalism"?

Scheesh - everybody screeched like chickens on fire on CNBC when it leaked out that the French were capping how much CAPITALISTIC PROFIT can be distributed to the most psychotic and greedy at the French sovereign "banks"...look, if people can steal Bernacke's identity, the French learned the lesson back in their famous revolution when the poor ate the rich to make the point about institutionalizing "wealth".

A certain amount of PROFIT must, MUST, go back into the life-maintenance activity that produced the profit to begin with so that PROGRESS can happen. There isn't even a TRICKLE anymore in the trickle-down economy!

Still trying to PUSH some "ism" when people are showing MERCY in not gathering up and barbequeing THIEVES with laptops just proves that criminal minds are RETARDED.

Unemployment is at a critical mass and - have you taken a look around? - you think that the tatooed, end-times, blackwater worshipping crowd is NOT going to STEAL without all the hypocritical finessing of "ism" chatter that you still thing works...?

CIA's Mkultra program needs to stop being funded. Psychos and sociopaths suck at social engineering...

I can't recall the Kennedys without thinking of Jacqueline's Bouvier cousins; Edie and Edie Beale. The divorced mother held onto her East Hampton house: Grey Gardens until the end. The scenario has been a tabloid sensation several times, inspiring a number of films. It was the Kennedy mystique keeping such eccentricity in the news, and the Edies in their decrepit home with Whiskas the cat. It is trough this lens that I begin to comprehend the perverse American institution of celebrity. You contrast Jackie's tour of the improved 60s White House with Edie feeding the coons in the attic.

We present Ted's impunity from accountability on account of his replacing his brothers as normal, but we can't normalize the suggestion to sleep with a contractor to get the heat turned on. Our prisons are brimming over with men who took far less license than any Kennedy brother and millions will suffer cold and homeless this winter. The improved Teddy couldn't help everyone but started with those in his insulated circle. Legislation was compromised partially because he understood the addiction to unearned income firsthand. To construct noblesse oblige one assumes nobility. When wealth is the only requirement then what of ability or merit? A just regime cannot come about with disparity of wealth institutionalized. Kennedyism is even weaker than gradualism in that it suggests only the annointed-priiviledged can contribute. Part of the problem right now is that President Obedient subconsciously assumes a royal posture (identifies with his masters, kind of a Stockholm-Syndrome-lux ).

I agree one hundred percent--how do we get those in congress to realize that THIS IS THE ANSWER.

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