One of the biggest applause lines during former President Bill Clinton's speech at a lunch celebrating the fifth anniversary of his presidential library began this way:
“If they repealed the 22nd amendment and I could run for a third term as president ... .”
He was joking, using it for a point about the politics of health care reform.
Those who clapped were not joking.
The crowd of 1,000 at the lunch all stood with hand over heart to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the program. The Observer wondered what Will Phillips would have done. Would the West Fork fifth-grader have remained true to his vow not to recite the pledge as long as the U.S. affords some people less liberty and justice than others?
For a fleeting second, we thought about not rising, out of solidarity with Will Phillips. Conformity is a powerful force, though, even without a school teacher standing over us with a ruler. We stood, we saluted, we recited. And we wished for the day that Will Phillips can do so with a glad heart.
Ray Weghorst, a follower of The Observer, said last week's column's musings on the benefits of a Honda — so great The Observer was considering forgiving the Japanese for starting World War II — inspired him to send this note.
“My late father-in-law, U.S. Navy veteran CPO Henry F. Menke, survived the sinking of his ship at Pearl Harbor. His reward for such good fortune was to be transferred to the first aircraft carrier that was bombed by the kamikazes while at sea in the Western Pacific. He survived the war, and returned to his home state of Nebraska, where he married and reared four children, including my wife.
“In his later years, Chief Menke became active in the Pearl Harbor Survivors organization. About 10 years ago, he was on his way to a PHS get-together in Fayetteville when he was pulled over by an Arkansas state trooper for speeding. Always a quick thinker, he put on his Pearl Harbor Survivor cap just as the trooper approached his vehicle. When the trooper looked in the window and saw the cap, he told Chief Menke that he was not under any circumstances going to issue a ticket to the Pearl Harbor Survivor on Veterans Day. He did advise more caution in the future, however. The trooper then noted that Chief Menke was driving a Subaru and stated ‘Sir, you must be the most forgiving man I have ever met.' He then tipped his cap and returned to the cruiser.”
It's been a week when everyone's talking about health care. There was the continuing focus on Blanche Lincoln, who dithered herself into a national spotlight she'd rather not have been under. There was the black-hearted doctor's wife who sent an e-mail to friends, and subsequently to the world, bragging about her harpy act at a local restaurant, where she berated Vic Snyder for his vote to create a system of health care that would extend access to all Americans, rather than continuing the one that has made her rich beyond belief. Snyder's wife was in tears; Arkansas blog readers were aghast at the woman's shockingly insensitive, illogical and rude boasts. It was a window into the minds of the elitists who think the poor and middle class are just a bunch of unsuccessful would-be freeloaders.
The Observer got this note from a doctor who helped treat some 1,000 uninsured who took advantage of Saturday's free health clinic downtown sponsored by Communities are Responding Every Day:
“Many, maybe the majority of docs in town very rarely see an uninsured patient to know their story and understand their plight.
“The front office staff and hospitals screen them out. One can be in private practice and not be aware how many are shunted away from your office.
“(Conversely, one can be on the office staff and be screamed at by their physician/employer if someone with no money slips through).
“Community health centers, teaching hospitals, most pediatricians, ER docs, and some family practice do know and see these folks, but for most every other provider setting, no tickee, no washee.
“About 20 years ago senior execs of a large Arkansas health insurance company were amazed that the uninsured existed. And if you sell insurance to those who can afford it, why would you know it?”
It's no excuse.