GOPer Lectures Wife of Dying Insurance Victim

I am left speechless by Senator Tom Coburn's (R-OK) response to a sobbing woman, begging for help because her insurance company will not pay for a feeding tube for her brain-injured husband.

Coburn instructs her to call his office, blames her situation on her neighbors, and then lectures that it is not appropriate for "the government" to intervene in her health care. (Hat Tip Jeffrey Feldman).

I have several questions for the Senator:

  1. You are a Christian and you align yourself with the Christian Right. Did your version of the Greek Scriptures not include the Sermon on the Mount? Or was it redacted, leaving out all mentions of service to the the needy and the poor?
  2. Aren't you part of the government?
  3. Why is it acceptable for individual politicians to assist those uninsured persons fortunate enough to be caught weeping on national TV, but not to systematically address the needs of all 47 million uninsured through policy?
  4. Are you saying that America should aspire to become a dictatorship where a single strong man intercedes in the lives of individuals on a case-by-case basis? Which leads me to wonder if your Bible also excluded the passage in which Moses' father-in-law exhorts him to establish a participatory government based on standardized rules?
  5. What's the difference between an insurance agency refusing to pay for a feeding tube and a "bureaucratic death panel?"

Today might be an excellent day to revisit (and paraphrase) Frank Rich's column of August 22, Guns of August and the Threat of the Radical Right.

Rich points out that the day he bombed the Federal building in Oklahoma City, Timothy McVeigh wore a tee shirt emblazoned with the quote, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." The same Jefferson quote was carried to an Obama rally by a gun-toting Ron Paul supporter about a month ago.

When asked on a Sunday talk show if he was disturbed by the rash of threats against the government, Senator Coburn responded, "Well, I'm troubled any time when we stop having confidence in our government, but we've earned it." He blamed the civil servants who make up the government, not gun-toting, bullying right wingers.

Rich reminded us that after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing in which 168 of Coburn's constituents (including 19 small children) were brutally murdered, Coburn was one of a handful of House members who delayed and weakened an anti-terrorism bill. Egged on by the NRA and supporters of various militias, Coburn helped strip a provision of the bill prohibiting domestic fundrasing by foreign terrorist organizations, a provision that might have helped prevent the 9/11 attack.

Coburn explained his actions in 1995 on the floor of the House: "There is a far greater fear [than the fear of terrorism] that is present in this country, and that is fear of our own government."

Fourteen years, another horrendous terrorist attack and a botched hurricane later, as Rich points out, Coburn is espousing the same philosophy.

We must stop tolerating demagogues and public officials who encourage violent attacks on our elected officials. And who are so callous that they are able to turn their backs on desperate constituents.

Radical right wing ideology is not compassionate and it is not conservative. It is just plain wrong.

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