I watched with great interest yesterday the lead-in for MSNBC's The Ed Show. Host Ed Schultz was broadcasting live from a hall in Connecticut that was holding a free health care clinic for the uninsured. He was visibly strongly touched and affected by what he saw there: unemployed and working Americans from all walks of life who, due to circumstances or pre-existing conditions, had no health insurance. He related the story of one woman who had lost a high-paying administrative job two years ago but had no insurance and had been delaying seeing a doctor. She had developed a lump on her neck and had lost 40 pounds in the past month. Not good! Hopefully, this visit to MSNBC's free clinic will not have been too late for her, although her condition as described does sound worrisome...
This free health care clinic, one of 3 or 4 organized by MSNBC and paid for by viewer donations to that network prompted by network commentators Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow and held in different states, has proven to be a boon for many. I consider this to be activist journalism at its finest. For anybody can see a terrible situation and merely report on it, but for someone to initiate action to publicize the situation and to bring aid to those in true need really goes the extra mile in my book. Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, MSNBC, and all who contributed either funds or time to aid this effort are all heroes.
Mr. Schultz interviewed a number of health care professionals who had volunteered their time to treat the needy for this one day event. One indicated that she had attended all of these MSNBC free clinics, but had not seen one member of Congress at any of them. NOT ONE. No Joe LIEberman, the guy who campaigned in 2006 on expanding Medicare to include those from ages 50-64, but then reversed his stance once it looked like that could become a reality, and the same guy who has accepted millions in campaign contributions over the years from the health insurance industry; no Chris Dodd either, nor any of Connecticut's House members. At the free clinic held a few months back in Arkansas, there was no visit from either Blanche Lincoln or Mark Pryor, nor any of that state's House members. At the one held in Louisiana, Mary Landrieux didn't bother to drop in, nor did the philandering David Vitter (perhaps he was busy with other activities while the free clinic was going on). This aloof lack of support for the needs of their own constituents is inexcusable. The entire congressional delegations of these states, Democrat AND Republican, should be thoroughly ashamed. They are ALL zeroes! Interestingly enough, the only political figure to attend the Connecticut clinic was LIEberman's last opponent, progressive Ned Lamont. That makes him a hero.
The impassioned plea Ed Schultz gave for universal health care coverage, and the genuine anguish on his face as he relayed the stories of those attending the clinic was something to behold. The highlight came when he lashed out at Joe LIEberman and called him a "coward" for having abandoned his principles, campaign pledges, and responsibility in turning face to appease his corporate campaign donors from the health insurance industry.
There are a number of real heroes in this campaign to get universal health care delivered to our citizens. Among them are the MSNBC crew, and those Representatives and Senators who sponsored health care reform legislation or voted for it. The Ron Wydens, Barbara Boxers, Al Frankens, Bernie Sanderses, Anthony Wieners, Al Graysons, Dennis Kuciniches of our goverbnment.
There are also a large number of real zeroes on this issue: those who have opposed, stalled, lied about, or tried to kill health care reform altogether. These include the entire Republican congressional caucus. These are the types of time-and-money-wasting congresspersons I advocated invoicing in my last post. They also include Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Ben Nelson, Joe LIEberman, Blanche Lincoln, Ann Coulter, and the rest of the Fox "News" crew.
The heroes, of course, have supported and acted in favor of getting needed health care to everybody, regardless of race, gender, age, health, employment, or income status. They have seen through the insanity and injustice of having huge insurance company middlemen stand between a patient and his or her doctor and hospital; paying for those services, but charging loan shark rates for doing so, and excluding millions of people to maximize profit.
Ed Schultz is a hero, too, and I salute him for his passion and advocacy.