Monday, October 06, 2008
Ground Control to Major John
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on:
This is Major John to Ground Control. My campaign’s on the floor, and I’m flailing in a most unusual way. And my ads look very desperate today. . . .
OK, so this newly-revived blog has been spending all this face time with Governor Palin, and it completely missed this segment of Angry McCain’s seething-hot interview with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register last week. (I did watch the part where he defends the one hundred percent truthfulness of his campaign and his honorable record of service to the country and then responds to the “lipstick on a pig” question by standing up, reaching across the table, ripping open the chest cavity of one of the unsuspecting Register reporters and devouring her still-beating heart in three bites. But after that I turned it off.) And I want to say right at the outset that it is ageist and ableist and also bad to think that John McCain is not in full possession of his faculties just because he answers the question, “have you always been covered in your adult life by a taxpayer-financed health care plan?” by saying, “I was out of the military for a while before I went to the Congress, but you know, that’s an interesting statement, innit. So, and I have never been an astronaut, but I think I know the challenges of space, and I’ve never done a lot of things in my life that I think I am familiar with” before launching into the usual talking points about how “free enterprise” health care will allow families to make choices whereas socialized medicine will require everyone in America to share one toothbrush.
Think again about what he’s really saying, people. John McCain is simply saying that he understands what it’s like not to have taxpayer-financed health care even though he himself has had it for all but a brief period of his adult life, just as you and I know that space is a near-absolute-zero vacuum full of deadly radiation even though we have never been astronauts. The obvious point of the analogy, folks, is that when you’re covered by a private health plan, you suffer debilitating bone loss and muscle atrophy; and when you’re totally uninsured, no one can hear you scream. This is one of the strongest endorsements of universal health care I’ve come across in my lifetime; unfortunately, it’s so dang oblique that everyone and her brother seems to have missed it.
The really surprising moment in McCain’s answer, though, comes at the end:
I have always been a free-enterprise person who thinks that families make the best choices for themselves and their future. That’s a dramatically different philosophy than my Democrat friends, in my view, who think that government is the answer. Senator Obama wants to create a huge health care bureaucracy. And we’ve seen that movie before.
So, the answer is that most of my life, in serving my country, I did have health care. I did go through a period when the health care wasn’t very good.
Again, this is a powerful, if subliminable, argument in favor of government-provided health care. Despite the boilerplate lines about huge bureaucracy blah blah blah, McCain freely admits that he has had fine government health care all his life, except for that period between his service in the military and his tenure in Congress when the health care wasn’t very good and he was briefly exposed to the challenges of space. It was then that he braved the dangers of explosive decompression and had to return to safety by way of the emergency airlock. [UPDATE: In comments, some readers offer an alternate explanation of this passage. Something about a Hanoi Hilton, it seems.]
On a personal note, I have to say I’m struck by the line “and we’ve seen that movie before.” On its face, of course, it doesn’t make a lick of sense, because the United States has never actually seen the movie “Universal Health Care—directed by the U.S. Government and starring every single American.” The film has been banned in the United States for decades, and as with the Cuban trade embargo, neither Democratic nor Republican presidents have had the courage to lift the ban. Some conservatives claim to have seen the movie, calling it “incomprehensible, and worse, French,” but I don’t believe them. I believe, instead, that Senator McCain was slyly referring to the Elton John song, “I’ve Seen That Movie Too,” thus offering the Des Moines Register a densely intertextual David Bowie/ Elton John riff that surely owes something to my post from three and a half years ago. Thanks, Senator McCain! This humble and newly-revived blog salutes your whimsical pop-culture allusions . . . and your long history of enjoying fine, reliable taxpayer-financed health care!