12 October 2007

"Sliming Graeme Frost"



New York Times columnist Paul Krugman lays out the facts of the matter in the recent decision by stalwarts of the right to attack, belittle and stalk children for being poor and sick. Their crime? Disagreement. "Two weeks ago, the Democratic response to President Bush’s weekly radio address was delivered by a 12-year-old, Graeme Frost. Graeme, who along with his sister received severe brain injuries in a 2004 car crash and continues to need physical therapy, is a beneficiary of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Mr. Bush has vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have expanded that program to cover millions of children who would otherwise have been uninsured... The Frosts and their four children are exactly the kind of people S-chip was intended to help: working Americans who can’t afford private health insurance. The parents have a combined income of about $45,000, and don’t receive health insurance from employers. When they looked into buying insurance on their own before the accident, they found that it would cost $1,200 a month — a prohibitive sum given their income. After the accident, when their children needed expensive care, they couldn’t get insurance at any price. Fortunately, they received help from Maryland’s S-chip program... Graeme Frost... is exactly the kind of child the program is intended to help. But that didn’t stop the right from mounting an all-out smear campaign against him and his family... [W]e’re not talking about some obscure fringe. The charge was led by Michelle Malkin, who according to Technorati has the most-trafficked right-wing blog on the Internet, and in addition to blogging has a nationally syndicated column, writes for National Review and is a frequent guest on Fox News. The attack on Graeme’s family was also quickly picked up by Rush Limbaugh, who is so important a player in the right-wing universe that he has had multiple exclusive interviews with Vice President Dick Cheney... [A]n e-mail message from the office of Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, sent to reporters and obtained by the Web site Think Progress, repeated the smears against the Frosts and asked: “Could the Dems really have done that bad of a job vetting this family?” ... Politics aside, the Graeme Frost case demonstrates the true depth of the health care crisis: every other advanced country has universal health insurance, but in America, insurance is now out of reach for many hard-working families, even if they have incomes some might call middle-class. And there’s one more point that should not be forgotten: ultimately, this isn’t about the Frost parents. It’s about Graeme Frost and his sister. I don’t know about you, but I think American children who need medical care should get it, period. Even if you think adults have made bad choices — a baseless smear in the case of the Frosts, but put that on one side — only a truly vicious political movement would respond by punishing their injured children."