Fear and loathing 

I've been trying to figure out what it is you hoi polloi are so mad about, or what it is you're so scared of.

I know it's not health care. Or these so-called proposed fixes to the health-care system. Who could be against that? Only the rare bird who's never spent long hours, whole days, weeks, worrying and fussing over some maddening, impossible, obligatory, and altogether unnecessary aspect of the sorry business.

And then having to do it all over again when the next billing statement comes.

Get rid of about 99.44 percent of that b.s. and the only people you'll make mad or frighten are those with a dog in the hunt, or political outs looking for a way — any way — back in, or roused rabble prospecting for a hollering venue with better camera angles.

For the rest of us: when have any of us ever cared enough about a health-care debate, as health-care debates are debated in these latitudes in this day and time, to sit through one of the son-of-a-bitches without falling asleep?

Put politicians and health-care legislation together in the same rassling cage any time since Wilbur Mills, and media blowholes will start to uvulate, lobbyists start playing the Little Red Hen, physicians crank up the old Socialized Medicine Fight Song, and the anal of all walks shrink in on themselves almost to disappearance.

But ordinary goobers like you and me and Pinch-Me-Tight yonder, like all of us regulars gathered here at this back-page Patmos circle jerk — no, not for us, thank you very much. What we do is change the channel. Or remember we're late for an appointment with somebody else somewhere else and absquatulate. More often than not I'll get a Form and head out to the track.

During the big Clinton health-care initiative in '93 or whenever it was, we had a visitor drop by the house here one afternoon. We were having a nice leisurely chat when that Hillary-care debate popped up on the evening news on the TV in the other room, whereupon our guest leapt up saying, “Zounds! I gotta get home! I just remembered I've got bacon frying!”

Now, you know and I know she didn't have bacon frying. She merely didn't want to bolt impolitely, and didn't want to appear uninterested in what was said at the time to be a critical public-health discussion, but she didn't want any more of sitting through the paralyzing drone and yow-yow of that “debate,” either.

So she did what she had to do.

And a short time later, I made for the saloon. The one without a TV.

So I know all these alleged anxieties and theatrical frothings over health-care arcana are so many $3 bills.

I'm not saying it's all a put-on. But honest rage and heartfelt shudders over granny's fate and that of the slow boy and all of our crap-out-of-luck Stephen Hawkings? — please. If there's any emotional  sincerity in the big show, I'd guess it derives from a masquerade. It's paper fear and anger covering some lower-lying discontent.

I've got a long, funny, and truthful list of more likely bona fide peeves and phobias that I think might be animating the present foofaraw, but this installment is already might near out of room. I could write up the choicest nominations in that abbreviated thumb code the youngsters use, I guess, but screw that. I'm old and that means wordy, so with regret I'll just stash my masterlist for the time being in favor of briefly mulling the main item on it.

That main item would be the suspicion that you just haven't got over Rastus in the saddle yet. You don't even want to get over it. You've come to be proud to have it there in your craw, festering.

It's an abomination that won't go away, like a newborn child with a lizard tail, or gay wedlock, and you're not going to adapt. And while resistance to it might be futile, as with the Borg, if you do what you can to help it fail, as Fat Boy urges, then you can say, possibly even believe, that you've done your part.

And more heat seethes from the same source, because you can't really express it, or even acknowledge it, except in certain circles, or by transference to a boring topic like this health-care wrangle, because, for all your scorn of correctness, you've got certain restraints inside of you, probably put there long ago by your momma, that haul you up when you most need hauling up.

Such restraints are nearly always a good thing. Bite your tongue first. Then you can go ahead if you're still hot after due reflection or if somebody's getting up a good mob.

I wonder if it's not part of the same stupid story lately with semi-respectable newspapers, including the local one, running political cartoons that vaguely allude to the normally kept-in-restraints topic of prospective presidential assassination. The vagueness of the allusion providing all involved with the same kind of paper cover.

And all the just-like-Hitler editorial analogizing that invites and almost demands that zealots intervene somehow, somewhere, do what they have to do to put things right again — this usually followed by weasly denials, in mock astonishment, of any such rhetorical intent.




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