A Sign of the Times by Paul Begala
The sign said it all. It was not some last-minute message some meth addict scrawled in crayon on a scrap of cardboard. No, this sign was professionally printed. White block letters on a blue background, the four-word message was in all caps. Someone had to have thought this through. Someone wrote it, edited it, planned it, designed it, ordered it, paid for it. Someone approved it, printed it, distributed it. And then someone thought this was a message he or she wanted to convey to the world. Thank goodness someone had the courage to take a photo of it, and then Huffington Post had the guts to post it on its home page.
The sign made me nauseous, made me embarrassed, made me wonder if at long last there is no decency on the far right. The sign said: BURY OBAMACARE WITH KENNEDY.
Oh, I get it. Sen. Kennedy is dead, and these slugs want health care reform to be dead too. That is so clever.
Fourteen days after Edward Kennedy was laid to rest in the company of his fellow American heroes in Arlington, right-wing hate-mongers decided to use his burial to make a cheap point about their opposition to health care reform.
What would they have done if liberals had printed signs that equated Ronald Reagan's burial with the hoped-for death of George W. Bush's plan to privatize Social Security? Or Bill Buckley's painful passing with the GOP's loss of the White House in 2008? Or the demise of my right-wing former colleague Bob Novak with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts? You can't imagine that, can you? Because, while we progressives have our moments of frustration and our occasional lack of couth, there is nothing I can think of that compares to the sick, savage sign that the teabaggers were waving in Washington.
The inmates have taken over the asylum. The ever-sunny Reagan is dead. The congenial Buckley is dead. The old-school conservative Novak is dead as well. In their place is the party of Joe the Shouter and Joe the Plumber and Sarah the Death Panel Screecher.
They hate Pres. Obama - even though he has bent over backwards to accommodate Republicans. They hate tax increases - even though the Democrats have cut taxes for 95% of Americans. They hate health care reform - even though Ted Kennedy fought his whole life to get them the same health care millionaires like him already had.
There was not, to my knowledge, a sign that said, "Let's Bury Medicare," even though Medicare is precisely the sort of single-payer, government-run, socialized health insurance the whack-jobs say they hate. Nor did I hear about a sign that said, "Let's Bury Tricare," although the military health system is as socialized as Britain's, its beneficiaries (including, according to Newsweek, Congressclown Joe Wilson of South Carolina) are very happy with their socialized health care. Nary a sign, so far as I know, decried the Bush prescription drug entitlement, even though it ballooned the deficit, enriched the pharmaceutical companies and furthered the supposed slide toward socialism. Nor, I'm told, were there any signs criticizing the $2 trillion Mr. Bush's unjust, unwarranted, unwise war in Iraq will cost our children and grandchildren. Nor ever a single sign about the Bush tax cuts, which helped squander the Clinton surplus. If this were about fiscal policy, the protests would have happened long ago.
These tea parties are, at least for some, more about hate than high-minded debate. Anyone who needed proof need look no further than the sign captured in the photo on the front page of the Huffington Post.