They say that high blood pressure is the silent killer, and in Bob’s case, they were right. Years ago, Bob lost his health insurance after Republicans repealed Obamacare, so he started skipping his annual checkup. It was too expensive to pay out of pocket, and the free clinics were just too far away and too crowded. Besides, he felt okay. A little tired maybe, but there wasn’t any emergency. At least not until he was running across a rainy Target parking lot, carrying bags of groceries in both arms, and his diseased heart stopped.
Now Bob is dead. Paul Ryan and Donald Trump killed him. The prophecies had come to pass:
The GOP health care bill has real consequences, not just political ones. We’re talking about people who could die if this bill passes.— Tom Perez (@TomPerez) May 4, 2017
House Republicans vote to sentence millions of Americans to death https://t.co/nXH5jnnoUH— Daily Kos (@dailykos) May 4, 2017
But wait. Maybe that’s not right. Bob was overweight, you see, and had been for years. Like so many millions of Americans, Bob had grown up on the government’s food pyramid, and he learned that a low-fat, high-carb diet was the ticket to good health. So he dutifully did what he was told. When his waistline expanded, he switched up his carbs and dropped the Twinkies in favor of healthy treats like nonfat cookies. Still, he got bigger — so big that he was short of breath after walking up even a short flight of stairs. Little did Bob know that those government-endorsed carbs were slowly poisoning him — making him fat, hurting his heart, and preparing him for that fateful day in the Target parking lot.
But wait. That’s not the whole story. Bob was depressed and anxious. He hadn’t had a good job for years, and his once-bright future had crumbled before his eyes. He had a promising career years ago, working with Nokia, a dominant technology company that was thriving selling the one piece of technology that every person in America wanted — a mobile phone. Heck, Bob even heard people were ditching their land lines, buying the most lavish cellular plans, and living exclusively mobile-telephone lives.
Bob will live on. Not as a flesh-and-blood father, son, and ex-husband but rather as something far more important. He’ll live on as a symbol. More than that, really — he’ll be a political cudgel.
Then came January 9, 2007 — the day Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone. If you can imagine Pearl Harbor but without an effective counter-offensive, then you can imagine the effect of the iPhone on Nokia. The company collapsed so thoroughly that books were written about its decline and fall. And when a company collapses, there are human casualties — humans like Bob, who never again regained his career footing. He never again enjoyed that same feeling of hope and opportunity. Depression ate away at his insides, hurting his heart until it couldn’t take even a short sprint in a driving rain.
Now Bob is dead. Steve Jobs killed him. The information age passed him by.
But wait. There’s more. Bob was divorced. His ex-wife lives with his kids an entire state away. She left him five years ago. Her job took her to Nebraska. Bob’s sick, elderly parents were in Oklahoma. He couldn’t bear to leave them, and she told him that she wasn’t going to set aside her career dreams for the sake of his family. She’d sacrificed enough. It was her time now. She had a chance to make something of herself, and he could help her, or he could stay behind.
He stayed behind. She pursued her dreams. And the pain of it all drove him to the bottle, where he downed beer and bourbon until alcohol placed further strains on his broken heart.
Now Bob is dead. Feminists killed him. They taught his wife that career was more important than family.
But really Bob will live on. Not as a flesh-and-blood father, son, and ex-husband but rather as something far more important. He’ll live on as a symbol. More than that, really —he’ll be a political cudgel, a weapon to use to pound your ideological enemies. Because in modern politics, arguments are about extremes, and there is nothing more extreme than death.
Who killed Bob? Let’s first ask this: Whom do you want to blame? Whom do you need to blame? Because we can make almost any allegation work. But there is one thing that we cannot, must not, do. Our politics matter more than his choices. We cannot blame Bob.
— David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and an attorney.