Politics & Policy

‘Mr. Health,’ &c.

A colleague and I were talking about the current health-care drama. I said that our side, the Republican or conservative side, needed a go-to man or woman on the subject — an officeholder, I mean, not a policy specialist or adviser or writer. Our side could use a “Mr. Health.” Someone who would champion a conservative view of health policy.

There once was a “Mr. Health” — that was the sobriquet of Paul Rogers, a Democratic congressman from Florida. He served during the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. For an obit on this largely forgotten figure, go here.

And who is not a “largely forgotten figure,” besides Leonardo, Beethoven, and Lincoln?

Anyway, maybe Paul Ryan could be our “Mr. Health,” although he is of course versatile. The position is vacant and could use filling, I think.

Maybe Tom Price could do this, the canny Georgia Republican who is also an orthopedic surgeon? (By the way, Price may represent a district in Georgia, but, like Newt Gingrich, he is no Georgian — not a native one, I mean. His speech is pure Michigan. I discovered this when he visited National Review’s offices one day. He is my fellow Michigander.)

‐In an Impromptus the other week, I mentioned that China, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia had been elected to the U.N. Human Rights Council. Because that’s how the council rolls: the fewer democracies, the better. I now want you to know that Cuba, too, is on the council — the Castro brothers have not been left out.

Because what, or who, says “human rights” like Fidel and Raúl Castro? (I’m sure that a good portion of the American professoriate would agree.)

‐Before the Obama administration gave the Iranians the deal they craved, Ali Khamenei, the chief ayatollah, gave a classically temperate speech. He said that “the Zionist regime” was “the rabid dog of the region,” etc., etc. And he had particularly harsh words for the French.

The French, at that point, were cautioning the Americans not to sign a foolish deal with Tehran. So the ayatollah said the French were “not only succumbing to the United States but kneeling before the Israeli regime.”

“Kneeling before the Israeli regime”! I thought, “Sounds like some of my critics” — people who e-mail me from the left, the Buchananite right, and the Ron Paul camp. The language these types use is pretty much identical.

Maybe Khamenei will show up in my inbox?

‐I was interested in an e-mail that came in the other day — not from one of the above-cited camps. The e-mail reminded me of a news story I’d read a couple of months before.

Our reader says,

I once had a discussion with someone who had a Ph.D. in biology. The topic was global warming and alternative energy. I spelled out all the reasons alternative energy was not worth it. In some respects, it is counterproductive.

When I finished, he didn’t refute my points, instead saying, “But don’t you think it’s a good idea anyway?” By “it,” he meant the global-warming agenda, including alternative energy. He added, “It’s just the right thing to do.”

So, this reminded me of a news story, here: “EU policy on climate change is right even if science was wrong, says commissioner.” I will not bother to quote from this article, or the commissioner (the EU’​s climate-change czarina), but, if you have a few minutes, it’s an interesting story.

‐In the obituary section of the New York Times was the story of Joaquín Hernández Galicia, a union leader in Mexico. I’d like to point out just two things:

He died in Tampico, a city on the “east coast,” the Gulf of Mexico. Reagan, as you may know, was born in Tampico, Illinois. I imagine the Illinoisians got the name from the Mexicans. I never knew that.

Second, I enjoyed what the old brute, Hernández, said about the rank and file, and how they had changed: “My oil workers were corrupt, drunken, and courageous. Today the oil workers are corrupt, drunken, and absolutely servile.”

‐Shall we sample one more obit, also from the Times? This one is of Adrienne Asch, a bioethicist (who was blind). Let me do some extensive quoting, and then make a point:

Professor Asch supported a woman’s right to abortion. (She was a past board member of the organization now known as Naral Pro-Choice America.) But in her lectures, writings and television and radio appearances, she argued against its use to pre-empt the birth of disabled children. She argued likewise for prenatal testing.

For her, supporting abortion in general while opposing it in particular circumstances posed little ideological conflict. The crux of the matter, she argued, lay in the difference between a woman who seeks an abortion because she does not want to be pregnant and one who seeks an abortion because she does not want a disabled child.

The Times then quoted a colleague of the professor’s, Eva Feder Kittay:

In the first case, Professor Kittay explained, “you’re not seeking to abort ‘this particular child.’” In the second, she said, “when you’re seeking to abort because of disability, it’s not ‘any potential child,’ it’s this child, with these particular characteristics.”

One should not speak ill of the dead, especially when they are blind bioethicists, who contributed much good. But this line of reasoning strikes me as sophistry on stilts. What difference does motivation make to the unborn? And under this reasoning, you could abort a “normal” child but not a disabled one.

Moreover, a woman bent on abortion could simply say, “Hey, it’s not because the baby is disabled that I want to abort. I just don’t want a baby right now. Okay, Professor Asch? Okay, Professor Kittay? I mean, you wouldn’t get in the way of a woman’s right to choose, would you?”

Moving on . . .

‐. . . to something more fun. I got a kick out of the headline over this article: “Rangers say Darvish back trouble behind him.” Yup, backs usually are (har, har).

‐Feel like a little music? For a column in CityArts, go here. It’s about a new opera by Nico Muhly. There’s also a note about the demise of City Opera, the company that was long No. 2 here in New York (after the Metropolitan Opera).

For a column of many and disparate musical notes, published on The New Criterion’s website, go here.

‐Also on that website is an introduction of Myron Magnet. I’d better explain. Magnet, the well-known scholar, advocate, and sage, has just published a book called “The Founders at Home: Building America, 1735-1817.” He spoke about this topic at a luncheon in New York. I introduced him. And The New Criterion asked me to write an approximation of what I said.

So I did, here. (It’s just an approximation, mind you.)

‐Let me end with something that may make you laugh. I’m going to tell something on myself. About a week ago, I was walking near Lincoln Center in the middle of the day. I saw someone who works there, walking along. I had known her for years, but never knew she smoked. I had seen her only inside. And here she was, hustling along in the cold, and smoking.

And I thought, “Cool.” I had always liked her, but now I liked her even more.

And I laughed at myself. I was kind of appalled by myself. “Jay, you idiot! You’ve never smoked, and you think that smoking is a terrible habit. Some can do it casually, sure, but others are absolutely enslaved by it. Why in the world were you pleased to see this woman smoking? Are you so opposed to political correctness, are you so opposed to the trend of the world, are you so enamored of the defiance of convention, that you will smile on seeing a person smoke?”

I can think about all this another day. Meantime, see you.


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