This would seem to be a fairly typical media trajectory. The Democrats sign up a sick kid to read their Saturday morning radio address. As Paul Krugman has observed, Bill Kristol, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of us heartless bastards on the right were no doubt too busy laughing to pay attention. But the respectable media were very taken by it:
President Bush, are you smarter than a seventh-grader?
Apparently not. Graeme Frost of Baltimore is 12 years old, a seventh-grader at the Park School, and he understands why children need health care and their parents need help paying for it. He explained it during a rebuttal to the president’s Saturday radio address. Yes, we know, Senate staffers wrote the speech for Graeme. That doesn’t take away from the message. Does anyone really think President Bush writes his own material?
Of course not. And nor does The Baltimore Sun, which did a nice fluffy soft-focus story typing out the Dems’ press release and not querying a word:
Bonnie Frost works for a medical publishing firm; her husband, Halsey, is a woodworker. They are raising their four children on combined income of about $45,000 a year. Neither gets health insurance through work.
If it ever occurred to Matthew Hay Brown, the Sun’s “reporter”, to look into just what kind of “woodworking” Mr Frost did, he managed to suppress the urge.
“icwhatudo” at Free Republic, however, showed rather more curiosity than the professional reporter paid to investigate the story and did a bit of Googling. Mr Frost, the “woodworker”, owns his own design company and the commercial property it operates from, part of which space he also rents out; they have a 3,000-sq-ft home on a street where a 2,000-sq-ft home recently sold for half a million dollars; he was able to afford to send two children simultaneously to a $20,000-a-year private school; his father and grandfather were successful New York designers and architects; etc. This is apparently the new definition of “working families”:
Had it not been for a federal health insurance program tailored for working families such as hers – ones lacking the income to purchase private health insurance – Frost is certain that she and her husband would be buried under a mound of unpaid medical bills… She and her husband have priced private health insurance, but they say it would cost them more per month than their mortgage – about $1,200 a month. Neither parent has health insurance through work.
Insureblog, also demonstrating more journalistic initiative than Mr Hay Brown, checked out that last bit:
A check of a quote engine for zip code 21250 (Baltimore) finds a plan for $641 with a $0 deductible and $20 doc copays.
Adding a deductible of $750 (does not apply to doc visits) drops the premium to $452. That’s almost a third of the price quoted in the article. Doesn’t anyone bother to check the facts?
But who needs facts when you’ve got the human-interest angle sewn up?
Bonnie Frost still can’t drive down the road where the accident occurred…
Bad things happen to good people, and they cause financial problems and tough choices. But, if this is the face of the “needy” in America, then no-one is not needy. And, if everyone needs assistance from the federal government, so be it. But I don’t think I want to drive down the road where Bonnie Frost wants to take us – because at the end of it there are no free-born citizens, just a nation where everyone is a ward of the state.