Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tall tales are true! Really!

One of the fun things about being a Republican is that reality never gets in your way. Life is so much easier when you can make it up. Besides, America has always had a weakness for tall tales since the days of Rip Van Winkle. Of course, the Republicans make Washington Irving look like an investigative reporter.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait, public opinion was sharply divided over whether or not we should kick Iraq out of the country. That is, it was divided until October 10. 1990. That was when a tearful 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl appeared before what appeared to be a congressional committee and told a horrific story of Iraqi soldiers breaking into a neonatal clinic, dumping babies from their incubators and leaving them to die as they shipped the incubators off to Iraq.

It moved and outraged the public. Opinion swung sharply in favor of military action. It was truly a terrifying tale.

There was only one problem: it never happened.

The 15-year-old girl hadn’t stepped foot in Kuwait for years because she was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. She didn’t testify before a congressional committee but before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, a front group that was the creation of Kuwait’s public relations firm, Hills and Knowlton, who also coached the girl prior to her testimony, which, strictly speaking wasn’t testimony since one of the advantages of speaking before a caucus is that one isn’t troubled by little inconveniences such as taking an oath to tell the truth.

Now that health care reform is on the congressional plate, the Republicans are back in the tall tale business.

Now we are being treated to the sad, tragic tale of Shona Holmes, an Ontario woman who, because it took so long for her to get an appointment with a specialist in Canada, was forced to journey to the Mayo Clinic and pay $97,000 to have a brain tumor removed.

It’s shocking! It’s enough to make any red-blooded American swear off socialized medicine even if it means he has no coverage.

The only difference between Holmes and the incubators is that the Holmes story contains a microscopic grain of truth. Holmes was operated on in the United States, but it wasn’t for a brain tumor. She had a Rathke’s Cleft Cyst on her pituitary gland. The cyst is benign and is not life threatening. The Canadian system would have taken care of it, but Holmes chose not to wait.

Life is beautiful when you can make things up. And making things up is so much easier when you have a media that’s forgotten how to ask questions.

For a Republican, reality sucks.

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