Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Frost Family

When right-wingers first began attacking Graeme Frost, it was infuriating and pathetic that these critics failed to understand how middle-class families in America, let alone lower-class families, might be unable to afford health-care. They simply rejected the idea out of hand that the family might need SCHIP, ignoring the extremely unfortunate circumstances that led the family to this reliance (a car accident that severely injured two of their children), and concentrating instead on the supposed wealth of the family. That was low enough, but it got much, much worse:
By Monday, Rush Limbaugh was discussing the family's earnings and assets on the air, and the blogger Michelle Malkin was writing about her visit to Halsey Frost's East Baltimore warehouse and her drive past the family's Butchers Hill rowhouse. Liberal bloggers, meanwhile, were complaining that the Frosts were being "swift-boated."

"It's really frustrating," said Bonnie Frost, 41, who stated she is upset by the angry Internet posts, e-mails and telephone calls targeting the family. "The whole point of it for me was that this program helped my family, and I wanted it to help others. That's the message, and I can't believe the way the spotlight has been taken off of that."

When I read yesterday that Michelle Malkin had gone to the family's house and to the father's place of business, I was absolutely gobsmacked that these people would stoop so low to harass this family. Ezra nails it:
Something has gone wrong on the Right. Become sick and twisted and tumorous and ugly. To visit Michelle Malkin's cave is to see politics at its most savage, its most ferocious, its most rageful. They say they've spent the past week smearing a child and his family because that child was fair game -- he and his family spoke of their experience receiving health care through the State Children's Health Insurance Program. For this, right wingers travel to their home, insinuate that the family is engaged in large-scale fraud, make threatening phone calls to the family, interrogate the neighbors as to the family's character and financial state.

This is the politics of hate. Screaming, sobbing, inchoate, hate. It would never, not in a million years, occur to me to drive to the home of a Republican small business owner to see if he "really" needed that tax cut. It would never, not in a million years, occur to me to call his family and demand their personal information. It would never occur to me to interrogate his neighbors. It would never occur to me to his smear his children.

His entire post is worth reading. This episode is unbelievable, unsettling and infuriating.

The best that can come of this is the curtains are opened and reveal how millions of Americans live with tenuous access to healthcare, or none at all. Of course, the average American already knows that because they struggle with this every day, but some of the media elite are apparently all to happy to remain ignorant. But maybe there will be a Katrina moment, when people could no longer claim that they didn't realize there was poverty in America.

It's perfectly understandable how the Frosts came to rely on SCHIP. I have a cousin who pays more on her health insurance each month than on her rent, because of being diagnosed with cancer. Most Americans are just a single health crisis away from extreme debt or poverty. There are thousands of stories like the Frosts', and they can't all be Swift-boated.

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