As the RWS™ carry out their usual hatchet job, retracing the bloody footprints they left after destroying Van Jones, Shirley Sherrod, and many others less well known, it might be revelatory to get to know the victim of their latest attack, Donald Berwick, nominated to head Medicaid and Medicare. To them, he's evil incarnate. To the reader of his recent graduation speech at the medical school in which his daughter was among those graduating, a different man emerges.
.....Let me read to you an email I received on Thursday, December 19, 2009. It came from Mrs. Jocelyn Anne Gruzenski – she goes by “Jackie.” I did not know Jackie Gruzenski at the time; she wrote to me out of the blue. But I have since connected with her. And, she gave me permission to read her email to me to you. Here's what she wrote:…“My husband was Dr. William Paul Gruzenski, a psychiatrist for 39 years. He was admitted to (a hospital she names in Pennsylvania) after developing a cerebral bleed with a hypertensive crisis. My issue is that I was denied access to my husband except for very strict visiting, four times a day for 30 minutes, and that my husband was hospitalized behind a locked door. My husband and I were rarely separated except for work,” she wrote. “He wanted me present in the ICU, and he challenged the ICU nurse and MD saying, "She is not a visitor, she is my wife.‟ .....What might a husband and wife of 19 years, aware of the short time left together, wish to talk about – wish to do – in the last days? I don‟t know for Dr. and Mrs. Gruzenski. But, I do know for me. I would talk about our children. I would talk about the best trip we ever took together, and even argue, smiling, about whose idea it was. .... We would have so much to talk about. So much. The nurses would pad in and out of the hospital room, checking i.v.s and measuring pulses and planning their dinners and their weekends. And none of what the nurses and doctors did would matter to us at all; we wouldn‟t even notice them. We would know exactly who the visitors were – they, the doctors and the nurses. They, they would be the visitors in this tiny corner of our whole lives together – they, not us. ..... [T]oday you take a big step into power. With your white coat and your Latin, with your anatomy lessons and your stethoscope, you enter today a life of new and vast privilege ..... [S]ociety will give you access and rights that it gives to no one else. Society will allow you to hear secrets from frightened human beings that they are too scared to tell anyone else. Society will permit you to use drugs and instruments that can do great harm as well as great good, and that in the hands of others would be weapons. Society will give you special titles and spaces of privilege, as if you were priests. Society will let you build walls and write rules.
......... But, now I will tell you a secret – a mystery. Those who suffer need you to be something more than a doctor; they need you to be a healer. And, to become a healer, you must do something even more difficult than putting your white coat on. You must take your white coat off. You must recover, embrace, and treasure the memory of your shared, frail humanity – of the dignity in each and every soul. When you take off that white coat in the sacred presence of those for whom you will care – in the sacred presence of people just like you – when you take off that white coat, and, tower not over them, but join those you serve, you become a healer in a world of fear and fragmentation, an “aching” world, as your Chaplain put it this morning, that has never needed healing more. Congratulations.
Read the whole speech, then tell me: is he the devil the screamers say he is?
If, as I said recently, the worst thing the right-wingers have done to our country and our world is the killing of climate legislation, then the runner-up is their characterization of health care reform as "death panels" and "genocide" (as a group of Larouche supporters, complete with Obama-as-nazi signs, claimed a couple of days ago, parading near my local post office). In the latest of uncountable examples, these people, the screamers, the radio guys, the talking headless of Fox "news", Congressional Rs, teabaggers who've dipped and drunk deep, who have no desire or ability to enter the marketplace of ideas, would rather don the vestments of hate and hyperbole, and blow themselves up like al Queda in a farmers' market, taking down as many innocents as possible. What, I wonder, do they expect to see when they find their imaginary paradise?