A flagrant hypocrisy of the mourning for Sen. Ted Kennedy by both Democratic and Republican leaders is the plethora of politicos who effusively praise Kennedy for championing social justice issues, yet fiercely work to defeat Kennedy-sponsored legislation to cure the ultimate social injustice: lack of adequate Â medical care for almost 50 million Americans.
In his speech to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Sen. Kennedy declared to thunderous ovation:
“… this is the cause of my life — new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American — north, south, east, west, young, old — will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.”
Take, for instance, Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, who worked closely with Sen. Kennedy to pass innumerable bills to correct social injustices, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Ryan White AIDS Act, and State Childrenâ€™s Health Insurance Program.Â
Sen. Hatch eulogized Ted Kennedy asÂ “a great elder statesman, a committed public servant, and leader of the Senate… a treasured friend” andÂ exudes “… we were able to come together in a bipartisan fashion to craft some of this nationâ€™s most important health legislation.”Â Â
Yet, HatchÂ puzzlingly, and hypocritically, refuses to supportÂ humanitarian healthcare reform measures toÂ cover uninsured Americans.
Closer to home, California’s Democratic Â Sen. Dianne Feinstein waxed after Sen. Kennedy’s passing:
“Ted Kennedy dedicated his life to ensuring that America would be a better place. A better place for the poor, for children, for seniors â€“ a better place for all Americans.
“I have… Â seen up close and personal his dedication to issues of civil rights, human rights, and basic fairness to all.Â Â He is irreplaceable… “
Yet, Sen. Feinstein, who has received $133,150 from “health professionals” since 2005,Â Â steadfastly refuses toÂ endorse Sen. Kennedy’s goal of a public plan option to compete with private insurance healthcare plans, telling CNN “I think there’s a lot of concern in the Democratic caucus.”
When criticized for her healthcare reform negativity, Sen. Feinstein told the Washington Post, “It doesn’t move me one whit. [Democrats] are spending a lot of money on something that is not productive.”
Huh? Praising Ted Kennedy’s devotion to “human rights and basic fairness to all,” yet putting the kibosh on reforming the egregious practices of private heathcare insurers by providing a competitive Â public plan option?
Here in California, we can do nothing to push Sen. Hatch and other Republican senators to walk the walk of the great leader they praise and profess to admire.
But we sure as heck can do something to influence our own Sen. Dianne Feinstein to walk the walk,Â not just opportunistically talk the walk to impress California voters.
Call, email, fax, Â and even visit Sen. Feinstein’s offices. Tell her to support healthcare legislation that provides substantive reform via a public plan option.Â Do it now. Time is of the essence.
Sen. Feinstein’s closest local offices are located at 750 B Street, Suite 1030, San Diego, CA 92101, Phone: (619) 231-9712, Fax: (619) 231-1108.Â You can email Sen. Feinstein at this link to her U.S. Senate website.
Also, take the time to sign this DemocracyForAmerica.com petition to urge Sen. Dianne Feinstein to “make a strong public statement supporting the choice of a public health insurance option.”