WashPost: Cheney Accident Should Convert Him to a Medical Liberal

Just when you thought the Cheney accident news was over, Washington Post Health section columnist Abigail Trafford had one more spin yesterday: the accident should cause Cheney and his "macho colleagues" to "learn" from it and support socialized medicine:

What's missing is a reliable safety net for those struck by events beyond their control -- or for those who are not able to pass the smart-consumer test. Perhaps that's why 45 million Americans have no health coverage and medical bills are a leading cause of personal bankruptcy. There's a public empathy gap. As a society, we don't seem to care.

The problem with a narrow focus on personal choice and responsibility is that it spreads the illusion that each of us can control our medical destiny. This is health hubris. To be sure, we can influence our health status by minimizing risks of injury and illness. But Cheney's accident brings us back to reality: People will get injured and sick even if they are careful and competent...even if they floss and jog and follow all the common-sense rules for a long, healthy life. (Ellipses hers.)

....Maybe some public good will come out of this. Cheney's shooting accident has exposed the arrogance of health hubris and brought some humility to high places. The vice president could help change the rhetoric on aging and health in a way that balances common-sense principles of personal responsibility with common-empathy principles of public responsibility.

For some more of Trafford's anti-conservative castor oil, check out this old thing from 1989's Best of Notable Quotables:

"The Reagan Legacy: A Swelling Medical Underclass in a Land of Plenty"

"An unfortunate legacy of the Reagan revolution is a swelling medical underclass: alcoholics and drug addicts who deluge emergency rooms and fill prisons, AIDS babies and crack newborns in overwhelmed pediatric wards, homeless children with anemia, schizophrenics and other mental patients in shelters and jails and on the streets...While Ronald Reagan did not cause the medical underclass, his laissez-faire approach to social problems exacerbated the trend." 
-- Abigail Trafford, Editor of The Washington Post "Health" section, in a January 24, 1989 article under headline above.

Trafford also made the 1994 Best of Notable Quotables for insisting that the bus-riding activists for Hillary Clinton's socialized-medicine plan were diverse and nonpartisan:

"Most of the riders saw themselves as missionaries spreading the word about how the current health care system had failed them. Some were Republican, others Democrat; some were against abortion, others supported abortion rights. Most said they were not political. Their main focus was on assuring that every American be covered by health insurance. In their view, the Health Security Express was a nonpartisan effort to persuade Congress to pass legislation that provides universal coverage."
-- Washington Post Health section Editor Abigail Trafford on the Health Care Express, August 9, 1994.

This is a bit of a trend this week. In a column which offers some sympathy for Cheney and some disdain for the media hype, Time columnist "Anonymous" Joe Klein pulls a Trafford at the end, hoping the accident will make Cheney more liberal, I mean, more rational about war-making:

One valuable metaphor emerged last week. The New York Times described the possible legal charges that could be brought in a hunting accident. "Mr. Cheney could be charged with negligence, defined as failing to understand the dangers involved and disregarding them, or recklessness, defined as understanding the dangers and disregarding them." Which is perhaps the neatest summary I've seen of the public debate surrounding the Bush Administration's war in Iraq. Absent further evidence, the Administration seems guilty of negligence—a cavalier insensitivity to the unimaginable calamities that attend the use of lethal force. And while I have little faith that Cheney's awful experience at the Armstrong Ranch will change his views of war and peace, I do hope that it gives him pause and that he gains wisdom from the intimate knowledge that there are experiences other than "pleasure" that can attend the firing of a weapon.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis