Paul Krugman does his usual fine job of exposing the utter lack of conscience on the American political right:
Soon after the radio address, right-wing bloggers began insisting that the Frosts must be affluent because Graeme and his sister attend private schools (they’re on scholarship), because they have a house in a neighborhood where some houses are now expensive (the Frosts bought their house for $55,000 in 1990 when the neighborhood was rundown and considered dangerous) and because Mr. Frost owns a business (it was dissolved in 1999).
You might be tempted to say that bloggers make unfounded accusations all the time. But we’re not talking about some obscure fringe. The charge was led by Michelle Malkin, who according to Technorati has the most-trafficked right-wing blog on the Internet, and in addition to blogging has a nationally syndicated column, writes for National Review and is a frequent guest on Fox News.
The attack on Graeme’s family was also quickly picked up by Rush Limbaugh, who is so important a player in the right-wing universe that he has had multiple exclusive interviews with Vice President Dick Cheney.
And G.O.P. politicians were eager to join in the smear. The New York Times reported that Republicans in Congress “were gearing up to use Graeme as evidence that Democrats have overexpanded the health program to include families wealthy enough to afford private insurance” but had “backed off” as the case fell apart.
In fact, however, Republicans had already made their first move: an e-mail message from the office of Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, sent to reporters and obtained by the Web site Think Progress, repeated the smears against the Frosts and asked: “Could the Dems really have done that bad of a job vetting this family?”
All in all, the Graeme Frost case is a perfect illustration of the modern right-wing political machine at work, and in particular its routine reliance on character assassination in place of honest debate. If service members oppose a Republican war, they’re “phony soldiers”; if Michael J. Fox opposes Bush policy on stem cells, he’s faking his Parkinson’s symptoms; if an injured 12-year-old child makes the case for a government health insurance program, he’s a fraud.
But Krugman does get one thing wrong:
Meanwhile, leading conservative politicians, far from trying to distance themselves from these smears, rush to embrace them. And some people in the news media are still willing to be used as patsies.
Sadly, things are worse than Krugman realizes. It’s not that the media is being used as patsies, it is that they are, with very few excpetions, ideologically in league with the right-wing. (Or at least they work for such people.)
Leave it to the folks at Town Hall to defend the practice of lying about sick children. Here’s Amy Ridenour:
Do people on the dole have a reasonable expectation of privacy vis-Ã -vis their financial affairs?
That question, though not always my answer, is coming up frequently as defenders of the Democratic Party’s $35 billion SCHIP expansion proposal condemn bloggers and talk show hosts, including Rush Limbaugh, who have examined the statement penned by aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and delivered as the official Democratic Party rebuttal to President Bush’s weekly radio address by 12-year-old Graeme Frost, that the State Childrens Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is for “families like mine.”
The questioners’ question: If Graeme Frost’s family isn’t all that low-income, then maybe the SCHIP program doesn’t need to be expanded by $35 billion to cover millions of extra families with even higher incomes than the Frosts apparently have.
Rather than address the core question, some say it is inappropriate even to consider the Frost family’s circumstances, even if the people doing the considering are helping the Frosts raise their kids. This assumption reverses a thousand years of philanthropic practice.
No, Ms. Ridenour. We say merely that it is inappropriate to tell lies about people for the purpose of advancing your heartless and immoral political agenda.
Ridenour’s casual description of the Frosts as being “on the dole” is representative of the sickness at the core of the modenr Republican Party. She goes on to discuss, in quasi-philosophical terms, the nature of charity. You see, to Town Hall types it is an act of charity to provide health care to children whose families can not otherwise afford it.
To people with consciences, by contrast, it is a moral imperative.