Friday, November 20, 2009

And God Said, “Let There Be Universal Health Care.”

On the question of a public option in the health care debate, liberal Democrats are now playing the God card, and it would appear that every liberal’s favorite whipping boy, Sen. Joe Lieberman, is in their view a moral apostate.

Lieberman, already in Dutch with the far left of his party for having fraternized with the enemy, has vigorously opposed the “public option” – a euphemism for nationalized insurance – for non-theological reasons having to do with dollars and cents.

But no sooner did Lieberman say he felt it was a “moral obligation” to oppose a ruinously expensive nationalized health insurance plan than there appeared out of the blue a union inspired “vigil” of rabbis and imams and priests and Unitarian ministers all inveighing against Lieberman as a religious reprobate.

It certainly is odd how the seemingly inflexible doctrine of the separation of church and state — vigorously applied to crèches during the Christian season of joy – just comes and goes.

Most news accounts of the vigil did not touch on its auspices. The vigil, which occurred before Lieberman’s house in Stamford, was assisted by CSEA/SEIU Local 2001, a state union.

The purpose of the vigil, the union group announced on its site, was “To demonstrate to Joe Lieberman that we need health care reform and we do not want him joining any filibuster of health care legislation. The Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care, a faith-based organization that includes religious leaders from all major faiths, is organizing this event.”

The union group urged its members “to participate and demonstrate our opposition to Sen. Lieberman's obstruction of efforts to pass meaningful reform. The event will be solemn and highly dignified, and attendees will be asked to dress appropriately and NOT to bring protest signs.”

Connecticut Citizen Action Group (CCAG) issued a clarion call: “Please join people from across Connecticut – representing all walks of life and all faith traditions. Remind Senator Lieberman that we are united in our call for quality, affordable health care we can count on!”

CCAG’s director is Tom Swan, the campaign manager of Ned Lamont’s failed senatorial run against Lieberman. A little more than a year ago, Lamont appeared in a video clip hawking a Million Doors for Peace effort endorsed by CCAG:

In the video, Lamont anguishes over ex-President George Bush’s successful war in Iraq and advises recruits to “knock on doors. Remind them why we’re not going to let this happen again.” Lamont is referring to Bush’s “war of choice.”

Alas, it happened again when President Barrack Obama introduced more U.S. troops into Afghanistan, the current president’s “war of necessity.” President Obama has been anguishing for a month over how many troops to send to Afghanistan, sometimes called the graveyard of empires. If Lamont now seems unconcerned with knocking on doors for peace, it is because he is considering a run for governor on the Democratic ticket and currently is engaged in a head to toe reinvention process. Gone is the anti-war Lamont progressives came to love and honor during his successful primary challenge to Lieberman, who went on to win the general election. Governors in charge of their state’s national guards generally cannot be found knocking on doors for peace. This would be doubly unlikely for Lamont, who will be expected as governor of Connecticut to support the war mongering efforts of a Democratic president.

In their vigil, the clergy seemed at some pains to make the point that opposition to the specific health care plan containing a public option was immoral. One rabbi warned Lieberman sternly “You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbors. It is with a heavy heart that I proclaim to you Senator Lieberman that that is exactly what you seem to be doing at this time.” Another dithered over whether he thought it prudent to throw his theology into the political ring but finally succumbed, possibly at the urging of CCAG and unions thumping for nationalized health care.

“The moral imperative for our time is clear,” he said. “Anyone whose guide in public policy is conscience, anyone who argues that faith and religious traditions should direct our actions, such a person must stand for universal health care in America. It happens we are all also citizens of Connecticut. That fact leads us to ask you Senator Lieberman, what is it that you stand for?”

Such political specificity must always be theologically suspect. Jews apparently are not moral Jews when they vote against national insurance programs and, according to Jesse Jackson, neither are blacks black.

But God works in mysterious ways and does not always take the route suggested by Democratic politicians. To put it in other terms: God’s way is not always and unvaryingly Dodd’s way. U. S. Sen. Chris Dodd favors a national health insurance plan; Lieberman does not, which is not to say that Lieberman favors sacrificing the children of union leaders to Moloch.

Other plans beside those offered by progressives may provide health care to those presently who have no health insurance. And it seems to be Lieberman’s fugitive hope that the thing may be done without bankrupting the nation or Connecticut, which use to be known as the insurance capital of the world and still employs quite a few people in the business.

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