Oct 10 2007

Conservatives Implode On Their S-CHIP Smear

Published by at 9:00 am under All General Discussions

Update: This is why this kind of mob-attack is so self destructive – this is passion run amok which is now a news media representation of the GOP on health care:

But while the Frosts were helping a bipartisan majority in Congress sell a plan to expand the program, they were not prepared for comments such as this one, posted over the weekend on the conservative Web site Redstate:

“If federal funds were required [they] could die for all I care. Let the parents get second jobs, let their state foot the bill or let them seek help from private charities. … I would hire a team of PIs and find out exactly how much their parents made and where they spent every nickel. Then I’d do everything possible to destroy their lives with that info.”

The family relied on SCHIP during the more than five months that the children were hospitalized. Graeme had to learn again to walk and talk, his parents say; he remains weak on his left side and speaks with a lisp. Gemma is blind in her left eye; she has difficulty with memory, learning and speech, and sees a behavioral psychologist to help her deal with her frustration.

This is fair game – and why the handling of this issue has crippled conservatism because it was led by thoughtless reactionaries. Why would anyone align with people like this who are vile and political incompetents to boot? This is why the GOP is going to lose, it can’t correct for mistakes. – – end update

Something is in the water on the right side of the political spectrum. We have seen emotion driven attacks on a family that is in the perfect situation to be an example FOR market driven health care in this country. The mob is so focused on attacking the family (and then covering up for their mistake in doing so) the irony of their blunder just escapes them. Now some are crying out they are being censored when, in fact, they are simply being challenged in the forum of public debate – and losing miserably. But let’s review the facts before we dissect the why today’s angst on the right is not about policy but personal embarrassment from overstepping in the first place.

Much of what I have to say is based on information in my first, long post from yesterday. A lot also came from reading the blogs left and right yesterday. The Frost family is of very modest income for the area they live. They make $45K a year in an area where the medium income is about $86K a year. To qualify for S-CHIP in MD they cannot make over $61K. They are not rich by any standard. And liquidating all they own and becoming totally destitute would not cover the medical costs of two kids with serious injuries and a long road to recovery. I know, I have seen the cost of simply delivering premature twins. The folks whining about their choices need to start from the facts and the fact is they needed to get help for their kids and help was available to them.

They are self sufficient entrepreneurs who try to give their kids the best. They supposedly paid their taxes, which in my mind gave them the right to access those government programs. They have 4 6 wonderful children and they have stayed together as a family. As one leftwing site noted yesterday they are really a poster family for the GOP. And that is what should have been leveraged instead of the low-brow attack mode some have lazily come to rely on for political discourse.

The Frosts had an emergency and we, their neighbors, were going to subsidize them one way or the other. Either through taxes or insurance premiums we were going to help out. So to say they are free-loading on the rest of us through their decisions is mindless bunk. Taxes or premiums – we pay for EVERYONE. The question is whether we keep our free market health care or get roped into a government mandated disaster like the ones in Europe and Canada. The NY Times has more real reporting on the family today, which IS in financial straits.

There are OTHER arguments that should have been made before personal attacks where ever contemplated (too many run on knee-jerk responses – which by definition means the brain is not engaged). First: The BUSH proposal on S-CHIP would have had no effect on the Frosts or anyone in their situation since the program was going to get an increase in funds no matter which option was passed in the Congress. Second (and most important): to retain our free market health care system – and the competition it creates to foster innovation, price control and quality of service – we need to allow for more families like the Frosts and programs like S-CHIP.

‘Free Market’ means free to decide how to handle your health care individually. That includes paying out of pocket without insurance, or with limited insurance. A government run health care system must mandate everyone participate and pay insurance premiums through taxes if it has prayer of not collapsing at the vert start. Therefore, the Frosts ARE the prime example of free market health care, and the dialogue should have been on what kind of service they would have gotten under Hillary-Care! That would have been the way to address this – adopt the family as an example of US health care WORKING.

The people who attacked this family as frauds were wrong. All negative and disparaging comments about the family’s decisions on health care choices are in total opposition to the supposed conservative-preferred free market health care approach, and were wrong. All comments about their rich income and financial status were wrong. All those who claim they free-loaded on the rest of us were wrong – we subsidize them either way (premiums or taxes). All those who were wrong and cannot face that fact are hurting their own image and the conservative cause, and simply compounding their mistakes. I see the self destruction of the conservative movement and I think it is wrong – liberal policy solutions are wrong.

But we have people who have gorged on the ego-of-success that comes with getting a large following, and then panic as they start to see it fade. The fact the mob mentality can apparently be sustained indefinitely over the internet is one aspect of this brave new world which is a definite negative. With constant bombardment on the net we can push our way forward through barriers – or we can doggedly run off the cliff barging through all the safety devices meant to keep us on the right path.

People are mindlessly attacking each other with lust based on cursory information and claims, and then crying victim when they have blundered. We cannot blame others for pointing out our mistakes when we go to such lengths to publish them and communicate them out to the world. The backlash is not censorship – it is the body politic trying to restore balance. And if we fight that balance we can be rejected by the body politic for not listening or being respectful. It is time to address HOW we want this new world to debate and where the boundaries are. And how to react when we cross those boundaries. I doubt we will respect someone who decides to repeatedly tear down the stage of public discourse with erroneous claims and cries of victim hood when called on it.

23 responses so far

23 Responses to “Conservatives Implode On Their S-CHIP Smear”

  1. Terrye says:

    I have to admit there have been times when I have wondered whose side Malkin is on.

  2. AJStrata says:


    She is on her side, of course. Not necessarily bad if you keep your mind open to criticism and critiques from others. Otherwise it is a trap.

  3. I’ve wondered about it, too. She is perfectly willing to demand a standard of perfection that, if not met, will be used later as a justification fo rher to plant a knife in some Republican’s back.

    That said, there is at least a case to be made that the Democrats did misrepresent the family’s situation (insurance was available MUCH cheaper than the $1200 figure that was quoted). And the Democrats’ version had problems.

    The bad news is that it ultimate is going to come down to the Dems being able to paint the GOP as being against children. SCHIP was the wrong battle at the wrong time.

  4. colin says:


    What annoys me, beyond the bullying factor, is the plain, simple political tone-deafness of a move like this. The only reason Democrats would place a kid in a position to echo Democratic talking points is not to highlight the kid’s situation, it is to bait the right into attacking the messenger, and not the message. Attack the kid and his family for not being “authentically poor”, and all of your criticisms of the policy are immediately overshadowed, and the Democratic operatives can adopt the imprimatur of “victim” by proxy.

    The right could have attacked every single substantive point in that radio address, and then could have attacked the democrats for using a needy family in this way. It may not have convinced all that many people who wern’t convinced already, but it could have at least made the whole “moral authority” issue a wash, by making the Democrats look opportunistic. Instead they attack the family, and do their best to live up to the “evil, cruel Republican” stereotype. Good work, guys. We have enough problems with getting a positive message out about conservatives as it is.

    This is what makes me so mad when the pundit class, the self-described solons of the right, make such a big deal about how poorly we’re doing in “getting our message out”, and then go on to bash Bush on the point, saying that the reason the public isn’t on board with the whole war on terror and the White House’s agenda is that they’re not getting their message out. By “getting their message out”, this is what those folks seem to mean, just mindlessly attack. They seem to think that the image of the cruel, cheap Republican is a winning message in the public’s eye. If this kind of gutter politics is what they mean by “getting the message out”, then maybe they should think twice before criticizing the Bush Administration’s communications policy.

    Sorry to go beyond the topic at hand, but the abject stupidity of going after the family instead of the Democrats just boggles the mind, and inspired a bit of a rant.

  5. AJStrata says:


    As Colin notes it was not really the wrong battle. But you can use a self destructive strategy and lose a lot of ground even in an battle that should be a stalemate. There were opportunities to make sound arguments – but those were lost when the reactionaries went blazing forward without thinking.

    Damage done.

  6. Soothsayer says:

    Really good commentary, AJ. I hope it doesn’t bother you that I agree with you.

  7. IanY77 says:

    Good on ya, AJ. I wish MM and Dan Reihl could take a lesson from you. You can argue against gov’t health without destroying the messenger.

  8. Giacomo says:

    You wrote the post I intended to write today. I’m dismayed when I see anyone, left or right, use children as a shield for counterpoints to their arguments. The Frosts should never have been put in this position, and the fact that their participation in SCHIP would be unaffected by continuing the current program is certainly germane. But that’s about as far as I would take the investigation.

  9. stevevvs says:

    Totally of Topic:

    On Rudy:
    Moreover, I know, from my private conversations with some who post here in his defense, that they have some hesitation about the man but, for personal reasons or because of their assessment of the rest of the field, they support him. That’s fine, but must we redefine conservatism to accommodate his candidacy? And that’s what is troubling me, frankly.

    but must we redefine conservatism to accommodate his candidacy?

    Seems I said much the same.

  10. ivehadit says:

    Michelle Malkin needs to look in the mirror. She is filled with hate, imho, just as the dems. She is sarcastic resentful and bullying often and doesn’t even realize it. She is, as AJ, has pointed out, on HER side. And frankly, I think she is VERY close to the rigidity and purity of the likes of the Germans in 1940. NOT an asset to anything republican or conservative.

    She is not someone I EVER want to emulate.

  11. I am so tired of Malkin and her ilk. What is frustrating is that we can’t do about her. Another example of how unelected spokespeople for the Republican and conservative cause can reallyu cause problems

  12. AJ,

    The problem is that this was one where any reasonable person should have known the Democrats would have something like this in the offing.

    We also know full well that people like Malkin will be bulls in a china shop in a situation which requires much more delciate handling, and who will hand the left tons of ammunition that will be used against all of us. We also know they will press forward regardless of any counsel on strategy or tactics.

    That’s why I feel SCHIP was the wrong battle at the wrong time.

  13. colin says:

    What do you mean we can’t do anything about her? We’re doing it! She deserves to use her online outlet to say her piece, and we can do what we are to try an make others really look at what she’s saying, and re-evaluate her centrality in the online conservative community.

    I’ve noticed over the past year or so that a lot more people are becoming disinchanted with her, as she became more and more shrill, and I expect that trend will continue, or she’ll cool the rhetoric in order to stay relevant. The simple fact of the matter is that Michelle’s point of view is still incredibly popular on the right, but that it’s probably already peaked (at least it looks that way to me). If she continues in this vein, then she’ll lose influence as more and more people come around to our point of view. Just keep on pointing out the nonsense that comes out of her site, and things will change.

  14. Terrye says:


    I like Rudy, but I will vote for just about anyone the Republicans nominate, because there is a war on and we have men and women in uniform risking their lives for this country. That is my number one concern.

    I do not think we should redefine conservatism to mean selfish and short sighted…because that is exactly what it would be for anyone who calls himself a conservative to sit back and let someone like Hillary Clinton win that election.

  15. clarice says:

    Steeyn notes today (NRO the Corner) that in a city with only 4% unemployment Mr. Frost says he works “intermittently” and Mrs Frost works part time–that is not a choice I’d make if I had 4 children. Nevertheless, they are covered under the present SCHIP plan, so why are they Pelosi poster children?

    I think I’m rather sick of the victimology game and legislation by anecdote, and I think the Frost’s made themselveszpublic figures and opened themselves up for scrutiny when they did so.

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  17. Ghost Dansing says:

    It’s not about the Frost’s, its about the poverty of modern Republican ideology.

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