Who you gonna believe? Sister Mary Catherine--who taught you how to spell and made you jelly sandwiches when you forgot your lunch? Doctor Bennett, who came to your bedside when you had the mumps, and had a Silver Star from World War II that he would let you see if you didn't cry when he gave you a shot? The kindly staff at your neighborhood hospital, who made you smile, despite the pain, as they put a cast on the ankle you broke in gym?
Or Glenn Beck?
Yes, as surprising as it sounds, given all the mud that Beck and his type have tossed on President Obama's healthcare bill, the folks in our communities who have devoted their lives to caring for us--doctors and nuns and hospital workers--have endorsed the legislation.
They don't spend their time drawing elaborate conspiracy theories on blackboards. They spend it helping you and me. And they think it's a good deal that kids can stay on their parents' policies for a few years longer; that you won't be turned down for health insurance if you have a pre-existing medical condition, and that we will no longer have to choose between draining our life savings or saving our lives when it comes our turn to face catastrophic illness.
They see the mandate to buy health insurance something like the mandate to buy car insurance--a hassle, but necessary, and just maybe not part of a communist plot.
There is stuff inside the bill that they don't like, and they roll their eyes at some of the political trade-offs and procedures used on Capitol Hill (who doesn't, and when was it ever different?), but the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association and AARP and the Catholic Hospital Association and many other organizations who have participated in writing and amending the legislation have endorsed it--despite Republican fear-mongering.
They don't get the attention that, say, Sarah Palin gets when she rants about death panels, but that is not their fault. They are used to being unsung heroes.
Here is an example. One of the eleventh-hour debates is about abortion. The president's political foes would have you think that the new law will force Catholic doctors to perform abortion on demand, and then send you, the taxpayer, the bill.
Now it is true that the Catholic bishops think that the House version of the law is tougher than the Senate's, and so prefer it. Yet here is a fact: Both versions are tougher than existing law. If not, why would the Catholic hospitals, and 59,000 nuns, urge Congress to approve the Senate bill?
"Despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions," the nuns, and dozens of groups of other religious leaders, said on St. Patrick's Day. "It will uphold longstanding conscience protections and it will make historic new investments…in support of pregnant women. This is the real pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it."
A spokesman for the national anti-abortion league, when asked about the Catholic hospital association's stand, inadvertently showed us what is really at stake in the vote on healthcare reform. It's not about what's good for us--it's what's good for them. It's about politics. And scaring voters. And power. "No Catholic hospital executive has ever turned out hundreds of volunteers to man the phone banks," the flack boasted to the Associated Press. Well, he's probably right, the folks who run hospitals are pretty busy. Like Ross Perot once said, when he was criticized by Rush Limbaugh and other radio commentators: "I don't have time to listen to talk radio. I work for a living."
So, sure, you can go with Glenn Beck, cultist, and stash your "survival seeds" and gold coins in your basement shelter, and maliciously slander the Sermon on the Mount.
But for me, I'm sticking with Doctor Bennett, and Sister Mary Kate.