Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Strange World Out There: Doctor's Wife Represent Real America, Upbraids Congressman for Supporting Health Care for All

It’s a strange world out there, and only getting stranger.

Here in Arkansas, our latest little tempest in a teapot is an email circulated by a doctor’s wife following an incident at a wannabe upscale Little Rock restaurant several days ago (wannabe, because we dont know from real or fake, good or bad, food in Little Rock; we assume, not knowing any better, that $$ equals fine cuisine). Doctor’s wife and a group of her friends were out for a big boozy fling on the town when our local Congressional representative Vic Snyder and his wife Betsy Singleton, a Methodist minister, came into the restaurant.

Doctor’s wife and a friend of hers take it on themselves to assault—verbally—Rep. Snyder and his wife, because Snyder voted for the health care reform bill. He is, doctor’s wife avows, “so out of touch with America !,” and she and hers are determined to see him run out of office for daring to support health care coverage for all Americans.

It’s a strange world and only getting stranger. These ladies who represent the real America make this claim to understand and represent everyone while knocking back pricey drinks and eating what passes for high-priced haute cuisine in Arkansas. They’re the real America. Not the thousands and thousands of citizens of their state and nation who have no access to ongoing, quality, affordable health care.

In 2008, doctor’s wife and her doctor husband were featured in a local business paper’s discussion of citizens of our county who had paid over $1 million for their houses during that year. You know, the real Americans, the kind our Congressional representative is out of touch with as he votes for health coverage for all citizens. The kind of Americans who can afford to pay top dollars of a weekend on wine- and martini-laden dinners of badly prepared osso bucco and messes of blackened this or that.

Doctor’s wife’s email boasting that she had really given it to Rep. Snyder and his wife Betsy (whose health is, I’m told, iffy right now as she and her husband raise triplets born to them recently) also notes that she has served on the board of Arkansas Hospice. An organization whose mission is to provide the best possible health care to those in the final stages of their lives. An organization headed (and yes, this matters for me, as I assess this woman’s behavior and the values implied in her boastful email) by a former priest. Who has an M. Div. degree.

Foolishly, perhaps, naively, I tend to look for a strong connection between the professed and lived values of those who serve on the governing boards of non-profit institutions, and the values of the institutions on whose boards they serve. When I see a radical disconnect—and I often do, in our little city in which having your face in the paper and your name attached to governing boards counts far more than education, expertise as a board member, or fidelity to the values of the institutions you govern, I tend to shift my financial support elsewhere.

I’m not seeing that connection in this case, and so the letter I recently received from Arkansas Hospice asking for another donation from me is going to go into the wastebasket now.

It’s a strange world out there, and only getting stranger. How have we gotten to this place, in which up is down and wrong is right, and the brassiest, most belligerent, and least considerate among us claim to be the most sterling representatives of religious values, I wonder?

And what role have people of faith and religious leaders played in getting us here?