FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Bush, the Compassionate Exerciser?

George W. Bush, the self-proclaimed compassionate conservative who doesn’t want government intruding into private lives, has just mixed government into private lives. In creating a new initiative, spun out as “Healthier Us,” he told us heart disease is costing Americans about $183 billion a year but by diet and exercise we can reduce not only heart disease but also cancer deaths by one-third. Surreptitiously invoking memories of Sept. 11, he slips past us that “a healthier America is a stronger America.” Bush wants us not only to be “physically active every day,” but to “develop good eating habits [and] take advantage of preventative screenings.” He emphasizes he doesn’t want Americans to smoke, do drugs, or drink excessively, all of which he once did to excess.

Had the President just made the suggestions to the American people, the people could accept or reject them. Most of what is said and done in Washington, D.C., doesn’t affect too many people, anyway. But, Bush also “urged the folks at work inside the White House to exercise on a daily basis.” He said that “as an employer, I insist they take time off, out of their daily grind, to get some exercise.” Being the compassionate conservative he is, he said the appointed staff–more than 5,000 persons–“can do it anytime of the day, so long as they get it done.” His insistence probably also affects his cabinet secretaries and their deputies and, for all we know, just about any federal employee in any 8-by-10 office anywhere in the country.

After all, aPresident/employer’s “suggestions” aren’t really just “suggestions.” His directive probably doesn’t apply to Vice-President Cheney whose working day is spent hiding from terrorists while trying to remember what he did with Halliburton, Enron, and the energy lobby.

The President’s thoughts about preventative treatment and routine medical screenings may be well-intentioned. But most insurance companies won’t pay for them, preferring to pay $50,000 after an illness rather than $2,000 to prevent the problem. It’s just “cost-effective.”

It’s doubtful Bush will intrude upon any industry’s “rights” to continue to make obscene profits. Nor is it probable he is concerned that 44.6 million people, 16.8 percent of all Americans according to the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, don’t have medical insurance, mostly because they can’t afford it. He definitely didn’t say anything about the one-third of all Hispanics and one-fifth of all Blacks who don’t have medical insurance. And, he never once noted that when Hillary Clinton led a campaign to improve health care and insurance coverage in America, the Republicans punctured it with more holes than the vacuous comments made before Congressional committees by the oil and energy lobby.

The President also didn’t say anything about the 730,000 Americans who were laid off in the first four months of 2002, nor the 2.5 million Americans laid off in the first year of his term, most of the layoffs resulting in higher compensation for the executives and increased corporate shareholder income. The President didn’t mention that the unemployment rate is now 5.8 percent–8.4 million Americans–up from 6 million in October 2000, the month before the election, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Most of the unemployed, just trying to survive, no longer have insurance or the means to follow a healthy lifestyle, just as they and large segments of the elderly and minority populations no longer can afford the medications and health care they need.

Poverty also wasn’t mentioned, but it directly affects the health and welfare of Americans. There are currently 31.1 million Americans living in poverty, up from its lowest point in October 2000, according to the BLS. Persons without adequate income and shelter can’t afford adequate medical care, nor do most have the will to begin and continue an exercise program.

George W. Bush, exhorting his White House staff to exercise more because he found people who exercise are “better able to communicate and happier on their job,” exercises about 90 minutes a day, often with a three-mile run.

Perhaps it wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask the President–and all of his appointees–to spend the same amount of time?-any time of the day they want to do it–to exercise their minds. With a little bit of mind-stretching, the President’s Compassionate Conservative Corps might figure out how to help all Americans get adequate medical coverage, while reducing poverty, unemployment, and mass layoffs. There shouldn’t be too many people who object to that kind of governmental interference.

Walt Brasch is former newspaper reporter and editor, and author of 14 books. He is professor of journalism at Bloomsburg University. His latest book is “The Joy of Sax: America During the Bill Clinton Era.” You may write Brasch at wbrasch@planetx.bloomu.edu

 

More articles by:

Walter Brasch is an award-winning social issues journalist. His latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania, an analysis of the history, economics, and politics of fracking, as well as its environmental and health effects.

Weekend Edition
March 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era
Gabriel Rockhill
Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests
H. Bruce Franklin
Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story
Paul Street
A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”
Andrew Levine
Why Not Impeach?
Bruce E. Levine
Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Darn That (American) Dream
Charles Pierson
Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal
Moshe Adler
American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China
David Rosen
Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal
Nick Pemberton
The Real Parallels Between Donald Trump and George Orwell
Binoy Kampmark
Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement
Brian Cloughley
NATO’s Expensive Anniversaries
Ron Jacobs
Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther
Joseph Grosso
New York’s Hudson Yards: The Revanchist City Lives On
REZA FIYOUZAT
Is It Really So Shocking?
Bob Lord
There’s Plenty of Wealth to Go Around, But It Doesn’t
John W. Whitehead
The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs
Jeff Cohen
Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama 
Christy Rodgers
Achieving Escape Velocity
Monika Zgustova
The Masculinity of the Future
Jessicah Pierre
The Real College Admissions Scandal
Peter Mayo
US Higher Education Influence Takes a Different Turn
Martha Rosenberg
New Study Confirms That Eggs are a Stroke in a Shell
Ted Rall
The Greatest Projects I Never Mad
George Wuerthner
Saving the Big Wild: Why Aren’t More Conservationists Supporting NREPA?
Norman Solomon
Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for President
Ralph Nader
Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs
Tracey L. Rogers
White Supremacy is a Global Threat
Nyla Ali Khan
Intersectionalities of Gender and Politics in Indian-Administered Kashmir
Karen J. Greenberg
Citizenship in the Age of Trump: Death by a Thousand Cuts
Jill Richardson
Getting It Right on What Stuff Costs
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Puddle Jumping in New Britain
Matt Johnson
The Rich Are No Smarter Than You
Julian Vigo
College Scams and the Ills of Capitalist-Driven Education
Brian Wakamo
It’s March Madness, Unionize the NCAA!
Beth Porter
Paper Receipts Could be the Next Plastic Straws
Christopher Brauchli
Eric the Heartbroken
Louis Proyect
Rebuilding a Revolutionary Left in the USA
Sarah Piepenburg
Small Businesses Like Mine Need Paid Family and Medical Leave
Robert Koehler
Putting Our Better Angels to Work
Peter A. Coclanis
The Gray Lady is Increasingly Tone-Deaf
David Yearsley
Bach-A-Doodle-Doo
Elliot Sperber
Aunt Anna’s Antenna
March 21, 2019
Daniel Warner
And Now Algeria
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail