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A Dodged Bullet last November

John McCain on one of the Sunday shows:

“I think that a fundamental difference we have is whether we think government does a good job at administering health care in America or providing health insurance for the American people,” he said. “I don’t think they do.”

Sure, Mr. McCain, whatever you say—this is why Republicans are trying to scare senior citizens into thinking that Democrats want to take their government-administered health insurance plan away, right? The fact is that people on Medicare are significantly more satisfied with their health care than people in private plans, and the VA system produces significantly better care for patients than private plans while managing to control costs impressively, in comparison to skyrocketing costs everywhere else. McCain’s comment is especially rich—which is to say, infuriating—because he has been the beneficiary of government-administered health plans for literally his entire life, first as the child of a naval officer, then as a naval officer himself (who tragically needed extensive medical care after the torture he received from his Vietnamese captors), then as a veteran, and then as a member of congress, and then as a person over 65.

Of course, as the husband of an heiress, he can afford whatever health care he wants without any government involvement, but unless he has a plan for enabling the 46 million uninsured Americans to marry heirs and heiresses, it would be nice if he at least allowed them to buy into a government-administered health plan similar to the ones that he has relied upon throughout his life. Chutzpah is often defined as killing one’s parents, then suing for the inheritance, but if anyone is seeking an alternative definition, I can think of one.

I know it’s not a shock to hear this sort of knee-jerk nonsense from politicians and pundits, but it’s especially galling when it comes from someone with McCain’s biography and health history. Whatever Barack Obama’s faults are, and whatever inadequacies the final health care bill will inevitably contain (assuming that a bill does get passed this year—knock on wood), just think about what the terms of the health care debate would have been if John McCain had been elected instead.