But Too Late for Those Suffering in Iraq, and the U.S.?
by Pat LaMarche
Dick Cheney has once again beaten the odds. He’s one of very few heart transplant recipients over the age of seventy. And he’ll need his luck to continue because older patients don’t do as well post-surgery as younger folks do. It’d be a real shame if he got to use this heart even less than he used his last one.
Timing is everything. And the irony of Cheney’s heart transplant — missing the ninth anniversary of the Iraq War by only a few days — should remind us of the hearts stopped by his “shock and awe” policy in that country. An undisputed architect of the War in Iraq, he and the other hawks of the George W. Bush administration presided over the senseless killing of tens of thousands of innocents who did the U.S. no harm.
The New York Times reports that the Cheney family is grateful to the donor as well as the doctors and staff at George Washington University Hospital. Cheney and his family are no doubt appreciative that his life was saved regardless of his limited odds and advanced years. How fortunate for them that the decision was made to give him that donor’s heart.
And though the former vice president can easily afford the million dollar commitment he has made to keep the donor heart beating in his chest, you can’t help but wonder if all this sacrifice and expense to save his one life can jump start any sort of epiphany for Cheney or his colleagues when it comes to wasting the lives of others.
And if thinking about the death toll in Iraq is just too overwhelming or you are still wrestling with the notion that war is hell and those deaths are somehow justified — then take a minute and think about the lives lost in the United States because of the Cheney-like policies put forth by he and his Republican successors.
Harvard University conducted a study in 2009 which stated that 45,000 of Cheney’s fellow Americans die each year from a lack of health insurance. And the 2010 U.S. Census says that the number of people lacking health insurance is on the rise indicating that Harvard’s next study will show the number of deaths going up too.
Imagine if it were 45,000 Dick Cheney’s that were dead. In fact, in nearly every case, the only difference between Cheney and all those dead uninsured people is that what they had wrong with them would have been a lot less expensive — not to mention a lot easier — to cure. Oh, and they weren’t millionaires.
Cheney’s original ticker’s been on the fritz since 1978 when he had his first heart attack. He’s had every manner of medical intervention to keep him alive from by-pass surgery to artificial pumps – and now someone else’s beating heart. The accumulated expense of keeping Cheney around all these years while his policies have cost the lives of so many illustrates better than any other example the misplaced role money plays in the U.S. healthcare system. And — quite frankly – it also proves exactly how heartless those policies and their supporters are. If there’s enough money to give Cheney the care he needs, there should be enough to give necessary procedures and medicines to every American.
As the 2012 presidential race drags on — with the unending arguments over prescription drug coverage for women or the pros and cons of mandatory insurance — it becomes excruciatingly clear that the Republican leadership has no intention of treating one common U.S. citizen’s life as though it were worthy of saving.
Of course President Obama’s Affordable Care Act proves that the Democrats have enough heart to save more U.S. lives, but that they lack the guts to save them all. See, the argument that Americans pay more for health care than anyone else in the world even though they don’t live as long as folks in nations with universal health care never got heard over the louder voices of the for-profit insurance industry. Alas, the Republicans aren’t the only ones needing an organ transplant. The Democrats need the stomach to fight for the American people.
Lastly, and frighteningly, rumors swirl around the blogosphere that the pre-transplant Cheney supported U.S. military involvement in Iran. Let’s hope that if that’s true, his new heart tells him otherwise.
Pat LaMarche is the Vice President of Community Affairs at Safe Harbour, Inc. In 2004, she was the U.S. Vice Presidential nominee for the Green Party. During the campaign, she traveled the nation living in homeless shelters and on the streets; the book she wrote about those experiences is Left Out in America: The State of Homelessness in the United States(Upala Press, 2006). LaMarche writes a regular political column for The Bangor Daily News and contributes to the Huffington Post; hosts The Pulse Morning Show that broadcasts from Maine; and is a Contributing Author for New Clear Vision.