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Death, Rape, Vegetative States and Other GOP Gifts from God

May 26, 2014

Among other things, the revelation that some VA facilities used secret waiting lists which may have to needless deaths of American veterans is simply unacceptable, a betrayal and a national disgrace. But you would be hard pressed to find many people who would deem the shameful situation "a gift from God." Unless, that is, you consulted with the best and brightest of the Republican Party. As it turns out, the suffering of our veterans like the case of Terri Schiavo and pregnancies from rape are all gifts from God in the good book of the GOP.
That's the word from Dr. Ben Carson, neurosurgeon turned 2016 Tea Party White House hopeful. Carson, whose only previous contribution to the U.S. health care debate was to brand Obamacare "the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery," suggested the struggles of the Veterans Health Administration are simply divine. Divine, that is, for Republicans:

"I think what's happening with the veterans is a gift from God to show us what happens when you take layers and layers of bureaucracy and place them between the patients and the health care provider," the Fox News contributor said Saturday. "And if we can't get it right, with the relatively small number of veterans, how in the world with are you going to do it with the entire population?"

Leave aside from the moment that with its system of government-run hospitals, clinics, insurance and physicians, VA health care is absolutely nothing like the Affordable Care Act's reinforcement of private hospitals, private insurers and private doctors. Also put aside for the moment that study after study consistently rates care from the VA as good or better than what the private sector providers. For Carson and his ilk, the VA imbroglio is a handy bludgeon for battering Democrats.
Just like Terri Schiavo was for Tom Delay.
In March 2005, the tragedy of Terri Schiavo helped the House Majority Leader deflect attention away from his own ethics quandaries. (Another Republican doctor, Bill Frist, announced on the Senate floor that "she certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli" even though Schiavo's physicians correctly diagnosed her as being a persistent vegetative state.) After 19 judges supported Schiavo's husband's decision to have his wife removed from life support, Delay declared her tragedy, too, was a gift from God. Despite having made the same decision to end his own father's life in 1988, Delay told a conference organized by the Family Research Council:

"One thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo, to help elevate the visibility of what is going on in America...This is exactly the issue that is going on in America, of attacks against the conservative movement, against me and against many others," Mr. DeLay said.
Mr. DeLay complained that "the other side" had figured out how "to defeat the conservative movement," by waging personal attacks, linking with liberal organizations and persuading the national news media to report the story. He charged that "the whole syndicate" was "a huge nationwide concerted effort to destroy everything we believe in."

Among the things they believe is stopping all abortions at all costs. Which means, as Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock explained in 2012, a pregnancy from rape must be a gift from God, too:

"I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen."

Two years earlier, another Tea Party favorite in Nevada similarly declared that abortion should not be allowed even in cases of rape or incest because it would "interfere with God's 'plan' for them." As Sharron Angle described her experiences with teenage rape victims:

"They found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade."

Mercifully, voters in Nevada and Indiana decided to shut that whole thing down.
Now, many Americans view some of their greatest challenges as a blessing. For example, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Representative Cathy McMorris-Rogers each call their Down syndrome children "a gift from God." But despite his certain agreement with Palin and McMorris Rogers, North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones parts company with them when it comes to the Iraq War he came to oppose:

"Here I am a pro-life person, and isn't that 18- or 19-year-old just as much a gift from God as a baby in the womb?"

Not according to Dr. Ben Carson. For him, dead American veterans are God's gift to the Republican Party.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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