THE BLOG
09/14/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Health Care Reform: White Like Me, Oh, Dear!

I have to say it's really embarrassing to be a white person these days. Talk about behaving badly. Who would have ever thought that nice white people from Missouri and Pennsylvania could get so riled up about the Weimar Republic, say, or the Founding Fathers? Especially when the topic at hand has nothing to do with Germany or the Revolutionary War.

At her town hall meeting in St. Louis, Sen. Claire McCaskill seemed genuinely hurt when the mob (I mean crowd) shouted "We don't trust you!" She tried to shame them into quieting down but they were so loud they couldn't hear her. Senator McCaskill, unlike her Show-Me-State constituents, is so polite she practically apologized in interviews later for inciting a riot.

I can't remember now which town hall it was, but a lot of the screaming white males were quite overweight. (I could have said fat, but my mother told me it's not nice to call people names even if they're yelling at you.) Did you notice that, too? I kept thinking it's a good thing the topic is health care because if one of these angry men has a heart attack there's probably a doctor in the crowd.

But seriously. If we're going to talk about health care, they should really consider cutting their carb intake.

All this brutish behavior. It's enough to make me renounce my European roots and claim my tiny Chickasaw heritage.

Granted, the whole discussion around health care is complicated. Which we could have easily solved if we'd just adopted a single-payer system, rather than confuse people with plans that call for government control and socialism. (Oh, we didn't? Never mind.)

But does that really call for gangs of white, white-haired people to scream at members of Congress? Or to liken our hard-working representatives to Nazis? (And please, pretty please, can we stop with the unpleasant and inaccurate historical references?) Or for a certain white female ex-governor who quit her job and seems to have a problem discerning rumor from reality to assert that seniors are going to be facing death panels?

I think not.

Plus, now I'm worried that my 85-year-old mother-in-law thinks I plan to kill her. And the teenagers are imploring us every night with cries of "don't kill grandma!" and "don't pull the plug!" Thanks, Sarah Palin!

What plug? Can we have a reality check here? Their grandmother lifts weights, doesn't drink or smoke, and gave up sweets to lower her blood pressure. I don't know where the kids get this nonsense. Unless they were listening to Charles Grassley.

Earlier this week the senior Iowa senator told a group of elderly white folks that they had every reason to fear some government bureaucrat putting them down as a way to cut costs.

Clearly, we're in trouble when one of the key senators in health care reform is this out of touch with the proposals. Or so desperate to get re-elected that he has no qualms about terrifying his elderly constituents.

As if that weren't enough, yesterday Grassley announced that he and a few other senators had eliminated any provisions in their plan that would have provided the chronically ill with a say in their care. Now people won't have to be tortured by listening to their doctors blather on about hospice care and living wills. Unlike Europe and Canada, where patients also have to wait months to see a doctor if they're sick or need glasses or dental care.

Oh, wait, that would be here.

This week thousands of people lined up outside the Forum in Los Angeles -- some arriving at midnight -- for a free health clinic being run by Remote Area Medical, a nonprofit group in Tennessee. Most were from poor and working-class neighborhoods around the Lakers' former home. The first day alone 1,500 patients were seen. But the need was so great that 500 others had to come back the next morning.

It was like that all week. Long waits. Families camped out in their cars so their kids could get their teeth cleaned or their eyes checked. In contrast to the angry white folks repeatedly acting out on TV, no one screamed. No one shook their fists or shoved anyone or had to be escorted out by police. No one mentioned "death panels."

Just crowds of grateful people that they were finally getting the health care they need.

Or as Lourie Alexander, who cleans houses for a living, told the New York Times: "What I liked about it was that everyone was so sweet. You know when you haven't seen a doctor in so many years you have a lot of questions."