We have long known that conservatives in Congress are hopelessly out of touch with both reality and the American people. So while it represented nothing new, House Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-OH) recent comments on health insurance reform made me do a double take:
Boehner claimed, with a semi-straight face, that he has yet to meet a regular “American” who favors the option — despite polls showing that a majority of voters support to the idea of having the choice of a government plan.
“I’m still trying to find the first American to talk to who’s in favor of the public option, other than a member of Congress or the administration” said Boehner, whose sole recent foray into a public discussion of health care reform was a tea-party-style event in Ohio a few weeks back.
Now it is pretty startling that in John Boehner’s day-to-day life he hasn’t come across a single American who supports a public health insurance option, despite pretty much every poll consistently showing overwhelming public support for a public option (typically between 56 to 62% on the low end and 75 to 80% on the high end). So given that at the very least a simple majority of Americans support it, how the hell has the leading Republican in the House of Representatives managed to not meet a single American who supports it?
How sheltered is this man??
Seriously, it is one thing to oppose policies that are supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans, which conservatives seem to love to do, but to actually have no contact with someone who disagrees with them, or to go out of their way to just pretend these people don’t exist…it is just flummoxing.
But on the off chance the top ranking Republican in the House of Representatives doesn’t spend all of his personal time locked away in some dark underground lair, surrounded by hand-picked claque of right-wing ideologues, there is one other explanation I can think of to explain his otherwise inexplicable comments: perhaps John Boehner has a very particular definition of “American”.
Is it possible that he has so thoroughly internalized that oft-insinuated conservative notion that those who don’t agree with them aren’t “real” Americans? Has he actually convinced himself that his opponents are literally not American citizens?
You would think someone would have to be very mentally unhinged to slip into such a delusional state, but is it really that hard to imagine? We’ve heard plenty of this rhetoric from the likes of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin and countless conservative pundits over the years. Also keep in mind that a recent poll showed that less than half of Republicans believe that President Obama is an actual American citizen.
This tinfoil hat conspiracy has also been espoused and fanned by many conservative members of Congress, including 12 Representatives who actually co-sponsored the so-called “Birther Bill” seeking to require future presidential candidates to submit proof of citizenship prior to running (you know, so we don’t get another Obama situation–event though his birth certificate has been available since early on in his campaign).
So maybe that is it. Maybe Boehner has met plenty of people who support the public option, just no “real Americans”, who by virtue of his worldview are unable to support anything he doesn’t.
Which is worse? To be that physically isolated from the majority of Americans by his typical circle of far-right ideologues, or to be that blinded by ideology and self-righteousness that he can’t even bring himself to acknowledge that those who disagree with him are even citizens?
I’ll leave it up to you to determine his malfunction.
UPDATE: Click here to sign the following petition from Health Care for America Now! to Rep. Boehner: “Hey John Boehner! I’m an American AND I support the public health insurance option!”