Sobbering words from Michael Burgess, M.D.
I just came from seeing the doctor. I’m fine. But the doc is kinda sick, at least by my diagnosis. That would be my congressman, Dr. Michael C. Burgess, U.S. Representative for the 26th District.
One on one, we talked at each other, some hits, some misses, and how much really stuck, I don’t know. I am sick and tired of hearing about healthcare. All I want for my people is that they get medical treatment, when they need it, at an affordable cost. That’s the bottom line.
It was not my job, as a constituent, to read a 1,000-page healthcare proposal, and follow and track every major and minor change. That’s why we sent him to Congress.
Had I ever wavered in my confidence in him? No. I even publicly recommended that he and President Barack Obama meet and go through the bill, line by line. [Obviously, the President had said some idiocy like he would meet with any member of Congress and go through the bill, line by line, and Burgess called his bluff and got snubbed.]
I liked Burgess' healthcare co-opt financing plan, as a compromise, and a few other good ideas. And, as for healthcare cost reduction through tort reform, there was room for negotiations (less legal fees and support from the legal and labor industries). We understood the bill was being shaped by competing interests.
But cost reduction by efficiency never came into the discussion. Instead, the congressman only wanted to do was explain his NO vote against the healthcare proposal, and why he would probably vote NO at the end, and why he did not conduct a town hall meeting in the minority community.
He was concerned also about how the economic downturn was impacting this, the poorest community in his district. One of the reasons he opposed the healthcare bill, he claims, was because all the new healthcare clinics was going to Democratic districts. And, it was appearing that all the stimulus money was going up North.
How were we fairing in Southeast Fort Worth?
"To the victor go the spoils", I reminded him. He had had his heydays, during the last Republican administration, when our community was most neglected. To the victor went the spoils, then. To the victor should go the spoils, we agreed... end of that discussion.
Poverty was being mitigated, but infant mortality was still high.
The congressman described some of the town hall meetings he had conducted on the healthcare issue. Some forums were vocal and volatile. He could not see inviting such volatility into our minority community, which was mainly pro-Democratic, and contrary to his party line vote. To do so would be like inviting the Tea Party to The Hood. At the very thought, I could see the terror in his eyes, as we sat nose to nose at a table over a cup of coffee. "Security," he muttered.
The African-Americans in our community would act civilly, I assured him. That wasn't the problem. He wasn’t too sure about his people.
“Teach them how to be more civil,” I said, alluding to Rep. Joe Wilson's recent gaff remark, and how he, Burgess, had been caught flatfooted on MSNBC TV. The reported had asked him pointedly, if he thought Joe Wilson's remarks were civil. Burgess replayed about how Bush was booed, and evaded answering the question, altogether.
“You," he He laughed, "a former Black Panther, are going to tell me about being civil?”
I replied, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” And that was that.
We have our work cut out for us ahead. He concedes that healthcare reform, in some form or another, will pass, without his approval. The insurance companies want mandatory coverage, with a punishment clause for those who do not purchase insurance. There will be no public option. Although he supports co-opts, in lieu of the public option, he will probably not support any bill.
He assured me of his precarious political position as a Republican representative of our district. Just talking to me, he would be branded as a traitor. On the other hand, I know Democrats who depises my talking to a Republican.
"That’s why we put you in the hot seat," I reminded him, "in order for you can take the flack. It’s not my job to take heat."
In the next election, he may be opposed by a member of his own party, and he assured me that if he had a successor, his opponent would be East of Eden in conservatism.
I must acknowledge the forces that would make Barack Obama, a disappointed one-term president like Jimmy Carter, who, in my opinion, the best man ever to hold the office before now. Burgess, on the other hand, still calls George W. Bush “his president”, and refuses to recognize the presidency of Barack Obama.
There is a page in obscurity reserved for the presidency of Barack Obama, if the revisionists ever have their way. Other one-term presidents have been rendered into obscurity. Therefore, all I can say is:
Let us work, while it is day. For the night cometh when no man can work (John 9:4).