The Wickedness of Herman Cain

The Wickedness of Herman Cain October 5, 2011

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain keeps telling the story of how he was treated successfully for colon cancer, and how he might have died had the Affordable Care Act been the law of the land. This is a wicked lie. As everyone (or everybody who does not take a nihilistic and relativistic approach to facts) knows, nothing much changes for those who have insurance already. The law simply seeks to dramatically reduce healthcare rationing based on cost, so that those currently excluded will be covered.

Grant Gallicho has the real goods on Cain’s treatment. It turns out that he used his connection to very rich and very powerful people to get into the best facilities possible. So in Cain’s twsited moral universe, it’s perfectly licit for wealth and power to determine access to life-saving health care, while millions of others are denied treatment and forced to suffer gravely, go bankrupt, or die. This happens under the current regime, frequently. Of course, the new law does nothing to stop Cain calling his rich friends and using his large stack of cash to pay for the whatever treatment he desires. But Cain wants to stop others receiving potentially life-saving cancer treatment, even if it is not at the top cutting-edge facilities.

This really sums up the morality of the latter-day Republicans. These are the people, after all, who cheer when told that somebody without health insurance will die. These are the people who applaud torture and executing people. This is wickedness, pure and simple.

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  • He is willing to tell the lie that many in the GOP want to hear — while ignoring the reality of the world. This also is seen with his contempt for the Constitution and Religious Liberty, where Muslims are made as scapegoats to be hated.

  • Dan

    This really sums up the morality of the latter-day Republicans. These are the people, after all, who cheer when told that somebody without health insurance will die. These are the people who applaud torture and executing people. This is wickedness, pure and simple.

    Pot, meet kettle. Do you really think that republicans cheer when told that someone without health insurance will die? Your message will have a lot more impact if you don’t fight fire with fire.

    • Dan

      Sadly, they did cheer.

      • Thales

        I didn’t hear the crowd cheering when told that someone without health insurance will die. I heard one boor shout out something. And then I heard the crowd cheering when Paul said that he, and his hospital, and the churches would take care of the person without health insurance.

      • David Elton

        They were cheering personal responsibility, and making your own choices. You are trying to mislead people. And there may also have been a measure of contempt for the media and its “gotcha” questions.

        • “Personal responsibility” is shallow when talking about a system where people who are poor, even when working hard, can’t AFFORD more. It’s not a choice, a true choice, when the choice is out of one’s range of what one can afford. And even if it is within one’s range, once again, cheering someone dies because they made a bad choice? Not Christian! Christians look to grace perfecting nature, not nature destroying people due to mistakes.

    • Dan

      That’s not quite the same thing. The analogy was that someone chooses not to get health insurance, not that they couldn’t afford it. There’s a wide gulf between that and cheering that someone would die if they simply couldn’t afford it.

      • The reason why they didn’t “choose” is because they couldn’t afford. That’s part of the problem.

      • Dan

        Not in that question. He referred to someone who didn’t want it because he was young and in good health. Not because he couldn’t afford it. You may assume that it was implied, but I assumed quite the opposite – that this was someone who otherwise could afford it but chose not to.

        • Those who are “young” and in “good health” tend to also be “poor” and can’t afford it.

  • Darwin

    It’s true that Cain’s claim that he would somehow have been prevented from getting treatment under the ACA is basically a playing to standard GOP misconceptions — kind of like Obama’s claim that his mother spent her last days fighting insurance companies who didn’t want to cover her treatment turned out to also be a false story which played to Democratic stereotypes.

    It is now, however, correct, as the Commonweal post seems to imply, that people only get into cancer centers like MD Anderson through high flying political or financial connections. Completely ordinary people with ordinary insurance get into these places all the time without any particular drama. My dad had no problems getting sent to City of Hope, another of the premier cancer centers around the world, to deal with non-hodgkins lymphoma, despite having a very ordinary HMO. We didn’t even have problems when the HMO went bankrupt and we had to switch to another insurance company half way through treatments. (Perhaps those insurance companies hadn’t got the memo they were supposed to be the font of all evil.)

    Other ordinary people in ordinary middle class jobs that we knew on the cancer email lists were going to places like MD Anderson, based on their geography.

    So, yes, Cain’s claim is incorrect and a stupid political cheap shot. But then, an awful lot of what is said about health care by both sides is untrue of simplified to the point of virtual falsehood. People tend to only object to what they disagree with.

  • Kurt

    “Do you really think that republicans cheer when told that someone without health insurance will die?”

    Heard it with my own ears. And heard Republicans boo a serviceman.

    • Thales

      And heard Republicans boo a serviceman.

      And I heard Republicans shush, berate, and marginalize the boor who booed the serviceman.

      There are and always will be boorish people saying and doing inappropriate things, no matter what side you look to.

    • Cindy

      They cheer a governors execution record too. Crazy times indeed!

    • Edward J Baker

      No you didn’t hear it with your own ears. You are trashing the eighth commandment. Neither did the audience boo a serviceman. A general audience booed a serviceman not for being a serviceman but for demanding that that candidates endorse a revised military policy that would make special accomodations to gay servicemen. Bearing false witness is evil, even when directed towards Republicans.

  • Thales

    Morning’s Minion,

    One criticism that is made about government involvement in health care is that it leads to longer wait times. What do you think about the validity or invalidity of that criticism? (I should add that I don’t know much about Cain, his medical history, or why he said what he did about the ACA, so I don’t know whether the point of his story was a point about longer wait times or not. It was just that the wait times criticism came to my mind upon reading your post.)

    • This probably warrants a longer response than I have time to provide. The criticism has been made in countries like Canada or the UK, but that’s simply because they do healthcare on the cheap (especially the UK). But countries that take it seriously (France, Germany etc), there are no wait times – less than the US, in fact. And they still spend about half of what the US does per patient. And let’s not forget the pervasive rationing by cost in the US, which doesn’t really exist in any other advanced economy.

      Basically, the US system spends twice as much for worse outcomes, and still leaves out about 50 million people.

      • Thales

        Morning’s Minion,
        Thanks for the response. I know these issues can be complicated and extensive, but your response gives me a better understanding of where you’re coming from. So thanks again.

      • I have to say that I find this kind of thing a little bit bizarre. I have a hard time believing it. You seem to be saying (as most people who support single payer always appear to assume) that changing the healthcare system will increase supply (i.e. covering more people means having more procedures done, more doctor visits, etc….) at a lesser price. Its not like more doctors, hospitals, and equipment will appear from nowhere and work/be built at a lower cost.

        So many people seem to have some sort of magical thinking when it comes to single payer systems. Its almost like they think we can avoid hard questions and rationing of healthcare. Its only that now we ration by access to money. If the system changes it will be rationed by access to politicians and bureaucrats.

      • Paul DuBois

        You are right. That is exactly what is being said. It is supported because the American healthcare system (or more accurately collection of systems) shows up poorly when compared to other countries in 2 areas, cost and quality. By quality I refer to mistakes made. In these two areas the US is significantly worse than any other country. The US during WWII and the Japanese during the 1980’s both used the same ideas to show that significant improvement in quality leads to significant reductions in cost and significant increases in productivity.
        This has been repeated in the way many countries have addressed medical care and also by changes instituted at the VA hospital system in the 1990’s. To implement significant improvements requires everyone to operate on a system, a collection of various systems and many people going their own way leads to poor quality, high cost and low productivity. The American automotive industry was an excellent example of this. This is the true advantage of a single payer system in bringing down the cost of health care and increasing its availability.
        Also, if more people are regularly seeing doctors, conditions can be caught at an early stage and corrected before they require more extensive, more expensive and less successful forms of treatment. People who are nagged by their doctors do indeed give up smoking, eat better and get more exercise than those who never see a doctor. This is also significant in reducing costs and increasing productivity.
        You are also right that rationing of health care is part of the system now and will continue to be part of the system unless we get infinite resources at some point. You are not correct if you think we currently ration based on money. You only get a kidney transplant if you meet the criteria to get one and your turn comes up. I do not think anything but the most extreme amount of money, and some corruption, moves you up on the list. On my last trip to the emergency room they did not even ask about insurance or ability to pay until after we were being treated. Certainly there are times when money matters and people are currently dying because they cannot afford some types of care. But money is only part of the rationing.

      • Kurt

        You seem to be saying (as most people who support single payer always appear to assume) that changing the healthcare system will increase supply (i.e. covering more people means having more procedures done, more doctor visits, etc….) at a lesser price. Its not like more doctors, hospitals, and equipment will appear from nowhere and work/be built at a lower cost.

        Why wouldn’t the market expand to serve new customers? Medical schools acknowledge they admit only a small fraction of the applicants who are well-qualified for admission. Many hospitals have undercapacity. GE has medical equipment plants that have laid off workers. Why do you think the private market is so rigid and unable to respond to consumer demand?

  • Kurt


    You make a very solid argument that it is not essential to radically change our health care system into a single payer or a NHS style program. You make an excellent case that simply expanding private health insurance to nearly all households would do great good. i have to wonder if you once worked as a secret advisor to Obama and Romney!!!!

  • Here’s Cain’s latest: “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks — if you don’t have a job and you are not rich, blame yourself!”

    This is the fruit of the “evil individualist” spirit. You have only yourself to blame if you lose your job, or can’t afford to pay for cancer treatments.

  • SB

    They will “cheer”? By “they,” are you referring to the approximately two (2) people who said “Yes” when Wolf Blitzer asked, “Would you let him die”? The people who later cheered were cheering for Ron Paul’s explanation that people were never turned away from hospitals before Medicaid, which means they weren’t cheering for letting anyone die (quite the opposite).

  • Kurt

    The cheering of people dying because of lack of health insurance was evil. But to Ron Paul’s point that private charity could take care of those without insurance — morethyan half of the people in this country do not have private sector health insurance. Should we have half of the people in this country have to beg for charity to get their health care?

    • SB

      Again, Kurt, I join with you in condemning the TWO people who said “Yes” to the question whether someone should be allowed to die, and I hope that these TWO people do not have any further influence over the election of the United States President.

      I would further suggest, however, that perhaps you are ascribing too much importance to those TWO people for the sake of political hackery, i.e., trying to smear all of your opponents with the behaviour of TWO outliers.

      • Kurt


        There was some cheering. I don’t know that it was only two. I think it is unfortunate that all candidates did not immediately condemn the cheering by two or possibility more people.

        And I appreciate the civility of people who find the cheering to be in poor taste, but I also find it regretable that while they condemn the cheering, they do not condemn the system that leaves tens of millions of American uninsured. Good manners/bad policy.

  • Rodak

    I see little hope for a world in which the soi-disant Christians are meaner in spirit than the atheist, materialist, positivists.

  • Kurt writes, “Medical schools acknowledge they admit only a small fraction of the applicants who are well-qualified for admission.”

    I have heard this too. I recall someone saying that the AMA deliberately restricts how many medical schools they will certify, as well as their capacity, otherwise we could have a lot more doctors, but they wouldn’t make as much money individually.

    Does anyone know any more about this?

  • This may come as a shock to those who know me, but here is an article about single-payer healthcare which, gasp, I find rather persuasive:

    What it seems to boil down to is that Canada controls costs by rationing care. In healthcare debates in the U.S., “rationing” has been used as a scare word, with Republicans threatening that rationing will result if we institute a single-payer system, and Democrats denying it. But in my opinion, rationing *must* take place if we’re to have any hope of lowering healthcare costs. It’s simple economics: If you give everyone everything they want, they will want more and more of it, and costs will rise perpetually. That’s the situation I think we find ourselves in with regard to healthcare.

    This article argues that Canada’s notorious “wait times” are the result of a calculated decision to control costs: They could shorten wait times if they were willing to spend more money, but they’d rather save money and live with the wait times. This is a way of rationing care to control costs. Makes sense to me.

    I hope this shows that I am not doctrinaire but am open to persuasion. : )

  • Anne

    As someone who’s been there with regard to both cancer and a loved one who needed a transplant without adequate insurance coverage, I have to say Herb Cain and Republicans in general scare me. What *are* they thinking? When my husband was diagnosed with a rare liver disease that required transplant, we had insurance through his work, but it covered only a portion of what it would cost to get a transplant and none of the medications it would require for him to live after that. The hospital said “try fund raising.” IOW, private charity. Do you have any idea how hard (try impossible) it is to raise enough in charitable donations to cover the costs of something like this? A major organ transplant runs about $200,000, and that doesn’t even begin to cover the annual drug maintenance, which can come to $50,000 or more. Every year. Most fund raising campaigns by individuals in need raise a few grand tops, barely a drop in the proverbial bucket. Where are all these charities so willing and able to take over when insurance fails? I’ve never seen them.

    There are disease-related organizations that award one-time-only gifts that may — may –cover a fraction of a hospital bill or a needed drug (for a period of time) or even a trip out of town to a major medical facility, rarely more than one at a time, but the vast majority of people without adequate insurance coverage end up owing so much money they go bankrupt even when providers discount their bills to help out, a practice that’s become rare for any but truly indigent patients.

    Inadequate insurance coverage is just another way middle class and working Americans are getting shafted in an economy that favors the rich, where only the very poor qualify for government aid. Every year, insurance companies cover less and charge more via co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. Americans have come to expect it. But what most don’t know is how inadequate their insurance policies probably are should they get something more serious than a broken arm. Every year more employers turn to cheaper policies that cover only basics, leaving a good many working Americans without any coverage should they get really sick. So what happens if that happens? Do private charities jump in? Does the state take over when private enterprise leaves the proverbial hole? Hardly. Such people are, after all, insured. More often than not, the patient is told to “try fund raising.” Or in Republicanspeak, to take the initiative in paying his own way. Just try doing that while bent over a plastic bowl.

    • Paul DuBois

      Thank you for bringing reality to a discussion that often lacks it.