May 11, 2005

And Another Thing...

Here are two fun-but-not-terribly-important trivia items that would have been nice to know during the 2004 election campaign, and never really came up at any point:
  1. In 1991, after Dick Cheney's spokesperson had been outed by gay activists, the then-Secretary of Defense said: "the notion that somehow there is a security risk involved---in allowing homosexuals to serve in the Armed Forces---is something of an old chestnut." (This would've been relevant given that groups like the Center for Military Readiness were bashing John Kerry for believing similar things.) (Source: Andrew Webb, "Silence=Relief" in the 3/01 Washington Monthly)

  2. John Kerry's health reinsurance scheme for health care was actually first proposed by President Eisenhower in 1954. Unlike Truman, Eisenhower was against national health insurance, but he wanted government to insure against the most catastrophic costs so that insurance companies could have the flexibility to experiment with expanding coverage. He called it "a hundred per cent endorsement of the principle of private insurance." It was. But the AMA pilloried the whole scheme as socialist, as they did pretty much any health care plan back then, and it was defeated in the Senate by one vote. Afterwards, Eisenhower muttered that the AMA was "just plain stupid... a little group of reactionary men dead set against any change." True that. (Source: One Nation Uninsured, pp. 44-46)
Oh well, perhaps they'll come in handy some other time. And yes, this is much like thinking up a "devastating" comeback long, long after the argument's ended. I think Voltaire had a term for this, but for the life of me I can't remember what it was... [GOT IT: The term is esprit de l'escalier or "staircase wit" -- a comeback you think of after you've left the parlor and you're halfway down the stairs. Thanks Nadezhda! And it was Diderot, not Voltaire.]
-- Brad Plumer 11:52 AM || ||