“If its pity, we’ll get some money. I’m just giving you the facts. Pity.” Jerry Lewis, 2001
Every baby-boomer alive can probably recount the exact moment they saw “crippled” children emerge from behind the curtain on the annual Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. Seared in our minds are visions of handicapped children in squeaky, wheel chairs haltingly struggling across stage on crutches and clanking along, before the cameras, trapped in antiquated metal and leather leg braces. In the 1950’s the impression this imagery left on children across America served to be shocking and ultimately politically formative.
Children of the fifties were insulated by fantasy. Sitting in front of RCA television sets watching Bozo the Clown, Captain Kangaroo and Romper Room. The most spine-tingling event was Miss Nancy looking through her Magic Mirror and calling out your name. “Romper, Stomper, Bomper, Boo, tell me, tell me, tell me do. Did all my friends have fun at play?”
Unlike today’s generation, baby-boomers were sensitized to tragedy because of lack of exposure to it. Once a year, when Jerry Lewis hosted his telethon, boomers were made to believe handicapped children would rise from their wheelchairs and walk if they would unselfishly surrender penny rolls designated for a month’s worth of Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy. To a generation unexposed to reality the telethon was a shocking jolt out of Leave it to Beaver land, into reality. Unbeknownst to Jerry, his telethon successfully cultivated in baby-boomers a pity response that has benefited modern day politicians. Children born in the fifties were Jerry’s Kids too, and he taught them well.
Replete with dupe-able naivety boomers have always been a malleable bunch. Unable to comprehend a human being staying up for 24 hours straight, the fact the Jerry Lewis willingly did so marshaled heart-felt compassion. Moreover, the telethon was personal to boomers. Sammy Davis, Jr.’s intermittent waving to the camera, while manning the phones, convinced Romper Room fans he was waving directly to them. When harangued parents finally responded to the endless phone numbers beckoning donations, children across America experienced pride in knowing they personally were responsible for Jerry reaching his annual goal of a million dollars.
To this day, if baby-boomers hear the words, “Look at us we’re walking, look at us we’re talking,” they instantly respond with, “We who’ve never walked or talked before.” Though no one admits it, everyone anticipated the parade of children in leg braces hobbling across the stage at a Dennis James, cerebral palsy telethon, while Jane Pickens sang the remainder of the song, ” Imagine walking to the candy store! But the fight has just begun. Get behind us everyone! Your dollars make our dreams come true. Thanks to you.” Baby-boomers were transfixed as they accompanied the lovely Miss Pickens, and in the process, empathy cohorts were birthed and pity politics were born.
Fifty years later, politicians continue the custom. They sponsor policy telethons attempting to garner support for their initiatives by using Jerry Lewis’s tactics on a pliable electorate. Currently, a Barry’s Kids Health Care Boomer Telethon is taking place and Obama is channeling Jerry Lewis to appeal to the inner child in all of us. Obama is well aware that with proper marketing and pressure our overly kindhearted culture could easily be convinced that government-funded health care could enable a legless bum, to successfully haul himself through a Manhattan subway directly into a six-figure job on Wall Street.
Barry’s 24-hour telethon endeavors to transform America into Cuba, Canada or Europe. He is counting on empathetic Americans buying the lie that thanks to socialistic style medicine wheel chairs have been totally eliminated in Great Britain and Canada and none of Cuba’s los Niño’s mutilados require leg braces. “Look at us we’re laughing, we’re happy and we’re laughing.” Barry’s telethon appeals directly to baby-boomers encouraging them to offer unfettered political benefaction for universal health care with the same enthusiasm they sent crumpled dollars to Jerry’s kids.
Obama’s efforts are not about money, his telethon is a national endorsement referendum. Waving to us from Capitol Hill is a call bank staffed with left wing, liberal Congressional and Senate Democrats. The tote board goal isn’t a million dollars for MDS but instead majority approval for a health care initiative that is poised to devastate our economy, raise taxes, destroy quality, lessen options, ration care, slay senior citizens and be detrimental to the same kids Jerry raised millions to help.
The president needs to rally a sympathetic response in Americans in order to persuade the nation of the validity of a massive health care initiative that large portions of Americans don’t want and don’t need. Baby-boomers require persuasive convincing in the form of over-the-top cultivated telethon-type compassion. Time to summon Barry’s Kids, a heart wrenching, minuscule sample of Americans who have experienced health care horrors. Obama needs to parade the medically challenged before the telethon generation in hopes of moving them to call in, relinquish disbelief and parrot the “Yes We Can” health care chorus! Even though their hearts tell them they’d rather not
Obama has slammed the donation can on the counter demanding loose change. He is overtly attempting to engulf America in pity. The goal is to ratchet up poll numbers with people who believe they are culpable if Sally, from East Jabutchnick departs life prematurely if denied “free health care.” The target audience are those who earnestly believed the crutches of the kids with their pictures on the can would miraculously crash to the floor if buffalo nickels were sent to Jerry.
Rest assured, in Rose Garden ceremonies and Town Hall meetings Obama will be dragging a bedraggled procession of poor souls before the camera, referring to them on a first name basis, mustering a choke up and emoting lower lip bites in an attempt to foster support the same way Jerry wrested allowance from tight-fisted seven-year olds. Everyone knows the drill; Obama refers to urgently needed health care reform and then calls on some feeble person from small town USA. He holds up a concordance sized medical record. An invalid unsteadily leaning on a walker held together with duct tape is asked to stand. Michelle helps them regain balance, turning, she raises a perfectly toned arm, waving and blowing kisses to weepy, blind, disabled children seated between two nurses in the gallery.
Obama is betting that the sharing of health care melodramas, coupled with standing ovations by those wearing Obama T-shirts and AMA balloon hats, will garner public backing for a single payer, government controlled system. The intent is for Barry’s telethon tote board to light up when easily stage-managed baby-boomers, caught up in emotion, shatter their piggy banks and agree to submit. American baby-boomers need to be reprogrammed to understand that Barry isn’t Jerry Lewis and we’re not his kids.
A nostalgic revisiting of Farmer Grey cartoons reveal the extent of the frustration, coercion and fantasy awaiting Americans in the form of Barry Health Care. Obama, crooning You’ll Never Walk Alone, on the Health Care Telethon circuit, promises things he can never deliver. It would be in our best interest to turn off the misfortune telethon and instead Sing Along with Mitch. Between refrains, clear-headed children of the 50’s should thank God Jerry’s kids weren’t subjected to Obama Health Care, and say a prayer that with a smidgen of serendipitous, good fortune, neither will anyone else.