The Worst Thing I Could Say


True story, Scout’s Honor:

Once upon a time, a friend and I were coming back from Central Oregon, across the spine of the Cascades, at Sisters, where there is an amazing little road, only open a couple of months a year, that has big signs at both ends: RVs, trailers, trucks, extreme danger etc.

Those signs aren’t there just to ruin the scenery. It’s an extreme road: Lots of hairpins, and twisty-turnies, but the most amazing picture-post-cardy little drive you’ve ever seen. Not the most or best or anything else, but not to be missed if you can help it, and we couldn’t help it. Perfect Sunday morning; instantaneous decision.

OK. We stop at the top, use the Forest Service bathroom, look across the majestic talus fields and lava flows and head down the long pass down to the Willamette Valley.

About five miles down, there’s a parked State Trooper car, and a fluourescent triangle. We’re about the fourth car in line, at this point. We stop, get out and walk up to peer around the corner.

Some idiot in a semi has jacknifed his trailer off the road, INSIDE, downhill, and it’s hung up in the trees. Amazing that he made it so far. The jackknife itself was almost foreordained.

We both instantly see the dominoes, and get back in the truck. Be real cool. Just do a friendly “Y” turn, and drive back out. By this time, there are about fifty cars stacked up behind us. We get out, and as we head back up the five miles back to the summit vacationers in their RVs, and families in cars, men in pickups and women in Toyotas.

And I wave frantically at each one, stop! go back!

And Mel asks me, “Hart, why are you doing that? They won’t pay any attention to you.”

I know, sez I. I just want them to THINK about it for the next three hours while they’re stuck: “That Guy was trying to WARN US. WHY. DIDN’T. WE. LISTEN?” We laugh.

I waved long enough that my arms were sore, and was relieved when we got back up to the top. We stopped at the summit, and waved people off for a couple of minutes until a state trooper showed up to do the same thing. But in that time, no other car followed. We were the only ones who got out, it seemed.

We waved at the trooper, got back into the pickup and drove back down the McKenzie Pass to — a couple hours later — Eugene. That night, at eleven, I turned on the local news.

It was the lead story: They were getting helicopters up to clear a truck jackknifed up at the high pass. People had been stuck for six hours and more. They’d all gotten the idea to turn around at the same time, and a lot of the longer motor homes (which still take the pass, even though the signs are clear, explicit and, if you’ve driven that road, EMINENTLY sane) well, they must have all tried the “Y” turn at the same time, and that was that. All of them stuck and no way to turn around.

The next morning, I saw the local news at seven. They’d finally gotten the truck cleared at 3 AM, and “weary motorists” were interviewed about their “ordeal.”

And I wondered how many times they’d thought of that passenger in the pickup truck who had frenetically and kinetically WARNED them.

In the wake of what Time Magazine entitled “The Swift-Boating of Graeme Frost,” I would like to offer some honest and compassionate advice: you have painted yourself into a corner. You can try to come up with any rationalizations as to WHY you painted yourself into a corner.

But, really, your BEST option is to just quit. Give it up. Explain that it was a bad thing to attack a 12-year old kid, as dumb as trying to expose the Muscular Distrophy’s “Poster Child,” which, even if correct would still look bad.

We Americans may be easily mollified by shiny objects, but there is one thing that Americans are NOT, and that is mean-spirited. It will never be OK to mock sick, injured or wounded. We Americans won’t stand for that: never have, never will.

So just walk away.

Abandon the field — frankly what does it matter to you if thousands of kids get health care? We pay billions for health care for children in other third world countries. Why not in this one? Especially since we seem to be slipping into a Banana Republic, anyway.

If you want to make a stand against “socialized medicine” this isn’t the ground you want to make your stand on. Here, whether you were right or you were wrong, you’re Custer.

So just do an amazing thing that will get you out of this, and give you some credibility points for the upcoming elections. Say, you know what? I was wrong. It was bad to go after a kid, and I am going to talk about something else now.

And you know what? We’d respect you for that. Because Americans accept apologies, even if they’re only pretend honest.

Just walk away. Otherwise, you blunder down a road that only a few, like poor Marie Antoinette, have traveled. There’s a lot of anger out there. You know that. You’ve based your entire political ascendance on tapping INTO that anger.

But, right now, you look like somebody who kicked the crutches out from under a crippled kid, and are EXPLAINING why the kid DESERVED it.

Do you really want that kind of anger focused on YOU?

Seriously: just apologize and walk away. Live to fight another day. Give the poor kids health insurance, take some Tylenol™ for the shooting pains in your imaginary wallet nerve (a phantom limb syndrome that I’ve noticed a lot of you seem to have: the theoretical “they” will be taking your hard-earned imaginary future money away from you, and it causes you pain in your phantom wallet).

Walk away and get even someday.

But not today.

You’re pretty much painted into a corner, and only false pride is keeping you from getting out of it. Well, say you were wrong, and people would respect you, and forget about you kicking a cripple, and we could get on with the eternal struggle.

I understand: when you blundered into this attack, it seemed like a good idea. But as someone said, Choices have consequences. It’s tempting to justify your position. At that point, everybody does, if only as an embarrassed reflex.

But when you’re THAT wrong, you punch on, with the reasons changing so often, and for so long that you forget why you’re even fighting. You’re just fighting so that you don’t have to face losing.

Which is why you should walk away from the State Childrens Health Insurance Program.

And when you realize how easy that was, and how acceptable-if-you’re-starving crow is, you might want to think about the War.

And that’s the worst possible thing that I could say, because you won’t listen.

I’m just a passenger in this pickup truck.



Cross-posted to some or all of these blogs: His Vorpal Sword, The Democratic Daily, The Commonwealth of Blogistan, The Katrinacrat

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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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One Response to The Worst Thing I Could Say

  1. Darrell Prows says:

    Sad that this entire situation could transpire, and not a word make it into Utah. So, yeah, some very deserving folks are getting their very deserved lumps, but other folks who might well benefit from the experience will almost certainly remain unaware.

    Or maybe I just live in a cave and even the Utah wingnuts are learning not to pick on kids in public.