Hi there. It's me, the president of the United States. I'm here at the National Institute of Health, having me an up close and personal with a sample of Burkitt's Lymphoma. Here, take a look for yourself. You know, the guys here at the lab tell me that lymphomas aren't really purple. They just add a little bit of food coloring to make them show up better under this microscope. That may be their rationale, but I do think it's an awful pretty color for something that can just start multiplying real fast and squeeze the life right out of you.

In case you're wondering, the folks here tell me that this particular deadly microbe was named after a one-eyed surgeon from England by the name of Denis Burkitt. One-eyed surgeon, I said, you gotta be kidding me. I'll be damned if I'd let any one-eyed surgeon operate on me. That's the way the Englanders felt too, they told me, which is why he moved to Uganda where people aren't as picky. (I reckon if you've seen 'The Last King of Scotland' you already know that.). Anyway, that's where he found a lot of kids that had this particular lymphoma. Good story, huh?

Lest you think only Ugandans get Burkitt's Lymphoma, I'm here to tell you that American kids can get it too, like little Suzie Watson, of Whitaker Illinois. Pitiful case. Oh yeah, we've got a lot of disease in this country, a lot of heartache, a lot of pain. Not everybody knows this, but the U.S. isn't number one in reducing infant mortality anymore like it was when I was a kid. It's number forty-three, just like me. Big difference.

I remember when I was a sophomore in college, 'Proud Mary' was the number one song. You couldn't turn on the radio without hearing Proud Mary this and Proud Mary that and sometimes when they'd get tired of playing it they would just flip it over and play the other side. Me and my friends, we liked 'Journey to the Center of the Mind' by the Amboy Dukes, but they didn't play that much because it only got to number forty-three. See, there's a lesson in that, and it's called the free market.

That, in a nutshell, explains why I must veto the bipartisan increase to the State Children's Health Insurance Program. See, in theory, SCHIP was designed to help provide some sorry-ass level of insurance for people that are too rich for Medicaid but too poor to buy regular health insurance for their kids.

Inbetweenies is what I call em, and there's a real interesting statistic I got about them that I got from the CBO. It seems that for every 100 people that qualify for coverage by SCHIP, about 35 of them already have private coverage for their kids, which they then drop because SCHIP is cheaper. Cheaper for who, you might ask. Certainly not cheaper for you the taxpayer, since these deadbeats are letting you foot the bill. And why? For a little extra jingle in their pocket. And definitely not cheaper for the insurance companies, because their monopoly power has in effect been trampled on like some cheap vat of Romanian grapes.

There are those who would say that with sufficient effort, we could get our childhood mortality rates down even more than number forty-three. Maybe even into the top twenty. Remember 'Kind of a Drag' by the Buckinghams? It got all the way up to number nineteen on the charts, and you heard it plenty. I liked it a lot, but not enough to subsidize it by buying a copy. And apparently a lot of people felt the same way as I did, else it would be remembered as a smash hit instead of as a golden oldie.

Accidents, disease, bad juju, they're not just deadly killers, they're also something else, something much more important - they're God's Way. Like any good hunter, God knows just how important it is to thin the herds. And so do I. As a matter of fact, you can refer to me as 'God's Little Reaper' if you'd like to. I don't mind. Have you ever seen a lion stalk a herd of wildebeests as they wind their way to the watering hole?  The lions don't dive into the thick of the heard, oh no, they look for the sick, the feeble, and the unprotected young. Such is the way of nature. If every wildebeest was protected, the mighty lion would starve. (Or else eat nuts and berries, which to a lion is a fate much worse than death).

I was reading this book about the great president Teddy Roosevelt lately. When he had finished up his second term, having given this country all the service that he could give, he surveyed the world, asking himself what else in life there was for him to do. And so it was that he decided to go to Africa and kill as many animals as he possibly could. And good God almighty, old Teddy became a human killing machine, slaying to the left and smiting to the right until he had accumulated a pile of corpses that numbered eleven thousand three hundred and ninety-seven, including six of the last remaining white rhinos. And when some folks condemned him for the multitude of creatures he had laid waste to, do you know what he said? He said something about the Smithsonian, I don't remember it exactly, because it didn't make a whole heck of a lot of sense to me, just like my words here today may not make a whole heck of a lot of sense to you.

But in the end, it's all about personal responsibility. Do you love your kids enough to hunt them down the best private insurance money can buy, or are you leaving them behind where the lions can eat them? You know, there's all different kinds of hunters. Kunta Kente shoots tigers, and Tiger shoots six under par. Dick Cheney shoots old men, and me, I shoot dreams, but only to thin the herd. The dream of a happy healthy childhood is a beautiful thing, but remember this: it's only a dream. We protect your child's right to be born. It's up to you to take it from there.

 

2007, Mark Hoback