The sap is rising and the politicians are all a'blathering. Where, after all, does one start? Hubert Horatio Humphrey almost won the cake with his latest bit of sociological demagogic flapdoodle. Quote: "Candidates who make an attack on Washington are making an attack on government programs, on the poor, on blacks, on minorities, on the cities. It's a disguised new form of racism, a disguised new form of conservatism." Actually, of course, it's a disguised new form of ruralism, and most likely the Bilder-burgers are behind it all.
Consider Humphrey's career as a nonstop parade of cliches, hopelessly idealistic twitches, and gross non sequiturs of the sort we paused to examine above, and weep for the republic, for Humphrey is not unlikely to wind up as the Democratic presidential candidate, and even, God forbid, as president of all the people (regardless of race, creed, sex, or—well, not quite national origin, but surely ethnic origin, and all the rest).
Regard the most recent inanity from HHH's golden throat. He takes the current Carter-Reagan line—why, shucks, we're not part of that Washington bag of charlatans and spendthrifts—which line is challengeable on its own merits. He takes that and flies off into his very own world of exaggeration and distortion, and has it as the tactic of ogres. Who are frothing at the mouth in wild anticipation of persecuting the impoverished, the minorities, the Negroes, the urbanites. If, to continue in a probably useless effort to follow Humphrey's logic, one runs against Washington, one has embraced the Klan; why, one has probably embraced William F. Buckley, Jr.
Does it not seem as if some tiny hesitation might, just for the heck of it, creep into Mr. Humphrey's mind, such that he would immediately perceive the monstrous excess of his argumentation? Think what you will about those who "make an attack on Washington"—I think it's high time and let's hear more of it—would you not expect that a man as savvy, a man as oratorically gifted, a man as shrewd as Hubert Horatio Humphrey could manage, somehow, to see it in context and handle it as such? As much expect robins to fly North in winter.
Still, try as he might, Humphrey missed out on the prize for the season's political plum. The winner, and still champ: Gerald R. Ford, who sent shivers up and down the spine of virtually every sober American when he announced his wonderful plan to shell out $135 million to vaccinate every American against a nasty strain of flu virus expected to race across the land by late next winter.
There's no faulting the president's humanism, and you'll find no friend of the flu in this corner. But one might ask: is this really the proper function of the federal government? Is there significant evidence to support the contention that this flu strain, which in 1818-19 was a real terror, will be a terror in 1976-77? Is there in this universal vaccination scheme some sort of ominous precursor of nationalized medical plans to come?
Here is a near perfect example of how engorged our government has become. This swine flu virus is obviously a most unpleasant animal, and as it crops up here and there, IF it crops up here and there in any truly serious way, surely every American will read and hear and see a hundred warnings a week advising vaccination. Isn't that enough?
Evidently not. The resources of thousands of medical facilities across the nation will, if need be, be made available for vaccination at no or little cost to those who can not afford vaccination otherwise. Most Americans will be able, with little discomfort and at low cost, to receive vaccinations at work or from their private physicians. Those who can pay will pay, and those who can't pay will get it free. If need be.
So why the grand Fordian scheme? Certainly not because that's the only way we'll be able to protect ourselves against swine flu virus. Most likely, giving the president the benefit of the doubt, it's a matter of sheer overkill, exuberance for Doing Good carried off into the wild realm of the maximal state. And if an uncharitable explanation is called for, it might be this: Mr. Ford might just be trying to bend even farther in the direction of Big Brotherly meddlesomeness than his likeliest Democratic opponent, who, while Ford was laying plans to stick it to everyone in the arm, was himself sticking it to anyone who dared "make an attack on Washington." Happy voting, come November.
David Brudnoy is a syndicated columnist, television commentator and lecturer. Dr. Brudnoy's viewpoint appears in this column every third month, alternating with the viewpoints of Murray Rothbard and Tibor Machan.