Stillwater News Press

Opinion

April 12, 2014

GEORGE WILL: A counter for hysterics in Michigan

STILLWATER, Okla. — DETROIT – Robert Griffin, now 90, who rose to be second in the Republican U.S. Senate leadership, was defeated in 1978. Since then, only one Michigan Republican, Spencer Abraham in 1994, has been elected to the Senate and for only one term. Evidence that former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land might end this GOP drought is that Democrats are attacking her for opposing “preventive health care.”

This is a phrase Democrats use to include abortion as they try to reprise their 2012 alarms about Republicans’ “war on women,” which began with the martyrdom of Sandra Fluke. She was the Georgetown University law student aggrieved because the Catholic university she chose to attend was not paying for her contraception. The median starting annual salary of Georgetown law graduates entering the private sector is $160,000. Wal-Mart sells a month’s worth of birth control pills for $9.

In the almost half-century since Lyndon Johnson’s flood of Great Society legislation, Democrats have had one significant new idea, Obamacare, which many Democrats consider one too many. Hence their reliance on the specter of Republican hostility to persons with two X chromosomes.

Land is delighted to have Democrats raising the subject of “preventive” or other health care. It is one topic of about $5 million of Michigan ads by the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity. In one, a woman addresses Land’s opponent, Democratic Rep. Gary Peters:

“My name is Julie Boonstra and five years ago I was diagnosed with leukemia. I found out that I only have a 20 percent chance of surviving. I found this wonderful doctor and a great health care plan. I was doing fairly well fighting the cancer, fighting the leukemia, and then I received the letter. My insurance was canceled because of Obamacare.”

Another ad features a woman who believes Obamacare is waging a war on her: “We have five kids. ... Our health insurance plan was canceled because of Obamacare. ... This new plan is not affordable at all. My husband is working a lot more hours just to pay for these new increases. I’m frustrated that government has caused this huge problem for our family."

“We,” says Land, her Michigan chauvinism undiminished by this city’s collapse, “are the state that created the middle class.” High wages for autoworkers – higher than the companies could sustain – and employee discounts for cars enabled people to buy homes, then cottages and boats at nearby lakes. Now Obamacare – many Michiganders have had health plans canceled – is fueling middle-class insecurity.

Peters opposes the Keystone XL pipeline and favors cap-and-trade climate legislation that Land says jeopardizes the revival of Michigan’s manufacturing economy. Peters, a former state senator, has won three congressional elections. Land, having won statewide twice, is better known, and as secretary of state she concentrated on improving an experience most Americans dread – interacting with the department of motor vehicles.

George Will’s email address is georgewill@washpost.com.

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