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Be it wrong or right, Bush is always right. Always

By HOWARD TROXLER
Published July 9, 2003

You may not disagree with Gov. Jeb Bush.

No. You may not disagree. You are not permitted.

If you do disagree with Gov. Jeb Bush, then your disagreement is not based on principle.

No. Only the governor has principles.

You do not have any principles.

Your thinking is flawed. Your intellect is poor. Your motives are bad. Your integrity is suspect.

All of this is true even when you are Republican and disagree with the governor.

The governor of Florida has gone stark raving pig-headed over this medical malpractice thing. Even his own party members are not allowed one hair of disagreement with him. He is right. They are wrong.

The Legislature, or at least the state Senate, will not do exactly as he pleases. So he'll show them. He'll keep calling them into special session after special session, all summer long. Don't plan any vacations.

Meanwhile, Bush is turning the e-mail apparatus of the Florida Republican Party itself, like a destructo-ray, upon those Republican members of the Legislature who have offended him.

He is calling them names, printing their phone numbers, trying to whip up public anger against them.

It must be a heck of a feeling, being a Republican senator, having worked your whole political career to bring about a Republican majority in Florida, and then seeing your own party machinery used to vilify you under the direction of a governor for whom you broke your back in the election.

"Instead of working together," the governor sniffs in his e-mail, "some in our legislative leadership have caved to pressure from special interests ... Florida's trial lawyers."

Working together, of course, means, obeying the governor.

Now, it so happens that the governor is siding with the insurance companies and the doctors, while the state Senate is leaning toward the lawyers. In his book, this makes him holy and righteous and them sinners.

Of course, what it actually makes them is - well, it makes them people who disagree.

Here is the governor's central position:

There must be a limit of $250,000 in "pain and suffering" awards in malpractice cases.

No case can ever be worth a penny more, no matter how agonizing the pain, no matter how much torture a victim might suffer.

The cap has to be $250,000. Not one dollar more. Our malpractice crisis will be cured at $250,000. It will not be cured at $250,001.

The Senate's position is:

There might be some cases that are worth more than that.

The Republican Senate is not saying, "What the heck, we LOVE malpractice lawsuits!"

Neither is the Republican Senate saying, "We want to hurt doctors. We want to drive them out of business with high insurance rates so that patients suffer."

No. The Senate agrees with the governor and the House of Representatives on almost every other issue. There are a lot of good, innovative, helpful ideas in the Senate's proposed malpractice bill.

The governor and the Senate ought to reach a compromise on a cap, say, $250,000 or $500,000, with exceptions for the very worst cases. But they will not.

"They are standing with trial lawyers," the governor sneers of the Senate, "who seek to maintain a system that protects their own special interests and a status quo that has brought us skyrocketing health care costs and forced physicians to close their practices."

Wait, there's more.

"In 2002, Florida voters rejected a philosophy of big government in favor of personal responsibility. You and I worked hard to ensure we can continue to provide solutions for Florida's citizens. Help me stay the course now."

Do you see now? Do you get it? Unless you agree with Jeb Bush, as well as the insurance companies and doctors' lobby, then you are on the side of "big government."

Here is the Republicans' problem. There are too few Democrats in the Legislature to matter any more. The Republicans have run out of other people to call names. Now they are turning on each other.

[Last modified July 9, 2003, 02:03:35]


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