Caitriona is visiting with her husband Dan, reuniting my favorite trio. She’s here to cover the protests against the Republican Convention as a stringer for the BBC.
The move from Tehran to DC has been hard for her. She’s been turned down for all health insurance coverage due to her “pre-existing medical condition”–the seven-month-old American, conceived in the Axis of Evil, who squirms in her belly. Here, where doctors pay huge premiums to insure against malpractice claims, it costs ten to fifteen thousand dollars to deliver a baby without fripperies like pain relief. A Caesarian costs fifty grand–and American doctors are quick with the scalpel even on women who aren’t too posh to push. Those are the price tags for _healthy_ births.
Forty million Americans have no health coverage. That’s 3.7 million more than when Bush took office. You can end up paying off an appendectomy for as long as a college loan or a mortgage. Cait has spent her first month back in America walking from hospital to insurance office to birthing center, trying to strike a deal, but there’s no room at the inn.
As she schleps her new belly and her tape recorder in the the New York heat, interviewing Republicans and ukelele-playing protestants, it must hard for her to stay out of the fight for health care and decency. There’s little common about decency.
This morning we were stopped on my block by a tall man who wanted to know if we were going to the rally. We said yes, even though my mouse arm was already numb to the shoulder at the prospect of yet another long day at the office keyboard. My protest has to stay personal and portable.
“That’s good! Make your voices heard!” he said. His voice still had a trace of the islands. He pointed at my “Run Against Bush” sticker and then at her bump. “You, I can see running. But honey, they’re goin’ to catch you!”
“She’s much tougher than she looks,” I explained.
We chatted a while, glad to share outrage with a neighbor. Then he said “But I don’t know _what’s_ going on with Kerry. He’s playing dead!”
“That’s exactly right! He’s just rolling over.”
“Playing _dead_. He won’t fight back.” He shakes his head. “But you know, when you’re falling off a cliff, you’ll take anybody’s arm that’ll save you. You can’t look too close at who it is.”
He handed us leaflets and wished us luck with the votes we don’t have.