Intimidating Kids

Last month, I noted that the coordinated attack against expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) had failed miserably, leaving conservatives desperate.

Who knew how desperate they would get?

Conservative bloggers have begun an intimidation and harassment campaign against 12-year old Graeme Frost and his family, who were in a major car accident severely injuring Graeme and his younger sister Gemma, and have been held up by Democrats as examples of SCHIP's value in protecting the lives of working class kids.

ABC News reports: "According to Senate Democratic aides, some bloggers have made repeated phone calls to the home of 12-year-old Graeme Frost, demanding information about his family's private life." These bloggers have then proceeded to mischaracterize the family's financial situation and attack the parents as irresponsible.

Proper outrage has been expressed by several liberal bloggers, including ThinkProgress, Attytood, Firedoglake, Matt Ortega, All Spin Zone, Whiskey Fire, AmericaBlog, our own Big Con blogger Digby, Eschaton, Petunias, Left in Lowell, Buckeye State Blog, Blogging Out Loud, and Liberty Street.

But beyond the sickening nature of the intimidation campaign, I'm struck by how their attempt to shine a spotlight on the Frosts completely undermines the point they're trying to make.

Michelle Malkin (full disclosure: an old college friend of mine) has been running point for conservative bloggers in attacking the Frosts.

She highlights this post from the conservative Free Republic:

[Graeme's father] has owned his own company "Frostworks", since this marriage announcement in the NY Times in 1992 so he chooses to not give himself insurance. He also employed his wife as "bookkeeper and operations management" prior to her recent 2007 hire at the "medical publishing firm". As her employer, he apparently denied her health insurance as well.

His company, Frostworks, is located at 3701 E BALTIMORE ST. A building that was purchased for $160,000 in 1999...

...maybe Dad should drop his woodworking hobby and get a real job that offers health insurance rather than making people like me ... pay for it in my taxes.

And after she poked around where the Frosts live and work, she approvingly quoted a conservative columnist for the Washington Examiner:

I also passed by the Frosts' rowhouse ... I've seen guesstimates of the house's worth in the $400,000-plus range. Those are high. But Mark Tapscott's point remains: "[P]eople make choices and it's clear the Frosts have made choice to invest in property and a business, but not in private health insurance... ."

These are the same conservatives that insist that they love tax cuts, not because they are cold and selfish, but because it will unleash the entrepreneurial spirit that makes us Americans.

Well, Mr. Frost is an entrepreneur and small business owner.

And the tax cuts for the wealthy did not provide him with the financial security to afford health insurance for himself and his family. Nor did it do anything to reduce the cost of health insurance.

But the family has been able to get by, despite suffering unexpected medical expenses, in part because we have collectively pooled our resources to provide health insurance for millions of kids.

Without SCHIP, the Frosts' entrepreneurial spirit may well have been crushed, literally and figuratively.

This does not concern conservatives.

All of a sudden, their patriotic love of entrepreneurship in pursuit of the American Dream has vanished.

Instead, conservatives are fine with making it a choice between being an entrepreneur and having health insurance for one's family.

Unfortunately for them, most Americans see "choice" differently. We believe everyone should have the choice to blaze their own career path without being forced to put their kids' health at risk.

And the conservative attempt to intimidate a family willing to publicly share their struggles has only served to further spotlight how valuable SCHIP is and how much more good it can do if we override Bush's veto to expand it.

Click here to send a message to your congressperson in support of overriding the veto.

PS: On a lighter note, allow me to re-post the video my organization Campaign for America's Future produced in support of SCHIP.

Conservatives are whining that kids are being put front and center to convey the importance of health insurance for, uh, kids! But conservative congresspeople who vote against kids have no problem posing with kids for the cameras. America's kids are drawing the line, telling conservatives, "No More Photo Ops!"