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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Political Right Is Mad That They Can't Attack Handicapped People

Exhibit A.

After a televised political debate in Wyoming, Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-Wyo) said the following to one of her opponents, Thomas Rankin (Libertarian candidate), who has has multiple sclerosis and uses an electric wheelchair:

"If you weren't sitting in that chair, I'd slap you across the face."

Exhibit B

Columnist Dean Barnett on Michael J. Fox, who appears in an ad endorsing a candidate Claire McCaskill [UPDATE: He's doing ads for many candidates who support stem cell research]:

The most distasteful aspect of the ad is the way it exploits Michael J. Fox’s physical difficulties. Fox is an actor, and clearly knew what he was doing when he signed up for the spot - no victim points for him for having been manipulated by the McCaskill campaign. The ad’s aim is to make us feel so bad about Fox’s condition that logical debate is therefore precluded. You either agree with Fox, or you sadistically endorse his further suffering as Fox accuses Jim Talent of doing.

World O'Crap gives the shorter Hugh Hewitt:

How dare Michael J. Fox have Parkinson’s in public?  How dare he support politicians who believe in funding research that may one day relieve his symptons.  How are you supposed to argue with that?

UPDATE:  Guess I spoke to soon.  Rush Limbaugh isn't above going after Michael J. Fox's handicap. You can hear Limbaugh's commentary here.  And here's the Fox ad itself:

Notably, Rush said of Fox:

"...he was either off the medication or he was acting.  He is an actor, after all."

The folks at The Plank spoke to William J. Weiner M.D., professor and chairman of the department of neurology at the University of Maryland Medical Center. He's also director of the Parkinson's clinic there, who affirmed what everybody (except Rush) probably expected:

"What you are seeing on the video is side effects of the medication. He has to take that medication to sit there and talk to you like that. ... He's not over-dramatizing. ... [Limbaugh] is revealing his ignorance of Parkinson's disease, because people with Parkinson's don't look like that at all when they're not taking their medication. They look stiff, and frozen, and don't move at all. ... People with Parkinson's, when they've had the disease for awhile, are in this bind, where if they don't take any medication, they can be stiff and hardly able to talk. And if they do take their medication, so they can talk, they get all of this movement, like what you see in the ad."


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Terry Gross (host): The intensity of Fox's symptoms varies. . .I asked him what he does when he gets symptomatic during an interview.

FOX: Well, actually, I've been erring on the side of caution--I think 'erring' is actually the right word--in that I've been medicating perhaps too much, in the sense that a lot of times the symptoms that people see in some of these interviews that have been on are actually dyskinesia, which is a reaction to the medication. Because if I were purely symptomatic with Parkinson's symptoms, a lot of times speaking is difficult. There's a kind of a cluttering of speech and it's very difficult to sit still, to sit in one place. You know, the symptoms are different, so I'd rather kind of suffer the symptoms of dyskinesia. . .this kind of weaving and this kind of continuous thing is much preferable, actually, than pure Parkinson's symptoms. So that's what I generally do. . . . . .So I haven't had any, you know, problems with pure Parkinson's symptoms in any of these interviews, because I'll tend to just make sure that I have enough Sinemet in my system and, in some cases, too much. But to me, it's preferable. It's not representative of what I'm like in my everyday life. I get a lot of people with Parkinson's coming up to me saying, 'You take too much medication.' I say, 'Well, you sit across from Larry King and see if you want to tempt it.'

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