A Keystone catastrophe

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When I was a kid, I’d sometimes cover my eyes or ears during scary movies. I did it again earlier this week, for as long as I could bear it.

About the Pennsylvania Senate debate between John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz – with the fate of the Senate itself hanging in the balance – perhaps the less said, the better. A guy with a serious medical impairment faced off against a huckster who sounded like a chihuahua on speed. This is the best we can do?

I’m sorry if I sound “ableist,” but it was excruciating to hear Fetterman in action. If Democrats and progressives are so willing to justifiably question whether Herschel Walker is fit to serve, based on the fact that he’s not right in the head, and so willing to justifiably question whether Donald Trump is fit to walk the earth freely, much less serve a new presidential term, based on the fact that he’s not right in the head, then it follows logically that Fetterman is questionable as well.

I’m not engaging in “false equivalence.” I’m simply responding to what I heard and saw with my own semi-covered eyes and ears. A senator needs to be able to communicate, period. I’m still haunted by Fetterman’s response to the question of whether he supports fracking despite saying quite clearly in 2018 that he opposes it. He said: “I, I do support fracking and – I don’t, I don’t – I support fracking and I stand and I do support fracking.”

And I’m still not sure what he meant when he said this about Dr. Oz: “He got his Pennsylvania house from his own in ladies for a dollar.” Or perhaps he was trying to say in-lays, which perhaps means that he meant to say in-laws.

And we got this (I’m quoting Fetterman verbatim): “How can a man, you know, with with 10 gigantic mansions has am willing to talk about willing wage for anybody? Imagine a signal mom trying with two children trying to raise with them.”

OK, now I’m starting to sound cruel. But ask yourself: If a loved one in your family had a stroke, and was clearly still recovering, would you want that loved one to be pursuing such a demanding and stressful job?

Oz, however, didn’t have the excuse of being impaired. He was smarmy, arrogant, and condescending because that’s who he is. Especially when he said, “John, obviously I wasn’t clear enough for you to understand this.”

Oh, here’s something we can all understand: his position on abortion. Oz said that the option to have an abortion should involve “women, doctors, and local political leaders.” Hey, that’s brilliant! Let’s involve the “local political leaders” of his own party, starting with the MAGA chairmen in places like Cumberland County – or, better yet, with all the Republican hacks in Harrisburg and who are jonesing to pass legislation that would ban abortions statewide.

And when Oz was asked about the phony medical advice he peddled during his years as a celebrity TV doc, he basically admitted that it was just a hustle: “That was a television show, just like this is a television show.”

And Oz actually said this, free of any medical impairment: “I want to bring civility, balance…bring us together…I want Washington to be civil again.” But he’s still a cheerleader for Trump. He said he’d support another Trump presidential bid, apparently deaf and dumb to the irony that the sick puppy who’s on the cusp of indictment is the antithesis of civility and balance.

I don’t have the stomach to continue. I want that hour of my life back.

Copyright 2022 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at [email protected]

Cited by the Columbia Journalism Review website as one of the nation's top political scribes, and by ABC News' online political tip sheet as "one of the finest political journalists of his generation, " Dick Polman is the national political columnist at Philadlephia NPR affiliate WHYY, and has covered or chronicled every presidential campaign since 1988.

A Philadelphia resident, Dick roamed the country for most of his 22 years at The Philadelphia Inquirer. He has been blogging daily since 2006. He's currently on the full-time faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, as "Writer in Residence." He has been a frequent guest on C-SPAN, CNN, MSNBC, the BBC, and various NPR shows - most notably Philadelphia's "Radio Times" on WHYY-FM.