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National Review Questions Whether Kimmel Is An Expert — While A Reality TV Star Runs The White House
Celebrities have always been a part of politics. It was nearly a century ago when the humorist Will Rogers quipped, “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat.” (Rogers wasn’t trying to deride the party — he truly did align with the Democrats at that time, supporting FDR’s run in 1932.)
Rogers would, from time to time, even consider running for higher office himself, entertaining pleas from fans to run for president (which he mockingly did in 1928, with the platform that, if elected, he would immediately resign).
Since that time, we have had two other entertainers, both Republicans, lead this country: actor Ronald Reagan, and celebrity reality TV host Donald Trump. Yet when another humorist, in the same vein as Rogers, comments on the president’s actions and on Congress’s proposals, the conservative right immediately goes on the attack — not on that comedian’s talking points or assertions, but on his profession.
Comedians are typically possessive of a higher intelligence than most people. Nevertheless, the National Review is calling out Jimmy Kimmel for his statements this past week on the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill that would repeal aspects of the Affordable Care Act.
Kimmel suggested on his show this week that Republican Bill Cassidy, who promised that any repeal bill wouldn’t discriminate against children based on preexisting conditions, broke his pledge with this bill.
Kimmel pointed out that the bill, while technically adhering to the promise of keeping preexisting conditions protected, allows states to apply for waivers allowing insurers in their borders to raise premiums for individuals with those ailments — essentially allowing companies to bankrupt families seeking medical care.
“In this [bill], your child with a preexisting condition will get the care he needs if, and only if, his father is Jimmy Kimmel,” the late night host said, alluding to the need for being wealthy to guarantee coverage. “Otherwise, you might be screwed.”
The conservative National Review took offense to Kimmel’s remarks — not because they were lacked accuracy (they are truthful), but because of Kimmel’s profession as a comedian.
— National Review (@NRO) September 21, 2017
“Is Jimmy Kimmel worth listening to beyond monologues or celebrity chats?” writes National Review fellow Theodore Kupfer.
This is truly an astonishing take, especially given who the president of the United States currently is. And it’s a hypocritical one at that — Donald Trump, whose expertise includes firing Gary Busey and ranting on Twitter while President Barack Obama was in office, is given tremendous leeway from the National Review in terms of policy positions.
But heaven forbid a late night show host have an informed opinion.
The hypocrisy runs deeper. In 2004, during the re-election campaign for then-President George W. Bush, Arnold Schwarzenegger gave an impassioned speech at the Republican National Convention, where he urged voters to dismiss “economic girly men” like John Kerry.
It was enough for the National Review at the time to say that Schwarzenegger was the “heir apparent” (their words, not mine) to Bush. They even recommended amending the U.S. Constitution to allow the California governor, a foreign-born citizen, the ability to run for the nation’s highest office.
To conclude, let’s jump back to present day. Amazingly, despite deriding him as a simpleton comedian, the article from the National Review by Kupfer acknowledges that Kimmel has some points to make. Kupfer writes:
There are legitimate critiques of Graham-Cassidy on those grounds, but…with the leeway Graham-Cassidy’s New Federalist framework would afford them, states might be able to find more efficacious ways to protect those people.
Saying that states “might find more efficacious ways” to help individuals with preexisting conditions is a very big gamble. And it’s a gamble that everyday Americans, health groups, insurance companies (and even comedians) can see is not worth taking.
Featured image via Disney/ABC Television/Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0, with minor cropping edits made to the image.