Post-stroke Fetterman bests ‘healthy’ fraud Dr. Oz any day
Right: John Fetterman talks with participants in the Braddock Employment and Training Center in Braddock, Pa.; Top left: Fetterman gives Braddock resident Delia Lennon-Winstead a hug after announcing his bid for Lt. Governor in Nov. 2017; Center left: Fetterman helps clean up the former United Brethren in Christ Church in Braddock; Bottom left: Fetterman, talks to John Luu, who operated Kim Grocery Store in Braddock, about the businesses closing in the town. | All photos via AP

The New York Times Wednesday trumpeted in some articles, without convincing evidence, that the Republican Party is closing in for the kill in the final days before the election. Meanwhile, the “newspaper of record” expressed, in their lead print article, that the Fetterman-Oz debate in Pennsylvania “elicited worries,” “stressed out” Democrats like Ed Rendell, the former governor, and forced people to “watch Fetterman suffer.” The Times declared that watching Fetterman was “painful.”

Instead of focusing on substance, the paper fell right into the GOP trap of relegating people with disabilities to a status in which their health problems are considered far more important than anything else about them. It was “painful” to watch Fetterman, they say, a man with a life-long commitment to working class people and their allies and one who laid out a fighting program of progress for his hoped-for tenure in the Senate. What was “painful,” in their telling, was that he mushed together a few words here and there.

Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz will carry the agenda of Donald Trump into the Senate if elected, the same Donald Trump who mocks disabled people. | Top photo: Gene J. Puskar / AP | Bottom photo: Screengrab from television broadcast

It was not at all “painful,” however, if you believe the Times and tens of thousands on Twitter, to watch the smooth-talking fascist “Dr.” Oz describe how he wants Republican elected officials to be present in the room with women and their doctors when they make decisions about whether to have an abortion.

I guess photos Oz proudly shows online of himself posing alongside Adolf Hitler’s automobile were “amusing,” but certainly not “painful.” Nothing “painful” either about seeing Oz spend $20 million of his own money so he can get elected to lick the boots of the fascist-minded Koch brothers and other multi-billionaire oil barons.

Was it not “painful” to watch, over the years, as Oz made many of those millions he’s pumping into his own campaign by selling worthless diet pills on television?

Will it not be “painful” for the country if Oz is elected as part of a Republican takeover of the Senate and helps move the country closer to fascism?

What is also really “painful,” however, is many mainstream journalists’ inability to even consider for a brief moment that history shows the total falsehood of notions that people who are disabled or sick cannot do an exemplary job in public office.

President Franklin Roosevelt in his wheelchair in Hyde Park, N.Y., February 1941. FDR’s polio never impaired his ability while he charted a path out of the Great Depression and led the country in the fight against Hitler fascism and Japanese imperialism. | FDR Presidential Library

Franklin D. Roosevelt, as president, rallied the country to join an international movement that defeated Hitler fascism—and he did it from his wheelchair.

Since the days of his youth, he never enjoyed good health, having been stricken, at the age of 39, with polio, which landed him in a wheelchair. He was unable to walk, even unable to stand. Only with intense physical exercise and super-human dedication was he able to make his arms strong enough to hold himself up at a podium to make a speech as his legs hung limp behind the dais. He had to make most speeches from his wheelchair but wanted to stand up for some of the rally important ones. As he desperately held onto the podium, his arms quivered and sweat would pour down his face.

He had to be carried physically form his automobile to the railroad car he travelled around the country in and often collapsed in that car, clutching his chest as he suffered the pain of minor strokes and heart attacks.

Can you imagine, had there been Twitter in those days, what some of the nasty people on that platform—and yes, I say many of those people on Twitter are nasty—would have said? Remember how Oz’s mentor, Donald Trump, mocked the disabled reporter at a rally on national television? The “pain” of having had a president who did that is a real one for the entire nation, and it will take many years to overcome.

With all he was suffering, Roosevelt designed and pushed through Social Security, the most successful government program in U.S. history. It continues to function as he intended today. The inhumane people who attack Fetterman for his disability and those who worry more about his debate “performance” than they do about substance may see Social Security destroyed by “abled bodied” people like Oz.

This television snake oil salesman and his ilk have shown they will allow fascists to take over in the U.S., the modern version of the same fascists Roosevelt fought against in the ’30s.

A view of Braddock, Pa. from the belfry of the former United Brethren in Christ Church. The U.S. Steel Edgar Thomson Plant can be seen in the background. At 6-foot-8, 300 pounds, 37-year old Harvard-educated Braddock Mayor John Fetterman made a big impression on the city as mayor. He was one of the few townspeople with an imagination vivid enough to envision the turnabout of a decaying milltown in the so-called ‘Rust Belt.’ Now, he’s running for Senate and has a vision for the whole state. | Andrew Rush / AP

Years ago, in 2009, Fetterman was mayor of Braddock, Penn., a small devastated steel town in the Western part of the state. Life went downhill there when the steel mills closed down. People’s World spent an entire day with Fetterman in his town while the AFL-CIO was holding its convention in Pittsburgh that year.

Fetterman, who worked so hard to revitalize the town, proudly displayed the vegetable gardens being tilled by young people in the empty lots where buildings and homes once stood. He proudly explained how federal funds he procured were being used to pay them for their work and how he expected that the numbers of young people dying from drug overdoses would be reduced. (Whenever a young person died of an overdose, he had the date tattooed on his right forearm.)

He was then, as he is now in his role as Pennsylvania Attorney General, a champion of the people. This week, during the debate, he showed again that he’s a hero of whom Pennsylvania voters can be proud.

His stroke had not changed any of that. And, as he himself has said, in the months ahead, he will get better and better. In the months ahead, the Republican Mehmet Oz will remain, as he has been for years, a dangerous fraud.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.