April 2, 2010
Posted: 10:00 PM ET
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LA Times Op-Ed
As the battle over "Obamacare" was reaching fever pitch, Rush Limbaugh threatened to leave the United States if the healthcare bill passed. Well, the bill did pass, and he's still here.
This reminded me of the time one of my friends vowed to change his citizenship and move to Ireland if George W. Bush got reelected. Bush did get reelected, but my friend never left New Jersey. Neither did my friend who said she'd move to France if Bush won a second term. Bush got his second term, but my friend never once budged from her New York apartment.
Her vow to scoop up her marbles and pack it in, just like Mr. Limbaugh's histrionic vow to become an expatriate, fell into the broad, general category of the idle threat.
Ever since I was a child, I have abhorred idle threats. Real threats, like "I'll knock your teeth down your throat if you tell Sister John Laurentia who put the softball through the stained-glass image of St. Anthony of Padua," didn't bother me because they were graphic and implacable and let you know exactly where you stood.
Nor did I get all that upset when my mother would warn us that Dad would beat us when he got home. What upset us was when Dad didn't beat us when he got home. Now we had no way of knowing whether he had merely forgotten, or if he was using this delaying tactic as an additional measure in the reign of domestic terror he mistook for parenting. Either way, it added a level of uncertainty to our lives that we did not need.
If you were going to make a threat, you were honor-bound to go through with it. Otherwise, you were merely confusing the issue.
Filed under: Health Care
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