It is fair to say that the world as Americans have known it in the post-World War II era has been turned upside-down — and not in a good way — since the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.
The unpresidential comments and actions on a daily basis by President Trump and members of his administration not only have brought ridicule to the office of the Presidency (which formerly was the most-respected and most-powerful leadership position in the world), but they also have been the source of great harm — and potential harm — to millions of our fellow citizens.
One of the most-recent such comments was made by Kellyanne Conway, who was President Trump’s campaign manager and now serves as a special adviser (whatever that is) to President Trump.
Conway is well-known for making absurd and deliberately-provocative statements on subjects about which she knows absolutely nothing, but her recent comments about the drug addiction epidemic that is impacting every corner of our nation rank among her most outrageous yet.
Conway was being interviewed on one of the Sunday television network news shows and was attempting to defend the Republican health insurance plan that would replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and reduce funding for health-care of all types by billions of dollars.
When the interviewer, George Stephanopoulos, pointed out that tens of thousands of Americans die yearly from drug overdoses and that the ACA presently provides crucial funding for addiction-treatment programs for millions more, Conway defended the GOP cutbacks by stating that drug treatment “takes a four letter word called ‘will’.”
We would have liked to have seen Mr. Stephanopoulos ask Ms. Conway if she had discussed her views with President Trump. Not only did President Trump famously say during his campaign that he would not take away health insurance from millions of Americans because, “I will not allow people to die in the streets and sidewalks of this country,” but he also has been very forthcoming about his family’s experience dealing with the premature death of his older brother, Fred, from substance abuse (alcoholism) at the age of 43.
Our U.S. Senator, Edward J. Markey, immediately took Conway to task for her remarks, pointing out that her statement not only displayed a complete lack of understanding of drug addiction in the context of the current opioid crisis, but also a callousness for the hundreds of thousands of Americans and their families who rely on government-funded drug treatment programs which are their only hope for treatment and recovery.
“Kellyanne Conway should be ashamed of herself for suggesting that those suffering from substance-use disorders should simply have more ‘will,’ ” Markey said. “Ms. Conway owes an apology to the entire addiction and treatment community for her outrageous and disrespectful remarks. She should also urge President Trump to honor his pledge during his address to Congress earlier this year to ‘expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted.’ ”
Senator Markey, as usual, was spot-on in his comments. We know we join with all Massachusetts residents in supporting him — and thanking him — for standing up for our fellow citizens and their families for whom government-funded treament programs are their only lifeline for saving their loves ones during this critical time in their lives.