Welcome the Moment of Truth, and the conclusion of the 4-part semi-fictional expose of one doctor’s degradation from healer to heel.
Fame was taking our Odd Couple for a lovely jaunt. Dr. Dave made guest appearances on sitcoms, and Mel was jobbed into a number of cable network talent exhibits. About the time Mel started doing the “Big Balls Show” on MTV alongside fellow thinly-disguised fictional standup, Kimmy Jimmel, he began adopting a definitively rightwing stance on issues about which he had no business opining.
Mel: What is it about the Middle East that causes people to be violent, do you think? Dave. Is it something in the soil? Is it –
Dave: (sarcastically) No, it’s two hundred years of oppression by the West, that’s what the liberal, the politically correct —
Mel: – is it the humus? The babaganoush? The crappy music? What is it?
Well, what are you implying, Mel and Dr. Dave? Is it just that dark people on the other side of the world have more violence in their blood or genes? Is it their religion? Their swarthiness? Middle East experts and armchair scholars alike knew that the region had been carved to pieces and raped by the colonizing powers, and the CIA had, as recently as 1953, overthrown the elected Mossedegh government in Iran to install the Shah, and were – even as Dave and Mel were busy disparaging knowledge – continuing their manipulations of peoples, their propping up of dictators, and facilitating when not outright committing the murders of political leaders in the region. The West was not an innocent observer. Radios could be heard across the nation being smashed in fury.
This was no longer a “hip” sex advice show slipping common-sense abstinence, monogamy, condom-wearing, and heterosexual-leaning advice “under the radar.” This was a couple of media figures peddling naked rightwing racist and corporatist propaganda.
And that’s how Dr. Dave finally found his ideological home in the Fox News milieu.
He tried to make it as an actor, no one knows why – I guess he figured if a rightwing toady like Ben Stein could do it, so could he – but someone who’s handsome because there’s nothing wrong with him isn’t a particularly memorable face. Safer to build on his brand as the new, less repulsive Dr. Laura (not fictional. Why keep up the pretense?). And that’s exactly what he did.
And so it’s no accident that he made the mistake of parroting Donald Trump’s dismissal of Covid-19 as “no worse or more alarming than the common flu.” He has since apologized for joining in the chorus of Fox News Trumplicking talking heads who mocked precautions urged by every reputable medical professional and institution outside that echo chamber. I don’t accept Dr. Dave’s apology, and neither should anyone else. He started his career as something of a public servant, but he developed into one of those who masquerade as public servants while contriving to serve only themselves. In the process, it’s fair to conjecture that the deaths he is responsible for are innumerable, and his smug blather downplaying the seriousness of the Covid- 19 pandemic, joining in on the wrong side of medical history, will and should haunt him until he dies choking on his truffle-oil-laced hormone-free sushi.
Was it the lure of fame and all its trappings that brought him to this ignoble pass? Probably. Can we blame capitalism? I mean, many of us are blaming capitalism for a host of societal deficiencies, the inability of our national anti-community ethos to cope with the collective needs imposing themselves due to the current pandemic not the least of them. How much blame can one economic system bear? Systemic oppression, global violence, environmental degradation – of course these can be laid at the feet of dollar-worship, but personal moral and ethical failures? A man starts out treating people’s addictions for little or no compensation. He garners some attention, then starts to pick up a little change, doing a radio gig. He leaves his unprofitable practice to seek his personal fortune. Is it really connected to the pressure to earn more and more money, first just to stay alive, and then to maintain the buffer of wealth that is the only thing standing between sparkling celebrity and the life-and-death struggle of regular people?
Look at the fate of the medical workers in the ICUs across our nation, exposing themselves to a highly contagious and often lethal disease, unprotected because of shortages due to our president’s incompetence, as well as our governing indoctrinated faith in the free market. These workers are freely on the market, and the market has offered them this opportunity, with its risks egregiously outweighing its rewards. Many of them have a calling to help the sick, and the market takes advantage of their good-hearted naivete. Some of them are just trying to survive economically, with the only marketable skill they possess.
Can anyone blame Dr. Dave for setting himself a safer, more remunerative course? Not if we blame capitalism. But would the Good Doctor himself blame capitalism? He might, if only in the barely-conscious part of his mind. Or he might simply admit outright, “I didn’t want to be poor. It’s dangerous to your health.”
Who can argue with that?
As the owners of the means of wealth conjuring grow ever more concerned that the lesser classes aren’t doing enough to keep their numbers up, we’re being bombarded by more and more cleverly disguised “voices of reason” assuring us that the death toll of the virus isn’t worth the economic grief of protecting ourselves from it. Well, not exactly “cleverly disguised.” Steve Forbes, the genetically-meritorious billionaire, recently posted on Twitter: “This pandemic is over. Let’s stop this economic suicide, and get back to work.” Not sure what work he’s talking about. Maybe his laborious job listening to the jingle of his millions rolling in? Oh, I get it, he wants to get back to work as an unaccredited epidemiologist. Sure, Dr. Steve! You get back to work doing your thing!
A tad more subtly, two weeks ago a couple of Bakersfield doctors, who run a for-profit practice that I guess must be leaking revenue, held a news conference, publicized by libertarian funding organizations, during which they touted a mangled statistical methodology for determining that Covid-19 was no more deadly than the flu, exactly the false claim our fictional Dr. Dave and his factual counterpart, Dr. Drew, finally had to apologize for. The Bakersfield propaganda show was taken down by YouTube after an onslaught of complaints by competent experts, but not before racking up 5 million views. The two discredited but somehow still practicing physicians are Drs. Dan Erikson and Artin Massihi. They are to be considered dangerous and shot on sight – oops, no, I mean, ought to be ashamed of themselves. Elon Musk thought they were brilliant! Elon and Forbes should get together for a makeout session.
Seems it doesn’t matter what profession you choose, be it pseudo-doctor like Dr. Phil or Dr. Forbes, or realish doctor, like Drs. Oz and Drew, or fictional ones like Dr. Dave – if there’s a buck to be made by siding with unscrupulous fascists, there will always be those willing to sell their ethics, if not their souls. It’s a story as old as the oldest profession.
This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!