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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Mitts-placed priorities

All eyes will be focused on the Massachusetts Legislature on Tuesday to see how it handles an issue of major importance to the health and welfare of Massachusetts citizens -- pandemic flu planning.

Sorry. I don't know what came over me.

Imagine if the soon-to-be-the really-former governor had spent even a fraction of the amount of time on legislation to help the state prepare for the flu and he did on gay marriage? How many more people would have been affected by that emphasis? How many fewer people may not die as a result?

Romney even emerged from his vacation home in Utah to tell the conservative publication Human Events that he believes he has cowed lawmakers into taking up the marriage ban. Even gay rights activist Arlene Issacson is worried -- at least for public consumption to prevent her troops from falling into complacency.

But what of the public health bill? Pandemic flu is inevitable. It may not come in the form of the widely over-hyped bird flu, but it will come. If not this flu season, another one -- and soon.

Despite authoring a $36.5 million piece of legislation, Romney spent much of this past year using the Department of Public Health as part of his ideological crusade for president -- focusing on abstinence, stem cell research, and the sale of drug needles to prevent AIDS.

That left a vacuum that no one sought to fill on a common sense issue like flu preparation. For that both Romney and the Legislature deserve harsh criticism. But it won't be forthcoming because of all the heat and light generated by the gay marriage amendment.

Maybe we should withhold flu shots based on how people vote on Tuesday?


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