Back when my singing career and I were young, I heard about my friend Eddie Fisher and his friend, a man they called “Dr. Feelgood.”
Eddie was singing well, still very popular, and though married to Debbie Reynolds, was rumored to be seeing Elizabeth Taylor. There were also rumors about his involvement with, and possible addiction to, pills and injections that gave him almost perpetual energy and good spirits. That’s when the name “Dr. Feelgood” came up; his real identity was still not known, but he was supposed to be supplying Eddie with the chemicals.
The rumors became documented stories and led to investigations, and as I remember now, Eddie admitted that he had come to rely on this “friend” who happily supplied him — and a number of other entertainers and folks in show biz — with all the “uppers” they wanted. And of course, in short order, most became dependent on them and the “doctor” who supplied them.
The entertainment business, as I certainly discovered, is high pressure, almost constantly. It encourages crazy hours and an ever-readiness to perform. Being tired is no excuse, and something that lifts the energy level is welcome.
But after the initial apparent benefit comes the dependency. And then the usual search for more potent stimulants, including “downers” to help you come down, to sleep after days of being “high.” It’s a terrible trap, a spiral that may seem up, but one that will eventually crash and burn.
And so it has been with too many legendary performers like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, rockers and actors and people in “the biz.” Elvis Presley had his “Dr. Feelgood.” And lately, so did Michael Jackson.
Michael was hypersensitive, always active and creating, and he had trouble sleeping. So he came to depend intimately on this “man with the bag,” the one who could give him stimulants when he was dog-tired, and stronger medications to help him sleep. It now appears that the still-young man, acclaimed to be the greatest entertainer in history, died from too much potent anesthesia provided by his “Dr. Feelgood.”
This is tragic, and though understandable, unforgivable.
And now our country, or at least a large portion of it, looks to another “Dr. Feelgood” in much the same ways as did the tragic entertainers.
In this case, we know the man’s name — Dr. Obama. Well, he’s not really a doctor, and it’s not expected that he knows much of anything about medicine or the practice of it. He hasn’t been accused of practicing medicine without a license; he has, though, been accused of practicing government with little or no experience.
He arrived when the country was, and still is, experiencing a terrific malaise, a financial and moral sickness that afflicts most countries once in a while — almost like the flu. Our symptoms include headaches of war, the ulcerous pain of economic distress, the fever of political discontent, and general disorientation and discontent.
Quite unexpectedly, a practitioner appeared, almost like an old time Hadacol or snake oil salesman, saying “I’ve got the answer to what ails you! I can alter your diet, I can offer you stimulus, I can take away your headaches and stomach pains. Just take these “change” pills. They’ll make you feel good.”
Like any good salesman, he made his “remedy” sound so hopeful and reasonable that the public clamored for it. Hardly anybody asked to see his license and inquire what real experience he had as a doctor. Or really, what experience of any kind. And he became the national “Dr. Feelgood.”
And barely into his new role, he announced he was going to prescribe a revolutionary new approach to curing what ails us. He and his little team were going to take over our whole medical and insurance system, and turn it into something 85 percent Americans say they don’t want and don’t need. We’ve been saying, “Doctor, slow down! We’re not that sick; we like our healthcare pretty much the way it is. Sure, there are some things out of whack here and there, but we can fix those without major, exhaustive, terribly expensive surgery!”
But Dr. Feelgood said, “I’m the doctor. I know what’s best for you. You’ll take what I prescribe for you and like it. Open your mouths and swallow it! You can’t even read or understand the prescription, but my friend the pharmacist can, and I intend to get this done. So put your head back and open your mouth. In just a year or two, you’ll feel sooooo good. . . “
He went on, “Yes, it will be expensive, very, very expensive. This kind of care comes with a huge price tag. But don’t worry; your children and grandchildren will get the real bill. You’ll just make incremental payments as long as you live, and you’ll get to keep taking the medicine I prescribe till you die — and you’ll take comfort in the knowledge you’re also paying for millions of others to have me as their doctor, too. Feel good about that. You’re being compassionate for your fellow man.”
Dr. Feelgood laid out his diagnosis and prescription to both houses of Congress and much of the nation a couple days ago. He made it sound good, and absolutely essential if the patient is going to survive. He used the word “I” a lot, suddenly sounding like Hugo Chavez, declaring he's going to administer this remedy. He obviously doesn’t feel the patient has anything to say about his own condition.
Right at the start of his address, he proclaimed, “I can stand here with confidence and say that we have pulled this economy back from the brink.” For brevity’s sake, perhaps, he neglected to add that this has involved saddling his patient with trillions in debt that may never be paid off, with projected trillions more to come.
Now I’m really concerned. Is this president a Dr. Feelgood — or a Dr. Kevorkian?
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