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'Syphilis Phil' and the Stimulus


A Democrat gave me syphilis today… on the Assembly Floor… “Syphilis Phil” that is, a.k.a. “Phil the Sore.” I must profess my ignorance, I never heard of Phil – though Phil gets around, evidently. The Phil I received was an ugly cuss of a 3-inch bumpy red plastic foam mass, with a few wisps of black hair on his misshapen head and an earring on one ear. Phil also comes in the deluxe 6-feet tall model, such as the time he marched in the 2005 Los Angeles Gay Pride parade.

“Syphilis Phil”

Why did a Democrat Assemblymember give me “Syphilis Phil?” Well, it had to do with my remarks on the floor February 2nd in opposition to an Assembly resolution in support of the misshapen mass of a stimulus package bill making its way through Congress. During my remarks I criticized the stimulus bill for spending billions on items having precious little to do with stimulating the economy – not to mention the fact that tax and monetary policy would have a more profound and immediate impact on the economy than would fiscal policy. What I said during debate to incur Phil’s wrath was, “…I really, for the life of me, can’t understand the economic stimulation involved in this: $400 million for STD prevention.”

The U.S. Senate removed Phil’s STD funds the next day – all $400 million of it.

Phil may be hurt by this slight, but, is it fair to ask, is Phil doing his job? In 2000, experts thought that syphilis was close to elimination. But, after seven straight years of increased infections, syphilis appears nowhere close to elimination. Phil the Sore’s impotence even brought scorn from the Los Angeles Times, not exactly a pillar of prudishness, when they called for Phil’s retirement in a 2006 editorial. Even CBS has its doubts about Phil, choosing not to run an ad in 2004 developed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Perhaps CBS was concerned that its plunging ratings would suffer further by inflicting the sight of six-foot Phil on its remaining loyal viewers.

The preceding brings to mind the thoughts of our founders who fretted that a democratic republic with a restrained government was only possible with “a moral and religious people” – meaning that an amoral and irreligious people might necessitate a police state powerful enough to restrain harmful activities.

Perhaps these are post-Judeo-Christian times and it is too much to ask for a return to modesty or responsibility. That said, it seems rather futile to spend a few million tax dollars with a PR firm to develop Phil’s replacement. Phil may have failed, but he really never had a chance. Not while Hollywood and its licentious cousin in the San Fernando Valley churn out countless billions of dollars of corrosive cultural material, one day of which erodes a year’s worth of public health department awareness spending.

Maybe Phil needs a good agent.

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