A Week of the Health Care Holocaust

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This issue is so ridiculous, we should have seen it coming.

Now out of power, Republicans and their mouthpieces in the news entertainment industry – void of any real leadership – have taken steps back like never before. Instead of a unified message of an opposition party, the right has relied on anonymously-written smear emails, unsubstantiated internet rumors, and playing to our biggest fears in order to stop the Democratic agenda.

And when it comes to health care reform, they’ve predictably (and desperately) played into humanity’s biggest fear: death.

This issue is so ridiculous, we should have seen it coming.

Now out of power, Republicans and their mouthpieces in the news entertainment industry – void of any real leadership – have taken steps back like never before. Instead of a unified message of an opposition party, the right has relied on anonymously-written smear emails, unsubstantiated internet rumors, and playing to our biggest fears in order to stop the Democratic agenda.

And when it comes to health care reform, they’ve predictably (and desperately) played into humanity’s biggest fear: death.

Take Sarah Palin. Last week, the former Alaska governor disturbingly used her daughter as a political prop to smear the health care initiative with an unstudied conspiratorial lie.

On her Facebook page, she referred to voluntary end-of-life meetings with one’s doctor (which are already covered by many insurance plans) as Obama’s “death panel.” She also insinuated that her daughter would be neglected health care because of the pre-existing condition of Down Syndrome. In her own words: “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”

Her Health Care Holocaust (HHH) claims have, of course, been debunked by a plethora or sources (the sad thing is that they needed to be.) But that, like the truth, doesn’t matter. (Note: Think Progress noted on Thursday that on April 16, 2008, Governor Sarah Palin publicly supported the same End of Life Counseling she now deems euthanasia.)

Last Sunday, on “This Week,” Newt Gingrich was asked about Palin’s half-baked suggestion. He tell-taledly remarked, “You are asking us to trust the government,” and then stated, “Communal standards is a very dangerous concept.” Host George Stephanopolis explained to the former Speaker, there are no communal standards in the health care bills. Gingrich ignored the fact.

On Monday, Glenn Beck said of Palin’s HHH claim: “I believe it is true.” (He took it a step further on Wednesday, weepingly using his own daughter with Cerebral Palsy as a prop to compare Obama to Hitler.)

The right wing Club For Growth has spread the canard that the health bill will spur “waves of euthanasia.”

Chuck Grassley, whom Obama recently pointed out as a Republican senator working out a bipartisan health care deal, decided to pull the plug on any hopes of bipartisanship when he told a crowd of 300 on Wednesday, “You have every right to fear…We should not have a government program that determines if you’re going to pull the plug on grandma.”

The truth has no bearing on HHH rhetoric. All they care about is obstructing Obama and regaining power in future elections. On the entertainment side, pundits and news organizations have even resorted to joining with the Lyndon Larouche youth cult and 9/11 Truth conspiracy theorists because these groups also believe, among other things, the Birth Certificate and Death Panel HHH conspiracy theories.

Seventy-one to 77% of Americans, according to recent Gallup and CNN polls, want health care reform. Similar polls have claimed only 50% of those same Americans want the health care reform bill currently working its way through congress. Clearly, the discrepancy has something to do with the nefarious smears being pushed by right wing emails/front groups and the entertainers/lawmakers who love them.

But you can’t really blame them. They campaign on fear. And what do Americans fear most (besides, as they say, public speaking)? Death.

Fear is all they know.

If there are any valid arguments against new health care standards, I suggest the right’s lawmakers and news entertainers start using them – and fast. You can’t win an issue depending solely on tantrum-throwing psychotics raiding town hall forums and the entertainers they quote.

photo: www.economist.com

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1 COMMENT

  1. Democrats, not Republicans, squandered opportunity for reform

    Randy, you give the Republicans and conservative media outlets far more credit than they deserve in shaping public opinion about the healthcare plan. As of August 12, Gallup reported that 49% of Americans disapproved of the President’s handling of healthcare policy versus 43% who approved of it. Those numbers had remained virtually unchanged since mid July, long before the town hall meetings convened (http://www.gallup.com/poll/122255/Amid-Debate-Obama-Approval-Rating-Healthcare-Steady.aspx).  And Americans are about evenly split on whether they want any healthcare reform bill passed (http://www.gallup.com/video/122228/Americans-Split-Healthcare-Reform.aspx). That’s because while many agree that healthcare is too expensive, about 8 in 10 are content with the coverage they currently have (http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/03/19/health.care.poll/index.html ). So the Republican Party and conservative media outlets are not so much shaping opinion as they are exploiting very real concerns shared by the majority of Americans that they have more to lose than gain with healthcare reform.  And that’s where the Democrats have failed to make their case. Instead of trying to sell voters on a rushed, 1,000+ page bill, the August recess could and should have been used to build consensus prior to drafting the legislation by actually asking people – not telling them – what healthcare reform should look like. A more participatory approach would have avoided much of the controversy and resulted in legislation that addresses the needs and concerns of the majority of Americans. By squandering this opportunity for participatory democracy on such a vitally important issue, the Democratic leadership has left itself vulnerable to attack and significantly weakened its chances of passing any meaningful healthcare reform this year. Lessons learned.

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