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Thread: The Swiftboating of health reform

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    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    The Swiftboating of Health Reform

    Recently, in two separate conversations, I heard senior Democratic officials remark that they were taken aback by the right's distortions in the health care debate. My initial reaction was surprise: What did they expect? We've seen this before. But I'm coming around to their point of view.

    Exhibit number one is the treatment of Eziekel Emanuel, the distinguished oncologist and bioethicist who is working on health reform at the Office of Management and Budget. In the course of his writings, which span academia and popular publications, he has argued forcefully and clearly against physician-assisted suicide. Yet somehow Emanuel finds himself accused of--wait for it--advocating physician assisted suicide.

    Writing in the New York Post, Betsy McCaughey suggested that Emanuel wanted to ration care so that a "grandmother with Parkinson's or a child with cerebral palsy" couldn't get care. Soon Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and right-wing websites were piling on, calling Emanuel "Doctor Death." All of this about a man who, rather than using his considerable talents to get rich, has devoted his life to healing individuals--and improving the human condition. Oh, and did I mention his sister has cerebral palsy?

    My colleague Harold Pollack touched on this earlier, as have other writers. Today, Time's Michael Scherer did, as well, with an item worth quoting at length:
    In her Post article, McCaughey paints the worst possible image of Emanuel, quoting him, for instance, endorsing age discrimination for health-care distribution, without mentioning that he was only addressing extreme cases like organ donation where there is an absolute scarcity of resources. She quotes him discussing the denial of care for people with dementia, without revealing that Emanuel only mentioned dementia in a discussion of theoretical approaches, not an endorsement of a particular policy. She notes that he has criticized medical culture for trying to do everything for a patient, "regardless of the cost or effects on others," without making clear that he was not speaking of lifesaving care but of treatments with little demonstrated value. "No one who has read what I have done for 25 years would come to the conclusions that have been put out there," says Emanuel. "My quotes were just being taken out of context."
    But that's not all, sadly. The attack on Emanuel is part of a broader offensive--an effort to persuade anxious Americans that health reformers will harm people who are seriously ill or who have disabilities. The argument seems to be resonating with at least some Americans. Whether it's a lot or a few is impossible to say from the television images. But even a few would be a few too many.

    Every year, millions of families struggle to get affordable medical care for themselves or their loved ones--and end up in financial ruin, going without medical care, or some combination of the two. Many of these cases involve diseases like cerebral palsy or Parkinson's--or other conditions that require ongoing, expensive care.

    Insurance companies try their best to avoid taking on these people. Apply for an indivdiual policy with one of these pre-existing conditions and an insurer will reject you if it can. If it can't--if, say, you're lucky enough to get coverage through an employer--you may well find the insurance doesn't cover what you need.

    Changing that isn't merely a by-product of reform. It's the whole point of reform. The plan Obama and his allies support would make coverage avialable to everybody regardless of pre-existing medical conditions. It would require insurers to cover a broad range of medical servcies. And it would police insurers to make sure they didn't try to get around those requirements. No less important, the health reform measures moving through Congress have special provisions within them to help people with disabilities, like the Community Living Assistance and Services and Supports (CLASS) Act that disability community advocates support strongly.

    It'd be one thing if the lunatics on the right had a coherent argument for why these initiatives might be ineffective or counterproductive. But they don't even bother to acknowledge them, preferring instead to throw out scare quotes like this one from Palin: "Who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course."

    Of course, not all conservatives stoop to this level. You can have a rational, if still contentious, deate over health reform with the likes of Stuart Butler (who studies health policy at the Heritage Foundation) or Gail Wilensky (who ran Medicare for George H.W. Bush). But Butler, Wilensky, and others like them aren't driving the conversation right now. Palin, Bachmann, and their allies are.

    We're stuck in what Josh Marshall has called a "nonsense feedback loop"--a conversation in which Zeke Emanuel wants to kill grandma, health care reform is bad for the people who can't get health care, and Stephen Hawking has been snuffed out by the British National Health System. Instead of arguments that are unrelated to reality, we're getting arguments that are the very opposite of reality.

    Like I said, maybe those Democratic officials are right. Maybe this really is worse than what we've seen before.

    --Jonathan Cohn

    Posted: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 11:54 PM

    The Swiftboating of Health Reform - The Treatment

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    this is why democrats lose. They were UNPREPARED for how retarded the right wing nutjobs would be.

    Really? John Kerry didn't do it for you? Clinton? The most recent election? The teabaggers?

    Why do these morons insist on thinking the nutters will be decent and logical? God, get a fucking clue
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    The one thing I give Republicans credit for is that they know how to efficiently control their message, no matter how moronic it is.

    The Dems put out a message, and then let it lay there, rather than steer the conversation. The Dems make the mistake of believing that the message can stand on it's own and the truth will triumph. The GOP knows that the real power isn't the message itself, but how you manipulate that message to the masses.

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    Elite Member KrisNine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingcap72 View Post
    The one thing I give Republicans credit for is that they know how to efficiently control their message, no matter how moronic it is.

    The Dems put out a message, and then let it lay there, rather than steer the conversation. The Dems make the mistake of believing that the message can stand on it's own and the truth will triumph. The GOP knows that the real power isn't the message itself, but how you manipulate that message to the masses.
    You are exactly right!! I don't know how they do it, but somehow they do!

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    because everybody lets them.

    if one of us was given free rein to go on TV and smack them the fuck down with facts and put them in their place this shit wouldn't even get started.

    NOBODY WILL DO THAT. The media will NOT call them out on their lies, no matter how outrageous or insane.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisNine View Post
    You are exactly right!! I don't know how they do it, but somehow they do!
    Because Democrats give the American people too much credit for having & using common sense. Most people in this country don't even bother to follow politics unless there's an election or some major policy issue is on the table.

    The Republicans know that you can herd a good portion of the population with the right wedge issues and fear tactics. And the GOP strategy works even better when the climate is right, such as a recession or a terrorist attack.

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    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    ^So true, sadly, so true.

    Here's a suggestion on what the Dems could do:
    Health Care Reform Needs an Action Hero

    by Amy Goodman

    Imagine the scene. America 2009. Eighteen thousand people have died in one year, an average of almost 50 a day. Who’s taking them out? What’s killing them?

    To investigate, President Barack Obama might be tempted to call on Jack Bauer, the fictional rogue intelligence agent from the hit TV series “24,” who invariably employs torture and a host of other illegal tactics to help the president fight terrorism. But terrorism is not the culprit here:

    It’s lack of adequate health care. So maybe the president’s solution isn’t Jack Bauer, but rather the actor who plays him.

    The star of “24” is played by Kiefer Sutherland, whose family has very deep connections to health care reform—in Canada. Sutherland is the grandson of the late Tommy Douglas, the pioneering Canadian politician who is credited with creating the modern Canadian health care system. As a youth, Tommy Douglas almost lost his ailing leg. His family could not afford treatment, but a doctor treated him for free, provided his medical students could observe. As an adult, Douglas saw the impact of widespread poverty caused by the Great Depression. Trained as a minister, he had a popular oratorical style.

    He moved into politics, joining the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation party. After several years in Parliament, he led the CCF’s decisive victory in the province of Saskatchewan, ushering in the first social democratic government in North America.

    Douglas became premier of Saskatchewan, and pioneered a number of progressive policies there, including the expansion of public utilities, unionization and public auto insurance. But Douglas’ biggest battle, for which he is best remembered, is the creation of universal health insurance, called Medicare. It passed in Saskatchewan in 1962, guaranteeing hospital care for all residents. Doctors there staged a 23-day strike, supported by the U.S.-based American Medical Association. Despite industry opposition, the Saskatchewan Medicare program was so successful and popular that it was adopted throughout Canada. While Tommy Douglas was fighting for health insurance in Canada, a similar battle was raging in the U.S., resulting in the passage of Medicare and Medicaid, giving guaranteed, single-payer health care to senior citizens and the poor.

    Rush Limbaugh, Fox News Channel’s Glenn Beck and insurance-industry-funded groups are encouraging people to disrupt town hall meetings with members of Congress. A number of the confrontations have become violent, or at least threatening. Outside President Obama’s Portsmouth, N.H., event, a protester with a pistol strapped to his thigh drew further attention with a sign that read, “It is time to water the tree of Liberty.” Thomas Jefferson’s complete quote, not included on the sign, continues, “... with the blood of tyrants and patriots.” Limbaugh says “24” is one of his favorite shows. He has even visited the set. Rush should learn from the real-life actor who plays his hero, Jack. Limbaugh and his cohorts may find truth not as satisfying as fiction.

    In 2004, a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. poll named Tommy Douglas “The Greatest Canadian.” At a protest in 2000 against efforts to roll back the Medicare system in the province of Alberta, Kiefer Sutherland defended Canada’s public, single-payer system:

    “Private health care does not work. America is trying to change their system. It’s too expensive to get comprehensive medical care in the U.S. Why on earth are we going to follow their system here? I consider it a humanitarian issue. This is an issue about what is right and wrong, what is decent and what is not.”

    Maybe Jack Bauer can save the day.
    Health Care Reform Needs an Action Hero | CommonDreams.org
    Last edited by Fluffy; August 13th, 2009 at 11:41 PM. Reason: added "Action Hero" article

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