An interesting, plausible-to-me theory from Jonathan Chait:
I think that a couple months ago, Democrats would have paid a fairly high price for passing a health care bill with zero or one Republican votes. This is because the major theme of the news coverage revolved around whether Democrats would find a bipartisan solution (wonderful!) or go it alone (boo!)
August, as I have argued, may have actually helped Democrats. Before, Republicans were making earnest-sounding pleas for negotiation and bipartisanship while slowly bleeding out the calendar. The recess furor exposed (and helped create) the GOP's total unwillingness to compromise. The result, I suspect, is that Democrats will now pay a far lower price for passing a bill without substantial GOP buy-in.
From the NY Times:
As Congress prepares to consider extending crucial provisions of the USA Patriot Act, civil liberties groups and some Democratic lawmakers are gearing up to press for sweeping changes to surveillance laws.
Both the House and the Senate are set to hold their first committee hearings this week on whether to reauthorize three sections of the Patriot Act that expire at the end of this year. The provisions expanded the power of the F.B.I. to seize records and to eavesdrop on phone calls in the course of a counterterrorism investigation.
Laying down a marker ahead of those hearings, a group of senators who support greater privacy protections filed a bill on Thursday that would impose new safeguards on the Patriot Act while tightening restrictions on other surveillance policies. The measure is co-sponsored by nine Democrats and an independent.
Days before, the Obama administration called on Congress to reauthorize the three expiring Patriot Act provisions in a letter from Ronald Weich, assistant attorney general for legislative affairs. At the same time, he expressed a cautious open mind about imposing new surveillance restrictions as part of the legislative package ...
One of the witnesses Democrats have invited to testify at both hearings is Suzanne E. Spaulding, who has worked for lawmakers of both parties as a former top staffer on the House and Senate Intelligence committees. Mrs. Spaulding said she would urge Congress to tighten restrictions on when the F.B.I. could use the Patriot Act powers.
The rapid build-up of domestic intelligence authorities after the Sept. 11 attacks, she said, had overlooked “important safeguards,” which has resulted “in a greater likelihood at a minimum of the government mistakenly intruding into the privacy of innocent Americans, and at worst having a greater capability of abusing these authorities.”
Still, she acknowledged, the public record contains scant evidence that the F.B.I. has abused its powers under the three expiring Patriot Act sections. And it remains to be seen whether a majority in Congress will welcome undertaking a potentially heated debate over national security in the midst of already wrenching efforts to overhaul the nation’s health insurance system.
<Continue reading to learn about the 3 specific provisions up for renewal.>
I wholeheartedly agree with the President's view below that while some of his opponents are motivated by race, the bigger issue for most is the role of government. I also believe, and suspect the President agrees though he didn't say, that the GOP is nonetheless trying to capitalize on the racist fear--no matter how large or small--that's out there.
From the NY Times:
President Obama said Friday that he did not believe his race was the cause of fierce criticism aimed at his administration in the contentious national debate over health care, but rather that the cause was a sense of suspicion and distrust many Americans have in their government.
“Are there people out there who don’t like me because of race? I’m sure there are,” Mr. Obama told CNN. “That’s not the overriding issue here.”
In five separate television interviews at the White House, Mr. Obama said he did not agree with former President Jimmy Carter’s assertion that racism was fueling the opposition to his administration. He described himself as just the latest in a line of presidents whose motives had been questioned because they were trying to enact major change.
Mr. Obama will appear on five Sunday talk shows — an unprecedented step for a president — to promote his health care plan. The television networks broadcast brief parts of their interviews on Friday evening, all of which focused on a question the White House has sought to avoid all week: Has race played a role in the debate?
Mr. Obama, the nation’s first black president, said “race is such a volatile issue in this society” that he conceded it had become difficult for people to tell whether it was simply a backdrop of the current political discussion or “a predominant factor.”
“Now there are some who are, setting aside the issue of race, actually I think are more passionate about the idea of whether government can do anything right,” he told ABC News. “And I think that that’s probably the biggest driver of some of the vitriol.” ...
He conceded that many people were skeptical of the health care legislation making its way through Congress ... But even as the White House sought to push it aside, the issue of race persisted through the week, with some critics saying it was the reason a Republican lawmaker was disrespectful to the president last week, calling him a liar as Mr. Obama addressed a joint session of Congress. The television interviews on Friday were the first time Mr. Obama had weighed in.
“Look, I said during the campaign there’s some people who still think through a prism of race when it comes to evaluating me and my candidacy. Absolutely,” Mr. Obama told NBC News. “Sometimes they vote for me for that reason; sometimes they vote against me for that reason.”
But he said that the matter was really “an argument that’s gone on for the history of this republic. And that is, what’s the right role of government?”
The president said the contentious health care debate, which came on the heels of extraordinary government involvement in bailing out banks and automobile companies, had led to a broader discussion about the role of government in society.
“I think that what’s driving passions right now is that health care has become a proxy for a broader set of issues about how much government should be involved in our economy,” Mr. Obama told CBS News. “Even though we’re having a passionate disagreement here, we can be civil to each other, and we can try to express ourselves acknowledging that we’re all patriots, we’re all Americans and not assume the absolute worst in people’s motives.”
The president used the media blitz to add his own commentary about the news media.
He said he blamed cable television and blogs, which he said “focus on the most extreme element on both sides,” for much of the inflamed rhetoric.
“The easiest way to get 15 minutes of fame,” Mr. Obama said, “is to be rude to someone.”
This guy does a great job discrediting himself and his "movement" as he spews hate out of both sides of his mouth at once. And David Gergen's face while he speaks is priceless ...
The Wash Post's report:
Former president Jimmy Carter told NBC's Brian Williams in an interview Tuesday that he believes race is at the core of much of the opposition to President Obama.
"I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African American," Carter said. "I live in the South, and I've seen the South come a long way, and I've seen the rest of the country that shared the South's attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans"
Continued Carter, who is famously from Georgia: "And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It's an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply." ...
The 39th president also predicted that Obama will be able to "triumph over the racist attitude that is the basis for the negative environment that we see so vividly demonstrated in public affairs in recent days."
From the Wash Post:
Facing a near-daily barrage of attacks from conservative opponents, White House officials are engaged in an internal debate over how hard to hit back, even as they have grown increasingly aggressive in countering allegations they deem to be absurd.
After brushing aside criticism during the presidential campaign that they tried to keep candidate Barack Obama too far above the fray -- and with memories of the abundance of media coverage during the Clinton years -- administration officials are accelerating their efforts to anticipate and respond to the most sharp-edged charges.
The White House officials are eager to avoid the perception that the president is directly engaging critics who appear to speak only for a vocal minority, and part of their strategy involves pushing material to liberal and progressive media outlets to steer the coverage in their direction, senior advisers said.
When critics lashed out at President Obama for scheduling a speech to public school students this month, accusing him of wanting to indoctrinate children to his politics, his advisers quickly scrubbed his planned comments for potentially problematic wording. They then reached out to progressive Web sites such as the Huffington Post, liberal bloggers and Democratic pundits to make their case to a friendly audience.
The controversy escalated, but by the time it was over, White House advisers thought they had emerged with the upper hand. The speech, they said, was the most-viewed live video on any government Web site in history, and they were pleased with the media coverage of the event.
In private, Obama has developed what his advisers say is becoming a familiar response to new allegations, rolling his eyes in disbelief and asking how his staff plans to counter them. Several senior advisers said in interviews that they are more focused on getting legislation passed than trying to manage the "right-wing noise machine," convinced that voters will react most positively to measurable improvements in their lives.
But at a tactical level, administration officials are taking seriously the potential for damage and are attempting to respond forcefully.
A very astute observation from a Daily Dish reader:
It's really much less complicated, and the answer is tucked neatly in the phrase, "I want my country back." What that means is, the country that recognizes me and people like me as the cultural core of the nation, deserving of disproportionate influence and income. Race is the dominant theme -- but running through the same current are appeals to religion and cultural values, including education, or lack of it. While it might seem radical, even crazy, that a certain segment of the population strongly devalues education and educated people, it's part of the American experience. That's why many hyper well-educated elected officials, including presidents, try to pretend that they are "just folks."
From Maureen Dowd:
The normally nonchalant Barack Obama looked nonplussed, as Nancy Pelosi glowered behind.
Surrounded by middle-aged white guys — a sepia snapshot of the days when such pols ran Washington like their own men’s club — Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” at a president who didn’t.
But, fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!
The outburst was unexpected from a milquetoast Republican backbencher from South Carolina who had attracted little media attention. Now it has made him an overnight right-wing hero, inspiring “You lie!” bumper stickers and T-shirts.
The congressman, we learned, belonged to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, led a 2000 campaign to keep the Confederate flag waving above South Carolina’s state Capitol and denounced as a “smear” the true claim of a black woman that she was the daughter of Strom Thurmond, the ’48 segregationist candidate for president. Wilson clearly did not like being lectured and even rebuked by the brainy black president presiding over the majestic chamber.
I’ve been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer — the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids — had much to do with race.
I tended to agree with some Obama advisers that Democratic presidents typically have provoked a frothing response from paranoids — from Father Coughlin against F.D.R. to Joe McCarthy against Truman to the John Birchers against J.F.K. and the vast right-wing conspiracy against Bill Clinton.
But Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president — no Democrat ever shouted “liar” at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq — convinced me: Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.
“A lot of these outbursts have to do with delegitimizing him as a president,” said Congressman Jim Clyburn, a senior member of the South Carolina delegation. Clyburn, the man who called out Bill Clinton on his racially tinged attacks on Obama in the primary, pushed Pelosi to pursue a formal resolution chastising Wilson.
“In South Carolina politics, I learned that the olive branch works very seldom,” he said. “You have to come at these things from a position of strength. My father used to say, ‘Son, always remember that silence gives consent.’ ”
Barry Obama of the post-’60s Hawaiian ’hood did not live through the major racial struggles in American history. Maybe he had a problem relating to his white basketball coach or catching a cab in New York, but he never got beaten up for being black.
Now he’s at the center of a period of racial turbulence sparked by his ascension. Even if he and the coterie of white male advisers around him don’t choose to openly acknowledge it, this president is the ultimate civil rights figure — a black man whose legitimacy is constantly challenged by a loco fringe.
For two centuries, the South has feared a takeover by blacks or the feds. In Obama, they have both.
Luckily, so far they've been as successful as a pulled over drunk trying to walk the police's sobriety line. Here's the Wash Post on why the extreme right wingers are going to make it very hard for them to sober up:
With tens of thousands of conservative protesters expected to gather in Washington on Saturday for a "Taxpayer March on D.C.," Republican officials are attempting to capitalize on a movement that lately has galvanized anti-Obama activists more effectively than the party's elected leaders in Washington.
Searching for ways to compete with Democrats after two consecutive electoral drubbings, Republicans have moved past earlier uncertainty about the protesters, who organized nationwide rallies this summer that have threatened Democratic health-care plans and eroded President Obama's standing with the public.
Several key Republican lawmakers, including House GOP Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana, have helped to drum up support for the march and are slated to deliver speeches to the crowd.
But top Republican strategists and many party observers also worry about the impact that the most extreme protesters might have on the party's image, including those who carry swastika signs or obsess over the veracity of Obama's Hawaiian birth.
Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and other Republicans, said there is an "opportunity for Republicans" to tap into legitimate fears about an overreaching federal government. But he said that "right-wing nutballs are aligning themselves with these movements" and are dominating media coverage.
"It's bad for Republicans because in the absence of any real leadership, the freaks fill the void and define the party," McKinnon said ...
Thanks to A Blue View Robert for forwarding this to me:
Ah, John Boehner couldn't wait a day before retailing a whopper about the President's health care plan:Actually, no. The employees will be forced into health care exchanges, where the public option would--if it passes, and probably won't--be one of several choices they would have. One can only assume that Boehner knows that he's lying here.
“The President also said that nothing will require you to change your plan. But as we all know, according to CBO and others, millions of Americans could be forced out of their plan. And so it may not require you to change your plan, but if you look at the employer mandate and what it means on employers, it's clear that some number of employers are going to drop their plan, pay their eight percent tax, and their employees will be forced into the government option.
From Dana Millbank:
As President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night, the nation's rapidly deteriorating discourse hit yet another low.It happened at 8:40 pm, just after the president vowed to lawmakers that his health-care reform proposals would not provide benefits to illegal immigrants. As millions of Americans watched from home, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) shouted at the president from his fifth-row seat: "You lie!"
Murmurs of "ooh" filled the stunned chamber. Nancy Pelosi's chin dropped. Obama moved on to the next sentence in his speech, about how no federal money would be used to fund abortion. "Not true!" came another shout.
The irony was that Obama had used his speech to offer a significant concession to Republicans and to break with liberals in his own party. There was a cool silence in the chamber as the president told "my progressive friends" that the "public option" they treasure as part of health-care reform could be sacrificed in favor of other ideas ...
While the majority of both parties' lawmakers behaved as adults, the insolence by House Republicans stole the show. There was derisive laughter on that side of the chamber when Obama noted that "there remain some significant details to be ironed out." They applauded as he spoke of "all the misinformation that's been spread over the past few months." They laughed again when he said that "many Americans have grown nervous about reform."
When Obama addressed the charge that he plans "panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens," someone on the GOP side shouted out "shame!" The president went on: "Such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical." "Read the bill!" someone shouted back. Obama mentioned those who accuse him of a government takeover of health care. "It's true," someone shouted back.
The national debate, already raw for years, had coarsened over the summer as town hall meetings across the country dissolved into protests about "death panels" and granny-killing. Guns were brought to Obama appearances. A pastor in Arizona said he was praying for Obama to die.
But even by that standard, there was something appalling about the display on the House floor for what was supposed to be a sacred ritual of American democracy: the nation watching while Cabinet members, lawmakers from both chambers and the diplomatic corps assembled.
Wilson was only the most flagrant. There was booing from House Republicans when the president caricatured a conservative argument by saying they would "leave individuals to buy health insurance on their own." They hissed when he protested their "scare tactics." They grumbled as they do in Britain's House of Commons when Obama spoke of the "blizzard of charges and countercharges."
I guess it is understandable why there have been so many political cartoons drawn over the right-wing's, one-asinine-attack-too-far charges (more, in so short a time, than on any subject since I started daily blogging 17 months ago) ... they are so far beyond the pale, they caricature themselves (see more):
President Obama's planned Sept. 8 speech to the nation's students has sparked what I'd call an automated controversy. The controversy isn't that Obama has announced something controversial, but rather than he's announced something. Full stop. He would like to speak to children about "the need to work hard and stay in school," according the AP, and conservatives are screaming as though playing the tape backward will unveil the subliminal message "Capitalism is deeeaaddd" or "Organize your communityyyy" or something. I'm sorry, I've recently pledged to avoid offering caricatures of the opposition, but this time I'm really struggling to find an opposition that doesn't caricature itself ...conservatives jumping on the speech like parents on a back-to-school sale are giving the nation a bad lesson in both manners and intelligence.
Joe Scarborough, David Frum and John Podhoretz are speaking out against the proposed Republican school boycott next week. I've disagreed, vehemently, with Podhoretz and the neocons at Commentary in the past, but I will say this: they come to their beliefs honestly. They think hard about the positions they take, deal in some version of the facts--although I find their conclusions dangerous and wrong--and therefore live on the same planet I do. It is extremely important they speak out now, lest this country head toward a spasm of violence that will make pink-biting seem a walk in the park.
John Podhertz (a conservative)
This is madness, and it is madness being indulged in by some Republican political types for whom the traditional dunce cap might be appropriate attire ... Obama won the presidency fair and square, he is the president, and if he wants to speak to schoolkids, he can speak to schoolkids. Getting to do things like that is one of the side benefits of receiving nearly 70 million votes. If, in his speech, he tells kids to do their homework and listen to their teachers, he will be doing something good, especially for African-American kids, who are, all sources and studies report, desperately in need of hearing that performing well in school isn’t some kind of betrayal of their race.
If he does use the speech to do some politicking on his agenda, there’s going to be trouble in the schoolhouse. As the nation learned in June and July, it turns out there are few things more boring than listening to Barack Obama discuss health care; school-age children by the millions will be shifting in their seats, rolling their eyes, and beginning to think seditious thoughts if they are forced to sit through such a thing.
A Daily Dish reader provides an "on-the-ground" view:
You say you are ignoring the furor over Obama's school talk "because it is a fake story".
It is all too real and scary.
I teach in a midwestern, upper-middle class suburban school. Before I was even aware that Obama had announced this speech my principal sent the entire staff an e-mail that in essence said if you plan on airing the speech you are to contact him first and also contact the parents. Since when do I have to contact parents for airing a presidential address? <Continue reading.>
This story about some right-wing parents objecting to their kids listening to a nonpartisan speech from the President of the U.S. is jaw dropping in 3 respects:
President Obama’s plan to deliver a speech to public school students on Tuesday has set off a revolt among conservative parents, who have accused the president of trying to indoctrinate their children with socialist ideas and are asking school officials to excuse the children from listening.
The uproar over the speech, in which Mr. Obama intends to urge students to work hard and stay in school, has been particularly acute in Texas, where several major school districts, under pressure from parents, have laid plans to let children opt out of lending the president an ear.
Some parents said they were concerned because the speech had not been screened for political content. Nor, they said, had it been reviewed by the State Board of Education and local school boards, which, under state law, must approve the curriculum.
“The thing that concerned me most about it was it seemed like a direct channel from the president of the United States into the classroom, to my child,” said Brett Curtiss, an engineer from Pearland, Tex., who said he would keep his three children home.
“I don’t want our schools turned over to some socialist movement.”
The White House has said the speech will emphasize the importance of education and hard work in school, both to the individual and to the nation. The message is not partisan, nor compulsory, officials said.
“This isn’t a policy speech,” said Sandra Abrevaya, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education. “It’s designed to encourage kids to stay in school. The choice on whether to show the speech to students is entirely in the hands of each school. This is absolutely voluntary.”
Mr. Obama’s speech was announced weeks ago, but the furor among conservatives reached a fever pitch Wednesday morning as right-wing Web sites and talk show hosts began inveighing against it.
Mark Steyn, a Canadian author and political commentator, speaking on the Rush Limbaugh show on Wednesday, accused Mr. Obama of trying to create a cult of personality, comparing him to Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader.
The Republican Party chairman in Florida, Jim Greer, said he “was appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology.”
It's interesting how editing can so control the impression a video can make. Remember that woman who asked Barney Frank about Obama being like Hitler? Well if you watch the well known clip from CNN, Barney might seem a little testy or bold or confrontational (take your pick) in his response. Well it turns out, the woman is not an isolated individual acting on her own, she's part of famous nut job & conspiracy theorist Lyndon LaRouche's movement, which this differently edited clip makes clear.
All of a sudden, Frank's on what planet do you spend most of your time on response no longer seems so out there. In fact, it seems mainstream. Here's more from the The Lede:
... As the much-watched video of the exchange embedded above shows, when the woman claimed that President Barack Obama supported “a Nazi policy” endorsing euthanasia, Mr. Frank asked her simply, “On what planet do you spend most of your time?”
Somewhat obscured by the laughter following that punch line was the answer to his question: the woman makes no secret of the fact that she spends most or all of her time on the planet where Lyndon LaRouche is a major political figure.
As Garance Franke-Ruta and Sarah Lovenheim reported for The Washington Post last week, Mr. LaRouche’s political action committee quickly issued a statement identifying the woman as “Rachel Brown of the LaRouche Youth Movement” and confirming that, “yes, Ms. Brown is with the LaRouche PAC.”
The fact that supporters of Mr. LaRouche’s conspiracy theories, who have long been a staple of political events in the United States, have somehow managed to use the health care debate to make their way on to national and international television is one of the stranger developments of the summer. So, too, is the fact that Mr. LaRouche’s idea that legislation in Congress contains provisions for “death panels” has made its way from the fringe to the center of the discussion.
For those unfamiliar with the range of his thinking, Mr. LaRouche also claims that the Queen of England “personally runs the military and intelligence services” of the United Kingdom, and recently suggested that “top circles in London, who are furious at President Barack Obama for flubbing the British demands to impose fascism on the United States,” may soon “attempt to assassinate the President.”
No one is more put out by the fact that Mr. LaRouche has received no credit for introducing Nazis into the health care debate than Mr. LaRouche himself. In a news release this month, his political action committee wrote, “Lyndon LaRouche and the LaRouchePAC are the source of the campaign to expose the Obama ‘health care’ policy as modeled on that of Hitler in 1939.”
Luckily for Mr. LaRouche, The Anti-Defamation League has a new report that gives credit where credit appears to be due. The A.D.L.’s report begins:
Rachel Maddow proves Howard Kurtz's point (Death Panels "a stunning illustration of the traditional media's impotence") by replaying this excellent Daily Show clip:
And here's more of their raw footage:
This interesting Wash Post column was forwarded by Ross, A Blue View reader:
When Britain's National Health Service (NHS) was created in 1948, its founder, the charismatic politician Aneurin Bevan, observed that it was "in place of fear." More than 60 years later, it is fear that dominates the discussion of the NHS in the U.S. debate about health-care reform.
The myth-making ranges from the misleading to the mendacious to the downright ludicrous. Bizarre allegations of "death panels" denying care to the elderly, doctors unable to make medical decisions and "socialized medicine" fill newspapers, airwaves and the blogosphere. These are, without exception, categorically untrue. When it comes to claims about the health of professor Stephen Hawking, not only have the arguments been distasteful, but those proposing them have been proved embarrassingly wrong.Here are a few things Americans should know about the NHS ... <Continue reading.>
Barack Obama, writing about health reform in a NY Times Op-Ed (Do you also hear the echo of the Gettysburg Address at the beginning?):
OUR nation is now engaged in a great debate about the future of health care in America. And over the past few weeks, much of the media attention has been focused on the loudest voices. What we haven’t heard are the voices of the millions upon millions of Americans who quietly struggle every day with a system that often works better for the health-insurance companies than it does for them ...
There are four main ways the reform we’re proposing will provide more stability and security to every American ... This is what reform is about. If you don’t have health insurance, you will finally have quality, affordable options once we pass reform. If you have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat gets between you and the care you need. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. You will not be waiting in any lines. This is not about putting the government in charge of your health insurance. I don’t believe anyone should be in charge of your health care decisions but you and your doctor — not government bureaucrats, not insurance companies.The long and vigorous debate about health care that’s been taking place over the past few months is a good thing. It’s what America’s all about.
But let’s make sure that we talk with one another, and not over one another. We are bound to disagree, but let’s disagree over issues that are real, and not wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that anyone has actually proposed. This is a complicated and critical issue, and it deserves a serious debate.Despite what we’ve seen on television, I believe that serious debate is taking place at kitchen tables all across America. In the past few years, I’ve received countless letters and questions about health care. Some people are in favor of reform, and others have concerns. But almost everyone understands that something must be done. Almost everyone knows that we must start holding insurance companies accountable and give Americans a greater sense of stability and security when it comes to their health care ...
In the end, this isn’t about politics. This is about people’s lives and livelihoods. This is about people’s businesses. This is about America’s future, and whether we will be able to look back years from now and say that this was the moment when we made the changes we needed, and gave our children a better life. I believe we can, and I believe we will.
From the NY Times:
The stubborn yet false rumor that President Obama’s health care proposals would create government-sponsored “death panels” to decide which patients were worthy of living seemed to arise from nowhere in recent weeks.
Advanced even this week by Republican stalwarts including the party’s last vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, and Charles E. Grassley, the veteran Iowa senator [see Key Republican Senator On Health Reform Demagogues Death Panels], the nature of the assertion nonetheless seemed reminiscent of the modern-day viral Internet campaigns that dogged Mr. Obama last year, falsely calling him a Muslim and questioning his nationality.
But the rumor — which has come up at Congressional town-hall-style meetings this week in spite of an avalanche of reports laying out why it was false — was not born of anonymous e-mailers, partisan bloggers or stealthy cyberconspiracy theorists.
Rather, it has a far more mainstream provenance, openly emanating months ago from many of the same pundits and conservative media outlets that were central in defeating President Bill Clinton’s health care proposals 16 years ago, including the editorial board of The Washington Times, the American Spectator magazine and Betsy McCaughey, whose 1994 health care critique made her a star of the conservative movement (and ultimately, New York’s lieutenant governor).
There is nothing in any of the legislative proposals that would call for the creation of death panels or any other governmental body that would cut off care for the critically ill as a cost-cutting measure. But over the course of the past few months, early, stated fears from anti-abortion conservatives that Mr. Obama would pursue a pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia agenda, combined with twisted accounts of actual legislative proposals that would provide financing for optional consultations with doctors about hospice care and other “end of life” services, fed the rumor to the point where it overcame the debate.
On Thursday, Mr. Grassley said in a statement that he and others in the small group of senators that was trying to negotiate a health care plan had dropped any “end of life” proposals from consideration ...
The extent to which it and other provisions have been misinterpreted in recent days, notably by angry speakers at recent town hall meetings but also by Ms. Palin — who popularized the “death panel” phrase — has surprised longtime advocates of changes to the health care system.
“I guess what surprised me is the ferocity, it’s much stronger than I expected,” said John Rother, the executive vice president of AARP, which is supportive of the health care proposals and has repeatedly declared the “death panel” rumors false. “It’s people who are ideologically opposed to Mr. Obama, and this is the opportunity to weaken the president.”
Amy Sullivan makes a great catch:
You would think that if Republicans wanted to totally mischaracterize a health care provision and demagogue it like nobody's business, they would at least pick something that the vast majority of them hadn't already voted for just a few years earlier. Because that's not just shameless, it's stupid.
Yes, that's right. Remember the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill, the one that passed with the votes of 204 GOP House members and 42 GOP Senators? Anyone want to guess what it provided funding for? Did you say counseling for end-of-life issues and care? Ding ding ding!!Let's go to the bill text, shall we? <Continue reading.>