Palin "Wins", Or, The Power Of Misinformation On Health Care Reform

The Dark Ex-Governor and her death eaters have won a minor victory: the Senate Finance Committee is willing to strike the "end of life" counseling benefit from the bill. America, we have got to stop falling for the okey-doke.

The worst thing is that ultimately, people will suffer because of what comes down to playing politics. People trying to score on the other team. It's not just a nightmare - it's a miscarriage of government.

The facts look even worse when closely examined. Point one - large chunks of the American populace fell for a rehashed talking point from the 90s:

[T]he 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). [...]

"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."

Point two, the "Obama death panels" idea was in circulation before the proposals were even drafted by Congress:

The specter of government-sponsored, forced euthanasia was raised as early as Nov. 23, just weeks after the election and long before any legislation had been drafted, by an outlet decidedly opposed to Mr. Obama, The Washington Times.

In an editorial, the newspaper reminded its readers of the Aktion T4 program of Nazi Germany in which "children and adults with disabilities, and anyone anywhere in the Third Reich was subject to execution who was blind, deaf, senile, retarded, or had any significant neurological condition."

Noting the "administrative predilections" of the new team at the White House, it urged "anyone who sees the current climate as a budding T4 program to win the hearts and minds of deniers."

And point three, saddest of all - end of life care is something members of the GOP already voted in favor of in 2003:

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!! [...]

So either Republicans were for death panels in 2003 before turning against them now—or they're lying about end-of-life counseling in order to frighten the bejeezus out of their fellow citizens and defeat health reform by any means necessary. Which is it, Mr. Grassley ("Yea," 2003)?

I have been known to say I hate politics, and only follow them for the sake of social justice. This situation beautifully illustrates why.

Facts and reason lost to talking points and scare tactics.

Intentional hypocrisy is heavily encouraged.

And in the resulting carnage of these political games of capture-the-flag, people suffer.

We're just political collateral damage.

Finance Committee Caving To Palin's Complaints? [The Atlantic]
False ‘Death Panel' Rumor Has Some Familiar Roots [NY Times]
Oh, Those Death Panels [Swampland]