According to a new poll, a majority of Republicans either believe in or aren't sure about whether Obama's health plan will create "death panels." Maybe because their leaders are unrepentant demagogues who cheerfully stoke their fears.
The poll asked the following,
Do you think the health care reform plan being considered by President Obama and Congress creates "death panels" which have the authority to subjectively determine whether or not a gravely ill or injured person should receive health care based on their "level of productivity in society"?
43% don't believe this, which we guess is encouraging. But 26% do (interestingly, about the same percentage who believe Obama isn't a real American citizen). And 31% aren't sure, meaning a majority — 57% — of Republicans can't say for sure whether our President plans to hold their parents and children up to Nazi-style productivity standards before allowing them to waste away. Of course, what we have now is a system where the sick and injured often can't get coverage, but those who deal in "death panel" fear-mongering don't have much regard for the facts, or for people who can't afford health insurance. In today's Washington Post, Richard Cohen compares Sarah Palin, major proponent of "death panel" lunacy, with Sen. Joseph McCarthy. "With Palin," he writes, "the subject is health care, which in many ways is the Red Menace of our day and lends itself to a kind of political pornography." He continues,
The most depressing aspects of McCarthy's career were not just the excesses of the man himself but the refusal of others — mainly his fellow Republicans — to either rein him in or defend his victims. Now we are seeing something similar with Palin. Say what you will about any of the health-care proposals, not one of them suggests a "death panel" empowered to withhold medical services from the aged or those with disabilities. [...] Yet, you can beat the bushes to a fine powder and find only two Republicans of note — Sens. Johnny Isakson and Lisa Murkowski — who had the courage or the decency to tell Palin that she doesn't know what she's talking about. Certainly, this was not the case with Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, who in fact virtually seconded Palin's charge. This is not just because Gingrich himself can be casual with the facts but also because his urge to be politically expedient often overwhelms his convictions.
Cohen calls out not just Gingrich, but also Sens. Charles Grassley and John McCain, both of whom have failed to challenge her obviously false rhetoric. It may be true that, as Cohen says, Palin "rarely knows her facts" — but not every Republican in Congress is so blind to basic truth, and their failure to criticize her ridiculous assertions likely has more to do with what is "politically expedient" than with what is right. Sadly, Palin and her ilk have been successful, killing not only harmless and optional end-of-life counseling, but now the public option as well.
Despite his influence over the culture of 1950s America, Sen. McCarthy's "career was mercifully short," reminds Cohen. Perhaps the same will be true of Palin, whose approval rating has dropped from 57% when she joined the McCain campaign to 39% now. Unfortunately, crazy abhors a vacuum, and there will be more to rush in and fill her place. Like Michele Bachmann (pictured, right behind Palin), who previously informed us of liberal "reeducation camps" for young people and internment camps based on US Census data. In a disturbing McCarthyite parallel, she also called for a media investigation into anti-Americanism in Congress, and she shares enough awesome traits with our favorite lipsticked pit bull that one Minnesota State Senator called Palin "Alaska's Michele Bachmann." Bachmann says she'll run for President — if God tells her to. Specifically, she says,
If I felt that's what the Lord was calling me to do, I would do it. When I have sensed that the Lord is calling me to do something, I've said yes to it. But I will not seek a higher office if God is not calling me to do it. That's really my standard.
If I am called to serve in that realm I would serve but if I am not called, I wouldn't do it.
Apparently the Lord has repeatedly called her to mislead her constituents with baseless accusations against the government. Let's hope He keeps quiet about the Presidency.
Michele Bachmann: Many Are Called, Few Are Chosen [La Figa]
Palin's Red Menace [Washington Post]
Exclusive: New Poll Finds Majority Of Republicans Either Believes Or Isn't Sure About "Death Panel" Claim [The Plum Line]
This Is Reform? [NYT]
Bachmann Election Challenger: Sarah Palin Was Alaska's Michele Bachmann [Huffington Post]
Birthers And Deathers — The Same People? [Talking Points Memo]