Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Rhetoric Over ObamaCare

The rhetoric with regard to the town hall protests and the opposition to ObamaCare has intensified to incredible levels over the past couple of weeks on both sides of the issue.

Protesters have been called everything from an angry mob to Nazis; yesterday Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer called them "Un-American." Incredible.

Sarah Palin was bashed when she referred to "death panels" in the bill. Maybe her terminology was lacking - the House bill doesn't actually SAY death panels, but what Mrs. Palin was referring to was likely the government bureaucracy that is going to deliever cost-effective health care protocols to your doctor regarding your care as a byproduct of your records that are entered into that centralized system set up by the Stimulus bill. That much IS in the House bill.

Palin wrote: "And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. 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."

I'd agree that her concerns are a bit hyperbolic, but they aren't all that far off base. Again, nobody calls it a "death panel," but the rationing of health care is certainly a reality that will have to be faced should the bill be passed in anything close to its current form. There is no other way to pay for it all. Taxing the rich certainly won't do it.

Politco has a piece today that takes a look at the inflamatory rhetoric we've seen lately. Roger Simon calls it an "age of rabid response." He condemns Palin, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh for their responses to ObamaCare and quotes Limbaugh's comparison of Obama's health care logo to a Nazi swastika. (It IS similar - not just the logo but the entire graphic has unfortunate similarities).

Nancy Pelosi is in the thick of this as she was one of the first ones to say that town hall protesters were carrying swastikas and hanging likenesses of Democratic Congressmen in effigy. I didn't hear any condemnation from her when Sarah Palin was hung in effigy, but I guess that was different. I haven't seen any swastikas at these town hall protests either, but I'm sure there have been one or two. You'd have to watch a lot of YouTube videos of them to find very many.

I honestly don't think these Nazi comparisons are productive at all. I get where they are coming from: ObamaCare is clearly a socialist policy. Nationalized health care IS socialism. Period. Oh, he SAYS that's not what he's trying to do, but of course it is. The evidence is everywhere and has been since before the campaign. Of course, now we have lapdog MSNBC putting race into the argument by claiming that "socialism" could be the next "N-word." The inflamatory rhetoric on both sides is unproductive.

Obama himself contributed to this dialogue with his "get out of the way" and "don't do a lot of talkin'" comments. Everyone is entitled to express their concerns. He would do well to remember that.

Now that Obama is set this week to hold some of his own "town halls" (his are more staged than most), he's decided that it's okay to have dissent. He's gone from sit-down-and-shut-up to this:

"I think there's actually a pretty long tradition of people shouting at politicians in America," White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton told reporters on Air Force One when asked about the comments.

"The President thinks that if people want to come and have a spirited debate about health care, a real vigorous conversation about it, that's a part of the American tradition and he encourages that, because people do have questions and concerns ...And so if people want to come and have their concerns and their questions answered, the President thinks that's important. Now, if you just want to come to a town hall so that you can disrupt and so that you can scream over another person, he doesn’t think that that's productive. And as a country, we've been able to make progress when people actually talk out what our problems are, not try to shout each other down."

Meanwhile, the SEIU is still recruiting members to stuff local town hall meetings and drown out opposing voices.

In the end, the rhetoric escalates, and some Congressmen are either cancelling town halls, or not scheduling them at all, or phoning them in. None of this is productive to the process. I'd also say that it's a fight too important to back down from altogether. If ObamaCare passes, it changes EVERYthing about our country; it enables to government to have way too much control over every single aspect of our lives. This is why passions are so high. I'd suggest losing all the Nazi references; I just don't think they inform the issue.

But don't back down. Don't stop talking. And don't get out of the way.

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