IN FOR THE KILL
Two New York Times articles make it clear that protest organizers have tapped into a riptide of anger which could kill any efforts at healthcare reform.
I offer a brief synopsis of each, followed by a link to the full article. We must know what we’re up against, and these two articles are essential to that knowledge.
SAME OLD, SAME OLD
A lie is being spread by Republican leaders and at town hall meetings across the country.
The false “death panel” rumor – that government under healthcare reform will decide who will live and who will die – was not born, according to this Times article, “of anonymous e-mailers, partisan bloggers or stealthy cyberconspiracy theorists.”
This Big Lie has a “mainstream provenance,” according to the article. Turns out it came from the same conservative pundits and media who helped defeat President Clinton’s healthcare plan 16 years ago.
AARP Executive Vice President John Rother told the Times, “It’s people who are ideologically opposed to Mr. Obama, and this is the opportunity to weaken the president.” The AARP supports the healthcare proposals and has “repeatedly denied the ‘death panel’ claims.”
After all that I’ve read on this issue and all the right-wing comments I’ve seen on blogs, I am not easily shocked. But, the article’s quotes from conservative media shock me. A Washington Times editorial compares healthcare reform with Nazi Germany and tells me that President Obama wants to kill me, my son and my buddy Chris. Would I lie?
“False ‘Death Panel’ Rumor Has Some Familiar Roots,” Jim Rutenbrg and Jackie Calmes, New York Times, 14 August 2009: LINK
‘ROOTS OF RAGE’
On Tuesday morning, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) made every effort to keep his Lebanon town hall meeting civilized – to no avail.
Anti-Obama (yes, that’s what they are) protesters got there at dawn and, being first in line, got into the meeting while supporters of healthcare reform weren’t admitted.
Interviewing many of the protesters, NYT reporters found them motivated by “underlying dissent.”
“Many said the Obama administration’s plans for a new health care system were just another example of a federal government that had again gone too far, just as it had, they said, with the economic stimulus, the auto industry bailout and the cap-and-trade program.”
Many are angry about “abortion, euthanasia, coverage of immigrants, privacy” – fears born of lies circulating about reform legislation.
“This is about the dismantling of this country,” one woman told Specter. “We don’t want this country to turn into Russia.”
Overall, the article shows how civil discourse on healthcare issues was disrupted by people who apparently have no idea about the legislation’s content.
Nor did they learn. They didn’t come to learn.
“Senator Goes Face to Face With Dissent,” Ian Urbina and Katharine Q. Seelye, 12 August 2009: LINK
IMHO, the greatest enemy of this country is ignorance. I’ve quoted Walt Kelly’s “Pogo” many times before, but today Mr. Kelly’s prescience seems more timely than ever:
“We have met the enemy, and he is us."