Health Care Debate Debacle

August 15th, 2009

As I watch the continuing health care reform debate, I have to wonder if the nation has lost its collective mind.

Opponents behave in public in ways they would never tolerate from their teenaged children.  They’re often poorly informed but inflamed by talk radio extremists and well-orchestrated opposition campaigns that freely mix disinformation with valid concerns. 

The “death panels” conspiracy theory, promoted lately by Sarah Palin, is a good example of the distortion that pervades the debate.  This an ignoratio elenchi, a red herring argument that addresses an issue that doesn’t exist.  It would be serious if it were real, but it isn’t.  But guess what?  Maybe Palin won with her nonsense issue — Democrats are moving to remove the misconstrued provision from the bill, even though as written it’s a pretty sound idea.

Whatever their other reasons may be, it’s obvious that most opponents of current health care reform initiatives start from a base of opposition to President Obama.  They’re conservatives and libertarians, for the most part, and whatever Obama and the liberals want, these folks are against it.

Proponents, for their part, are no more impressive.  Every liberal Democrat who speaks on health care reform is for it, although it often isn’t clear which particular version he supports among the many bills floating around in Congress.  Few have read any of them, including HR 3200, the bill most likely to be brought to a vote in the House.  Sadly, this includes many members of Congress who will ultimately vote for one of the bills.

But that doesn’t matter.  Whatever their other reasons may be, they support President Obama.  They’re good liberals, and along with the President they firmly believe that more government control and enforced class uniformity is best for everyone.  Never mind that current health reform, like the energy cap-and-trade bill still in Congress, violates or leads to violations of virtually every campaign promise the President made in order to get elected.

And the mainstream media?  They’re firmly in the liberal and Democratic camp, for the most part.  Like the Democrats, they don’t remember the wild, hate-filled, sometimes violent opposition to President Bush.  Just a couple of years ago, the President and Republicans were regularly compared to Nazis, and talk of how great it would be if the President were assassinated was common on the left.  The press wasn’t particularly critical of that outrageous behavior, but now they faithfully report largely unfounded claims of Democratic leaders that their opponents are behaving in the same way.

So there you have it — it’s like global warming.  Conservatives and Republicans deny it, almost as a matter of faith.  Liberals and Democrats believe in it, literally as a matter of faith.  When you find support and opposition for an important public policy issue evenly divided along partisan lines, the best thing for an average citizen to do is hold tight to his wallet and duck-and-cover.

So what’s likely to come out of the debate debacle?  I agree with Peggy Noonan:

The big, complicated, obscure, abstruse, unsettling and ultimately unhelpful health-care plans, proposals and ideas keep rolling out of Washington. Five bills, thousands of pages, “as it says on page 346, paragraph 3, subsection D.” No one knows what will be passed, what will make its way through House-Senate “conference.” They don’t even know what the president wants, what his true agenda is. He never seems to be leveling, only talking. Everything’s open to misdirection and exaggeration, and everything, people fear, will come down to some future bureaucrat’s interpretation of paragraph 3, subsection D, part 22.

What a disaster this health-care debate is. It strains, stresses and pierces, it unnecessarily agitates and is doomed to be the cause of further agitation. Who doubts the final bill will be something between a pig in a poke and three-card Monte?

Which is too bad, because our health care system actually needs to be made better.

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5 Responses to “Health Care Debate Debacle”

  1. Brian Bagent |

    Government is not, as I am certain you are aware, a place for “faith.” Faith is a belief in something not demonstrated true, or something not provable. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that in private life, but it is a recipe for problems when practiced in government. It resulted in things like legalized slavery here, and a large-scale extermination of Jews and others in Europe in the 30s.

    The secular humanists on the left are fond of tut-tutting over the religious right “inflicting their morals” on the rest of us. I’d suggest that the secular humanists on the left need to quit being hypocrites and keep their morals out of my hip pocket.

  2. Clarissa |

    “Never mind that current health reform, like the energy cap-and-trade bill still in Congress, violates or leads to violations of virtually every campaign promise the President made in order to get elected”

    -Could you elaborate on that, Tom? I haven’t noticed any campaign promises being broken.

    “And the mainstream media? They’re firmly in the liberal and Democratic camp, for the most part.”

    -People keep saying that but I’ve been trying very hard to find a newspaper, a magazine, or a TV channel that would not be VERY conservative and I haven’t been able to do that. Everybody says that The NY Times is sooo liberal but as a progressive person I can hardly find an article in there that doesn’ make me fume. Where are these liberal media?

  3. Tom |

    Campaign promises — just off the top of my head: bills will be put on line for public viewing and comment for five days I think it was, but that hasn’t happened and won’t with health care; an end to partisanship, which certainly isn’t happening; an end to pork in legislation, but health care includes lots of goodies for favored Democratic constituencies and protection for some (e.g., trial lawyers); no tax increases on anyone making more than $250,000, which anyone can see isn’t possible with the spending Obama is promoting, including health care; reduce the cost of medical care, but even the CBO has said several times that the various health care reform proposals will increase costs; universal health care, based on somewhat false premises to begin with, will most likely not be realized; and, more generally, if this is “hope” and “change” then I think we can do without it. Whew! My fingers are cramping.

    If you don’t see liberal bias in most of the media, then nothing I can say will change your mind. On the NYT in particular, I read it most every day, and the bias goes beyond the op-ed pages (Krugman, Dowd, Rich, Friedman, Herbert, et al., some of whom I like reading) to their news reporting. It’s seems to me that the liberal bias couldn’t be more obvious. Beyond my personal opinion, all surveys of journalists and editors show them as overwhelmingly liberal, Democrats, Democratic voters, and supporters of standard liberal points of view.

    If you want to put in a little time on the subject, compare NYT coverage of a number of specific stories on political issues with that of The Washington Post. The difference is easy to see. (And note that I didn’t say The Washington Times, which really is conservative and which I read only rarely.)

  4. Brian Bagent |

    The last study I saw published, and I cannot even remember which one it was, showed that “journalists” vote democrat over 90% of the time.

    Other major dailies with a reliable history of a liberal bias:
    Houston Chronicle
    LA Times
    Chicago Sun/Times
    Atlanta Journal/Constitution
    San Francisco Chronicle

    If you cannot see the liberal bias in these fish wraps, you need to take your blinders off.

    My only access to news is local talk radio (and the internet, of course). They (the radio stations) are admittedly conservative, but they regularly take shots at GOP politicians.

    You can listen to Edd Hendee on AM 700 in Houston from 0600 to 0900 local. Also, he is the owner/operator of a local steak house called Taste of Texas. I’ve had lunch with him at his place, and he is a gentleman. I don’t always agree with him, but he doesn’t carry water for anybody.

    Michael Berry, on AM 740 KTRH takes the afternoon drive time. He is pre-empted by Astros games in the summer, so some days you can get him, some days not. Berry is a former Houston city councilman (the youngest ever elected in Houston, I believe).

    Both Hendee and Berry howled about Bush and Co policies. They were angry at Bush’s betrayal of conservatives and conservative policy.

  5. doris |

    OMG, Brian, how on earth can you even go there? Talk radio, including Hendee and Berry, are so conservative you couldn’t find a liberal bone in their pinkies. Yes, when Bush overwhelmingly ruined this great nation they finally said a few words against him, but before that they loved and worshiped at the Bush altar. All the people on 700 and 740 are total conservatives. Really, if Clarissa listens to them, her point is proven! You surprised me on that one, I also listen to them and love to argue out loud with them, as I am always interrested in the opposite opinion from mine. I listen to Rush and O’reilly, too, and please don’t say they are even remotely against anything Republican. Listen closer, Brian. I find a lot of news leaning toward the conservative side, as well, Clarissa. Plus, who took that survey, Brian, I assumed the way you vote, even for journalists, was confidential?

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