Monday, August 10, 2009

Dumb-and Founded

The animadversions leveled at the critics of ObamaCare have taken on the characteristics of a choral arrangement; melodiousness, however, has not been the chorus's most obvious feature. How could it be, when a shrill old bitty like Eleanor Clift gets to sing solo: "When Republican rallies began to get out of hand during the presidential race last year, responsible voices spoke up, including John McCain, whose running mate was egging on the fringe right. The grievances then centered on Barack Obama "palling around with terrorists" and wanting to tax poor Joe the Plumber. Now the conservative faithful are claiming that our president will heartlessly euthanize your grandmother, tax you up the kazoo, and take away your choice of doctor. And this time there are no responsible Republican voices calling for a halt to the mob tactics disrupting Democratic town meetings around the country."

Deconstruction please. Clift is saying that it was good old "responsible" John McCain who tamped down the apparently, at least in the jaundiced view of Clift, "irresponsible" voices claiming that Obama wanted to tax, "poor Joe the Plumber." Well, if true, how well did that go for the moderate Mr. McCain? And, given the mounting and irrefutable evidence of Obama's expansive governing philosophy, let's hear three cheers for the portentous power of irresponsibility-at least when it comes to expecting the worst from Mr. Obama.

But, let's back up for a second. If Cliff is bemoaning the irresponsibility of those who warned that Obama was a redistribute-the-wealth kind of guy, and he turned out to be exactly that, then perhaps we'd be wise to listen more closely to the hooligans after all; and particularly in the matter of grandma's euthanasia.

The fear mongering over the end of life care issue (Section 1233) embedded in the 1000+ pages of the House's health care bill isn't something, despite Clift's need to caricature the concerns, that is being made out of whole cloth-as the Washington Post's Charles Lane makes clear; and the fact that the discussion of this delicate subject is placed in the cost cutting section should make even the Cliffs of the world skeptical: "Section 1233, however, addresses compassionate goals in disconcerting proximity to fiscal ones. Supporters protest that they're just trying to facilitate choice -- even if patients opt for expensive life-prolonging care. I think they protest too much: If it's all about obviating suffering, emotional or physical, what's it doing in a measure to "bend the curve" on health-care costs?"

You see, what Obama has achieved-and has done so with an alacrity that has even surprised his fiercest critics-is a widespread loss of good will. Without this, there are less and less folks around willing to suspend their disbelief when it comes to believing in the salutary effects of the president's policies. Health care-something that most folks know a great deal about since it concerns such an essential, and intimate, part of their lives-has created a tipping point; and the questions pertaining to the cost and quality of care has transformed the popular mood from initial skepticism into high dudgeon. In this way, Obama has gotten his wish to be a transformative figure.

So Lane, as a good reporter should, takes a look at the bill-actually reads it-and finds that, well gosh, the rubes may be on to something. This is a smart thing to do; and Cliff, along with the other demonizers, would be wise to do the same. If they don't-and if they continue to see this all as part of an irrational uprising of the stupid racists-they will soon find themselves wondering how the important, necessary, well-meaning, compassionate, and long over due health care makeover died such an ignominious death.