EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – SEPTEMBER 23, 2009
By Rich Trzupek
Even bad Presidents usually make good elder statesmen, once they move out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Yet, while James Earl Carter was a disaster as a President, and perhaps this should come as no surprise, his subsequent career as an egomaniacal, finger-wagging, appeasing meddler has been equally embarrassing. Applause, applause – by all means – for Carter’s work with Habitat For Humanity. Unfortunately, it’s all been downhill from there.
Last week’s pronouncement that racism was at work among those who oppose President Obama’s health care proposals was classic Carter bluster: righteous noise with little substance. It’s hard to imagine that the man could make himself even more irrelevant, but somehow he continues to find ways to do so.
Are there racists out there? Sure. Are there racists who will oppose anything this President proposes, based on the color of his skin? Yes again. But to imply that racism is the root cause, or even an important part, of the America’s concern about publicly-funded health care is to betray complete ignorance about the way Americans think and, in particular, what Americans think about their government.
This isn’t about the race of the man who made the proposals, this is about the substance of the proposals. Americans, by and large, hate dealing with the agents of government, from the IRS right down to the DMV. We find them inefficient, officious and irritating. While it’s expensive and a pain in the rear dealing with insurance companies, many of us – your humble correspondent included – have no desire to substitute another layer of government-run bureaucracy in their place. And there is absolutely nothing racist about those fears.
But this debate, such as it has been, has revealed a great deal about the left’s hypocrisy and ignorance. Nancy Pelosi wrung her hands and shed crocodile tears over the passion that the health care debate has unleashed. Equating the President to Hitler, and his policies to socialism? Oh dear. Oh dear.
And the comparisons may be a bit of hyperbole, but Madam Speaker seems to be boarding the moderation train a bit after it left the station. I can’t recall her complaining when her followers equated President Bush to the Austrian corporal (how many times did we hear the “Bushitler” line?) and equate his policies to fascism? Payback, as they say, is a canine of the female gender.
In truth, Hitler was a socialist when it came to domestic policies and he would have applauded socialized health care. There is a reason that the moniker “National Socialist German Workers Party” included the word “socialist”. It was one of the pillars upon which the party’s foundation rested. So calling Hitler to mind when it comes to government run health care may be insulting and over-the-top, but there is certainly a grain of truth at its core.
Such is also the case when one more closely examines Congressman Joe Wilson’s “you lie!” exclamation. The outburst certainly was lacking in decorum (event the raucous British Parliament does not allow members to call each other liars), but it was not lacking in truth.
It is true that Obama’s proposals do not directly make illegal immigrants eligible for publicly-funded healthcare, as the President said. However, those proposals also do not require providers to check the immigration status of patients. In fact, Democrats shot down language that would have required such a check, in committee.
So, while the supposed intent may be to provide publicly-funded healthcare only to citizens and legal immigrants, the effect of this legislation would be quite the opposite. It’s analogous to saying that there is a rule against running in the corridors at school, but not providing any hall monitors to enforce the prohibition. Every parent and teacher knows that, in such a circumstance, kids will be flying down the halls at supersonic speed as soon as they figure out the reality of the situation.
The President’s supporters have spent much of their debating time arguing about such shades of meaning, without enhancing their credibility much. The word “death panel” never appeared in any proposal, but “end of life panel” certainly did (it was subsequently, and quietly, dropped) and Sarah Palin was right to bring the proposal to light. Moreover, the principal of the thing is what mattered. It’s about rationing healthcare and who makes the decisions to ration. No one enjoys dealing with the faceless decision-makers at an HMO who approve or disapprove a particular treatment, but faceless government decision-makers? That is a sobering thought indeed.
The President himself has frequently stretched the truth during this debate. A case in point is his claim that an Illinois man, Otto Raddatz, died after being denied treatment by his insurance company. “They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it,” the President said.
Turns out that wasn’t the case. Raddatz ended up getting the treatment, and lived another four years because of it. This revelation prompted the incomparable Mark Steyn to drily observe that the old Dem slogan “Bush lied – people died” might be replaced by “Obama lied – nobody died” in 2009.
That is not to say that one could not find an example of a patient being denied treatment by an insurance company and subsequently dying. Those examples exist, just as similar examples exist in places like Canada and the United Kingdom, where bureaucrats make those life or death calls.
No system created by and administered by fallible human beings will ever be mistake free. That Americans would prefer the failings of the market over the failings of big government is not a case of racism. The correct word would be “prudence”.