Most of us know the propaganda technique called “The Big Lie” (which, as Hitler put it, is a lie so colossal that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously”.)
But I think that the health care debate has gotten to The Even Bigger Lie, which is a lie so stunningly huge that it sucks all the intelligence out of anyone who sees or hears it, a lie that cannot be disputed because it is self contradictory. A lie that you are afraid to dispute, because arguing against it repeats the lie and makes more people believe it, even though it is flagrantly unbelievable.
Case One: Investor’s Business Daily runs an editorial comparing Obama’s health care proposals to the British health care system (which itself is silly, since Obama is not proposing that we nationalize our health care system like the British did). They are trying to claim that getting the government involved in health care will put the government in the position of deciding who “deserves” health care (again silly, since the US government is already heavily involved in our health care, especially if we are in the armed forces, on Medicare, or Medicaid).
But their even bigger lie is when they say:
People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.
Of course, Hawking was born in the UK, and has lived most of his life in the UK, under exactly that health care system where he “wouldn’t have a chance”.
Case Two: Sarah Palin writes:
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.
There is so much crazy here that it’s hard to know where to begin.
First of all, if Palin weren’t already on a government health care program, she would find it impossible to get health insurance for Trig, since Down Syndrome is a pre-existing condition. Read the National Down Syndrome Congress’ position on heath care reform.
Second, why the hell is Palin dragging her family into the discussion yet again, just after attacking the media for dragging her family into the discussion?
Third, none of the bills working their way through Congress, nor anything Obama has proposed, has anything like “death panels” in it. Conservatives are claiming that in order to cut costs, the government will have to “ration” health care to decide who deserves it. But the big lie they are ignoring is that for-profit health insurance companies have a much bigger incentive to cut costs, which they already definitely do with a vengeance.
Palin warns that the people who “will suffer the most” when the government “rations care” are the “the sick, the elderly, and the disabled.” The exact opposite is true. It is the private insurance industry, not the government, that excludes the sick, the elderly, and the disabled. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, and it makes no economic sense for them to cover people who are likely to incur enormous health care costs over their lifetimes. Good luck trying to purchase private health insurance if you’re old, sick, or disabled.
And of course, if you are elderly, you are already on Medicare for this very reason!
And finally, how hypocritical is it of Palin to scare people with threats of a death panel, when during her (shortened) tenure as governor, Alaska’s Medicare and Medicaid elder care program was so incompetent that 250 elderly people died waiting for services. No other state had similar problems, and it got so bad that the federal government had to step in and force Alaska to make necessary improvements.
The PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter gave Palin’s statement a rating of Liar liar, pants on fire. But of course, none of this stopped Newt Gingrich from agreeing with Palin.
I have to agree with Ron Reagan (Ronald’s son) on his great response to this one:
UPDATE: Stephen Hawking responds to the claim that if he were English (which he is) he wouldn’t stand a chance because with his handicaps he would be considered worthless. According to Hawking: “I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived.”
UPDATE 2: Now Senator Chuck Grassley has come out agreeing with Palin on the whole “death panel” lie. Since Grassley is intimately involved in working on health care reform bills, he should know better.
UPDATE 3: Donklephant discovered that in April 2008, Governor Sarah Palin endorsed the same end-of-life counseling that she now calls “death panels”. I guess this is not too surprising, given her flip-flopping on the Bridge to Nowhere and other issues.