Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Follies of Political "Evil"

Sarah Palin invokes accusations of "evil" in health care debate

If Sarah Palin has any intentions of reaching out to moderate Democrats in preparation for what many speculate will be a run for the Presidency in 2012, she certainly hasn't started off on the right foot.

Writing on her Facebook page, Palin denounced Barack Obama's health care plan as "evil".

Alluding to a clause dealing with "advance care planning consultation" that could deal with "living wills" and "termination of life services", Palin seemed to have started out with a rather peculiar interpretation of the clause that led her to speak about the rationing of health care.

"Who will suffer the most when they ration care?" Palin asked rhetorically. "The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course.

"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," Palin continued.

"Such a system is downright evil," she concluded, noting that this clause could lead to decisions regarding euthanasia being made by "death panels".

the Examiners' Jacksonville Republican Examiner, Patrick McMahon notes that Palin's comments seem to be a rather bizarre way of extending the advantage that Republicans already seem to be enjoying in the health care debate. One thing that can be said for certain about Obama's health care reform package is that it will certainly lead to a drastic change in American taxation culture -- a change that more and more Americans do not seem to want.

Canadian health care is, almost hands-down, a superior model to the current American model. But it doesn't come cheap to Canadians, who can pay up to 30% of their income in taxes.

For the vast majority of Canadians, our health care is worth what we pay for it in taxes. But Americans, who traditionally favour lower taxes, may not share the same opinion.

Appearing on George Stephanopoulos' program on ABC, Newt Gingrich attempted to defend Palin's comments. “Communal standards historically is a very dangerous concept,” Gingrich insisted. “You are asking us to trust turning power over to the government, when there are clearly people in America who believe in establishing euthanasia, including selective standards.”

Of course, what neither Palin nor Gingrich seem to be addressing is the fact that any decision regarding the pursuit of euthanasia would ultimately have to come from either a terminal or unresponsive patient, or from their medical proxies. No government agency could impose euthanasia on any patient. For the simplest reason why, one has to realize that it would be unconstitutional.

Few words exist to describe precisely how threatening it is when politicians attempt to ascribe the label of "evil" to their opponents' policies -- especially policies that, even if potentially unimplementable, are actually quite benign.

Many Americans -- Republican and Democrat alike -- have good cause to be concerned about the cost of health care. The Canadian experience has demonstrated that it's extremely difficult to control the costs of an already-costly system. This is a legitimate concern.

But Barack Obama is not the devil, nor are his health care policies the work of the devil. To describe them as "evil" only serves to unduly stir up moral hysteria.

That is far, far less than what one expects from a statesperson -- especially one who, like Sarah Palin, needs to court moderate Democrats to accomplish that goal.


  1. Patrick,

    Excellent post. What Palin's recent comments really exemplify is that she is both unschooled and ignorant of the real import of the proposed legislation. Sadly, there is a fringe audience for this sort of tripe. However, I must say that I am glad to see some within the GOP who are making an effort to distance themselves from this discourse.

  2. There are still some things that I like about Palin. Her remarks regarding healthcare and "evil" are a discredit to her, but I appreciate her earnestness.

    She thought have thought many, many more times about her remarks, but I have little doubt she believes them.

    Then again, that she would believe that the policies of her political opponents are "evil" is troubling in and of itself.


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