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August 10, 2009

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Professor William Jacobson notes that Sarah Palin's comments about "level of productivity in society" as being the basis for determining access to medical care reflected Obama health care advisor Dr. Ezekial Emanuel's 2009 article on "Principles for Allocation of Scarce Medical Interventions."

Palin's use of the term "death panel" was of course a rhetorical device. No rational person could believe Obama would actually use a name like that, even if the decisions made by a panel or committee or agency would in fact determine who gets treatment and lives and who does not (unless they could afford to pay the costs of treatment themselves).

Those who are so exercised over Palin's comments either have a poor memory for the use of similar rhetorical phrases in advocacy writing and speaking or choose to apply a different standard to Palin than they would, for example, to critics of Bush and Cheney.

Blogger Ann Althouse says Palin's post is cool-headed and manifestly sane

Professor Althouse's entire post should be read. Here are some key excerpts:

[Palin] doesn't say that the government will kill disabled (or elderly) persons directly, but that death will occur as a result of the decisions of cost controlling bureaucrats with the power to determine who can receive various treatments. I don't know why "level of productivity in society" is in quotes, nor do I know whether it is the plan to ration care on this basis. Those are actually serious matters, and I'd like to know the answers.

...Yes, she used a colorful expression "death panel," but it's a good and fair polemical expression if in fact life-saving care will be rationed on this basis. I have found myself saying, in conversation, "I'm afraid Obama is going to kill me." Now, I'm not picturing him or one of his minions coming over to murder me, but I am afraid that as I get older and need expensive care to keep me alive that I will be told I cannot have it, because at my age, in the government's opinion, there's not enough life left in me to be worth the money that I would take from the system that needs to pay for everything.

Palin then provides a link where Obama seems to say that he intends to limit medical treatment to the elderly.

No doubt one could debate Althouse's view of what might happen under health care reform. I suspect Althouse would win that debate because she's a law professor, a Democrat, and an Obama supporter. Also, it sounds as if she has actually read the relevent section of the bill.

In any event, Brendan was clearly incorrect in calling Palin's statement "unfounded."

P.S. Those "end of lif consultations" may be less optional than they appear to be. See a detaliled analysis at https://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2009/08/no-american-can-ever-say-they-didnt.html

"Those who are so exercised over Palin's comments either have a poor memory for the use of similar rhetorical phrases in advocacy writing and speaking or choose to apply a different standard to Palin than they would, for example, to critics of Bush and Cheney."

By all means, give us some examples, Rob.

Sure, rone, happy to. George Bush wasn't really a cowboy, but lots of his critics referred to him and his policies that way, using the word as both a noun and an adjective. Cheney's "secure location" became, in the words of his critics and their friends in the media, a bunker, a term that undoubtedly was meant to evoke memories of Hitler's bunker. Bush didn't really propose to privatize Social Security, he proposed permitting a portion of workers' contributions to be placed in private accounts. There's a big difference. You can google "Bush goons" and find hundreds of thousands of citations, but Bush didn't really have goons, you know. The 1994 Republican House document was the Contract with America. Democrats almost uniformly referred to it as the Contract on America.

This is not a new phenomenon. I'm sure if you do a little research you can find examples going back to the American Revolution and probably even earlier. Let us know what you find out.

Brendan is usually very thorough. So, it's worthy of note that he offers little evidence to prove that the legislation could not possibly limit end-of-life care, could not possibly encourage euthanasia, and could not possibly require people to draw up plans saying how they want to die. He provides no plan wording and no analysis.

He does provide a link to Jake Tapper asserting that such is the case. Yet Tapper actually admits that Palin has some basis for her concerns. Tappper criticizes her for going too far. Furthermore, as shown in my post above, Brendan could have found other reputable sources who agree with Palin's concerns, including law professor Ann Althouse, an Obama supporter.

Whether Tapper is more correct than Althouse, I don't know. However, to even raise this the question is to say that it's reasonable to be concerned.

P.S. I apologize for an error in my post above. Where I wrote, "Palin provides a link", I should have written, "Althouse provides a link."

P.P.S. I must confess that I see nothing wrong with consultations with doctors who advise patients on life-sustaining treatment and “end-of-life services,” including hospice care. I have a living will with instructions on when to "pull the plug." IMHO Palin critics would be better advised to defend such consultations, rather than pretend that they surely won't be a part of the final health reform plan.

Ah, Davif -- I just posted this same thought in the next thread. End of life planning is a good thing, and I've heard several media interviews in which people ARE saying this.

On your point re: whether anyone should have concerns or not about the counseling sessions, I'd say - fine, have concerns. Voice your concerns about it. But using this one point as a reason to oppose health care reform: no.

"Cheney's "secure location" became, in the words of his critics and their friends in the media, a bunker, a term that undoubtedly was meant to evoke memories of Hitler's bunker."

If you stretch that one a little more, it'll snap back in your face.

"Cowboy" is used pejoratively to indicate someone who does his own thing and doesn't have any interest in cooperation. This was very plainly apposite when it came to Bush.

As for "Bush goons", you're playing silly buggers with semantics, because "Bush goons" doesn't refer to actual goons who worked for Bush, but rather goons inspired by Bush.

"Contract on America" isn't merely a rhetorical device when history proves it was more correct than the original phrasing, but "Democrats almost uniformly" strikes me as an amusing rhetorical device on its own.

Lastly, criticism of Bush and Cheney has proven to be well-founded (regardless of its stridency) overall, as opposed to the idiotic blathering that comes from Palin. So please stop playing your weak-sauce false equivalence games.

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