Articles

Health Care Fracas: What Do Vampires and the GOP Have in Common?

By Dennis Loo

In the August 13, 2009 New York Times Paul Krugman (“Republican Death Trip”) wrote about the brawl over health care:

“[Quoting Obama] ’I am in this race because I don’t want to see us spend the next year re-fighting the Washington battles of the 1990s. I don’t want to pit Blue America against Red America; I want to lead a United States of America.’ So declared Barack Obama in November 2007, making the case that Democrats should nominate him, rather than one of his rivals, because he could free the nation from the bitter partisanship of the past.

“Some of us were skeptical. A couple of months after Mr. Obama gave that speech, I warned that his vision of a ‘different kind of politics’ was a vain hope, that any Democrat who made it to the White House would face ‘an unending procession of wild charges and fake scandals, dutifully given credence by major media organizations that somehow can’t bring themselves to declare the accusations unequivocally false.’

“So, how’s it going?

“Sure enough, President Obama is now facing the same kind of opposition that President Bill Clinton had to deal with: an enraged right that denies the legitimacy of his presidency, that eagerly seizes on every wild rumor manufactured by the right-wing media complex.

This opposition cannot be appeased. Some pundits claim that Mr. Obama has polarized the country by following too liberal an agenda. But the truth is that the attacks on the president have no relationship to anything he is actually doing or proposing.

“Right now, the charge that’s gaining the most traction is the claim that health care reform will create ‘death panels’ (in Sarah Palin’s words) that will shuffle the elderly and others off to an early grave. It’s a complete fabrication, of course. The provision requiring that Medicare pay for voluntary end-of-life counseling was introduced by Senator Johnny Isakson, Republican — yes, Republican — of Georgia, who says that it’s ‘nuts’ to claim that it has anything to do with euthanasia.

“And not long ago, some of the most enthusiastic peddlers of the euthanasia smear, including Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, and Mrs. Palin herself, were all for ‘advance directives’ for medical care in the event that you are incapacitated or comatose. That’s exactly what was being proposed — and has now, in the face of all the hysteria, been dropped from the bill.

“Yet the smear continues to spread. And as the example of Mr. Gingrich shows, it’s not a fringe phenomenon: Senior G.O.P. figures, including so-called moderates, have endorsed the lie.” [Emphasis added.]

Obama rode into office riding a wave of revulsion for Bush and Cheney and on the hopes of millions that rancor, disastrous, monstrous policies, and blatantly illegal and immoral behavior would be reversed.

Obama said that we are “better than that.”

When he said that there is “no black America, there is no white America, there is only the United States of America,” millions wanted to believe him.

But as the brouhaha over his health care plan, his race, and his Hawaii birth certificate* demonstrate unmistakably, Obama was wrong: there is a part of white America that refuses to recognize the rest of us (and the world, for that matter). The system that Obama is leading and protecting is one that can't even accept his color and his watered down plans for health care. 

As Krugman correctly points out, there is no appeasing and there is no compromise with these forces. The extremists of the right at Fox, ResistNet, FreedomWorks, and the GOP itself have stoked into a fiery fury the people who are turning the town halls into models of thuggery. (Within the GOP, even the “moderates” are extremists.)

Krugman ends his Op-Ed by calling for Obama to take the offensive against these forces:

“So far, at least, the Obama administration’s response to the outpouring of hate on the right has had a deer-in-the-headlights quality. It’s as if officials still can’t wrap their minds around the fact that things like this can happen to people who aren’t named Clinton, as if they keep expecting the nonsense to just go away.

“What, then, should Mr. Obama do? It would certainly help if he gave clearer and more concise explanations of his health care plan. To be fair, he’s gotten much better at that over the past couple of weeks.

“What’s still missing, however, is a sense of passion and outrage — passion for the goal of ensuring that every American gets the health care he or she needs, outrage at the lies and fear-mongering that are being used to block that goal.”

I’m all for passion and outrage, Paul. We need this more than ever. But what you’re calling for isn’t consistent with what you accurately said about the radical right in the rest of your article.

To begin with, Obama’s plan is a sell-out to the HMOs. It’s hard to get passionate about a plan like that.

Secondly, the problem here is that Obama long ago made his peace with the extremist right – witness his stand, for example, on prosecuting the torture policies that Bush and Cheney are responsible for: “This is a time for reflection, not retribution. I’m looking forwards, not backwards.”

Look backwards into your rear view mirror, Barack. That’s an eighteen-wheeler barreling down your rear bumper to roll over you and crush you and the rest of us.

Obama’s “We are the United States of America” litany means seeking common ground with fascists. Fascists don’t care how nice you are. They don’t care what the truth and facts are. They will make up whatever suits their purposes and have no compunctions about that whatsoever. They will repeat lie after lie until their lies are taken as truth. These people will kill you – look at what they did to Dr. Tiller – if they don’t like you or see you as an obstacle. And after they kill you they will congratulate the one who pulled the trigger and say a prayer for him or her. While you are telling these fascists how interested you are in compromise and bipartisanship they will be sinking their fangs into your neck and sucking your blood.

Most of the people who voted for Obama did so because they thought he would end the wars and occupations and bring the troops home. They thought that he'd end the torture and prosecute those responsible. They thought he'd stop all the signing statements and the warrantless surveillance. 

So, how's it going?   

How do you deal with vampires? Do you keep telling others in the village that the vampire on the hill is really a nice guy and that we can all just get along? Or do you organize a march of villagers with pitchforks and blazing torches to march on the vampire’s house?

The people who despise injustice and lies need to steel themselves and march forth. We need to cast away illusions about what is up and turn this into a two-sided fight rather than one in which the forces of the dark have all of the initiative. The Democrats want us to quietly follow their lead and rely on their leadership. They are leading us into a swamp. Let them go into the swamp. We know better

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*Hawaii’s not really a part of the union some say, so it doesn't count. As someone who was born and raised there, I proudly say, "mo’ betta fo' Hawai'i!"