Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fat Fish in a Shrinking Barrel

Wow. Where to begin.

Sarah Palin took to Facebook recently to share some of her thoughts (or whatever you wish to call them) regarding Obama's proposed health care legislation. "The America I know and love," said Palin, "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."

If this scenario sounds more like an episode of the Twilight Zone than the legislation in question, that's because it is very similar to an episode of the Twilight Zone ("The Obsolete Man", original air date June 2, 1961) while it has no factual or even rational connection to the legislation. Worse than securing her position as the fat fish in a shrinking barrel in which many love to fire away, there is an even greater political danger in Palin's wacky proclamations.

She has thrown a red herring into the health care debate that liberals could only dream of. And it worked.

Now an alarming number of conservatives are riled up, railing against provisions that do not even exist. Meanwhile the clear and present dangers of the bill, the cost-cutting smoke and mirrors neatly tucked away, the overwhelming increase in spending (and subsequent necessary tax increases) and bureaucratic sprawl, and the considerable damage all of this will do to an a private health care sector that is poised for one hell of a collapse, are increasingly ignored.

These things may not be as sexy as an imaginary death panel, but for the thinking conservative they should loom as a far more ominous threat. A threat that Sarah Palin either chooses to ignore or fails to see, which seems characteristic of her relentless supporters.

Palin's Facebook page is full of their posted wisdom:

"Thank you Sarah Palin. At last we have someone who speaks for the people!"

"No weapon formed against you shall prosper......rock on!"

And my personal favorite...

"PALIN/LIMBAUGH 2012??!!!"

Sometimes I get the impression these Republicans are profoundly confused, and perhaps believe they're only following some kind of elaborate reality television program. Does Sarah Palin reflect the Republican Party or does the Republican Party merely reflect Sarah Palin? I can only hope the latter is true, and temporarily so. We're all a little hungover after the Bush Administration, after all (see: the Presidential Nomination of John McCain).

But so long as Sarah Palin remains at the forefront of Republican politics, tossing red herrings into already complex policy discussions, the Republican voice in Washington may grow louder, as it also grows benign.


  1. How does Sara Palin know about the Obama administrations plans for a 'death panel'? Can she see the bill from her house?

  2. Ultimately if the government is required to subsidize a majority of the American populace's staples (food, health care, lodgings, education) population growth, or even stability, ceases to be the beneficial resource it's proven to be in a free market system. Invariably the majority ceases to pursue equitable growth in excess of what is required for survival or "getting by" because the balance of risk versus reward is unhinged. In other words there's no point in starting a new franchise if you can't make a decent profit margin and and units must be priced above what the market will bare to absorb embedded taxes. Resources in total are reduced and inevitably must be rationed by the governing body in charge of disseminating said resources. By default life must then be reduced to a cost analysis . So yes eventually the disabled are re-categorized as undesirable and by necessity receive less of the limited resources in circulation. Unfortunately, if the government intends to achieve a "reduction of cost" in health care while a maintaining a subsidized system a "reduction of life" will eventually become a necessity.
    However the H.R.3200 bill by all appearances contains no said scary death tribunals as Palin states. Though I must admit that like Obama and most democratic senators I haven't read the whole bill.
    There is a sense that at some point someone tried to explain this slightly complex axiom to her at which point she translated and distilled it to the simple minded concept of "Obama Death Panel" and dutifully trotted off to whine about it on Facebook.
    There's also the possibility that she herself understands the axiom and is merely reducing it to this unsubstantiated catchphrase in order to "throw some red meat to base." I must admit that by observation the former seems the more likely. Irregardless of motivation its populist simplicity is clearly unhelpful to the debate or the Republican party.
    Our argument against this bill must be clear, exact and biting, to periphrase Tom Snyder, "Just like a good martini." This is a bad bill by all evidence I've seen and it should be defeated on it's own merits.