The Party of Fear

The mind reels at the latest dishonest fearmongering to come out of the far right. Fox and Friends, fresh from warning the world of the dangers of miscegenation, where they sounded for all the world like the villains from a new Harry Potter book, turned their razor-sharp wit late last week to the question of the Obama administration’s planned health-care reforms, concluding thusly:

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That’s right — state-subsidized health-care is the moral equivalent (or the actual equivalent?) of euthanasia.

But why? Because, apparently, under the Obama system, if you take the public option, doctors would advise you on the cost and benefit of procedures, before letting you make an informed decision about whether to undergo potentially helpful, potentially useless & expensive surgery. One wonders how this is different than or, if different, worse than the current system, where insurance companies seek to avoid paying for even lifesaving or indisputably necessary treatments on a million independent grounds, either by flat-out refusing (Pre-existing condition! Hope you never went without insurance for one hour, because if you did, it’s not covered!), or dragging their heels until the patient loses the will or the time to put up a fight. Compared to the hoops upon duplicative hoops an insurance company places in your way, a consultation that gives the patient the right to opt in or out of treatment sounds like a luxury, and a reprieve from either days upon weeks of battling with the interminable bureaucracy of modern insurance companies, or a denial of care.

Would this outrageous mischaracterization be more or less offensive if it was unique to Fox and Friends? Thankfully, that’s one question we won’t have to answer. Just ask the Washington Times,, American Thinker (which rolls in a lovely little “Obama’s a Muslim” opener), and Republican Senate candidate Andy Martin, all of whom are making the same baseless argument from fear, to say nothing of John Boehner, whose best argument against the government’s healthcare plan has been to build a purposefully confusing chart that both adds irrelevant factors to create the illusion of complexity (note the chart gives no information about what patients will actually experience), and conceals the true complexity of the current system.

All of this points to one conclusion: the Republican Party, whether by virtue of its base or its leaders, is physically incapable of forming an argument for or against a particular policy that, at its core, doesn’t play upon fear. Gays are destroying marriage, how is irrelevant; Iraq has WMDs, no time to stop and examine the evidence; Obama’s a “radical,” no, it doesn’t matter what that means, just repeat it; he’s going to take your guns, please overlook all statements to the contrary; the Fairness Doctrine is coming, nevermind the multiple speeches expressly disavowing it; the terrorists are after us, now’s not the time for free speech, and so on. The Republican “debate” over health care is just the most recent iteration.

Early in Obama’s presidency, Karl Rove, Bush’s now-unemployed political gun-for-hire, argued that Obama builds the Republican Party out to be something it’s not, just to scare people. Well, I suppose he would know.



  1. Care would be rationed as it is in other socialized medicine countries. That’s what rationed care is… who lives and who dies according to how much money there is.

    1. Care is already rationed in this country. Who would you rather have doing the rationing: a government bureaucrat trying to save as many lives as possible, or a corporate bureaucrat trying to make as many dollars as possible?

  2. the right is using “rationed care” as a scare tactic. at this very moment insurance companies are rationing care to millions of plan subscribers. they sit on authorizations. they deny requests one month to (maybe) approve them the next based on corporate cash-flow targets.

    and they will drop a person in a blink of an eye.

    and the right and the insurance industry rely on the scary images “rationing” invokes … as if we are in london during the blitz.

    “rationing” meant (as it is intended by liberals in favor of reform) as part of a larger plan to select cost-effective procedures (as opposed to expensive, easy-money ones — over-implemented c-sections, anyone?) is — GUESS WHAT?! — a RATIONAL approach.

    you want to know an “r” word scarier than “rationing” (or “republican”)? … try ***recission.***

  3. Steve Jeffers · ·

    The most telling thing here is that all those opposed to healthcare reform are just blatantly, obviously lying. They must know they aren’t describing the truth.

    It’s a Bizarro world they’re talking about. In the UK, here are the stages for assessing the eligibility for access to healthcare: 1) You’re eligible. Here’s the right’s description of that: ‘it’s a bureaucratic nightmare’.

    Universal healthcare isn’t ‘revolutionary’ or ‘experimental’ or ‘risky’ … it’s ‘catching up’.

    Every single other developed country has a better standard of healthcare delivered to a higher percentage of the population.

  4. here’s a NYT mag article (from july 19) on what rationing is and why it is necessary and why it is wrong to think that we are not already living in a highly rationed system (for the profit of a few insurance and pharma company execs and big-time shareholders) …

    the hand wringing over “rationing” is as lame as the “EEK! not socialism!” arguments during the ’08 election season.

    1. Oneiroi · ·

      That’s what I was going to say.

      People already die due to rationing…trying to find a better way to provide care to more people isn’t going to cause more. In my opinion.

      Part of the reason why so many in the health care industry have been involved…because they want to take on new customers and see more revenue from treating more patients.

  5. The 47 million who are uninsured are surely rationed to the care that can only be provided in free clinics and hospital emergency rooms.

    1. Oneiroi · ·

      And there are concerns about the cost and overcrowding of emergency rooms.

  6. yes, but you all have forgotten an important tenent of currnet Republican economic theory – rationing by private corporations is good because it leads to profits, which are also good. Rationing by government is bad because it doesn’t lead to rpofits, and it enlarges the “welfare state” which in turn robs people of their will to compete and work their way up.


  7. Just to clarify, it’s the new Harry Potter movie, not the book. :)

    1. Oh, if that’s to me, I know, I was just imagining a new HP book, “Harry Potter and the Finks from Fox,” or something. Believe me I know my potter :-)

  8. Also I wrote this post between the days of the bar exam. Any error or awkward phrasing is wholly attributable to NY BoLE!

  9. typical republican misinformed scare tactics. i work in the healthcare industry and see “rationing” on an hourly basis! and think about it, those with no healthcare at all are rationed and potentially euthanized under our present system.

    a local radio talk show host, jay severan, had the audacity to claim that 100% of canadians were streaming over the border to gain access to our healthcare!!! i almost hit a tree when i heard that! not seeing ANY canadians at my hospital in at least a year, i wonder where he got the balls to actually make that claim. guess no one is left in canadian….guess i’ll move there, as their healthcare access now must be wide open.

  10. […] known as the Republican Party’s opposition strategy, from false-flag town hall operations to fearmongering, you’ll have heard, no doubt, of Palin’s charge that Obama’s health care program […]

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