Sarah Palin Finds Her Voice, on Facebook

Fry suicide boothExcept, no.

In an effort to defend her earlier lie — that President Obama’s proposed health care bill would force senior citizens to go before “death panels,” and justify their existence, or be denied life-saving care — Palin adds more words, bigger words, and a few citations to her earlier folsky deception, but bumps up against identical results.

Palin leads by addressing President Obama’s explanation of the “death panel” lie, wherein he reminded audiences that end-of-life counseling was voluntary, merely paid for by Medicare if you wanted it, and that this counseling involved nothing scarier than information about how to draft a living will and manage pain. She proceeds to answer the first point, while dropping the second, arguably more important point:

With all due respect, it’s misleading for the President to describe this section as an entirely voluntary provision that simply increases the information offered to Medicare recipients. The issue is the context in which that information is provided and the coercive effect these consultations will have in that context.

Apparently, although the consultations are merely “authorized,” not required, doctors will force them down their patients’ throats, because they know they’ll get paid for it. She quotes a Washington Post editorial (which, incidentally, explicitly refutes her zanier point, but Palin’s cite-checking policies or lack thereof are for another night):

“Section 1233, however, lets doctors initiate the chat and gives them an incentive — money — to do so. Indeed, that’s an incentive to insist.”

Let’s accept her premise, however briefly. Admittedly, doctors have an incentive to push their patients to buy into more treatments, more care, more everything. But it’s hard to see how a public option exaggerates that danger. If we presume doctors to be money-grubbing liars, surely it doesn’t matter from whose pockets they draw their blood money. Further, Palin’s presumption that doctors would and could coerce their patients infantalizes the patient by presuming him incapable of refusing unwanted services, and treats doctors at the outset as a danger, not a help. Apparently, Palin would prefer more regulation of the doctor-patient relationship, to bar doctors from even discussing certain sensitive, life-related issues with their patients.

This is no surprise coming from Palin, but it flies in the face of the traditional conservative argument, that government management of healthcare risks intruding upon a patient’s right to choose a doctor or a procedure. She finds herself in the tricky position of arguing against government regulation of healthcare, because it would regulate too little, and free doctors too much. As Gilbert and Sullivan would say, “fallacy somewhere, I fancy.”

Further, even if doctors would somehow read in § 1233 an invitation to lure patients into “end-of-life counseling sessions,” it’s not clear how that brings about the “death panel” harm. Worst case scenario, a patient is given information about, but not asked to sign, a durable power of attorney. See § 1233(a)(1)(B)(B) (providing for “[A]n explanation by the practitioner of advance directives, including living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses.”) (emphasis added). Mendacious op-ed columnists notwithstanding, § 1233 no-where provides counselors with the authority to actually formulate a living will or power of attorney. Practitioners in these sessions provide information, only. One searches the statute in vain for any operative language to the contrary.

Palin’s note goes on for a while longer after that, but there’s little else of importance, apart from a particularly egregious “quote mine” of a doctor who suggests “rationing” only in the ultra-scarce field of organ transplants, and regardless of insurance scheme.

So, in summation — Palin’s “argument” (1) glosses over the voluntary nature of the consultation sessions, (2) depends upon a warped conception of doctors’ motives, (3) presumes patients incapable of making their own decisions, and (4) misstates what may actually happen in a consultation session.

It may be that this note — complete with citations, and an “Id.”! — represents Palin’s first attempt to reinvent herself, by grappling with actual facts, rather than reacting on uninformed instinct (her former Colbertian theory of politics, if you will). If so, it’s a step in the right direction, at least in theory, but remains horrifically flawed in fact. C+ for effort, D- for content.

To her credit, though, Palin at least stopped claiming that Trig would be the first to die. Apparently she read enough of the statute to realize that it purports to apply only to Medicare recipients. Let it never be said that I am not fair.



  1. i find it despicable that seniors are being so misled and taken advantage of by our politicians. frankly, they should be ashamed of themselves, but of course they have their own agendas and they’ll throw anyone under the bus to achieve them.

    i work in healthcare, a level 1 trauma center to be exact. we deal with advanced directives or lack thereof on a nearly hourly basis!

    the proposed bill clearly states that people should have this conversation with their doctor, it should be revisited, quite frankly as often as you like. it is a necessary conversation as many people do not understand what DNR/DNI/DNH really mean, when are these wishes applicable, and what happens if you elect to be DNR/DNI.

    these opposers have turned comfort care into a “little blue pill”!! when i first heard that i thought, “they’ll be given viagra?” how’s that going to help?? having a physician explain comfort care allays fears and puts family members more at ease in that trying time when granny is on her deathbed.

    most important of all, you can have this consultation with your doctor, and elect to NOT DO ANYTHING or put in writing your wishes. “thank you Dr., but i want everything possible done to keep me alive, no matter what.” perfectly fine, and if you are hospitalized and require resuscitation, we’ll be more than happy to oblige. last year this happened in our ER. an 84 year old woman came in with a GI bleed. we went through 46 units of blood (depleting our available supply that night) because she had no advanced directives instructing us otherwise. 46 units is basically going through your entire blood supply 4 times. this occurred over 5 hours. bless her soul, she did die on the operating table. we did whatever it took to keep her alive as those were her wishes.

    the point is and must be driven home, we will do whatever you want, just please put it in writing, after getting all the CORRECT information from your personal physician.

    me, i’m going to have DNR/DNI tattooed across my chest!

  2. […] doubt, will be used to retroactively justify all manner of reprehensible Republican rhetoric, from the old “death panel” lie to Joe Wilson (R-SC)’s now-famous outburst. Especially in this time of degraded political […]

  3. […] pastures of the Facebook “Notes” application, from which she conjured one of the most offensive, distortionary, and downright malicious lies in recent American political history — the notion that an optional government health plan […]

%d bloggers like this: