Howard Kurtz, in his August 24 Washington Post column (“Journalists, Left Out of The Debate”), calls big journalism’s failure to knock down Sarah Palin’s “death panel” charge “a stunning illustration of the traditional media’s impotence.”
As you may have noticed, the “traditional” media recently morphed from administration critics into a pro bono public relations firm for the White House. It happened on or about January 20, 2009. Now, they’re flummoxed by their failure to refute a woman they believe has the communications savvy of a pimento.
Kurtz thinks that the mainstream media have done a great job presenting “the facts” about the Democrats’ health care reform bill, including repeated proof that no “death panel” provision exists.
But people like Kurtz fail to understand that Palin does not allege that the health care reform bill contains the phrase “death panel” or that it openly advocates euthanasia. Sarah Palin’s charge has legs because:
1.) The only way to save money in a government-run health system is to ration care.
2.) The majority of health care expenditures for most people come near the end of life, and thus the elderly present the greatest opportunity for cost savings.
3.) Special-needs people, like Palin’s son Trig, who has Down’s Syndrome, also require spending — another opportunity for economizing.
4.) The government, and too many in our society, believe …
a) infants in the womb to be less worthy of protection than Michael Vick’s dogs,
b) Trig Palin’s life to be Sarah’s foolish choice, and
c) the elderly to be a burden on society.
5.) Other governments which run health care operations have a track record of delaying and denying coverage based on the limited supply of medical professionals and equipment, as well as cost-containment considerations.
6.) The end-of-life counseling language appeared in a section of a bill on cost-containment.
7.) The American people don’t trust politicians, and would rise up in unified opposition if the federal government had a plan to take over and run little league athletics, let alone health care, which does involve life and death decisions.
8.) Americans love freedom.
The reason why the “traditional” media has failed to knock down what Kurtz, et al, see as spurious “death panel” allegations is because journalists and politicians ignore the real facts and the legitimate concerns of the American people.
Sarah Palin — invariably portrayed by reporters and politicians as a either a vacuous celebrity or an ill-informed hooftie — has apparently thought through the issues more than most of them. She makes plain sense, while her opponents push an agenda of greater centralized government control. The world has seen the results of such experiments within the past century. They lead inevitably to dependence, despair, despotism, and disaster.
Howard Kurtz and his colleagues should spend less time musing about why the traditional media have failed to persuade Americans that they should surrender their bodies to the government, and more time getting to know some real people.
Somewhere between L.A. and D.C., they’ll find folks whose life experience, grasp of history, common sense understanding of economics, clear-headed rational thought, and healthy distrust of politicians lead them to accept the logical conclusion that government-run health care will strip individual autonomy and place our most intimate, important decisions into the clutches of a bureaucracy that doesn’t share our values and from which we cannot opt out.
Sarah Palin’s brilliant, succinct term “death panels” hits home because it neatly summarizes all that’s wrong with government-run health care. Superficial efforts by reporters to “debunk the death panel myth” will continue to fail, because Americans are smarter than most journalists when it comes to practical matters of life.
Journalism professionals would also benefit from reading some American history, including our founding documents. Our founders had a deep understanding of human nature, shaped by their lifelong, exhaustive study of history and philosophy and of the book that best encapsulates both — the Bible.
Too often journalists and politicians attribute imperfections in American society to a failure of our founding principles, rather than recognizing problems as simply a natural byproduct of finite, flawed humanity that would crop up under any system. So we hear the cry that our health care system is “broken” and the conclusion that government must fix it immediately. It’s a naive notion promulgated by people who think history commenced with their own appearance on the planet.
Because humans fail the omniscience test and have a proclivity to misbehavior, we function best in a free market system where liberty permits escape from the inevitable outbreaks of ignorance and of the dark side of human nature.
Liberty is our natural state. Anything that encroaches on liberty, no matter how benevolent its proponents, must be resisted.
These are “the facts,” Mr. Kurtz. As you marvel at the mystery of how Sarah Palin has hoodwinked America, defeating politicians and pundits alike, consider the possibility that she persuades because she’s smarter than you in ways that matter most.