It'd be one thing if the lunatics on the right had a coherent argument for why these initiatives might be ineffective or counterproductive. But they don't even bother to acknowledge them, preferring instead to throw out scare quotes like this one from Palin: "Who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course."
Of course, not all conservatives stoop to this level. You can have a rational, if still contentious, deate over health reform with the likes of Stuart Butler (who studies health policy at the Heritage Foundation) or Gail Wilensky (who ran Medicare for George H.W. Bush). But Butler, Wilensky, and others like them aren't driving the conversation right now. Palin, Bachmann, and their allies are.
We're stuck in what Josh Marshall has called a "nonsense feedback loop"--a conversation in which Zeke Emanuel wants to kill grandma, health care reform is bad for the people who can't get health care, and Stephen Hawking has been snuffed out by the British National Health System. Instead of arguments that are unrelated to reality, we're getting arguments that are the very opposite of reality.
Like I said, maybe those Democratic officials are right. Maybe this really is worse than what we've seen before.
Having a good debate with people who believe different things is important, an indispensable part of democracy and freedom. But I'm beginning to think that isn't possible anymore. The easy self-assurance of fundamentalist dogma has replaced the uneasy but rewarding Enlightenment quest for truth. We've watched the conservative movement aggressively work to destroy the credibility of science among the public, we've seen them cow the media establishment into submission as the likes of Walter Winchell and Walter Lippman gave way to Anderson Cooper and Joe Scarborough. And with Fox News they've administered the coup de grace, where the notion of the "fact" is passe, and nothing isn't up for debate, aside from rightist dogma, of course.
You know something, I really didn't think that it would be this bad either. But every time over the past few years where I've thought that "teh librulz" weren't being sufficiently charitable I've been burned. I just wonder how the people in the media who cover this "death panel" stupidity live with themselves. I'm guessing pretty well. It's all a game to them. To a lot of other people, though, we're talking about life-and-death stuff. They should ask themselves what value they're adding to society. If it is virtually none--and, at this point, I suspect it is--perhaps they should make way for people who are interested in doing their jobs. Haha, just kidding there.
So, yeah, I'm feeling pretty cynical about the country these days. But I still believe that things will get better in time.