Sometimes I read something that just makes my jaw drop. I have to read it multiple times to make sure I’m not missing something. Then I have to make sure I’m actually awake, that it isn’t all a dream. I had one of those am-I-dreaming? moments this morning, when I saw Sarah Palin’s comments on healthcare reform. Readers, this is just surreal:
The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love 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.
Palin refers to, but does not link to, something she read by Thomas Sowell (or, more likely, something somebody told her Sowell said — Palin, by her own admission, is not much of a reader), so I don’t know whether the quotes she puts around “death panel” and “level of productivity in society” are just what they call “scare-quotes,” or whether she’s quoting something Thomas Sowell said, or what.
But that’s kind of beside the point. What makes me wonder whether I’m actually reading this, or if it’s all a weird dream, is the sheer lunacy of her assertions.
Does she actually, honestly believe that President Obama has proposed to convene a “death panel” that will judge the “level of productivity in society” of individual American citizens, and deny said citizens access to health care if said citizens are not deemed sufficiently productive?
Aside from the fact that no such proposal has ever been made, that’s one of the craziest things I’ve heard all year. Is there any human being who actually believes something that wacky?
Readers, I think that’s too crazy even for Sarah Palin to actually, literally believe it. I think she’s playing her admirers for a bunch of fools, which is pretty much par for the course in America in the year 2009.
We Americans are in very deep trouble, readers. Our economy is in very bad shape. Our armed forces are still bogged down in two completely useless wars in Southwest Asia. There are a lot of problems we need to solve. Yet we citizens have to go out of our way to get the most basic facts about any of the issues we’re facing as a nation. How come?
Well, one of the biggest problems is that we’ve got a political press corps who believe, and openly state, that it’s not their job to evaluate whether the utterances of public figures are true or not, a press corps that is just hopelessly addicted to bullshit, gossip and trivia, whose idea of “reporting” boils down to He said this, and she said that, and how will that affect their popularity ratings in the next public-opinion poll?, who could not care less about policy — they find it boring — and prefer to look at politics as an extension of celebrity gossip. We’ve got a completely polarized electorate, who look at everything through the lens of tribal affiliation (and this, readers, is basically why I quit blogging, because I’m just as guilty of that as anybody, and I’m sick to death of it).
All our political “news” is just thinly-disguised celebrity gossip, and all our political “commentary” is just one-sided propaganda and bullshit from a bunch of rich people who collect big fat paychecks from even richer people to play their viewers (or readers, or listeners) for a bunch of fools. Olbermann and Maddow are just as bad as Hannity and El Rushbo when it comes to playing their audience for fools (although they’re not quite as nasty and hateful as their right-wing counterparts, I will give them that).
Worse, we are living in a culture that openly scorns knowledge in favor of belief. If you know something I don’t, that doesn’t matter — what I believe is just as important as what you know. President Bush governed our nation for eight years on the basis of what he believed, rather than what he or anybody else knew, and look where it got us, readers.
And so maybe that’s why Sarah Palin feels comfortable saying, apparently in all seriousness, that President Obama would like to put her parents and her son in front of a “death squad” — because that’s what she believes, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not in real life, because she believes it?
That’s a possibility. But I still don’t buy it. Not even Sarah Palin is ignorant enough to believe this “death squad” bullshit. No, she’s playing her fan base, the unfortunate souls who actually take her seriously, for a bunch of fools. That’s how we roll in today’s America.
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