21 August 2009

Healthcare: Debating in Bad Faith

Charles Krauthammer thinks he can pose as an objective voice in the healthcare debate by calling Sarah Palin an idiot. He'd never be so explicit, of course, but in his latest column he advises "asking Sarah Palin to leave the room." Of course she's wrong about "death panels," he insists; "to say that there are [such things] is to debase the debate."

In the very next paragraph, he writes:

To offer government reimbursement to any doctor who gives end-of-life counseling -- whether or not the patient asked for it -- is to create an incentive for such a chat. What do you think such a chat would be like? Do you think the doctor will go on and on about the fantastic new million-dollar high-tech gizmo that can prolong the patient's otherwise hopeless condition for another six months? Or do you think he's going to talk about -- as the bill specifically spells out -- hospice care and palliative care and other ways of letting go of life?

Never mind that the bill spells out just about every other option, including heroic measures to preserve life. Krauthammer may fancy himself smarter than Palin -- and who can blame him? -- but he's making exactly the same "error" that the Alaskan has. He makes the same presumption about the motives and inclinations of practitioners who participate in the proposed counseling that Cal Thomas does. But Krauthammer doesn't seem to realize this. He goes on oh so reasonably: "It's not an outrage. It's surely not a death panel. But it is subtle pressure applied by society through your doctor."

He adds: "And when you include it in a health care reform whose major objective is to bend the cost curve downward, you have to be a fool or a knave to deny that it's intended to gently point you in a certain direction, toward the corner of the sick room where stands a ghostly figure, scythe in hand, offering release." That's how reasonable Charles Krauthammer is; no one but a "fool" or a "knave" could dispute his interpretation of Section 1233. That's rather like a glove to the face, and ought to be answered in kind: just like the others whose hysteric fears he claims not to share, Krauthammer is a liar.


Anonymous said...

It stands to reason that Krauthammer, like Palin, makes presumptions about the "motives and inclinations of the group "health care providers". It is directly a part of conservative methodology to lump masses of people together and make presumtions about them. It is the same basis for racism or any other sort of prejudice or bigotry. By lumping all healthcare providers together, they can "generify" them and cast them in whatever light they feel will sway the emotions of their ignorant, uneducated base. The same methods are invoked when they start talking about "intellectuals" or "joe sixpack", etc.

Samuel Wilson said...

The opposition seems a little confused on this point, since Palin believes that bureaucrats rather than health care providers will be in on the "death panels." But I don't think they're saying that the healthcare profession as a whole has questionable motives. After all, some doctors and insurers are on the Republican side of this debate. They just seem to think that anyone who supports anything that looks like government-run health care is riding the slippery slope to "end-of-life counseling" or euthanasia, depeding on the degree of paranoia.