August 11, 2009

Isakson Aims at Palin, Hits Own Foot

Hatched by Dafydd

Recently, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA, 76%) offered a succinct "debunking" of a recent Facebook comment by Sarah Palin anent ObamaCare: He said Palin's take was "nuts."

This was immediately picked up by numerous lefty sites, including ThinkProgress and the Hufflepuffington Post, of course; but recently, even some very anti-liberal friends of mine (who already dislike Palin) have quoted Isakson's brilliant counterargument as if it were definitive... and that this proves Palin really is nuts.

But has any of them personally looked into her claims, compared them to Isakson's counterargument, and decided which is correct? I doubt it; because if anyone had, he would never bring up the humiliating, self-immolating Isakson attack again, and might think a second time before ever using Isakson as an authority on anything.

Not everybody has seen Palin's actual words; you can read the cause of all this hysteria on her Facebook page. The specific paragraph Isakson, et al, refers to is this:

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 only notes what has happened in every other country on Earth that has implemented a single-payer system -- which Barack H. Obama repeatedly stated in the past was his ultimate goal, and which many of his most prominent supporters on ObamaCare say is the inevitable end result of a "government option," as George Will noted last June. Government control never leads to cost savings; Palin quotes Thomas Sowell on this point. Thus, when government finds it cannot pay for what it has promised, it is inevitably driven to health-care rationing.

This has already happened in Great Britain, in Canada, in Japan, and in every other country with socialized medicine: Sooner or later, a government panel must decide who receives health care, and who is told, "sorry, none for you."

  • An 87 year old woman falls and breaks her hip. She needs a hip replacement. The panel decides that it's a waste of scarce resources, because she isn't going to live long anyway.
  • The government-run health-care plan cannot afford to give every baby that needs it expensive incubator medical treatment; so the panel decides that a severely handicapped baby, one not expected to live to see age eight anyway, should not get that treatment, because it's a waste of resources.

This is not speculative; this is what already happens in countries such as Canada, our closest neighbor (not just geographically but culturally). Hence the "joke" (uncomfortable fact put into a humorous context to avoid despair) that the health-care plan of many Canadians is "head south."

So joking aside, what is Sen. Isakson's actual counterargument to Palin's point? This is it, from the ThinkProgress piece linked up top:

[Washington Post’s Ezra] KLEIN: How did this become a question of euthanasia?

ISAKSON: I have no idea. I understand -- and you have to check this out -- I just had a phone call where someone said Sarah Palin’s web site had talked about the House bill having death panels on it where people would be euthanized. How someone could take an end of life directive or a living will as that is nuts. You’re putting the authority in the individual rather than the government. I don’t know how that got so mixed up. [...]

It empowers you to be able to make decisions at a difficult time rather than having the government making them for you.

In the first place, only two people here are "so mixed up," Ezra Klein and Johnny Isakson. Sarah Palin never said "euthanized," and she was not referring to a "living will" or an "end of life directive;" she was referring to health-care rationing, and to the government panel that must eventually decide who receives scarce health-care resources, and who does not.

Why does Isakson so completely misunderstand a very clear and understandable point? The major clue is in his first statement: He gets his entire take on what Palin is saying from "a phone call where someone said..."

He hasn't even read her Facebook post! He's calling Palin "nuts," and accusing her of getting things "so mixed up," and he hasn't even read the Facebook entry he's criticizing.

Is this the authority anyone really wants to rely upon -- a senator who calls the former governor of Alaska insane... based upon what "somebody" told him in a telephone call? Isakson is not really arguing against Palin's position; he is arguing against a caricature of her position that "someone" passed along to him over the phone -- he doesn't even appear to know who.

But what possible counterargument could anyone make to the Palin point... that the "government option" won't eventually push everyone in to government health care? That we, uniquely -- unlike every other country with government health care -- won't end up with government rationing? That rationing won't fall disproportionately on the elderly and the disabled? Who then would be at the short end of the stick -- the hale and hearty young?

Or is Isakson just saying that, while Palin may be perfectly correct, it's unseemly of her to bring up such inconvenient truths? After all, he does support a government option in health-care reform; and there aren't too many logical arguments in favor of that position beyond, "'Shut up,' he explained."

In this case, Palin is simply right, and Isakson is simply wrong; but more than wrong, he is humiliating himself by attacking her sanity and her comprehension -- based upon a ludicrous "mixup" caused by Isakson relying upon a hearsay caricature by "someone" who is obviously hostile to Sarah Palin.

We already know that Democrats have no sense of shame, but does Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 11, 2009, at the time of 3:05 PM

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Tracked on September 23, 2009 6:34 PM


The following hissed in response by: BlueNight

The single-payer systems of Canada and Britain are only as marginally effective as they are because the capitalist American system is available for the richest. If only more rich Canadians would use the American system, there might be enough for all the poor of Canada.

This means that all the other single-payer systems will get EVEN WORSE when moderate-income foreigners can no longer come here for care, instead forced to remain in their own country. This is a humanitarian disaster in the making, and he'll probably get a Nobel Prize for it!

The above hissed in response by: BlueNight [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 11, 2009 10:34 PM

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