MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Jeb Bush, defending his efforts to keep alive Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman, when he was governor of Florida, suggested on Friday that patients on Medicare should be required to sign advance directives dictating their care if they become incapacitated.Well, Republicans won't let Obama get away with anything in this area, and if Hillary Clinton is elected president she'll undoubtedly get the same treatment. But what about Jeb? GOP base voters don't trust him. Won't they attack him for this?
A similar proposal by President Obama -- that doctors should be paid to advise patients on end-of-life decisions -- became a political firestorm in 2009, when Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate, claimed that the legislation would give bureaucrats the power to decide if some frail or disabled people were deserving of medical care. The assertion was shown to be false.
In 2010, Medicare tried to add a regulation that would permit “voluntary advance care planning” during yearly checkups. But after an uproar, President Obama’s administration pushed to drop that provision....
I can't tell. The Big Lie that Republicans originally spread about this started with Betsey McCaughey, with Sarah Palin weighing in later, as PolitiFact noted in 2009:
On July 16, Betsy McCaughey, the former lieutenant governor of New York and a conservative health care commentator, suggested that the Democratic plan included a measure requiring seniors be told how to end their lives. "Congress would make it mandatory — absolutely require -- that every five years people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner," she said on a radio show hosted by conservative Fred Thompson.Palin wrote later on Facebook:
PolitiFact gave McCaughey a Pants on Fire rating for that statement. There were no mandatory sessions proposed. Instead, for the first time, Medicare would pay for doctors' appointments for patients to discuss living wills, health care directives and other end-of-life issues. The appointments were optional, and the AARP supported the measure.
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.So Republicans think there used to be (or still are!) mandatory "death panels" in Obamacare, in which people in life-or-death situations have to beg for their lives before heartless experts in a scene that could have come out of The Hunger Games. Many Democrats probably believe this, too.
Will the GOP base decide that Jeb's proposal is similar because it's mandatory? Or will the base conclude that, since no one from the evil government will tell you what to write on your end-of-life directive, it's freedom?
So far, I'm not seeing much noise on the right about this. Maybe Rick Santorum or Ted Cruz or Mike Huckabee is saving it up as a later attack line to use on Jeb. But maybe not. Maybe there's a sense that Jeb's version of an end-of-life mandate is totally different.
Jeb did say this while talking about Terri Schiavo. I think the crazies probably admire what Jeb did in the Schiavo case, because (a) it's "pro-life" and (b) he scored a few momentary victories against us evil lefties for a while. This is one of the few area in which his record gives him an advantage over all the other candidates in wingnut voters' eyes -- he's squandering some of that, but he has some to squander.
If Jeb is the general election candidate, supporters of what he did in the Schiavo case will probably remember what he did (because conservatives have long memories). The rest of, alas, probably won't (we have shot memories). I'd love to think the Schiavo case would hurt him in a general election -- but it probably won't.