Friday, July 24, 2009

(and other fun bits from Peggy Noonan's latest column)

The new Peggy Noonan column is about the Obama health care plan, and it's mostly GOP boilerplate -- although I do give Peggy credit for dreaming up one novel theory about why there might be public resistance to the plan:

Let me throw forward three other things that I suspect lessen, or will lessen, support for full health-care reform, two of them not quantifiable.

The first has to do with the doctors throughout the country who give patients a break, who quietly underbill someone they know is in trouble, or don't charge for their services. Also the emergency rooms that provide excellent service for the uninsured in medical crisis. People don't talk about this much because they're afraid if they do they'll lose it, that some government genius will come along and make it illegal for a doctor not to charge or a hospital to fudge around, with mercy, in its billing. People are afraid of losing the parts of the system that sometimes work -- the unquantifiable parts, the human parts.

Yes, that's right -- people don't like the Obama health plan because they like begging for charity. They prefer this to actually having insurance coverage.

Next up from Noonan: Let's abolish all worker retraining programs! The unemployed don't really want help getting jobs! They're much too proud for that! They much prefer the quiet dignity of dumpster-diving!


Now, here's an argument that's straight from the wingnut talking points, but I'm a wee bit surprised that Noonan, of all people, is making it:

We are living in a time in which educated people who are at the top of American life feel they have the right to make very public criticisms of ... let's call it the private, pleasurable but health-related choices of others. They shame smokers and the overweight. Drinking will be next....

It is a new opportunity for new class professionals (an old phrase that should make a comeback) to shame others, which appears to be one of their hobbies.... Every time I hear Kathleen Sebelius talk about "transitioning" from "treating disease" to "preventing disease," I start thinking of how they’ll use this as an excuse to judge, shame and intrude.

So this might be an unarticulated public fear: When everyone pays for the same health-care system, the overseers will feel more and more a right to tell you how to live, which simple joys are allowed and which are not.

Americans in the most personal, daily ways feel they are less free than they used to be. And they are right, they are less free.

Who wants more of that?

Who? Gee, Peggy, I thought you did. I thought you believed shaming people was a good idea:

I spoke this week at a Catholic college.... quickly--I mean within 15 seconds--the talk was only of matters related to sexuality....

I did experience it as to some degree violative of my dignity as a person. An adult. A woman. A lady.

And I have been experiencing a lot of things in this way for a while now....

I experience it when I see blaring television ads for birth-control devices, feminine-hygiene products, erectile-dysfunction medicines. I experience it when I'm almost strip-searched at airports. I experience it when I listen to popular music, if that's what we call it. I experience it when political figures are asked the most intimate questions about their families and pressed for personal views on sexual questions that someone somewhere decided have to be Topic A on the national agenda in America right now.

Let me tell you what I say, in my mind, after things like this--the symposium, the commercials, and so forth. I think,
We are embarrassing the angels....

"You are embarrassing the angels." This is what I intend to say for the next 40 days whenever I see someone who is hurting the culture, hurting human dignity, denying the stature of a human being. I mean to say it with belief, with an eye to instruction, but also pointedly, uncompromisingly. As a lady would. All invited to join in.

Oh, but I shouldn't mock, should I, Peggy? Your shaming is good. Any shaming coming from us -- if, in fact, that's what we have in mind (it isn't) -- would be very, very evil.


Oh, and once again Noonan doesn't want a silly thing like objective reality to get in the way of her opinions. Here's what she says about Obama's press conference this week:

He was filibustery and spinny and gave long and largely unfollowable answers that seemed aimed at limiting the number of questions asked and running out the clock. You don't do that when you're fully confident.

Now here's what The Washington Post said on February 10, after Obama's first prime-time press conference as president (emphasis added):

Obama controlled the tone of the East Room proceedings, speaking with utmost seriousness, gesturing with his hands and displaying a command of the facts. His lengthy, multi-part answers -- allowing for just 13 questions -- went well beyond what the journalists asked and defended his record while taking not-so-veiled slaps at the Republicans as "folks who presided over a doubling of national debt."

At the time of that first press conference, Obama was at 76% approval in the most recent CNN poll. He was, as I recall, a rather confident fellow. But at the press conference he talked a lot. His answers were long. You know what? That's just how he answers questions.

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