Thursday, September 03, 2009


Now that the wingnuts' Summer of Hate is over, I see that someone has apparently pitched a "right-wingers are responsible and serious, really" story hook to two New York Times reporters, and the result is an article titled -- no, this is not a joke -- "Conservatives See Need for Serious Health Debate."

First up among these Very Serious conservatives who are shocked, shocked, at the intemperateness of the current health care rhetoric is Gail Wilensky:

Far from embracing the attacks, many leading conservative health care policy experts said in recent interviews that the dynamic was precluding a more robust real-world debate while making it nearly impossible for them to inject their studied, free-market solutions into the discussions.

And they said the focus on what they consider misleading or secondary issues was getting in the way of real questions about the plan they believed worthy of consideration.

"There are serious questions that are associated with policy aspects of the health care reform bills that we're seeing," said Gail Wilensky, a veteran health care expert who oversaw the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs for the first President George Bush and advised Senator John McCain in his presidential campaign last year.

"And there's frustration because so much of the discussion is around issues like the death panels and Zeke Emanuel that I think are red herrings at best," she said, referring to a health care adviser to President Obama whose views on some issues have been misrepresented by opponents.

Wilensky's profound disappointment at the tone of the discussion begins to ring a bit hollow when you realize that she's on the boards of several major health care companies, including UnitedHealth (the big insurer) and Cephalon (a drug manufacturer). Recall that the Lewin Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of UnitedHealth, was the source of some of the pre-August hysteria in the debate, primarily over the much-quoted claim that a public option could force 120 million Americans to lose their current coverage. And though I'm not clear whether Cephalon is involved, the AARP has reported on a pharmaceutical-industry front group called 60 Plus, which is actively scaring older Americans into believing that Democrats want to "pay for health care reform on the backs of our seniors."

If Wilensky has brought any of this up in board meetings, I'm not aware of it.

Also shocked is this guy:

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research group, is among those making policy-laden arguments against Mr. Obama's plan that do not lend themselves to easily digestible catch phrases like "death panels" or false but sensational assertions that the elderly will be told to choose euthanasia as a cost-saving measure.

Yeah, Gottlieb just hates sensationalist appeals to emotion -- that's why he's written op-eds this year with titles like "Congress Wants to Restrict Drug Access: A bill in the House could tie your doctor's hands" and "Government Health Plans Always Ration Care."

I suspect someone spoon-fed this article idea to the Times out of a belief that if the public can be persuaded to swallow the notion of well-meaning, thoughtful conservatives, the history of what we've just been through can be rewritten to whitewash the mob craziness, demagoguery, and lies. None of that really happened! Or if it did, it was all exaggerated! And no responsible conservative endorsed it!

What a crock.

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