Monday, September 03, 2007

Distract and Destroy: Taking the Rhetoric Out for a Spin:

Townhall posted an article yesterday – perhaps true, I haven’t yet found a transcript, video, or audio – that typifies the right’s (and sometimes the left’s) mean-spirited style of rhetoric.

The headline, “Edwards Backs Mandatory Preventative Care,” describes presidential candidate John Edwards’ comments to a Labor Day picnic crowd in Tipton, Iowa.

In the article caught my eye, I am embarrassed to say, precisely because I bought into the right’s rhetoric – the first image in my mind was of government goons holding down some hapless and unwilling woman to inject her forcibly with a vaccine, or worse. Which immediately made me think, “Gee, that sounds pretty rough. Did he really say that?”

Edwards’ comments, if the article is correct, were about the importance of cradle-to-grave health care for every American. Here’s the relevant quote: "It requires that everybody be covered. It requires that everybody get preventive care . . . If you are going to be in the system, you can't choose not to go to the doctor for 20 years. You have to go in and be checked and make sure that you are OK.")

Now, I don’t know much about the specifics of various national health care proposals, although I’m certainly in favor of some kind of universal health care. So I don’t know if making people go to the doctor is a good thing or a bad thing. Certainly it seems reasonable that if I want you to pay for my breast cancer surgery (which hopefully I will never need), I should be willing to get annual mammograms. My next question is, how do you enforce this? How do other countries do it? The article doesn’t speak to this, and perhaps neither did John Edwards on the courthouse lawn. Or, maybe he did. Dunno.

But the right won’t be asking these questions, except perhaps rhetorically. They’ll be too busy inflaming the public against the parade of horribles that’s bound to march out of any national health care proposal, no matter whose plan it is. Oh, and of course they’ll mention again that Edwards has SUVs (one of which, as the author acknowledged, is a hybrid and the other of which he says he’s had for years).

What won’t happen is a rational, measured debate on the merits and disadvantages of national health insurance.

With her alarmist headline, the author has skillfully created a sound bite made in heaven. If right-wing pundits pick it up, John Edwards will spend the next two weeks, or maybe the coming year, having to explain himself instead of discussing the issues of the day, including health care. And we’ll all be the sicker for it.


  1. Just saying hello. I've been offline for a few weeks.