Monday, May 15, 2017


Jeff Jacoby, a right-wing op-ed columnist for The Boston Globe is appalled by the language of Trumpcare opponents:
Listen to some what passes for political discourse these days.

“Donald Trump and Republicans just celebrated voting to let thousands of Americans die so that billionaires get tax breaks.” Those are the words of a prominent US senator.

“They” — Republican House members who voted for the AHCA — “should be lined up and shot. That’s not hyperbole; blood is on their hands.” So fumes a professor at the Art Institute of Washington.

“I hope every GOPer who voted for Trumpcare sees a family member get long-term condition, lose insurance, and die. I want the GOPers who support this to feel the pain in their own families. . . . I want them to be tortured.” Those sentiments are expressed via Twitter by a senior writer at Newsweek.

... this is what discussions of public policy sound like now — even when the issues in contention are about insurance subsidies and Medicaid waivers, not war and peace.
I don't approve of that professor's language, but the senator (Bernie Sanders) was telling the literal truth, and the Newsweek writer -- Kurt Eichenwald, a Trump critic and epileptic who has been the recipient of a seizure-inducing tweet from a Trump supporter -- also wrote in that tweetstorm, "Nobody tell me how to feel knowing if I lose my insurance, Im dead." He has the right to be upset.

You may recall that the anti-Obamacare movement was rather intemperate a few years back. Jacoby, to give him his due, acknowledges that:
It was a Republican, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who told senior citizens back in 2009 that if the Affordable Care Act passed, “you’re going to die soon.” It was Representative Michele Bachmann, another Republican, who railed on the House floor that Obamacare “literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens.” It was Sarah Palin, a GOP governor and vice-presidential nominee, who warned that under the ACA, the sick and the elderly would “have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘Death Panel’” and have bureaucrats decide if they live or die.
But then Jacoby devises a moral test for his readers:
If, as a liberal, you were disgusted when Republicans resorted to such toxic arguments then, you should be horrified to hear your fellow liberals resort to them now. Conversely, if you’re a mainstream conservative sickened at the way Democrats now play the “death” card, did you have the same objection when the GOP was doing so during the Obama years?
That last question is a particularly good one. So let's see: Did Jeff Jacoby "have the same objection" when, say, Sarah Palin railed against Obamacare's nonexistent "death panel"?

The Palin Facebook post linked by Jacoby was written in August 2009. Eight months later, Jacoby began a column this way:
Sarah Palin and the tea party express will rally on the Boston Common this morning, and if everything you know about the tea partiers comes from talking heads on your TV screen or big-name pundits in the prestige press, you're probably cringing in expectation of an ugly invasion by hate-filled, out-of-control bigots.

It was only a couple of weeks ago, after all, that the New York Times's Frank Rich was informing his readers that Tea Party protesters opposing the Obama health-care bill were "goons," so inflamed by "homicidal rhetoric" — Rich cited the protesters' chant "Kill the bill!" as an example — that they had turned into latter-day SS troops engaged in a "small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht."

... To anyone who knows real Tea Party members or has attended a Tea Party event, these characterizations are so absurdly scurrilous that it's hard to imagine anyone could possibly believe them, let alone utter them in good faith. Yet some people will believe anything, especially when it suits their political prejudices.
Nope, not a word of criticism for Palin or anyone else connected to the Tea Party. In fact, the real villains, according to Jacoby, were liberals like Frank Rich, who slandered nice, patriotic Americans just for chanting "Kill the bill!"

In fact, that's a very unrepresentative example of what Rich found so alarming. Let me quote the Rich column linked by Jacoby at greater length:
There’s nothing entertaining about watching goons hurl venomous slurs at congressmen like the civil rights hero John Lewis and the openly gay Barney Frank. And as the week dragged on, and reports of death threats and vandalism stretched from Arizona to Kansas to upstate New York, the F.B.I. and the local police had to get into the act to protect members of Congress and their families.

How curious that a mob fond of likening President Obama to Hitler knows so little about history that it doesn’t recognize its own small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht. The weapon of choice for vigilante violence at Congressional offices has been a brick hurled through a window. So far.

... Yet it’s this bill that inspired G.O.P. congressmen on the House floor to egg on disruptive protesters even as they were being evicted from the gallery by the Capitol Police last Sunday. It’s this bill that prompted a congressman to shout “baby killer” at Bart Stupak, a staunch anti-abortion Democrat. It’s this bill that drove a demonstrator to spit on Emanuel Cleaver, a black representative from Missouri. And it’s this “middle-of-the-road” bill, as Obama accurately calls it, that has incited an unglued firestorm of homicidal rhetoric, from “Kill the bill!” to Sarah Palin’s cry for her followers to “reload.” At least four of the House members hit with death threats or vandalism are among the 20 political targets Palin marks with rifle crosshairs on a map on her Facebook page.
Not a peep of protest in real time from the hypocritical hack Jeff Jacoby.

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