After bringing the term “death panel” into the American vernacular regarding end-of-life-counseling provisions in the House versions of the health-care bills, Sarah Palin was impugned for not having the knowledge to back up her statements. So she had someone do a bunch of research for her (or she magically turned into the kind of writer-researcher we have never known her to be) and put together an annotated document backing up her claims, which she put up on Facebook, natch. Her argument, cribbed from others, is that even though the panels are voluntary, have no medical decision-making authority, and are plainly not designed to “pull the plug on grandma,” the whole point of the health-care-reform bill is to reduce health-care costs, and since old, dying people are expensive, surely doctors will advise these old people to off themselves as soon as possible. Terrifying!
Now, the goal of these consultations with doctors is to have older or infirm people given explanations of all of their end-of-life options, and to aid them in making decisions while they are still able — because, you see, an even larger goal of health-care reform is to help people. The cost-saving element of this measure — the elimination of unwanted procedures — is what’s been twisted into the scare term “death panel.” And the terror tactic worked! This morning the Journal reported that a group within the Senate Finance Committee was moving to have the end-of-life provisions taken out of their version of the bill. By the afternoon, The Hill was reporting that it was a done deal. Any Senate version of health-care reform to come out of the committee won’t have the provision in it.
Now, of course, Sarah Palin isn’t single-handedly responsible for propagating the “enforced euthanasia” myth. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and New York’s own Betsy McCaughey helped, too. But we have no doubt that Palin has learned a powerful lesson from this. Actually appearing to know what you are talking about, and writing or speaking in actual English, can be really effective sometimes.