Dan Neil has written It’s time to fight dirty on the health care debate, a classic bit of leftist thinking. He begins by admitting that the other side is winning.
There are times when I want to quit being a progressive liberal, tear up my ACLU membership card and surrender my implanted mind-control chip through which I receive marching orders from Hugo Chavez. No matter the righteousness of the cause, liberal progressives cannot seem to get on top of any public policy debate, cannot seem to win any war of words — which is just weird because you have to assume there are many more English majors among liberals.
While opinions on health-care reform break sharply along partisan lines, with most Democrats in favor and most Republicans opposed, independent voters strongly oppose the health-care reform measures pending in Congress by a whopping 70 percent to 27 percent, according to a recent Pew Research poll. How could the left possibly be losing the debate on health-care reform when its opponent is the roundly loathed health insurance industry — an ongoing criminal syndicate, in my view, that demands protection money from sick people?
Could part of the problem be that the left considers insurance — an industry with a long tradition in free societies as something people buy because they value it with their rational judgment — to be a criminal syndicate?
And if Dan Neil’s statistic is right, then most Republicans and 70% of independents oppose the expansion of state power in health care. That’s a majority of voters, perhaps a huge majority over 60%. Instead of reasoning against this majority, the Democrats have chosen to demonize them, calling them “right-wing extremists,” “a mob,” “astroturf,” “racists,” and saying they carry swastikas. Regardless of whether these ad hominems are accurate (they’re not), since when is insulting a majority of voters a good tactic in a country with free elections? (That Dan Neil thinks liberals need to be advised to fight dirty is astonishing.)
Moreover, maybe the left is losing because socialized medicine is a bad idea. No one has a right to health care or anything else at the expense of other people’s rights. See the Austrians for the whole economic argument and the Objectivists for the moral and philosophic argument.
Dan Neil concludes nothing like this. Instead:
It’s because the insurance industry’s demagoguery is better and smarter than the reformists’ demagoguery. This is a gunfight to which the reform agenda has brought a dull spoon.
It has nothing to do with reason or facts. Humans are just emotionalist creatures swayed by the best dishonest advertising. As Bill Maher writes, America is a stupid country.
Neil goes on to compare TV ads, showing that Democrat ads are boring, whereas Republican ads excite viewers with scare mongering.
Neil’s conclusion is remarkable for its naked cynicism:
There’s some hope on the horizon, though, in the ad from Americans United for Change — obviously a group that wants to take away your health insurance and make you see a veterinarian for your gastritis. The ad, titled GOP Rx, debuted last week. To a kicky bass riff and the occasional cash register ring, the female narrator asks, “Why do the insurance companies and the Republicans want to kill President Obama’s health-insurance reform?”
Note the yoking of insurance companies to Republicans. Note also that it’s Obama’s health insurance reform. Evil insurance.
The ad then lights into Cigna Corp. CEO Ed Hanway, who is retiring with a $73 million golden parachute. The GOP’s prescription for the health-care crisis? “Be as rich as Ed and you’ll be happy, too.”
Of course it’s disingenuous. Executive compensation at insurance companies is at best peripheral to escalating health-care costs. For all we know, Mr. Hanway may be one of the good guys.
The important thing is that the ad hominem ad is pointed, shrewd and manipulative. And yes, it’s class warfare. But then again, this is war.
This is war, and the other side is evil, so the end justifies the means.
Do we want people who think like Dan Neil dictating medical policy? Do we want people who think it is necessary to lie and demagogue to tell doctors what they can and cannot do? Do we want these people determining which Americans should get medical treatment and which should not?