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Is There Anything Sarah Palin Can't Polarize?

PH2009072602965.jpgGreg Sargent rounds up some other Republicans who have been supporters of adding end-of-life counseling to Medicare. He's got Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski on the list, but should also add Richard Lugar, who co-sponsored the 2007 Medicare End-of-Life Care Planning Act.

That said, I'm uncomfortable hunting down every Republican who ever supported sensible end-of-life counseling policies and demanding they denounce Sarah Palin. This is one of those aspects of health-care policy that should not be a partisan football. When Johnny Isakson offered his amendment in the Senate HELP Committee, it passed on an unanimous voice vote. Not a single Democrat dissented.

It is testament to Palin's talents as a polarizing force that she's managed to make this issue controversial. And I'm sympathetic to Sargent's argument that principled Republicans should denounce her demagoguery. But it'll be a real shame if a sensible policy encouraging end-of-life counseling becomes a casualty of Palin's political style. I fear it would be difficult for Isakson to argue today, as he did in April of 2008, that "you ought to be required to execute a durable power of attorney when you become eligible [for Medicare]." But that was the right policy then then and it's the right policy now. Encouraging individuals to set down their end-of-life treatment wishes when they're of sound mind and body is not a liberal idea or a conservative idea. It's simply a responsible idea. And that's why responsible members of both parties have advocated it.

Photo credit: Al Grillo -- Associated Press Photo.

By Ezra Klein  |  August 12, 2009; 11:55 AM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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You give great legislative analysis but you're a piss poor political strategist. I wish liberals like you would stop advocating such limp wrist political strategies.

Politics is a game. (Not in a trivial sense more in a Game Theory, Wittigenstein's language game sense...) You don't win the "game" by doing the right thing and expecting everyone to see that you're obviously right.

Posted by: TheChairman66 | August 12, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you have left out the GOP endorsed law in Texas passed by then Gov. Geoge W. Bush in 1999 which allows health care facilities, such as hospitals, when patients can't afford it, to deny life saving interventions to patients, even over-riding the wishes of parents or family members after review by a "death panel".

Posted by: cmpnwtr | August 12, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Have you reported Sarah Palin to After having said what she did, her name should be sent in right away.

Posted by: truck1 | August 12, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

So what do you think of Isakson stabbing you in the back?

Posted by: flounder2 | August 12, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

@TheChairman66: while I disagree with your vehemence towards Ezra specifically, your assessment is spot-on for the Democratic Party in general.

I'm starting to think that being a "Progressive" boils down to "I'm a liberal with a spine."

Posted by: BigTunaTim | August 12, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

It's so true. The game of denunciation (in which politicians are pressured to denounce those with whom they disagree) has gone much too far to be of use to any thinking person.

Palin is detestable, but to try and paint every Republican who doesn't denounce her as somehow morally tainted is doomed to failure, and deservedly so.

Posted by: upperojai | August 12, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but if you want to have a functioning democracy, then Republicans have to prove that you can stand up to this nonsense and still be a hard-core conservative who get re-elected.

In reality, 0.000001% of the electorate will care about this in 2010. But if every responsible Republican runs away from it today, then the story will be that this issue is "too hot" to be legislated.

And so people will die in horrible pain. Their families will be tortured by the question of whether they did what their parents wanted.

One of the problems in our discourse has been an inability to draw a line between what sane-but-conservative people think, and what is the sole province of deranged conspiracy theorists. Our right-wingers have felt a need to be far more radical than they really are--or, quite frankly, than most people want them to be.

We should all as concerned AMERICANS, not partisans, be pushing Isakson to stand by what he did, which was the right thing for American families.

There really should be a category for Republican ideology that is more-conservative-than-Olympia-Snowe, but not black helicopter insane.

Right now, it's not clear to me that Republicans who want to get re-elected know where that line is. And there are beltway insiders who want them to believe it's a LOT further to the right than it is (because, hey, if my business is ginning up loonies, it's in my interest to have members of congress who are responsive to ginned up loonies, right?)

So this is exactly the WRONG advice. Isakson must be pushed to draw a line between "legitimate disagreements" and "insane fringe theories."

Posted by: theorajones1 | August 12, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I celebrated the day she resigned her governorship because I hoped it might mean the end of her political career. All I can say is I hope she fades into well-deserved obscurity ere the next presidential election. Or, failing that, be bounced out of the 2012 presidential primaries early. She's too ill-informed, gaffe-prone and, I agree, polarizing.

Posted by: tbass1 | August 12, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Fact is a four letter word for Republicans. Facts get in the way of polarization and division. Deny facts! Distort and deceive. That way you can start wars, claim victories, accuse your political opponents of wanting to murder their grandparents or of hating their own country.

Fear, Hatred, Distortion and division. It's all Republicans have.

Posted by: thebobbob | August 12, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Don’t believe obummer’s lie that there will not be death panels. Why do I know? There already are death panels in Oregon’s universal care system! They have had real people be refused treatment on account of cost. Those same people were however offered suicide drugs.

Nothing obama says has meaning because he can't be trusted.

Watch this video. You’ll see obama lie like a dog in his very own words.

People need to wake up and see this lying fraud for who he is, an America hating, Saudi King bowing, dictator loving, former cocaine addict, racist Kenyan usurper dirt-bag Chicago thug!

Posted by: steveb777 | August 12, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

"Death Panels" were called Triage since 1925
1. the process of sorting victims, as of a battle or disaster, to determine medical priority in order to increase the number of survivors.
2. the determination of priorities for action in an emergency.

3. of, pertaining to, or performing the task of triage: a triage officer.

–verb (used with object)
4. to act on or in by triage: to triage a crisis.

1925–30; < F: sorting, equiv. to tri(er) to sort (see try ) + -age -age

Battlefield Triage:
1: Those who can't be saved, make comfortable while dying.
2. Those in least danger of dying, set aside for treatment after the urgent needs patients.
3. Those who will live if given immediate care, but will die if care is postponed -- treat first.

DEATH PANELS of govt agent doctors have been doing this on battlefields since time began, but began using the word TRIAGE for three categories since 1925, about 84 years.

Posted by: know1 | August 13, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

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