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Travis Rowley: Harry Reid: A One-Man Death Panel

Saturday, October 05, 2013


Senate President Harry Reid came under fire this week for his response to a question by CNN's Dana Bash.

“The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.”—James Madison

Prudent skepticism of government informs right-wing ideology, while it is largely absent from the modern Democratic mindset.

Last spring President Obama told a crowd of Ohio State graduates, “Unfortunately, you've grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that's at the root of all our problems…They'll warn that tyranny [is] always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.”

Early in 2013 Piers Morgan, CNN’s gun-grabbing Brit, invited conservative editor of Breitbart.com Ben Shapiro onto his show to debate the issue of gun control. Included in Shapiro’s case for protecting 2nd Amendment rights was the fact that Shapiro could imagine “the possibility of a tyranny rising in this country in the next 50 to 100 years.”

Morgan would later ask, “Who do you expect the tyranny to come from?”

“It could come from the United States,” Shapiro answered, “because governments have gone tyrannical before.”

Morgan replied, “Do you understand how absurd you sound?”

Toward the end of the interview, as if he was giving Shapiro one last chance to alter his perspective on the 2nd Amendment, Morgan would ask for the second time, “Why do [Americans] need [assault rifles]?”

Shapiro was steadfast: “To protect against the possibility of eventual government tyranny. This was the purpose of the 2nd Amendment originally. It remains the purpose of the 2nd Amendment now. And pretending that governments have never gone usurpatious before from a democratic position…”

Cutting Shapiro off, Morgan asked, “Do you genuinely believe your own government is going to turn on you in a way that you require an AR-15 to challenge them?”

“It may not turn on me. It may not turn on my children,” answered Shapiro. “But the fact is this: History is replete with democracies going tyrannical.”

Ignoring the several historical references that Shapiro provided, Morgan closed the debate by acting as if he had clearly prevailed, convinced that most people would view Shapiro as a paranoid conspiracy theorist—rather than an educated individual armed with historical evidence and legitimate concerns. “You have made your point crystal clear. People aren’t stupid. They can make up their own minds. Ben Shapiro, thank you.”

It was quite the spectacle—that is, an Englishman actually mocking and dismissing an American for his guarded attitude toward tyranny, and his attempt to stop the Englishman from disarming him.

Palin Was Right

In 2009 Sarah Palin famously charged that, under the direction of Obamacare, the American people would ultimately face government “death panels” when applying for treatment—a remark that earned sympathy and fury, respectively, from Republicans and Democrats.

However, that Democrats point to the fact that Palin’s claim became PolitiFact’s “2009 Lie of the Year,” and that Republicans maintain that Palin has been vindicated by recent statements and events, is hardly the point.

The point is that Democrats found Palin’s contention to be entirely inconceivable. To suggest that anyone within the government would ever be so cruel as to withhold life-saving or life-prolonging treatment was an outrage to Democrats—and simply not consistent with the American character.

That’s right, when not obsessing over slavery, segregation, the Tuskegee Experiment, the displacement and genocide of indigenous peoples, military imperialism, and the moral equivalence of George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler, Democrats have a surprisingly rosy view of government—and are found to be perfectly comfortable in drastically expanding its power and influence.

Conservatives, on the other hand, had already witnessed Obama explain to a constituent with an aging mother, “What we [the government] can do is make sure that at least some of the waste that exists in the system, that’s not making anybody’s mom better, that is loading up on additional tests or additional drugs, that the evidence shows is not going to necessarily improve care, that at least we can let doctors know, and your mom know, that, you know what, maybe this isn’t going to help. Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.”

Eventually, someone within the government—budget-constrained, cost-concerned, emotionally detached, and armed with dubious “evidence” and motives—would be making decisions regarding Americans’ healthcare.

And I suppose this is a fitting moment to remind everyone of Obama’s days in the Illinois State Senate, when he used government power to block the state’s Born Alive Act, legislation that requires healthcare providers to attempt to preserve the life of a child who has survived an abortion.

Barack Obama has been at this “death panel” thing for a long time.

Perhaps most notable, however, was when the Left’s esteemed Keynesian economist Paul Krugman admitted several years after Palin’s remark, “Some years down the pike, we're going to get the real solution [to federal budget issues], which is going to be a combination of death panels and sales taxes.”

The Nature of Man

Concerning the recent government shutdown, at a Democratic press conference this week CNN’s Dana Bash asked Senate President Harry Reid (D) why he wouldn’t allow the Senate to vote on a House-passed bill that would fund the National Institutes of Health—which Reid claims is “turning away cancer patients” due to the shutdown that he is blaming on Republicans.

While the Democratic Senate and the Republican House are bickering over Obamacare, Bash wondered, “If you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn't you do it?”

Before becoming flustered and very defensive toward Bash—and then quickly moving on to another reporter—Reid responded, “Why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own.”

Reid predictably came under fire from his Republican rivals for his response to Bash’s question, and was compelled to explain his seemingly insensitive comment the following day.

Reid’s clarification was more chilling than his original reaction to Bash’s question.

Reid defended himself by saying, “Little kids who are not gonna have clinical trials. Of course I care about that! I have 16 of my own grandchildren. Five children. What I told Dana Bash…is that we care about all these things. We care about our state parks. We care about our veterans, but we can't fall into the trap. And here is the trap of the [Ted] Cruz-led Republicans, and that is this: ‘Listen, we'll cherry-pick. We'll—we'll open this today and this tomorrow and this tomorrow, and finally at the end, everything will be open except the money to finish Obamacare.’ ”

Senator Reid was exactly right. That is the Republican strategy to defund Obamacare while also earning the public’s favor—to plainly illustrate to the American people that Republicans are the ones willing to keep the government functioning; that Republicans are the ones willing to compromise as they fund even those programs they vehemently disagree with, with the lone exception of Obamacare.

For some reason, Reid’s counter to the GOP’s strategy is to withhold life-saving treatment from children—and not at the hands of budget constraints, but merely in the name of triumphing over his political rivals, to avoid falling into their “trap.”

The Senate President has made it conclusive: The United States Government—particularly elected Democrats—would make political and legislative victory the price of one child’s life. These are the people who scoff when conservatives raise the specter of government tyranny.

Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is the author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left.


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