By John Wilkes from Eyesonobama.com:
After a tireless misinformation campaign to convince Americans that end of life counseling by doctors was tantamount to "death panels" for the elderly and infirmed, largely thanks to efforts of Sarah Palin and Senator Charles Grassley, Republicans have succeeded in removing what should never have been a controversial provision from health care reform legislation.
If you've never been in this position, I hope you never will be: when a loved one is terminally ill, and there exists a decision of prolonging life in the short term at the expense of potentially tremendous pain and suffering, it's one of the most difficult personal dilemmas a person can ever face. At those times, it's incredibly valuable to have a physician who can thoroughly explain the likely benefits and detriments of continued treatment.
Somehow, from that, Republican extracted the now-heavily reported "Obama death panels," in which they explained that under the public option, the dreaded "bureaucrats" would decide whether or not the sick or elderly were worthy of the cost of continued treatment.
A provision of that nature is nowhere in the health care bill. It never was. But that hasn't kept Republicans from claiming that it was.
Sarah Palin fired the first salvo on her Facebook page (let's face it, that's just about the only soapbox she has left): "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care." How Palin's child with Down Syndrome factored into that analysis, no one is quite sure. But Palin's characterization of the bill was misleading if not outright false.
In fact, fellow Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski rebuked Palin for her comments, albeit without mentioning her by name. "Critics of health care reform," she said, "the summer's hottest political topic, aren't helping the debate by throwing out highly charged assertions not based in fact."
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich- who hasn't been in office in more than a decade- sensed an opportunity to make the Sunday morning talk show rounds. Now, without slamming Palin, let me say this: Gingrich is a smart man. He's a seasoned politician and a finely-tuned legislator. He knows what's in the bill and what's not. Still, on This Week With George Stephanopoulos, he responded to questions about death panels by calling them "community standards," and said they were "very dangerous." When told that nothing in the bill covered community standards or "death panels," Gingrich only stuttered incoherently, and reiterated that they were dangerous...even though they aren't in the bill.
But perhaps the best example of hypocrisy comes from Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the man who led the fight against the provision in the Senate. Initially, his rhetoric largely reflected that of Palin: "We should not have a government panel that determines you're going to pull the plug on Grandma."
But today, as the end-of-life counseling provision (which, again, would provide voluntary physician counseling for terminally ill patients and their families) was dropped from consideration in the Senate bill, Grassley was singing a different tune. In a statement released by his office, Grassley claimed that the reason the provision was dropped was because it might be misinterpreted. This, after he and his colleagues have spent weeks purposely mis-characterizing it.
The truth is that end-of-life counseling is an incredibly valuable service. And while it's loss isn't a great blow to the legislation itself, it's certainly a victory for dishonesty in politics.