Robert Knight: Death Panels and Dining Room Tables


ACRU Staff


August 28, 2009

This column originally appeared on on August 28, 2009.

Liberals can’t stop talking about “death panels.” Sarah Palin introduced the term on her Facebook page to describe the likelihood that faceless Obamacare bureaucrats would decide people’s fates. Predictably, Mrs. Palin is being assailed from every corner of the media for providing the catch phrase for what everyone else is thinking.

When your opponents keep repeating your talking point, you’ve pretty much won the argument.

The more that liberals deny their plan will hatch “death panels,” the more folks catch on to the dangers of a government-run health system. It works the same way as someone loudly saying, “I’m not a bigot! I’m not! I’m not! A bigot, that is!”

Unlike the 1,013-page bill in the House (HR 3200), this one’s simple to understand. Government will call the shots. Government must cut costs. Someone must decide who gets what care and when. Age will be a huge factor. Hence, “death panels.”

Obama partisans point out that neither “death panels” nor any term like it can be found in the bill. Of course you can’t find it in the bill. However, the relentless logic of budget cutting, quality-of-life criteria, and real-life rationing reported from Canada and Great Britain lead to the same conclusion: When push comes to shove, grandma’s going to get shoved first.

This has not been lost on the nation’s burgeoning population of seniors and boomers. The latest Census Bureau report estimates that more than 38 million Americans are 65 and older, and 91 million are 50 and over. The AARP, whose leaders were doing a dance with the Obama-Pelosi plan until their membership revolted, has reluctantly reported that 60,000 members have resigned since July.

On August 11, Mr. Obama told a Portsmouth, New Hampshire audience that “AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare, okay?”

That prompted AARP’s Tom Nelson to issue a denial that the group has blessed “any of the major health care reform bills currently under consideration in Congress.”

But staying neutral on what many seniors now see clearly as a threat to their very lives probably won’t cut it. Motel and bus discounts are nice, but they need a real champion now. Perhaps some of AARP’s alleged 40 million members will learn about Jim Martin’s 60 Plus Association, the feisty organization for older people that is a counterpoint to the AARP’s liberal lurches.

It might be too soon to say that support for Obamacare has collapsed, but it’s sure rattling the older folks. In a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, only 28 percent of people over 65 support the plan, with 46 percent opposed. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of them figure it out. The younger folks are also wising up that they will be required to pay the lion’s share for socialized medicine. Overall, only 35 percent of Americans say they want the current bill enacted, according to Rasmussen Reports.

Senators and congresspersons are running for cover. Some won’t hold town halls. Others are playing down their initial enthusiasm for the “public option,” which everyone who is sentient knows will doom private health insurance. And some, like Barney Frank, have been caught on camera furiously denouncing constituents–in Massachusetts! One clip shows him telling a woman that conversing with her would be like “trying to have a conversation with a dining room table.” The woman on the receiving end, who called it a “Nazi” plan, probably felt the same way.

YouTube is crammed with pols facing huge, angry crowds, and speakers coming to the mike armed with facts. It’s gotten so bad that Obama has unleashed his Organizing for America troops to chant in front of the cameras. Talk about “Astroturf” protests, as Nancy Pelosi would say. Obama has also started raising the GOP bogeyman, even though his party controls both houses and would pass anything he wants if they weren’t so busy fleeing pitchforks and tar.

As the summer winds down, the “clunkers for cash” program is parked. The energy tax “Cap and Trade” monstrosity will be delayed until after the Obamacare train wreck. People are calculating the costs of Obamacare and the trillions spent to expand the government a thousand ways, and they don’t like it. A revolution is brewing.

It will take only 40 Democrats in the House to flee the coming wrath and vote against the health care takeover to doom that risky scheme. After that, when the “death panels” are off the dining room table, the cooler heads in the president’s party should be thinking: “Roll back.”



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