All of this morning’s television news talk shows focused on health care. On Meet the Press, David Gregory interviewed a panel that included David Brooks. No doubt Brooks was included as the panel’s “conservative.” Here is part of the dialogue that ensued:
MR. GREGORY: Republicans in office and on the airwaves insist the anger is real, reflecting real fears about a government takeover of the healthcare system. But the rhetoric has become extreme.
MR. RUSH LIMBAUGH: There are far more similarities between Nancy Pelosi and Adolph Hitler than between these people showing up at town halls to protest a Hitler-like policy.
MR. GREGORY: White House advisers say the tactics will backfire against the GOP. But can the president retake center stage of this debate?
And we’re joined now by Jon Meacham of Newsweek magazine, CNBC’s Erin Burnett and David Brooks of The New York Times. Welcome to all of you.
So, David, that is the question. What’s going on here and how does the president retake center stage?
MR. DAVID BROOKS: I hadn’t seen the Rush Limbaugh thing. That is insane. What he’s saying is insane.
Really? Actually, Obamacare is a pretty good modern instance of national socialist economic policy. But that’s a technical matter on which neither David Gregory nor David Brooks was focused, and on which neither is probably qualified to comment. More important is this: it was Nancy Pelosi who started the Nazi analogy by deriding opponents of socialized medicine as people who attend town hall meetings carrying swastikas. That is simply a lie. And Pelosi’s attempt to ram socialized medicine down the throats of the American people under false pretenses, with little debate, has a lot more in common with totalitarianism than individual Americans going to public meetings and expressing their views.
Brooks is not necessarily oblivious to all of this, but he knows where his bread is buttered. He makes his living as a “conservative” who can reliably be counted on to sell out conservatives and Republicans at every opportunity. As a result, he is a nobody in the conservative movement. I don’t know whether he considers himself a chief–I doubt it–but if so, he doesn’t have any Indians. None.
Brooks wasn’t done:
MR. GREGORY: David, Sarah, Sarah Palin on Facebook, to the point of the opposition, this is what she writes: “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…whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.” There is the rhetoric; there’s also the question of what’s true and what’s false in what people are arguing about this notion of a death panel.
MR. BROOKS: Yeah. Again, that’s crazy. If–the, the, the crazies are attacking the plan because it’ll cut off granny, and that–that’s simply not true. That simply is not going to happen. The real reason for public skepticism is that Obama very eloquently and very truthfully said, “We’ve got to bring down healthcare costs.”
Brooks is a conventionally “smart” guy who often seems like an idiot. How, exactly, does he think that any government insurance plan is going to “bring down healthcare costs?” By the natural efficiency that results every time the federal government takes responsibility for something? Um, no. By rationing health care. And rationing means, precisely, “cutting off granny” and not “wasting” money on babies with Down syndrome.
It’s possible to disagree with conservatives’ critiques of Obamacare, although those critiques are generally, I think, on target. What is not possible is to casually characterize those critiques as “insane” and “crazy” and still call yourself a conservative.
Byron York contacted Rush Limbaugh to get Rush’s reaction to being called “insane” by Brooks. Here is what Rush had to say:
Everyone seems to ignore that Pelosi started this, saying town hall participants were showing up with swastikas, etc. That’s calling them Nazis, as Dick Durbin referred to our Gitmo interrogators from the Senate floor. I’ve been listening to the left compare George W. Bush to Hitler for eight years. I’ve been listening to Democrats and the left compare conservatism to Nazis my whole career. This time I responded. In kind, by comparing the radical left policies of the Nazis to today’s radical left leadership of the Democrat Party. I’m not surprised they don’t like it.
He’s right, of course, that the Nazis were “radical left.” Today, as during the New Deal, some of the Democratic Party’s policies bear an uncomfortable resemblance to National Socialist programs. Unlike the citizens who show up at public meetings to express their opinions and oppose big government, who are as far from being “Nazis” as you can possibly get. David Brooks ought to think about sticking up for them.
UPDATE: Here, via Michelle Malkin, is a photo-essay that documents the contrast between genuine citizen involvement and paid left-wing pseudo-activism.
PAUL adds: I’m as appalled and outraged as the next conservative by the Democrats’ attempt to replace a health care system that works well for most Americans with a regime of, in effect, socialized medicine. But conservatives should avoid analogizing what the Democrats have in mind to Nazism, which is the analogy that those who bring swastikas with lines through them to rallies are drawing.
“Socialized medicine” is what the Dems have in mind, not Nazi medicine. Canada and England (to take two of the many advanced democracies who have gone down this road) are not remotely Nazi nations and the term socialized medicine fully captures what they have put in place, leaving no justification for references to Nazism.
Over-heated rhetoric isn’t the same thing as insanity, but that doesn’t mean folks on our side should indulge in it.