Filling in the Blanks

The ongoing health care debate is allowing a newly unencumbered Sarah Palin to flex her muscles and show the left that she is more than just a pretty face.

When it comes to matters of political relevance, the power of raw materials can never be understated, or underestimated. Nothing can replace a megawatt smile, effortless and genuine charisma, and solid communications skills.

For the American left, a little-known state senator named showed, in 2004, that he had those raw materials in spades. He was likable, eloquent, attractive and new. His worldview was rooted in Marxism (a bonus for the left), his political instincts as a potential candidate were without rival, and he was a community organizer to boot. Four short years later, Barack Obama found himself some brilliant political strategists with which to surround himself, and using new technology and ideas for outreach he put together perhaps the most effective campaign machine in history.

For the American right, perhaps the greatest natural deposit of political raw materials–much like actual ones–can be found in the great state of Alaska. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, thrust upon the scene by a horrible presidential candidate who not only refused to allow her merits overwhelm her shortcomings but also himself refused to do what it took to get elected, has proven that she can gain and maintain the trust of much of the conservative base, even in the face of media scrutiny like no other candidate has ever seen.

Palin has proven herself to be an American everywoman, a politician as truly removed from the trappings of Beltway power as Barack Obama convinced everyone he was. In fact, she was so much an everywoman–what governor cooks for her own children?–that a threatened left-leaning media abandoned every remaining shred of objectivity and professionalism and worked full-time to derail not only her candidacy, but her personal life.

Now, while Palin had far more relevant executive experience than any of the other candidates, on either side of the ballot, in 2010, she did lack foundational knowledge of national and foreign policy, undoubtedly a byproduct of pursuing a career in a state so far removed from Capitol Hill. On one hand, that may be a good thing, as people like and trust someone with which they can relate and who is not consumed by Washington politics, but on the other hand it has left a noticeable dearth of command when it comes to the nitty-gritty of major issues.

Enter the health care debate. A few days ago, Palin made reference to “death panels” on her Facebook page. After spending the previous month trying to convince the American people that her decision to leave the Alaskan state house was a death knell to her political relevance, the left worked overtime to counter that simple statement, accusing her and the right of purposely trying to scare seniors and others into opposing health care reform. Barack Obama addressed it personally, like others in his party arguing that Palin’s interpretation of the contents of the House health legislation had been based on fabricated statements that simply were not in the bill. In short, they knew that a certain segment of the population dismissed Palin outright because of that perceived lack of command of the issues, and they preyed upon that perception. She’s not a mental giant, they said. She’s seeing things that aren’t there. How dare she use her own special needs child to make a point.

But Palin responded, by filling in the blanks. In another unconventional approach to outreach, Palin just yesterday released another statement on her Facebook page, this time addressing the president directly, getting into specifics, citing her interpretation, and breaking down exactly how she had come to the “death panel” conclusion. An excerpt:

The provision that President Obama refers to is Section 1233 of HR 3200, entitled “Advance Care Planning Consultation.” [2] With all due respect, it’s misleading for the President to describe this section as an entirely voluntary provision that simply increases the information offered to Medicare recipients. The issue is the context in which that information is provided and the coercive effect these consultations will have in that context.

Section 1233 authorizes advanced care planning consultations for senior citizens on Medicare every five years, and more often “if there is a significant change in the health condition of the individual … or upon admission to a skilled nursing facility, a long-term care facility… or a hospice program.” [3] During those consultations, practitioners must explain “the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice,” and the government benefits available to pay for such services. [4]

Now put this in context. These consultations are authorized whenever a Medicare recipient’s health changes significantly or when they enter a nursing home, and they are part of a bill whose stated purpose is “to reduce the growth in health care spending.” [5] Is it any wonder that senior citizens might view such consultations as attempts to convince them to help reduce health care costs by accepting minimal end-of-life care? As Charles Lane notes in the Washington Post, Section 1233 “addresses compassionate goals in disconcerting proximity to fiscal ones…. If it’s all about obviating suffering, emotional or physical, what’s it doing in a measure to “bend the curve” on health-care costs?” [6]

Palin was clear, concise, articulate, impressive and persuasive. It was obvious that, unlike so many of the elected officials currently reluctantly fanning out to their respective districts from the safety and security of Capitol Hill, she had done her research.

And it worked. As of yesterday afternoon, the Associated Press was reporting that committees were pulling the questionable provision from the bill entirely.

Today, it’s not even noon and I’ve heard from pundits, commentators and anchors on the left more times than I can count that Palin couldn’t have written the support of her “death panel” assertion herself. That the same woman who “failed to name a single newspaper” when asked what she read by CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric simply was intellectually incapable of putting two sentences together on paper, nonetheless creating a persuasive argument based on fact and supported by liberal commentators’ own words.

But she has done just that. Sarah Palin is filling in the blanks, and the left is absolutely terrified.

That the mainstream press is attacking, personally, a woman who no longer holds a job in the public eye, is evidence in itself of exactly how much of a win Palin has orchestrated here. When it comes to her potential candidacy on the national stage, she does indeed have some shortcomings with regard to command of national policy issues — therefore, the best way to ensure political success in the future is to acknowledge those shortcomings and prevail over them. By reading everything she can get her hands on, and by hiring some stellar behind-the-scenes politicial advisers (someone in the mold of Karl Rove or Newt Gingrich, for instance), Palin could come back and truly surprise us all, even her most ardent supporters.

During the year or so leading up to last year’s presidential election, I wrote several times begrudgingly that Barack Obama was the perfect political candidate for his time and place. Should Palin do her homework, should she polish her capacity for argument and persuasion, all the while never relinquishing or diluting those raw materials, I think I could be writing the same thing about her in 18 months’ time.

UPDATE:

The other thing I’m hearing from the usual suspects is that Palin herself endorsed end-of-life counseling in Alaska, as recently as July 3. This is true. The left-leaning Web site Think Progress details the provision, noting that it has been deleted from the Alaska governor’s Web site (that could be an issue, except that there is a new Alaskan governor):

WHEREAS, Healthcare Decisions Day is designed to raise public awareness of the need to plan ahead for healthcare decisions, related to end of life care and medical decision-making whenever patients are unable to speak for themselves and to encourage the specific use of advance directives to communicate these important healthcare decisions. [...]

WHEREAS, one of the principal goals of Healthcare Decisions Day is to encourage hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, continuing care retirement communities, and hospices to participate in a statewide effort to provide clear and consistent information to the public about advance directives, as well as to encourage medical professionals and lawyers to volunteer their time and efforts to improve public knowledge and increase the number of Alaska’s citizens with advance directives.

WHEREAS, the Foundation for End of Life Care in Juneau, Alaska, and other organizations throughout the United States have endorsed this event and are committed to educating the public about the importance of discussing healthcare choices and executing advance directives.

On its face, such an endorsement may make Palin look hypocritical at best, but it’s important that you read into the context of not only the Alaskan directive, but of the congressional one as well. It’s the objective of the end-of-life counseling, as evidenced by the context of the provisions in their respective initiatives, which distinguishes the two.

The end-of-life counseling endorsed by Sarah Palin only a few weeks ago is intended to “provide clear and consistent information” to patients, to “raise public awareness” of end-of-life options; the end-of-life counseling provision in the Democrats’ bill in question, however, is included in a discussion of ways to cut health care costs. Again, Palin even acknowledges the distinction in her unconventional Facebook commentary:

With all due respect, it’s misleading for the President to describe this section as an entirely voluntary provision that simply increases the information offered to Medicare recipients. The issue is the context in which that information is provided and the coercive effect these consultations will have in that context.

The vast majority of health care costs are incurred during a patient’s final year or years of life. The president and the Democrats know this, and likely look at end-of-life care as the most effective area in which to reduce health care spending.

Look at it this way: If, at home, you’re a cat lady and own several dozen of the critters, perhaps the bulk of your grocery bill goes to cat litter. Cats, after all, have to urinate from time to time, and something must be provided in which to contain it. Let’s say for a moment that, out of habit, you have become accustomed to buying the best, most expensive brand of clumping and deodorizing cat litter, and you’re buying so much of it that such purchases make up $80 of every $100 spent on groceries. The best way for you to effectively cut costs isn’t to buy iceberg lettuce instead of romaine or switch to generic brand cereal instead of Kellogg’s; that might only reduce your bill from $100 to $96. Instead, the best way for you to cut your grocery bill is to buy the cheap litter at half the price, thus reducing your bill to $60 from $100.

End-of-life care is the cat litter of the health care system, and in knowing that every government-run program from Medicare to Social Security to the United States Postal Service goes bankrupt, end-of-life care is the Holy Grail for a party desperate to make any fiscal sense of their latest disastrous endeavor. All you need to do is look at the president’s own words with regard to cutting costs in end-of-life care, and you’ll see it for what it truly is.

Yes, Sarah Palin endorsed end-of-life counseling while she was governor of Alaska. As Barack Obama and the Democrats said over the past few days, such counseling is already in place to provide seniors and others with as much information as possible, and it is for that exact reason that Palin endorsed it. What’s different, what makes Palin and others believe the worst (besides a justified, inherent distrust of a strong federal government), is that the Democrats are proposing the counseling in the context of saving money — and in health care, there’s only one way to drastically save money: reducing the costs incurred by people as they near the end of their lives.

Attacking Sarah Palin, you see, is merely an effort by the left to distract America from the tanking public opinion toward their proposals, their party, and their president.

Share

Comments

  1. Gail B says:

    I would vote for Sarah Palin if for no other reason that I trust her integrity.

    The leftists are scared to death of her integrity. They know that all she has to do is open her mouth, and the world listens to her and believes her.

    As far a foreign policy is concerned, you are absolutely correct in your statement that she could be coached by Rove and/or Gingrich.

    You can't teach integrity; it's something that has to be learned. It's sort of like staving off dehydration by leading the horse to water. He has to drink. Similarly, to be trusted, one has to be honest.

    Whom do I trust? Palin! And certainly not the one who will not even prove his identity.

    verify: aillegl (legal ailment?)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sarah Palin is doing what the Republicans should be doing…confronting the dimwits on the specifics of this bill and speaking clearly and precisely. They want to obscure and minimize the aspects of this monstrosity but when they are confronted with the truth, they have no defense.

  3. Pat in NC says:

    Thanks Jeff. It remains early, but I am clearly strongly leaning toward Palin. She speaks straight from the heart and everyone I have talked with about her has had absolutely no problem understanding her messages. Why have the elites forgotten how to comprehend plain speak? They didn't all begin with the ability to shroud with clever words what they were thinking.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Ya gotta love that gal!!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I support the efforts Palin is taking on the healthcare bill and I am by no means a Palin opponent. With that said; I don't have much faith in a person stepping down from a governor position because of media scrutiny over her life and he family taking on a presidential roll.

  6. PROUD OF MY PALIN STICKER says:

    Excellent piece Jeff. She does have it all and what a great person, a T R U E American.

  7. Rix says:

    I have immense respect for Sarah Palin's charisma, intelligence and willpower (as well as slobbering admiration for her looks) but I would truly hate her running for the office in 2012. There is no doubt that she'd make a fantastic President, possibly second to none since Thomas Jefferson, but the most important question to ask is whether she is capable of becoming one. She might actually win the primaries – nay, she will likely sail through them, especially if Republicans wisen up and abandon the idiotic concept of open primaries – but getting into White House is a different matter altogether. Let me repeat my arguments.

    First, Sarah Palin is damaged goods. There is no question that the media did a perfect political assassination job on her. As ruined as the MSM's reputation is in our eyes, many Americans – including independents and even Republicans – do listen to them. The labels like "airhead" or "hick" do not come off easily and they do cost political points, whether they are deserved or not.

    Second, for all her charisma and sincerity, she does lack national experience. She might be a bright and quick learned but her grasp of international politics and economic theory is questionable at best. As great a leader as Ronald Reagan was, he's had his share of mistakes – and in truly difficult times, people need someone with proven knowledge.

    Third factor is that Sarah Palin is a vastly polarizing figure. We already have one inexperienced and sharply-partisan President and it doesn't seem to work so well; having another one, even on the right side of the political barricade, might irreversibly tear the nation apart – that is, assuming Obama doesn't do it first.

    For quite a long time, I am a stalwart proponent of Jim de Mint – Ron Paul ticket. It just escapes me how such a perfect combination can be missed by conservative analysts and power players across the country. I could argue till cows come home but let's do it the other way around: do you see a single flaw that such ticket would have?

  8. Rix says:

    Oh, and about that "filling the blanks" title… Yeah, we all should be doing that. Ammo works so much better with bullets in it. :)

  9. FREUDIAN WORD CHOICE? says:

    In my statement above, my use of the word 'piece' was in regards to fine article. :D

  10. Linda says:

    Rix: I am a strong proponent of a Gingrich/DeMint ticket. I also really like Palin, but I think the media will just chew her up and, unfortunately, the masses will believe them.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous 1:09 pm, I don't think Palin stepped down because of media scrutiny becuse if that was the case she wouldn't be speaking the truth so harshly about the healthcare bill. I think she actually stepped down because of the direction she sees our country heading and if she didn't act there may be no point of return. Whether you want to believe it or not, she did it for you, me and this great country.

    Rix, I'm not trying to be in disagreement w/ you but Obama won and he wouldn't know the truth if it bit him. Obama is also a thug. We just have to give Palin her wings and let her fly. Even if she doesn't become President she will be a great asset for this country. I think that more and more Americans will see the true Palin and fight for her like they have stood up to the union thugs, acorn and all the other mobs the White House sends out. I may be wrong but I hope not.

  12. Lilly says:

    I love Palin. She's a real person, smart and a mom. Exactly why the left hates her. As Rush says, watch who the left attacks the most and they will tell you who the conservatives best candidate is.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Palin represents everything I think a woman, mother, human being, politician, and Patriot should be. I would vote for her in a heartbeat. However, she scares the daylights out of some people who oppose everything she represents. The media has ripped her to shreds and they would continue to do so. Fortunately, it appears they've already dug up as much dirt as they can find and there is little left that is new to report about her.

    What I think will be different this time around is that the public will better appreciate her transparency and honesty. Obama promised it and didn't deliver. He also promised change without defining what the change would be. He spoke pleasant things to everyone as if to avoid upsetting anyone. The people don't know much about this man and they aren't liking what they are seeing so far. At least with Palin you know what you are getting, what she believes, and she will tell you exactly what's on her mind regardless if you like it or not.
    Anyone offering what Obama has not will have the advantage this next election. Palin might be a bit lacking in experience, but experience didn't really matter with Obama because it was the admiration which put him in office. Palin is capable of generating just as much admiration.

    If Obama doesn't come up with a new bag o' tricks he's going to have a very rough time this next election. It would be an incredibly uphill battle to get him out because he will turn on the empty charm again, but it could happen especially if Palin ran with the right partner.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I would rather see our nation suffering the effects of "international policy" failures than to be destroyed from within by the "moral" failures of the Obama administration and the Progressive left.

    The elitists and intellectuals will, of course, crucify ex-Gov. Palin in the MSN, just as they are Glenn Beck and the town hall protesters, but I believe that she will be a major factor in both the 2010 and 2012 elections. A Gingrich/Palin ticket in '12 wouldn't suprise me at all.

    Although Romney is leading in the polls at the moment, his record as Governor of MA will be an albatross around his neck that he won't be able to overcome. The policies that were implemented during his reign are all-too-similar to Obama's, no matter how much he would like to distance himself from them. As they say (or at least John Adams did)"Facts are stubborn things."

    Old Bob

  15. Uncle Rick says:

    Karl Rove? Policy, perhaps. Strategy, no. Not just no, but Hell No! (And I'm a Texan.)

    I know he is credited with GW's two wins, but look at the numbers, for Pete's sake. If it wasn't Rove who came up with 'Compassionate Conservative', then he certainly signed off on it. For all of his 'genius', his thinking has evidently been influenced by the left-media. As you pointed out, Jeff, the Battleground poll clearly shows that self-identified conservatives out-number self-identified liberals by 2-to-1, and the 'moderates' really don't count.

    If a GOP candidate wants to win next year, he or she would do well to meditate on that for five minutes. If the GOP wants to take back the Congress, they need to come up with another Contract with America, and then stick to conservative principles without compromise.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I want to thank you Jeff for this article on Sarah Palin.

    I think this woman is not our current definition of "politician". She not only relates to the people, she remains one of them. I thought it very telling when I learned the night of her speech to the Republican convention, the written document was misplaced and so much of what she said was from memory and from the heart.

    During the election my sister worked with many in the media including a woman who was a Hillary Clinton supporter and who even made a video at her own expense on the corrupt methods employed by Obama and his Acorn minions in defeating Hillary. She met Sarah Palin and became one of her supporters. She kept telling my sister that Sarah Palin was so smart, beautiful and sincere she had to support her. This woman was a California liberal who "loves" Sarah Palin because she actually got to meet and talk with her and know as she campaigned for the vice-presidency.

    I also think Sarah Palin was very shrewd to resign the governorship and to free herself from those obligations and the unrelenting scrutiny of the press. This way she is free to go around the country; free to study what she needs to learn; free to express her beliefs without it being a reflection on her governorship or the Republican Party which did not do much for her. I think it took a lot of courage to go off the beaten path, but the way the press and politics operate today, it really is a smart move. They really can't figure her out…most of the other politicians react in the same manner and are willing to do just about anything to stay in the designated political lanes. Sarah Palin said no to the path that created Obama, Pelosi, Reid and so many others who have sold their souls for pieces of silver and the accolades of the crown.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Look, she knows the basics just as Ronald Reagan knew the basics. We now have oodles of ivory tower sickos trying to control thing who could probably quote a lot of facts re: international (UN) policies and their limited news media choices at their fingertips – but all that does is influence them to hate the U.S., apologize for its great history to the very nations that were rescued by us over and over again (now, who is it really who doesn't know historical facts???) – and …. to chum up with dictators and people abusers …. so what good do stuffed brains with deliberately evil facts do for the country?

    Frankly I thought that the Katie question re: news sources used was itself naive in this day and age. People get their info (and that includes all folks in leadership positions) from a variety of new and obscure sources wherein one link leads to another. It would appear that Katie's sources were the ones that come in very limited choice and Sarah probably couldn't believe that Katie was that simple and unsophisticated. The question was irrelevant to those who don't run in such limited elitist circles.

    And media scrutin??? Rather media frivolous family-bankrupting lawsuits. Good decision on Sarah's part. As far as governing – left state in good hands and IF she ever became Pres she'd be immune from such of the same. By NOT being able to govern since courts weren't punishing those bringing the frivolous stuff continuously, she made the only and best move she could in this game. Bravo!

    Due to being in Alaska she could be a conservative who could still think outside the box – after the attempts to box her in.

  18. Rix says:

    Linda:

    There is a common misconception that the President must be smart. That was one of the Usurper's successful selling point – Harvard alum, legal degree cum laude and other fluff for those who still hold our decaying higher education system in certain esteem.

    In fact, the President has no need for supreme brain power. Well, it certainly never hurts (Bush the Junior was lacking it sorely) but it isn't a critical prerequisite. First and foremost, the President must possess charisma, integrity and common sense, not necessarily in this order. Newt Gingrich is undeniably intelligent – orders of magnitude superior to the average Congress crop – but kinda lacking in charisma and integrity departments. I send him money once in a while but I really hope he'll put it to better use than his own presidential run. Where I'd REALLY love him to be is the RNC chair, which is currently occupied by a hip-hop clown whose only claim to true leadership is his skin color. That would be, I think, an ideal position to employ Newt's ability to balance, control and manipulate.

  19. whats_up says:

    I find it ironic that on July 3 of this year Palin endorsed end of life decesion making and was encouraging it to be made more available. Ah I guess politics is an interesting creature.

  20. JEFF SCHREIBER says:

    I'd concede that you have a point, B, except that in the context of Palin's endorsement of a similar program in Alaska, it was done to raise public awareness, provide patients with education, etc., whereas the proposal in the Democrats' health care bill was in the context of saving money.

    Where is the bulk of health care money spent? On patients during end-of-life care. That's the only place where the administration knows it can save money — healthy people don't require much in terms of health care funding.

  21. whats_up says:

    Jeff,

    With all due respect you have no proof of this, that is conjecture on your part. So its okay for Palin to endorse it, but when a liberal does it must be evil. This is an issue where politics shouldnt be involved. Unfortunatly both sides of the aisle cant get away from it. I just wish that we would use facts instead of our imaginations.

  22. Anonymous says:

    All of the arguments concerning Health care are legitimate, but the one not asked is about the doctors. If we add 47 million more to health care, we will need about 200,000 more doctors. Without them we well have long lines and waiting for our care. This happened to all country's that took on the health care and ended up causing rationing, which is why they have reduced care to seniors.

  23. Gail B says:

    And then there's another way to reduce the amount spent on kitty litter–get rid of the cats.

    I am made to feel that seniors are viewed as such.

    Jeff, I'm going to send you an email about what Sarah Palin has done. It will blow whats_up out of the water…and hopefully shut him/her up, for a while, anyway.

Speak Your Mind

*