‘Sarah Palin’s uncanny ability to shape the entire health care debate using only a computer and a Facebook page could prove a turning point in the former governor’s political career
Tonight, President Barack Obama will address a joint session of Congress and, by all accounts, will put forth a detailed description of what he wants from lawmakers in terms of health care reform. Obama, however, isn’t the only one getting specific.
About a month after turning the health care debate on its ear with a well-researched, impeccably cited note on her Facebook page regarding Democratic Party plans for health care reform and end-of-life care for seniors, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has once again picked up the pen and weighed in, this time in an op-ed piece entitled Obama and the Bureaucratization of Health Care in today’s Wall Street Journal.
In the piece, Palin pokes holes in the health care plans bounced about by Democrats and the president, warning of promises that Washington cannot keep, and arguing that the proposals currently being considered would provide unelected, unaccountable group of government officials with life-and-death health care rationing powers. An excerpt:
Let’s talk about specifics. In his Times op-ed, the president argues that the Democrats’ proposals “will finally bring skyrocketing health-care costs under control” by “cutting . . . waste and inefficiency in federal health programs like Medicare and Medicaid and in unwarranted subsidies to insurance companies . . . .”
First, ask yourself whether the government that brought us such “waste and inefficiency” and “unwarranted subsidies” in the first place can be believed when it says that this time it will get things right. The nonpartistan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) doesn’t think so: Its director, Douglas Elmendorf, told the Senate Budget Committee in July that “in the legislation that has been reported we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount.”
Now look at one way Mr. Obama wants to eliminate inefficiency and waste: He’s asked Congress to create an Independent Medicare Advisory Council—an unelected, largely unaccountable group of experts charged with containing Medicare costs. In an interview with the New York Times in April, the president suggested that such a group, working outside of “normal political channels,” should guide decisions regarding that “huge driver of cost . . . the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives . . . .”
Given such statements, is it any wonder that many of the sick and elderly are concerned that the Democrats’ proposals will ultimately lead to rationing of their health care by—dare I say it—death panels? Establishment voices dismissed that phrase, but it rang true for many Americans. Working through “normal political channels,” they made themselves heard, and as a result Congress will likely reject a wrong-headed proposal to authorize end-of-life counseling in this cost-cutting context. But the fact remains that the Democrats’ proposals would still empower unelected bureaucrats to make decisions affecting life or death health-care matters. Such government overreaching is what we’ve come to expect from this administration.
Way back on February 12, 2008, less than a month after I established America’s Right and to an audience of only about three dozen people each day, I wrote a piece entitled Inevitable Democratic Party Nominee is All Sizzle, No Steak. That day, primary polls had just closed in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, and I stated that “America’s Right–with all of its staggering credibility–is calling those three primaries, as well as the Democratic [Party] nomination as a whole, for Illinois Sen. Barack Hussein Obama.”
I deemed Obama “truly the perfect political weapon for this time,” a time “when cosmetic surgery is the norm, when the latest exploits of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan and Heather Mills and Simon Cowell lead news broadcasts,” and I openly worried that “the increasingly superficial nature of the country will lead people to dismiss steak in favor of sizzle.”
Back then, when Obama’s soaring rhetoric was lofty and eloquent enough to leave even this hardened conservative awestruck, I encouraged people to tear his speeches apart and “find the facts within the phrasing, the policy within the promises, the actual means to Obama’s wonderfully described, idealistic end.”
“Everywhere you look,” I wrote, “people seem to be more and more enamored by the impassioned yet empty rhetoric employed by the Illinois senator, yet even the most ardent supporters I encounter on a daily basis do not seem to know what is behind the flawless curtain. Others simply don’t care – Obama connects with them on an emotional level, and that’s all that seems to matter.”
I pointed out how he caucused “left of just about everybody in Washington, D.C.” and highlighted some of the decisions he had made in the seventeen seconds he had spent as a junior senator from Illinois, including a vote against the renewal, for six months time, authority pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which would provide our government to review communications of suspected terrorists without a court order. (Interestingly enough, just yesterday we learned from the folks at Wired.com that e-mail correspondence intercepted because of that authority–which Obama voted against–helped to convict, in British court, the would-be bombers of several intercontinental flights.)
I closed the piece with a few paragraphs which now, eighteen months later, can only be described as eerie:
As much as his liberal—and, in some cases, downright dangerous—stances on just about everything worries me, what frightens me most are the exact characteristics that attract people to his candidacy – his youth, and his natural gift of oratory.
I worry that the idealism which runs hand-in-hand with youth—and not to mention liberalism—will cause Obama to become something that, under other circumstances, would be absolutely welcomed. I worry that, unlike Hillary Clinton, who would use her power to position herself for greater wealth and greater power, Obama would actually work tirelessly to advance his ideals and get things done. If he were a conservative, this side of Obama would have me jumping for joy.
Barack Obama is truly the perfect political weapon for this time. I worry that his natural gift of oratory–he recently spoke to a sold-out crowd of 16,000 in Boise, Idaho, hardly an epicenter of liberal thought–will grease the wheels of Congress and government. Where democrats and republicans alike would automatically scrutinize any and all ideas put forth by Hillary Clinton due to her disingenuous nature if nothing else, Obama’s likable personality and ability to communicate might temper dissent. Furthermore, his ability to create ambiguous rhetoric to advance his ideals without actually saying anything of substance could allow him to take certain issues above the collective heads of Congress and right to the American people.
No matter how much I ramble on about the history and tendencies of the Supreme Court, no matter how much I drone on and on about the threat we face from fundamentalist Islam, no matter how much I try to coherently make arguments about the pending economic downturn or share information about and developments along our porous borders, I cannot adequately convey just how important the 2008 election is to America.
So, why bring this up in a commentary about Sarah Palin’s recent health care-related op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal? Well, the answer is fairly simple — but I can’t say it without coming off like a total prick.
I bring it up because I’m right. When it comes to this stuff, I’m nearly always right.
During last year’s campaign, I predicted not only the outcome of a Democratic Party primary which lasted until June, but I predicted exactly who Barack Obama would pick as a running mate, I predicted exactly how he would use race against John McCain, exactly how McCain could gain even a short-lived “bump” in his poll numbers, and more. I only missed two things in last year’s election: the selection of Sarah Palin, and the winning Powerball numbers. I’m by no means perfect, but when I get a certain feeling about something, look out.
Fast-forward from mid-February 2008 to now and we have President Barack Obama working tirelessly to advance his own ideas and ideals, we have an administration using perceived economic crisis to further its agenda, we have a downright racist, admittedly activist Associate Justice now about to hear her first case at the United States of America, we have the president’s likability tempering dissent, and the White House is banking on his ability to create ambiguous rhetoric without actually saying anything of substance to allow the administration to take the health care debate straight to the American people.
And I have a feeling that we’re seeing a turning point for Sarah Palin. Without a doubt, it was Sarah Palin who singlehandedly shaped the debate over health care during the crucial August recess. Dogged perpetually by those who claim that she is an intellectual dim bulb, Palin got specific about end-of-live provisions in the context of cost-cutting measures, coined a political phrase–dare I say “death panels?”–that could both define and haunt a one-term presidency, and today she’s doing it again.
I’ve liked Palin from the start, and while I was confident in her abilities as a possible No. 2, I wasn’t entirely sure that she had the foreign policy experience and national policy knowhow to compete for the presidency. I stated, over and over again, that if she were to do a lot of reading, do a bit of speaking and maintain her national presence without overdoing it, all the while studying up on the issues and policies she needs to most, she could be a force to be reckoned with in 2012.
After all, if you take her raw political talent, her knack for drawing a crowd and raising money, her ability to relate to everyday Americans, her solid conservative ideals, and her executive experience and combine it with a new-found, deep understanding of the issues affecting domestic and foreign policy, she could be unstoppable. I get the feeling we’ll be able to track her progress based upon the treatment she receives from the mainstream press.
While it’s obviously too early to predict what will happen in that crucial year, I feel comfortable now more than ever saying that Palin’s seat at the GOP table will be bigger than even many of her own supporters imagined just a few short months ago. If her writings, if her ability to do research and make valid arguments on health care reform are any indication, she’s well on her way to doing the right things and reinvent herself on the national stage. And if it’s not her doing the research, making the arguments and putting forth the writings, it means that she has found herself the right people to carry her forth.
I can’t call the 2012 election now like I did the 2008 election back then, but I can say that the same feeling that really made me apprehensive about Illinois Sen. Barack Hussein Obama in February of last year is getting me really excited about Sarah Palin now. If she emerges in the manner I believe she will, it will be Sarah Palin in 2012 that will be the perfect political weapon of that particular time and place.