Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Snarky commentary on health care relies on invective and insults
Lewis M. Simons, whose Pulitzer Prize must have been in the Snarky Commentary category, writes a USA Today column, Why Americans don't just 'let them die,'" in which he pronounces all Republicans and the pro-life movement as anti-life--all on the basis of comments out of context and two random outbursts from audience members at a recent GOP presidential debate.
When CNN antagonist Wolf Blitzer baited GOP presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul at the debate by asking if he'd let an uninsured motorcycle accident patient simply die, two members of the audience yelled, "Yeah." Rep. Paul began his answer not by advocating letting the patient die, but first by referring to the freedom principle of not forcing Americans to buy health insurance and second by calling on churches and others to help such patients in need.
Yet Simons somehow created an entire malicious column by lifting those comments out of context, by libelously asserting that Republicans were "cheering in favor of letting a young man die if he's sick and uninsured" and by denouncing "right-wing politicians" and pro-life advocates as having a "meanness of spirit."
Apparently oblivious to his own meanness of spirit, Simons derides Republicans as "self-proclaimed patriots" and demeans Rep. Michele Bachman as Sarah Palin's "avatar" and a "scientifically uneducated mom."
Surely it remains possible in our democratic republic to hold a civilized, informed debate over health care in this country, debating the merits of proposals and examining the evidence for and against policy approaches. But USA Today hardly fulfills its role as a respected forum for debate when a member of its own Board of Contributors eschews evidence and reason for raw invective and insults propped up by misrepresentations and distortions of truth.