Saturday, November 20, 2010

Limbaugh's Abbreviated Week

Rush Limbaugh recently took a break from inciting racial animosity among his followers for a lie about health care, as well as commentary about Lisa Murkowski reflective of the patriotic impulse of today's conservative Republicanism. And this in a week in which Rush graced the airwaves only thrice, turning the microphone over to right winger Mark Steyn Thursday and Friday.

On Monday, Limbaugh put words into the mouth (in itself a legitimate tactic) of Paul Krugman and remarked

".... We think we've succeeded in beating back this whole notion that there are death panels here," and of course anybody with any common sense knows that this is a dead ringer for the British health care system and rationing of health care, if this thing is not repealed, if it holds up.

The British health care system is called the National Health Service, established in the 1940s. It emphasizes preventive care which, even with passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will not be a hallmark of the American health care system. Aside from prescription care and dentistry, the NHS typically pays for health care services. If a public option (which Senator Barack Obama supported and President Barack Obama opposes) had been proposed and adopted, something similar would have been available for the few Americans who would have been eligible. Alas, at least in part as a sop to Republicans and moderate/conservative Democrats, it was not seriously considered. Some of those Republicans still attack it as "socialistic" and at least as big government run amok, and many of those Blue Dog Democrats have been unceremoniously rejected for admission to the next Congress.

Surely, British doctors would not recognize the health care reform Congress enacted. They are paid directly by the federal government, whereas doctors in the U.S.A. will continue to be paid privately, by patients and health insurance companies. Even single payer advocates never suggested, as Limbaugh could not have failed to notice, that doctors themselves be socialized.

And of course he noticed that direct payment of doctors was not advocated or implemented, Medicare and Medicaid remain the only competitors to the private insurance system, there is no public option, and single payer, endemic to the British system, is nowhere to be found in the colonies. Unlike in the U.S.A., where health care will remain predominantly in the private sector, care in England is socialized, as Limbaugh likely knows. It is, in all likelihood, precisely why the comparison was made to Britain; if Rush had compared "Obamacare" to health care in the Netherlands, which relies primarily on the private market, it would have clashed with Limbaugh's theme that Obama is trying to destroy the health care industry. Even by the standards of Rush Limbaugh, equating the two systems is brazenly dishonest.

Not as dishonest but arguably more revealing were Rush's comments this past week about the once and future senior Senator from Alaska, Lisa Murkowski. Once upon a time- even just a few years ago- it would have been unremarkable for a Republican or a Democrat to say of the President of the United States

I will tell you, I am not one of those who wants Obama to fail. If he does well, that means the country's doing well. We don't have time as a nation to spend all of what we do blocking. We have got to figure out how we get to a point where we can be sitting around the table and talking about these difficult problems and advancing some solutions.

Now, we have a conservative blogger remarking "In other words, Murkowski wants Obama to succeed — in destroying America" and Rush labeling Murkowski "stupid" because

how can someone even consider themselves a Republican, like Murkowski, and even run as a Republican when she's saying that if he succeeds or the things that he wants to do will succeed, then that will be good for the country?

It's heresy! Heresy, I say! for a Republican to say that she wants the President to succeed because that would mean the country is doing well. If that (apart from challenging the GOP nominee in a general election, which was not Limbaugh's point) makes a conservative Republican a RINO, it says more about Rush Limbaugh and the modern Republican Party than about Lisa Murkowski. A lot more.

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