September 2, 2009
Sarah Palin vs. Dr. DeathBy Stuart Schwartz
Ezekiel Emanuel is upset. The president's health care czar sees the growing resistance to his vision, to his brave new world of government-run "communitarian" health care in which politicians and bureaucrats control one-sixth of the economy and 100% of our bodies. He doesn't quite understand how it all came apart on him, but he does know who started the unraveling: Sarah Palin.
Where does she get off attacking him? Sarah Palin, it seems forever Sarah Palin. And he wonders, as have so many others, what it takes to put a stake through her heart? People should listen to him, not Sarah Palin. He is the philosopher king of Democrat health care. And he went to Harvard, you know.
One day he was vacationing in the Italian Alps, a top-level government bureaucrat and Democrat insider enjoying the fruits of his labors on behalf of the common good. Government health care was cruising and Zeke was the guy Time magazine predicted will build the most "equitable and ethical" health care system north of Cuba. Marty Peretz, his friend and publisher of The New Republic, described him as quintessential Harvard, "very impressive" and stuffed with "gravitas."
And then he got the call: Sarah Palin had done the unthinkable. She had read the health care bill. Mainstream journalists hadn't read the bill. Congress hadn't read its own bill. But Sarah Palin did. Sarah Palin! He has a medical degree and doctorate in political philosophy from Harvard. The only Harvard she's knows is the chunk of ice off Prince William Sound, Harvard Glacier.
Then she writes something on Facebook -- Facebook, for Obama's sake! -- and suddenly the president, congress, the media, and everyone who is anyone inside the beltway is scurrying for cover. Palin wrote that she wanted nothing to do with Obama's "death panel," the collection of bureaucrats who Zeke was so proudly putting together to assess the "level of productivity" that would determine individual access to medical care
They went after her, but...it was over. Everyone was talking death panels. Sarah Palin had let people know: if you're old, if you're sick, if you're disabled, they're targeting you. It became Mrs. Mom vs. Dr. Death, the governor vs. the terminator.
She cut through the rhetoric, the academic jargon, and adoring press to the truth: Ezekiel Emanuel and Barack Obama and the Democrat-led Congress are putting in place a health care system that will control the lives -- and deaths -- of citizens to an extent never seen in this republic. Her reaction:"we're saying not just no, but hell no!
And Zeke is upset. A slam-dunk had been transformed into an epic battle and, as an American Thinker commentator put it, ObamaCare turned into a "sick joke." That's not how it's supposed to be -- he went to Harvard, you know.
Ezekiel Emanuel "abhors" what she's done. She read his articles, which "even well-educated people" would have a difficult time understanding. And she's certainly not well educated. She's a graduate of the University of Idaho, where they probably write doctoral dissertations in crayon. And she only has a bachelor's degree -- in communications, for Obama's sake!?
It's as if the waitress at the Harvard Faculty Club had, instead of a check, taken out a baseball bat and cold-cocked him. Or the ball girl at the tennis event sponsored by the Harvard Club of Washington DC had reared back and smacked a Dunlop A-Player right into his groin. This is not supposed to happen -- he went to Harvard, you know.
This is crazy! People are packing town halls in protest. They are listening to Sarah Palin and not Zeke, who has been a fellow at Oxford -- the one in England, not the suburb of Fairbanks. And he has written nine books, almost a dozen chapters in other books, and more than 225 other pieces on bioethics and morality. And certified as a genius by The New York Times, which hired him as a book reviewer for its Sunday newspaper
And yet, this, this... this Facebook writer described his thinking as "downright evil." And demanded that he explain why he's trying to put in place centralized health care that "would refuse to allocate medical resources to the elderly, the infirm, and the disabled who have less economic potential."
Evil!? Sarah Palin called him evil!? She said "death panels," he didn't. Hey, some lives are worth more to society than others. Therefore, health services cannot be guaranteed for individuals like Trig, Palin's baby with Down Syndrome, who are "irreversibly prevented" from contributing to the public good. There is a subtle difference.
Sarah Palin simply does not understand. No nuance. She did not go to Harvard, nor is she a board member of Princeton University's Center for Human Values, where Zeke provides support for philosopher Peter Singer. Singer is best known for the view that fetuses and many disabled have less of a right to live than, say, fully functioning humans and "adult gorillas and chimpanzees." No, Zeke believes that those who know better, who understand morality, should make decisions for those less able to do so.
Like Sarah Palin. Like Trig. Like your grandma. And this is because he cares. Just ask him: "I hope at the end of the day I can make things better for people, especially vulnerable people." As an original member of the academic "communitarian" movement, he has pledged to establish "just" health care by means that are "nondemocratic or practice discrimination." A just society doesn't simply happen, he explains. You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs... so to speak.
So when Sarah Palin says she doesn't want her "baby with Down Syndrome" to stand in front of his medical panels... that shows just how unsophisticated her thinking really is. She has already made the anti-social choice of giving birth to a child with a severe disability, who will never be able to live the "complete life" outlined by Zeke on behalf of the government.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of a health care system that operates in the public good to deny Trig -- or grandma, for that matter -- health services that are better used elsewhere. Sarah Palin, not the government, is to blame. She chose to have Trig. She forced a situation that provides her with, as Zeke puts it, "bleak choices."
And so government, for the sake of the common good, may deny Trig medical care. And may do the same with the elderly, the severely disabled, and others who fall low on the "complete life" value scale. It is the best way, the moral way, the smart way.
And Zeke knows smart -- he went to Harvard, you know.
Stuart H. Schwartz, Ph.D., is a former newspaper and retail executive. He is on the faculty at Liberty University in Virginia.