Darth Vader is out of the closet...and we have Sarah Palin to thank.
The intrepid crusader from the north cut to the heart of Obamacare a year ago, slashing through the professor-speak and government gobbledygook with a searing summary on Facebook of its bottom line: "death panels." With those words, the grounds for debate had shifted, the mainstream media ideological blackout was circumvented, and now, although it may have been Obama's new head of Medicare, Harvard's Dr. Donald Berwick, who stepped on the shuttle at Boston's Logan International Airport, it is Darth Vader who has exited at Reagan National. Darth Vader -- really? The man responsible for the death of a gazillion inhabited worlds, through whom the evil Emperor Palpatine -- described as " a middle-aged politician ... who gains power through deception and treachery"...sound familiar? -- sought to enslave the universe in the fictional Star Wars saga? Surely, an exaggeration! Yes, and deliberately so, for Berwick starts off his gig as head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid as an enthusiastic proponent of, as one British media commentator noted, a system that routinely denies "some poor suffering victim a remedy that is available in other countries." At the same time, it views the elderly as simply less worthy of care, an expendable segment of the population for whom doctors and heart specialists provide less treatment past the official "cut-off" of 65 years, a British health research journal documented. Palin's column on death panels ignited a firestorm of elite media and beltway criticism. Once, that would have been enough to shut down debate, for the broadcast networks and newspapers controlled information -- we knew only what they wanted us to know. Suddenly, the new media (including the site you're now reading) provided reality, and the Tea Parties and Republican Party followed. And now Darth Vader has become a metaphor, a figure of speech signifying that the coming of Harvard's Berwick represents the same thing to the average American that the arrival of the Death Star, the spaceship used to destroy planets, meant for entire populations. All of a sudden, life-and-death decisions are out of our hands, resting with a government determined to control every waking moment of our lives. As Investors Business Daily headlined, "The President's One-Man Death Panel" has arrived. Berwick has come to Washington to play Vader to Obama's Emperor Palpatine. The Harvard health specialist's job is to transform Medicare, to make the primary medical insurance system for seniors into an instrument of social policy, to take wealth and years from seniors and redistribute them to favored segments of the population. This is not about health care, and it is especially not about seniors; rather, it is all about the social engineering. Sarah Palin was right, stubbornly hanging in when the mainstream media -- sensing "a great disturbance in the [leftist] force" -- trained its batteries on her. She was ridiculed on network newscasts, in the White House briefing room, by the media "stormtroopers [who] represented the most visible extension of Imperial [Obama] might." Darth Vader and Star Wars serve as metaphor, Palin as Princess Leia, while network anchors, commentator after commentator, all the president's men showered ridicule on her. "Downright evil," screamed Keith Olbermann; "stupid as s**t," proclaimed a popular Democratic blog. But she persevered, and the truth emerged. The president and his congressional allies were forcing a crazy quilt of statist bureaucracies, socialist dysfunctions, and authoritarian controls. Each day brought more revelations as Tea Party activists, Republican staffers, ordinary citizens, and new media combed through Obamacare legislation. Sarah Palin was right. Popular radio host Mark Levin put it best: "Sarah Palin's not scary. You know who is? Barack Hussein Obama." Reality had settled in, so much so that the president circumvented the public legislative process and made a recess appointment of Berwick. He hoped to avoid discussion of the views of the Harvard leftist, who, the New York Post pointed out, is a "fervent ideologue [who] puts social engineering ahead of the individual patient's needs." The Berwick view: Good health care must take from the wealthy and the well, the seniors and those less desired by society, and "redistribute" so as to achieve a "just, equitable, civilized and humane" republic of the people. Berwick is part of a university health policy establishment that grew out of its original mission to train practitioners in the medical field. They did their job well, providing the United States with health care that, for all of its problems, is the best health care system in the world. But then a disease set in, the same disease that produced Barack Obama and his government-by-professor -- the hubris of an educated class that, as economist Thomas Sowell notes, is "not only wrong, but grossly and disastrously wrong in their prescriptions for the ills of society."
Health policy schools began popping up, as Ivy League universities led the way in thinking of health services as a means to change society. This is known as "policy," and medical schools were soon accompanied by whole schools of health policy. Professors were not content to produce world-class medical professionals; instead, they wanted to change the United States, telling you what you could and could not do in all matters touching upon health. It was as if your plumber suddenly said, "Enough with the plumbing!" and seized control of your life, telling you what type of fixtures are to be allowed in your house, dictating the meals that would ultimately emerge as waste, regulating the number and type of bathrooms permitted...you get the picture.
But with Berwick and his colleagues, it gets worse. He is associated with Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), which is the medical world's equivalent of the leftist community activist group ACORN. PNHP has provided the bodies to fill the white coats on display at Obamacare publicity opportunities and has ties to both elite public health schools (its president is an administrator and professor at the Cornell medical school) and a variety of socialist and communist organizations in vogue in academia (Students for a Democratic Society, the Communist Party, Democratic Socialists of America, etc. -- see Discover the Networks). Their shared goal: replace individual choice with centralized government control. In the end, it is about power. Donald Berwick and Barack Obama, Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine want to dictate the care you can and can't have. Berwick, for example, calls ultrasounds and cesarean sections a "form of assault and battery." Under Obamacare, he (through his rationing bureaucracy), not you or your doctor, decides whether you have a procedure. This is nothing new -- the political systems and policy bureaucracies Berwick and Obama seek to emulate have been doing it with disastrous results for individuals for years (e.g., England, Cuba, the old Soviet Union, Hitler's Germany). As one senior staff member at Berwick's base in the Harvard School of Public Health has put it so eloquently in his blogs and books, we will do away with a Constitution and government that are the "enemy of the working class." But Palin and the Tea Parties, the new media, and finally, a newly energized Republican Party have seen through the rhetoric. They see that when it came time for his wife to be treated for a debilitating illness, Donald Berwick went outside the system he was part of, Boston media revealed, and "used his many connections to get her the best care possible." But this is the way of Obama's Washington, of Berwick's Harvard Square, and the mainstream media's Upper Manhattan...of Darth Vader's empire.
Good for thee, but not for me. Darth Vader is out of the closet, and the Death Star has entered orbit.
Stuart Schwartz, a former retail and media executive, is on the faculty at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.