While writing a separate post on conservatives attempting to defend Sarah Palin's reference to Obama's "death panel," I saw that conservative blogger Donald Douglas outsourced his argument to William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection (yes, that William Jacobson), as well as conservative ninny Ann Althouse; suggesting that they indicate Palin is on "solid ground."
And I was intrigued to see if my theory would be proven wrong and that a conservative really would try to defend Palin's bizarre claim. But as I predicted, Jacobson was forced to dial back Palin's claim and turn it into something that could almost be considered reasonable. It was still stupid, but it was the sort of legal-like rationalization one would expect to see from a lawyer who had an extremely guilty client.
Death Panel as Metaphor
For example, when Palin referred to "Obama's 'death panel,'" she wasn't referring to an actual panel, but rather, to part of a medical ethics paper that one advisor to Obama had written with two other experts. And Jacobson assures us that Palin wasn't trying to suggest that Obama was establishing this concept, but rather was issuing a "warning shot" for him not to do so.
And apparently, Palin put "death panel" in quotes, not to indicate that it was a direct phrase anyone was using, but merely to "signify the concept of medical decisions based on the perceived societal worth of an individual." See, so when she said "death panel" she was referring to a concept; not a death panel. Presumably then, her quotes around the phrase "level of productivity in society" indicate that this also wasn't meant literally. Unfortunately, I lost my Conservative-to-Sane translator awhile back and can't tell you what concept she was indicating with this.
And he also says that Palin didn't really mean that Trig would have to prove he was "worthy of health care," as Palin stated, but rather wouldn't receive the "expensive advanced care" that a person with Down's Syndrome would need. Of course, in our reality, there's a Special Needs Plan for those with special needs, meaning that even this explanation has no basis in reality; but hey, Jacobson's job is hard enough without considering reality.
In other words, Jacobson's defense of Palin's claim involved him debunking every aspect of that claim.
Republican Death Panel
And as a last ditch effort to save Palin, he attempts to use Obama's words to show that perhaps a "death panel" might be on the way. His basis? A letter Obama wrote in which he suggests that MedPAC, a Medicare payment advisory board created by Republicans in 1997, be used to find cost savings by "going after the key drivers of skyrocketing health care costs, including unmanaged chronic diseases, duplicated tests, and unnecessary hospital readmissions."
And in the letter, it's clear that this was the idea of Senators Kennedy and/or Baucus, and Obama was stating his approval of it. And all the same, Jacobson says he has no idea if the commission would base their decisions upon a person's productiveness to society; ergo, there is no evidence backing Palin's claim.
In other words, the closest reality comes to Obama's "death panel" which Trig would "stand in front of" would be an advisory board created by Republicans which would attempt to make healthcare more efficient and no one would stand in front of.
As Jacobson correctly states:
Certainly, no Democrat is proposing a "death panel," or withholding care to the young or infirm. To say such a thing would be political suicide.
And well, duh. This puts Jacobson, a conservative blogger, firmly in agreement with just about every liberal I know; not just regarding Palin's absurd claim, but the claims of most conservatives. And that includes Donald Douglas, who still seems to believe that Obama is going to kill old people. Donald's "solid ground" just crumbled out from beneath him.
Ann Althouse's Defense of Palin
Oh, and I'd be loath to not mention Donald's other evidence of Palin's "solid ground," if only because it's the interminably dumb Ann Althouse. While Jacobson is clearly an intelligent man who is stuck defending the indefensible, Althouse is a complete lightweight whose best argument in every debate amounts to "Stop picking on me." His citation of her alone is enough to question Donald's own intelligence. But being that I'm not in the ad hominem business, I'll address her "argument" too.
And what's sad is that even Althouse knows better than to defend Palin's actual claim. Instead of a literal "death panel" which determines our fate based upon our productivity, Ann suggests that Palin was referring to "decisions of cost controlling bureaucrats" which no evidence suggests would base their decision on productivity. In other words, no death panel for Trig to "stand in front of."
Althouse was even forced to rewrite the criticism of those mocking Palin, in order to suggest that they were being unfair. Apparently, there's nothing wacko about fearing crazy ideas which no one is considering. And if there was a respectable part to Althouse's defense, it amounted to "Stop picking on Palin," which again, is a riff off Ann's only sensible argument. I should mention for disclosure's sake that I've had run-in's with Ann in the past and this was the only argument she made then, too. I have no regrets.
And again, this was the evidence Donald Douglas used to suggest that Palin was on "solid ground." Seriously, I'm beginning to doubt that Donald even reads the stuff he links to. The only positive out of all this is the acknowledgement that even conservatives have their limits. They'll defend Palin; just not the things she says.