Whitehouse's Excoriation

Sheldon Whitehouse's speech on Republican obstruction of health care reform this weekend makes some powerful arguments about a GOP trading in wanton mistruths and willing, even, to hold up a key defense appropriation in its efforts to block passage of the bill.

But it is his comparison of the opposition to Nazi brownshirts and McCarthyites that has inflamed the blogosphere. An interesting reply from Robert Stacy McCain at the conservative American Spectator: it is that Americans opposed to the current liberal agenda were denounced in the Senate as an "aggrieved minority," even when the most recent Rasmussen poll shows that 56 percent of registered voters are against the Democrats' health care bill.

Senator Whitehouse attributed this anomalous state of affairs to Republicans who, he said, had "embarked on a desperate no-holds-barred mission of propaganda, obstruction and fear," waging a "campaign of falsehood" seeking to "terrify the public" and "whip up concerns and anxiety about socialized medicine."

To denounce fearmongering while simultaneously likening one's opponents to the murderous rabble of 1938 Germany is a neat trick, as was Senator Whitehouse's effort to blame Senate Republicans for having "ruined" Christmas by delaying passage of the health-care bill. Of course, it is Democrats who have pushed the bill toward a projected Christmas Eve roll-call vote in order to give President Obama a major legislative accomplishment to tout in his State of the Union Address next month.

But Whitehouse's rhetoric, however overblown, was delivered with nothing like the megaphone attached to the most egrregious conservative claims about health care. And the senator assured his conservative colleagues, in his speech, that it was the "death panel" broadside that will have political consequences:

The American public will see what actually comes to pass when we pass this bill as our new law. The American public will see first-hand the difference between what is, and what they were told. Facts, as the presiding officer has often said, are stubborn things. It is one thing to propagandize and scare people about the unknown; it is much harder to propagandize and scare people when they are seeing and feeling and touching something different.

When it turns out that there are no death panels, that there is no bureaucrat between you and your doctor, when the ways that your health care changes seem like a pretty good deal to you and a smart idea -- when the American public sees the discrepancy between what really is and what they were told by the Republicans, there will be a reckoning. There will come a day of judgment about who was telling the truth.

Perhaps. But, unfortunately for the Democrats, the day will probably come sometime after the mid-term elections.

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