Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Today's Shameless Hypocrite Award Winner: Senator Charles Grassley

Just added: Would President Hillary Clinton Have Run Away From Healthcare Reform Like President Obama Is Reportedly Going to Do?

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It is amazing how base the public discourse on healthcare reform has become. Apparently, the riotous behavior has calmed down, but this has seemingly morphed into utter distortion and hypocrisy. Today's bandit: Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa.

Grassley has made sure that a completely false description of the proposed healthcare reform legislation remains alive. Fact: The proposed legislation would compensate medical providers who counsel older patients regarding "end-of-life" decisions. The information provided during the nonmandatory sessions would include informing patients of their right to establish a living will or a medical directive, to resist or to seek life-sustaining medical treatment, etc. This is good medicine -- which is often overlooked until it is too late.

Recently, Sarah Palin distorted the content of the proposed legislation when she said it would create governmental "death panels" that would pick and choose who gets to live. As horribly deceptive as this statement was, other conservatives have continued to offer it as the truth.

Today, Grassley signed on to the lie when he criticized the proposed reform by saying that the United States "should not have a government run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma." Question: Will Iowa voters pull the plug on Grassley's Senate career for this rotten tomato-deserving commentary?

Startling Hypocrisy
Grassley's misrepresentation of the proposed legislation is not his worst offense. Hypocrisy is. Although Grassley opposes the hypothetical notion of the government intervening in a decision to remove life support, when presented with an actual case involving this issue, Grassley's actions did not match the "anti-government" rhetoric he is spewing today. The case surrounded the life of Terry Schiavo.

Although Schiavo's husband had engaged in litigation for nearly a decade in Florida to reject life-sustaining medical treatment on her behalf, Congress nevertheless decided to pass a law to extend the case even longer. The hospice had already removed the feeding and hydration apparatus from Schiavo, but Congress still intervened.

Although the Senate voted by unanimous consent, Grassley expressed his views at the time: "I support the effort to protect Terri Schiavo. It’s the first case of its kind, a chance to choose life over death. I gave the option to life. . . ." But Grassley did not support "life." Instead, he supported governmental intrusion into one of the most delicate situations we face in our lives. Today, he supposedly abhors the very action that he proudly endorsed in the recent past. Grassley's utterly contradictory stances make him the shameless hypocrite of the day. Congratulations, Senator!

UPDATE: Grassley is a staunch pro-lifer, who earned a perfect 100 score by the National Right to Life Committee. Grassley definitely suffers from the same contradictory approach to "big government" that plagues many other opponents to healthcare reform. The pro-choice lobby believes that the government should not interfere with a woman's decision to terminate a pregnancy. Grassley votes to make the choice for her. Who's really afraid of big government?

UPDATE II: Grassley is also a staunch supporter of the death penalty. The government actually pulls the plug in this instance!

UPDATE III: The hypocrisy gets thicker by the day:

Dumb and Dumber on Death and Dying

Sarah Palin Sponsored "Euthanasia Day" as Alaska Governor

Ditto. . . .

15 comments:

Barry said...

Terrific post, Darren -- here and the guest piece on Glenn's blog. Thank you.

John van Esch said...

why is this information not being disseminated powerfully and widely enough? The Right wing republican posse has definitely used up more than its share of oxygen in the health care debate. It's time for your President to put all the cards on the table and present an overview of his proposals. It's also time for the people who voted for 'Hope' to stand up and be counted in this loud debate.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Barry: Thanks. Stay tuned for Pt. II on Greenwald's blog!

John: I guess it takes a little longer to think than to publish the first scandalous statement you hear.

inedal said...

grassley is not a hypocrite. he just says what his paymasters tell him. and once in a while, play to the voters in his troglodyte state.

FLRN said...

Schiavo - every time I hear a reference to this I just shake my head thinking about the story where there was a husband who couldn't hang on and parent who could not let go. Or perhaps the story should be thought of as "What the hell is the Federal government doing here?????" Michael Schiavo should receive an award for fighting the 10 year battle to protect our right to self-determination - this nurse offers her thanks! I'd caution readers not to confuse Schiavo with the current debate, as it appears our senator is really confused. Perhaps he should spend 12 hours in an ICU or maybe an ER as a consumer - overwhelmed and anxious and well... confused about options, choices, terminology and advice and wondering who the heck is going to pay the bill?

End of life issues are the most troubling ethical issues facing consumers and the health care industry. ANY legislation that puts this issue to the American people as EDUCATION, before they enter into a life crisis situation should be applauded as going in the right direction as the general public does not understand just what life support really is and when to stop or in other cases when to start. BUT, it should not be a qualifier or a crux piece of benefit assignment.

By and large Americans as consumers, lack health literacy and need assistance navigating access to and then through the health care industry. Just how health literate is the American public? The United States Department of Education (2003) offers the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) report asserting health literacy results for the United States is alarmingly low for adults over the age of 18. Researchers found the majority of American adults (53 percent) had Intermediate health literacy. Study analysts concluded only 12 percent of U.S. adults had proficient health literacy, and researchers determined that 77 million adults, or more than a third of U.S. citizens would have difficulty with ordinary health tasks, such as following directions on a prescription bottle labels describing a time table for medication administration or following a childhood immunization schedule using a standard chart. Researchers also concluded the issue is non-discriminatory and revealed that disparities in health literacy affect adults in all racial and ethnic groups. It is probably safe to say across all professions as well!

The health care industry is poorly understood by average consumers and this includes politicians - which is why reform measures must be reviewed through discourse and discussion - all voices. Our system is broken, there needs to be reform - quite frankly it is not something that broke over night nor will it be mended instantaneously. We must make careful choices in crafting the solution across parties and professionals. There must be discussion and there has to be input from everyone - consumers, doctors, nurses and yes our politicians - this is not un-American nor should it be a verbal brawl.

Reminder - this is not an election it is a selection so the time is right to give the matter thought and consideration - there is middle ground and lives depend on analysis, debate and oh yeah accurate information.

Anonymous said...

Read the bill - it's indeed in there. With that being the case, why not simply change it so that it no longer sez this, silencing the issue. Why are we not trying to solve the issue rather than continuing to inflame passions as it seems the Congress and Administration are attempting to do?

John van Esch said...

Hi Darren,

Just read part 2 on Salon, and I agree, the average American id held captive by the 15 second soundbite. The current economic malaise isn't helping either. A lot of people seem to be saying 'hey how come things aren't like they used to be ten years ago.' Critical thinking would argue, let's see what's happened in the last ten years, how did we get to this point. But I suspect most people want to join the mob. They're frightened of new things, new ways of thinking and new ways of adapting to a lowered standard of living. It's easy to get angry, you don't need to think, just act. I hope the tide can be turned in the next few critical days and weeks.

Richard A. said...

Let me guess, you're a Democrat, right? Your comments would have more validity with people like me if you pointed out the hypocrisy of all the Congressional members (Democrat and Republican), as well as the President, who deserve our distrust and disgust.

Anonymous said...

What does political party have to do with this debate? You are doing exactly what you don't want politicians doing-- Distracting from the issue.

I think we all could learn a lot from reading and re-reading the comments by FLRN. They go beyond politics and get right to the heart of the issue-- that this system needs to be fixed, because right now it is too difficult for the average consumer to understand.

Please leave your political rhetoric where it belongs-- in the political arena-- and let the rest of us (Dems, Repubs, Inds, Progressives, etc...) have a real debate.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Anonymous: I read the bill. If "it" refers to a "death panel" or to mandatory death counseling, then it ain't in there...Sorry. Also, why remove a medically sound provision from healthcare legislation? The AMA and several nurses associations favor this kind of counseling. Why are Grassley (and Palin) more knowledgeable about medicine than doctors and nurses?

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

FLRN: You rock. Yes - a lot of the power in this distortion is the lack of medical literacy (a great term). Also, I think people are so afraid of "death" that they will accept the distortion if it means not having to think about it.

John: Thanks for reading both posts. I hope you are right. I have a feeling that justice will prevail. How that will look ultimately? I am not sure. But this scarecrow debate should not destroy sound policy.

Richard A: I am a Democrat only because DC does not have open primaries. Also, thanks to "people like you" who think that all liberals are out to get conservatives, even at the cost of honest analysis, I prepared the following post: RUN: FACTS! Enjoy! And, please, do let me know what you think about it.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Anonymous who mentioned FLRN's post: Thanks. You are right. Too often, sound debate gets lost because people are distracted by petty political issues. If readers simply check out the blog, they will see that I have readily criticized people across the political spectrum. I felt compelled to prepare this list of links to essays I have written criticizing liberals earlier this week. Apparently, without it, my analysis was unsound: RUN: FACTS!. It's ridiculous, but it silences such madness.

John van Esch said...

On the Canadian side of the border we're having some difficulty understanding why so many people running around like Chicken Little regarding the National Health Care issue. I have relatives living in the states paying well over $600 a month for insurance. And they're getting bloody little coverage for that amount. Every American i know is nervous about getting sick, and th older they are is in direct proportion to the neurosis that afflicts them about having to 'sell the farm' in order to get that operation. In all honesty, we don't have that problem here. Our system is by no means perfect, and there are some components that could use more cash and personel, but for the most part, it WORKS. If that makes me a pinko, or a socialist then so be it. At least i'm a healthy bolshevik.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

John: Ignorance is a large factor in fear.

Anonymous said...

@ inedal

As a resident of Iowa (Grassley's 'troglodyte state' as you so inelegantly put it) let me say that the populace is by no means homogenous. In fact, the Supreme Court recently ruled that the ban on same sex marriage was not consistent with the state's constitution, a more enlightened position than 40+ other states.

That being said, Grassley is proving himself to be rigidly dogmatic on this and many other issues. I will not vote for him should he choose to seek re-election. I will indeed be actively promoting his ouster due to this and other issues on which he has shown himself to be reactionary and out-of-date.

And please resist blanket characterizations based on nothing but prejudice.

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