In our ongoing debate about health care the term "Death Panels" took root and grew a strange, cancerous life of its own. The woman credited, or more accurately, the person who should be blamed, for spawning that furor is a woman named Betsy McCaughey. Among other things she's the former Lt. Governor of New York State and the current Chairmen of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths to the House Committee on Government Oversight Reform. Quite a mouthful, right?
She never used the term "Death Panel", by the way. We have politicians to thank for that choice of words. Still, she claims that there are plans to euthanize the elderly. Yes, if you think that you are going to be forced to put your grandmother to sleep in the same manner you bid your beloved pet goodbye? Betsy McCaughey is the person responsible for introducing that fear into your life.
She's been making the interview rounds of late. Defending herself, claiming that her interpretation of the nearly infamous page 432 is correct. Lugging out an impressively sized folder with her wherever she goes. It's a pity she thinks the term "life sustaining" is interchangeable with "life ending", isn't it? She's got a PhD but somehow I'm thinking that her second grade report card probably mentioned that she struggles with reading comprehension. Ay yi yi.
Yesterday she was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. If by some chance you don't know who Jon Stewart is, or what The Daily show is, very briefly, he's a comedian and The Daily Show is a satirical news show. He's a satirist with a decidedly liberal bent. I like him tremendously, and enjoy his humor.
Every now and then he takes on an issue that is rather serious in nature, such as his much publicized battle with Jim Kramer.
If the subject matter was not so incredibly serious the interview with McCaughey would have been hilarious. She desperately fumbles to find page 432 in her oft-toted prop. She sees the word "mandatory" where it doesn't exist. She tries desperately to ingratiate herself with an audience increasingly
taken aback by her bizarre scrambling.
All that could be put down to not being very comfortable on camera, right? I mean, let's be fair, not everyone spends their days being filmed. In McCaughey's case, of late, she has spent a fair amount of time being interviewed and everywhere she goes she lugs her accusatory binder. I guess it never occurred to her that someone would finally say, "Show me where it says that."
Here's a link to The Daily Show's homepage, if you missed last night's show, it's currently featured. Here's a link to the site that will give Canadians access to the same footage.
If you don't have time to watch it, or you don't have the inclination, that's completely understandable. It's fairly lengthy in the unedited version, and it is incredibly strange. This is the person who has helped shape so many views on health care reform?
I'm putting it here because this woman's interpretation of page 432 is one of the reasons that politicians on the conservative side are trying to convince us that there are Death Panels to be convened.
I can't even kindly term what Betsy McCaughey does as being a radical interpretation of the text. It's a dangerous, willful misinterpretation.
Yes, she's very scattered, and it is rather amusing. What isn't funny is that she's one of the reasons people are crying, and sobbing their way through Town Hall Meetings. There are other sources but the buck started with McCaughey and it's rather difficult to escape that she is, in the kindest interpretation I can think up, pulling a Chicken Little.
She's also the person who wrote this piece completely misrepresenting Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel's words. By the time he had a chance to offer this rebuttal in Time much of the damage had been done.