Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 1, 2009

COBURN CAN'T HELP HIMSELF.... Back in September, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) caused quite a stir. The freshman Democrat had the audacity to argue, on the House floor no less, that the conservative approach to health care is a joke: "Don't get sick. That's what the Republicans have in mind. And if you get sick America, the Republican health care plan is this: die quickly."

The GOP and its allies were outraged. The media held Grayson up as an example of incivility in our politics. He made it sound, the argument went, as if Republican policies are literally life threatening. The remarks, conservatives said, crossed a line of decency -- no one should accuse their rivals of promoting lethal health care policies.

I can only assume, then, that Republican officials and their allies will rush out today to condemn Sen. Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma, who returned to the macabre as part of the debate over health care reform this afternoon.

"What I disagree is moving $2.5 trillion more under government control which will raise costs ultimately in the health care sector," Coburn said. "And if it doesn't raise costs and we're truly going to take this money from Medicare, what it's going to do to our seniors. I have a message for you: you're going to die sooner. And they're going to go, 'That isn't true. That isn't true."

Well, yes, "they" are going to say Coburn's nonsense isn't true, but only because Coburn's nonsense isn't true.

Let's put aside questions of grammar and syntax, and look at the "substance" of Coburn's rhetoric (I use the word loosely). For one thing, the line about $2.5 trillion is ridiculous, and has already been debunked. For another, the notion that cost savings from Medicare will lead to the premature deaths of America's seniors is both blisteringly stupid and completely insane.

But this is the state of the debate. After eight months of hearings, debates, town halls, reports, committee votes, interviews, and analyses, we still have a leading Republican senator announcing on the Senate floor that health care reform will cause seniors to "die sooner."

If this gets one-tenth as much attention as Grayson's story, I'll be very impressed. If even one of the GOP officials who called on Grayson to apologize wants to defend Coburn's garbage, I'd love to hear the spin.

Steve Benen 2:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (13)

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If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all

Sen. Tom Coburn has nice hair...

Posted by: koreyel on December 1, 2009 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Coburn on HCR..."I got nothin'"

Posted by: Bobo Teh Clown on December 1, 2009 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Surely if Coburn thinks cutting Medicare spending will kill people, then adding money will save lives? Would he be in favor of spending money to, say, start coverage at 55 instead of 65? If not, why is Tom Coburn in favor of killing Americans?

Posted by: SP on December 1, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

To paraphrase a Great American: "You Lie!"

Posted by: st john on December 1, 2009 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

We keep expecting disinterested scorekeepers to keep this game fair. Unfortunately, they don't exist. Years of "liberal media" boilerplate has given the right pretty much complete exemption from the standard rules of fair play.

Instead of making ourselves neurotic about this, why not just play to our advantages, like irony and mordant wit. Everyone knows Republicans are assholes, including Republicans. We all know it. Keep hammering that point. Make it our "liberal media".

Posted by: walt on December 1, 2009 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone knows Republicans are assholes, including Republicans.

Republicans also know that being assholes is the only thing preventing them from becoming dinosaurs.

Posted by: qwerty on December 1, 2009 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

to be fair, there is a difference between grayson and coburn in one major sense: grayson was the first democrat to strike back against the republicans at their own game. coburn is only the latest in a long, long, long line of republicans to lie.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on December 1, 2009 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

The press won't say anything about Coburn's remarks. A few Democrats might mention them, and the subject will then be dropped. IOKIYAR.

Posted by: Joe Buck on December 1, 2009 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

So let me get this straight: according to Coburn, we can't spend government money on healthcare because that's commienazism or something, but we can't take away government money from Medicare because that's killing grandma. So if more money = longer life for a socialized medicine program like Medicare, why is he opposed to using government money to insure all Americans and guarantee them a long, healthy life? Why does Coburn want to kill innocent Americans?

Posted by: jonas on December 1, 2009 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Whoops -- sorry SP, you made essentially the same point and somehow I missed it upthread.

Posted by: jonas on December 1, 2009 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

1. Spending money on Medicare Part D (prescription drugs) with no funding source = Republican thumbs up!!

2. Spending any other money on health care (even if backed by funding source) = DEATH!! COMMUNISIM!! SOCIALISM!! NAZISM!! SKY FALLING!!!!

Posted by: kk on December 1, 2009 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

If this gets one-tenth as much attention as Grayson's story, I'll be very impressed.

Of course it won't. Alan Grayson is a Democrat, so of course anything he says beyond "good morning" is crossing the Lines of Decency and cause for our media to reach anew for the hand fans, crying towels and smelling salts. Coburn and the Republicans, meanwhile, can blather on about how the earth is flat and the moon is made of cheese and it will all be dutifully transcribed.

Posted by: electrolite on December 1, 2009 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Coburn seems to like telling people they are going to die. He did the same thing with Justice Ginsberg.

Posted by: bob h on December 2, 2009 at 6:01 AM | PERMALINK
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