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February 20, 2014 11:42 AM Crocodile Tears Over “Victims of Obamacare”

By Ed Kilgore

Greg Sargent has an excellent post today about the increasingly obvious intention of conservatives—especially the Koch-affiliated Americans for Prosperity, which is in the lead on this tactic—to make the 2014 elections revolve around the “victims of Obamacare.” That means endless anecdotes about people affected negatively (or so it will be claimed) by the requirement that they replace or change individual insurance policies.

The broader GOP strategy is explicitly all about building a national narrative populated only with wrenching horror stories — people who have lost coverage and seen premiums soar, and, now, desperately ill people who have seen their lives disrupted — thanks to the heavy handed big government recklessness all these Dems stand for. In this narrative, people who have had their lives improved by the law and are now enjoying health coverage for the first time — and the security and peace of mind that accompanies it — simply don’t exist, and indeed, Republicans have actively discouraged such stories from coming into being. Meanwhile, many of the horror stories are turning out to be hyped, bogus, or distorted. But they will have huge sums of money behind them. And scrutiny of them will be met with charges of insensitivity to the victims.

What’s maddening about this (aside from the mendacity of some of the ads themselves) is the spectacle of people with at best a very limited sense of responsibility for the pain of others posing as their defenders and weeping big crocodile tears at the travails of those threatened by Obamacare. It’s the same shuck as the “death panel” meme, and Paul Ryan’s 2012 star turn as the brave young men defending Momma’s Medicare. And the message is: Watch this painful anecdote, and don’t think about the big picture, and above all don’t pay attention to the man behind the curtain who thinks everybody should actually have to take care of their own health care issues without looting his God-given, hard-earned money, you parasite!

Too bad yelling at the TV screen doesn’t do any good.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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