Ten Miles Square


April 01, 2013 10:02 AM That Quote Doesn’t Mean What Liz Cheney Thinks it Means

By Aaron Carroll

Jon Chait beat me to this. I don’t care. I’ve have a ridiculously busy morning, and I want to point it out, too.

Liz Cheney has an op-ed in the WSJ today on how if Republicans don’t act, and soon, to fight President Obama’s agenda (and Obamacare!), it will soon be too late to save America. She starts with a stirring quote from Ronald Reagan in 1961:

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it and then hand it to them with the well-taught lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same. And if you and I don’t do this, then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.

Pretty persuasive stuff. That is, if you don’t know of the history of that quotation. Reagan, was of course, warning people against the passage of Medicare. It’s part of a recording he made for the AMA. Here it is:

Yes, Medicare was the death of freedom in 1961. It was tyrrany. It was the end of America.

Last I checked, Medicare passed, and America is still here. Now it’s Obamacare that will kill freedom, enact tyranny, and end America.

At what point do people who use such hyperbolic rhetoric stop and recognize that their dire warnings never come to pass? One would imagine that people who repeated Reagan’s talking points back in 1961 might find it a bit humbling to see how wrong they were. You’d think they’d shy from repeating those arguments again.

But, no. They get op-ed space on the WSJ. For the record, this hypocrisy isn’t new. Other politicians have used Reagan’s words in their work as the “protectors of Medicare“.

[Originally posted at The Incidental Economist]

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Aaron Carroll ,MD, is an associate professor of Pediatrics and the associate director of Children’s Health Services Research at Indiana University School of Medicine.
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  • smartalek on April 01, 2013 3:29 PM:

    Well, for one thing, Publicans have repeatedly demonstrated that they have no memories whatsoever -- especially with regards to anything that would be inconvenient for them to remember. (It's just a specific instance of their generalized disrespect for facts.)
    For another, 1961 was... borrow the 1... over 50 years ago now. Most of today's voters would have no living memory of that to recall.
    If they can't even recall that their tax/revenue/debt/growth lies were all thoroughly and undeniably refuted in the Clinton-Bush years, how can they possibly remember such prehistory?
    Finally, who's going to tell them?
    The corporate "news" media who are the very powers promoting the current round of Publican lies?
    No, if we want people to know this, WE have to be the ones telling them -- and as frequently.and repeatedly as the opposition are telling them the lies.
    This post is a start -- but only a start.

  • smartalek on April 01, 2013 3:46 PM:

    Wups, almost forgot:
    This "loss of freedom" trope is hardly the only 60s-era (or earlier) pre-refuted lie the current crop of Publicans are attempting to recycle (who knew they were so green?).
    Their intolerance of GLBTQ people is just repurposed racism and sexism.
    Their hatred of immigrants just points south now, where it used to point at southern Europe, the "far east," Ireland, and the Jews.
    Islamophobia used to be anti-Catholicism (what perfect irony).
    But the one that came as a surprise to me (tho clearly it shouldn't have) was when I saw, on YouTube, a 1960s clip of a VietNam grunt proudly telling the camera:
    "We have to fight 'em over here so we don't have to fight 'em at home."
    Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.

  • Peter C on April 01, 2013 4:12 PM:

    Who the hell is Liz Cheney and why should we listen to ANYTHING that comes out of her pie-hole?????

    Was it HER FATHER who said that he KNEW that Iraq had WMDs and that we had to go to war for our own safety????

    Was it HER FATHER who said that Ronald Reagan proved that deficits didn't matter????

    I see no reason to listen to the children of war criminals, liars or failed vice presidents.

  • Daniel Buck on April 01, 2013 5:05 PM:

    Hilarious. Good catch. Has Liz Cheney heard of the Internet? Quotes can be looked up & put in perspective in a nanosecond.

  • Col Bat Guano on April 02, 2013 2:32 AM:

    Other than being the mindless spawn of Lynn and Dick Cheney, what has Liz Cheney ever contributed to the politics of this country? She should be an object of scorn.

  • Nanostring on April 02, 2013 1:52 PM:

    RR was wrong? So? Thats gonna impress a Cheney? Where have you been all these years?
    As a piece of rhetorical propaganda, the quote may still pack a punch. Fact that it was wrong, is completely irrelevant for these fascists. Should I start listing all the "mushroom clouds" and "last throes" here? These are truly horrible people, don't for a moment assume that right-wrong enters their thinking. It's all about pounding propaganda into people's heads...

  • LosGatosCA on April 02, 2013 3:12 PM:

    I think Liz Cheney is completely wrong on this.

    Actually . . . . .

    It's metaphorically 1938 and if Americans appease Obama there will be blood from the next world war on their hands.

    Mark my words.

  • Blue Streak on April 02, 2013 3:20 PM:

    if cognitive dissonance could kill the Republican Party, it would have died years ago.

    However, this Reagan speech is one of my favorites and I think progressives should listen to it once a year, first to remember how a powerful emotional appeal influences voters . . . and secondly to rhetorically bludgeon their GOP neighbors (especially those eligible for Medicare) with how absurd it the predictions are.

  • Ramesh on April 02, 2013 4:43 PM:

    The cynical manipulation of the American right, by the people who are too intelligent to know they are not wrong, continues unabated. They problem is not that Liz does not know what she is doing. It is that she is doing exactly what she wants to do. Instilling fear in the minds of the gullible so that the top echelon of the right can manipulate them.

  • EJS on April 02, 2013 9:39 PM:

    She probably knows exactly the context and situation when Reagan made the statement, she just doesn't care or thinks it was entirely appropriate. She is completely bonkers, you know.

  • Cheryl Martin on April 20, 2013 11:43 PM:

    Leave to Rupert Murdoch to put anything out of her mouth in print as if it's newsworthy. They belong together