I wrote this in August after Ted Kennedy passed away. I decided not to publish it at the time, out of respect for the recently deceased. But the Democrat leadership rushing out to invoke Kennedy’s name during and after the vote last night made me realize that the time had come to put it out there:
Nancy Pelosi, eager little demagogue that she is, rushed out as soon as she heard that Ted Kennedy had passed to say:
“Ted Kennedy’s dream of quality health care for all Americans will be made real this year because of his leadership and his inspiration.”
Democrat Chairman Howard Dean predicted:
“his [Kennedy’s] death absolutely will stiffen the spine of the Democrats to get something this year for this extraordinary giant in Senate history.” Sen. Chris Dodd: “Maybe Teddy’s passing will remind people once again that we are there to get a job done as he would do.”
And Robert Byrd suggested that the subsequent health care reform be named in Ted Kennedy’s honor.
Mind you, in spite of all the blatant politicizing of Ted Kennedy’s death, Democrats bristle with the suggestion that they are doing what they are clearly doing.
The Democratic politicization of Kennedy’s death hearkens to the so-called “Wellstone effect,” as Democrats showed their true colors “honoring” the death of Democrat Senator Paul Wellstone.
And that has some influential conservative voices sounding the alarm and calling foul.
While most prominent Republicans stuck Wednesday and Thursday to sober condolences — and several Republican operatives said it was too early to accuse Democrats of politicizing a sad moment — the conservative media, as well as some operatives, has seized on the whiff of politicization of his passing, recalling the bitter charges and countercharges that followed Sen. Paul Wellstone’s (D-Minn.) memorial service in 2002.
That service, a sometimes boisterous rally that included calls to carry on Wellstone’s political legacy and some catcalls for Republican speakers, turned the memorial into a central campaign issue, and many observers think the still-disputed event helped elect a Republican to fill his seat.
In all the constant eulogizing of the last couple of days, we learn that Ted Kennedy had this “love of humor”:
Meanwhile, listening to ”Reflections on Sen. Kennedy … Lion of the Senate” on the Diane Rehm Show on the drive home last night, I was deeply moved to hear Newsweek’s Ed Klein tell guest host Katty Kay about Kennedy’s love of humor. How the late senator loved to hear and tell Chappaquiddick jokes, and was always eager to know if anyone had heard any new ones. Not that Kennedy lacked remorse, Klein quickly added, seeming to intuit that my jaw and perhaps those of other listeners had just hit the floorboards. I gather it was a self-deprecating manuever on Kennedy’s part, exercised with the famous Kennedy charm, though it sounds like one of those “I guess you had to have been there” things.
“Ha, ha, ha. Can you tell me any new ones about that time when I was driving around drunk late at night with a young woman not my wife – what was her name? Mary Joe Something? – and drove into the drink? My favorite ones are about how she tried to claw her way out of the car after I abandoned her to die.”
Well, I’ve got a Chappaquiddick joke for you: why don’t we name the health care bill Democrats want to name in Ted Kennedy’s honor “Kopechne Care” instead? I’d suggest “Chappaquiddick Care,” but it’s too hard to spell, and it doesn’t give proper recognition to the victims this bill is going to abandon by means of medical rationing.
If your elderly parents get sick, the Kopechne Care plan would call for them to be loaded into the back seat of a car and driven off a bridge. As the cost of the Democrats’ plan becomes more and more expensive, you will see expressions of regret that the “clunkers” cars were all destroyed.
Let me tell you something: the theme of being trapped in a government system with no way out as your care is rationed away from you actually ties in quite well with the terrible fate that Mary Joe Kopechne suffered.
Barbara Wagner, battling to survive cancer in Oregon’s government health care system, would certainly agree. An IBD editorial tells her story in the context of the larger debate around the government single-payer system that abandoned her to die:
“The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society’ whether they are worthy of health care,” [Sarah] Palin wrote.
“Such a system is downright evil.”
Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean’s response was, “She made that up.” Oregon resident Barbara Wagner might beg to differ — as she begs to stay alive. Last year, the 64-year-old received news that her cancer, which had been in remission, had returned. Her only hope was a life-extending drug that her doctor prescribed for her.
The problem was that the drug cost $4,000 a month. The state-run Oregon Health Plan said no, that it was not cost-effective. Oregon’s equivalent of a “death panel” sent her a letter saying it would cover drugs for a physician-assisted death. Those drugs would cost only $50 or so. Oregon could afford that.
“It was horrible,” Wagner told ABCNews.com. “I got a letter in the mail that basically said if you want to take the pills, we will help you get that from the doctor and we will stand there and watch you die.
“But we won’t give you the medication to live.”
The $4,000 could be better spent on someone else.
Death panels are already here it seems, just as they have been for some time in Britain and Canada. The concept behind deciding who lives and who dies and how finite resources should be allocated was described by key Obama health care adviser Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, brother to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
In his paper, “Principles for Allocation of Scarce Medical Interventions,” he expounds on what he calls “The Complete Lives System” for allocating treatments and resources.
“When the worse-off can benefit only slightly while better-off people could benefit greatly,” he says, “allocating to the better-off is often justifiable.”
These are Dr. Emanuel’s words, not Palin’s. We’re not making this up and neither is she. It is not hard to see this formula for rationing forcing children such as Trig and the elderly such as Barbara Morgan to take a number — a very high number.
So let Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean call it “Kennedy Care.” I’ll call it “Kopechne Care” – in honor of Ted Kennedy’s first victim. And point out that if “Kennedy Care” is passed, there will be many, many more victims like Barbara Wagner in the years to come.
It was perfectly fitting for Democrats to honor and mourn the passing of one of their great politicians. But if they want to turn Kennedy’s passing into a political weapon – and invoke the name of a man who abandoned a helpless woman under his care to die – they had better be aware that it will be a sword that cuts both ways.