Rewiring the System

Reprinted without permission from NYT

Posted in Uncategorized by rewiringangel on August 24, 2009

Article Tools Sponsored By I respect your opinion: NOT!
Published: August 23, 2009

The cacophony at town hall meetings on health care has startled too many members of Congress into passivity and pandering. But not Representative Barney Frank, who did not shrink last week from a woman loudly demanding to know why he supported President Obama’s “Nazi policy.”

The Massachusetts Democrat responded with a question of his own: “On what planet do you spend most of your time?” None of the I-respect-your-opinion razzmatazz being mouthed by more timorous politicians.

Mr. Frank could have been more civil. It is time for everyone to remember that town hall sessions were invented for rational discussions of differences, not as an outlet for self-therapy caperings à la “The Gong Show.” But it was certainly refreshing to hear him try to jolly or shame his audience into a serious debate, asking, “Which one of you wants to yell next?”

If only similar backbone were shown by politicians like Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican principal in the Senate’s Gang of Six health care negotiations. Instead of helping to educate his constituents or move the debate ahead, he provided more red meat for fulminators, erroneously insisting that the rival House health care bill features “a government program that determines if you’re going to pull the plug on grandma.”

Mr. Grassley now insists he never uttered the “death panels” canard at the heart of Sarah Palin’s health care diatribe. But he said what he said. He and the rest of us are stuck with the grandma line, even as he supposedly is pursuing reasonable compromise in Washington. Back home, the senator also conveniently overlooks his support for the 2003 Medicare drug subsidy that included the sort of counseling for end-of-life issues and care found in the current House bill.


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