Well, the GOP finally did it: They bum-rushed their Obamacare replacement (now with waivers for states that don’t want to take care of sick paupers!) through the House of Representatives. Since destroying all safety nets is one of their life goals, you can imagine how juiced they were about this; the House Republicans reportedly played the theme from Rocky before the vote, presumably singing along, “Pay or die nowwwww!”
But they put rightbloggers in a ticklish position. The American Health Care Act (AHCA) was rejected not only by every Democrat in the House, but also by the American Medical Association, several insurers, and practically every other major health care organization in America. Depraved as they may be, most rightbloggers have enough sense to know normal people will hate them for this. So they couldn’t just ask for high fives — they had to either defend the bill or (better yet) blame it on someone else.
Guy Benson of Townhall drew one of the short straws. “It’s a Lie That the GOP Healthcare Bill Abandons People With Pre-Existing Conditions,” he said. However much liberals “shriek,” the bill actually protects “anyone with a pre-existing condition and who lives in a state that does not seek an optional waiver…” And, Benson added, if your state does seek a waiver — as Wisconsin governor Scott Walker immediately announced he was considering — you still shouldn’t worry, because you’ll never get super sick, so whattaya got to lose? (Besides, as Alabama congressman Mo Brooks and other Republicans have said, supersickness only happens to bad people.)
Elizabeth Nolan Brown of Reason derided the common liberal frame that, because under the AHCA insurers could sometimes charge people more if they have health issues resulting from rape, rape would be a “pre-existing condition.” “Nothing in the new Republican health care bill specifically addresses sexual assault or domestic violence whatsoever,” scoffed Brown. “What it does say is that states can apply for waivers that will allow insurance companies, under certain limited circumstances, to charge higher premiums to people based on their personal medical histories…”
What? Wait a minute, that’s not good, either! Neither were other pre-Obamacare situations Brown mentioned (“it was apparently not unheard of for health insurance companies to deny coverage to domestic abuse victims”). In fact, the more she tried to defend it, the worse losing Obamacare protections sounded.
Don’t worry, a clearly exasperated Brown finally said, there are only a few states where, under current laws (which are always one Republican-wave election away from a loony rewrite, remember!), this particular awful thing could happen to you:
Doesn’t that mean there’s a possibility that those other six states could choose to apply for waivers, and then insurance companies within them could perhaps choose to charge higher premiums for abuse victims? Yes. They also could choose to charge higher premiums for prior victims of car accidents and ingrown toenails. It doesn’t mean they will.
That’s the problem with you non-libertarians — you don’t trust corporations to abandon their profit motive to save you money!
A surprising number of conservatives attacked Jimmy Kimmel, the late-night talk show host who earlier in the week tearfully told his audience about his newborn son’s heart defect, and lamented that Americans less fortunate than himself might have to worry about their kids’ coverage under the AHCA.
“I don’t need lectures from Huffington Post and Hollywood elites about having a heart,” raged Michelle Malkin at the New York Post. “Shut up, Jimmy Kimmel, you elitist creep,” snarled Charles Hurt at the Washington Times.
In “The Right Needs Better Storytellers,” Commentary’s Noah Rothman complained that Kimmel, like all liberals, had been gifted by Satan with the power to cloud men’s minds via the dark arts of art, humor, and empathy. Rothman said some of his comrades who addressed Kimmel’s comments appeared “devoid of compassion,” and this understandable weakness had been exploited by liberals, who adopted the “opportunistic” and “craven” tactic of agreeing with Kimmel.
“Republicans will always find it difficult to counter poignant and affecting storytelling with reasoned logic,” sighed Rothman. But he did his best (spoiler: not well) with some anti-Obamacare stories. Also, Rothman said, “insurance professionals and Republican reformers are in agreement that state-level high-risk pools with proper funding can accommodate the truly uninsurable.” Insurance professionals and Republican reformers! Why didn’t you say so? And here I was, listening to some guy whose baby almost died.
Even worse, as usual, was Jonah Goldberg of National Review, who told us that, like Jimmy Kimmel, Hitler used empathy and that’s how we got the Holocaust.
No, really: Goldberg quoted a professor who he said “distrusts empathy because empathy is like a drug” that “distorts our perspective.” Sure, I get it, said Goldberg: “Adolf Hitler was a master of empathy — for ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland, Austria, and elsewhere,” he argued as the entire internet gave him the Springtime for Hitler stare. “The cause of nationalist empathy for the German tribe triggered profound moral blindness for the plight, and even the humanity, of Jews, Gypsies, and Slavs.” If only Hitler had been less empathetic — or at least not solely empathetic toward his fellow Germans; say, do you suppose there might be a better word than empathy for that?
After this bucket-footed argument, the psychopathic certainty of Goldberg’s colleague Kevin D. Williamson was almost refreshing. Williamson, fresh from another essay about how all the poor people at the courthouse (where Williamson had dropped by to evict the wife of his former stepdad from his house) were stupid and had only themselves to blame, explained in his AHCA column that “our ongoing troubles with health care stem from an unwillingness to deal with certain facts,” one of which is “scarcity” of health care resources, and the other is that poor people naturally should be the ones who suffer from it. People living under “monopolistic public-health systems” may have to wait for an operation no matter how much money they have — which, said Williamson, is why “New York City’s hospitals are full of rich Canadians who cannot afford the free health care at home.” Ha ha! Hope you dying losers enjoy Williamson’s witticisms.
Also at National Review, David French managed to synthesize Goldberg’s dumb equivalences and Williamson’s depraved indifference to human life. So liberals predict disaster from the bill (“Bob is dead. Paul Ryan and Donald Trump killed him”)? Well, you could just as well blame the liberal government, because they keep changing up the USDA food pyramid; because of their stupid edicts, Bob “dropped the Twinkies in favor of healthy treats like nonfat cookies,” but he still got fat and died. If only he’d kept eating the Twinkies — which, like the AHCA, gets a bad rap, amirite schoolkids? — he might still be alive today. In short, helping is futile, as is a propagandist trying to be funny.
Will this make a difference? So far polls on Pay or Die don’t look good. And the bullshit is so ripe even the lame-ass House Democrats seem to smell it; after Thursday’s vote, they sang, “Hey hey hey, goodbye” at their Republican colleagues.
On the other hand, ours is an Age of Bullshit, and rightbloggers’ dumb tricks are getting widely adopted. For example, the House Dems’ taunts drew a yellow card from CNN’s Chris Cillizza, who tsked, “And the DC political class wonders why people hate them.” Why can’t they express their opposition as gentlemen do — with gerrymandering and endless politicized hearings?
Shortly after House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokesperson AshLee Strong lied on Twitter that AHCA “has been scored by CBO — twice” (not with the amendments, it hasn’t), she tweeted, “My feed is cluttered w/ the ‘tolerant’ left swearing at me.”
You may think, Fuck yeah they’re swearing, asshole, you’re killing people! But what’s a few dead citizens compared to a breach of decorum — on Twitter, yet? When Democratic Senator Kamala Harris, talking about the AHCA, said, “What the fuck is that?” suddenly there weren’t enough pearls in the world left to clutch. “Sen. Kamala Harris Puts Potty Mouth On Public Display,” gasped the Daily Caller. “VIDEO: SEN. KAMALA HARRIS USES THE F-WORD AT PUBLIC EVENT ABOUT HEALTH CARE,” hollered Breitbart (“Other Democrats have taken to cursing during public speeches,” they breathlessly added). Josh Kraushaar of the very mainstream National Journal deplored “the cursing and coarsened Democratic party.”
So who knows? Maybe the folks who made a reality show grifter president of the United States can also be convinced that a couple of swears is worse than medical bankruptcy.