Meet the Press was its usual strange collection of overly-flogged stories and opportunities for marginal political viewpoints to be propounded as if they're mainstream. But there was one small snippet from Dick Armey where he slid in his pet peeve: Medicare.
Since this is the second time in a week that he's returned to this theme, a reality check is in order.
FMR. REP. DICK ARMEY (R-TX): I believe the folks that want to build the mosque there are making an unwise decision. But I think, when, when I look at the 18 percent of the American people that are enthusiastic about this grassroots movement, we see this as while it's an important issue. It's an issue that ought not to be distracting the president from the critical issues of unemployment, fiscal responsibility, a nation headed for bankruptcy. And the larger issues that affect the future of our children make this issue pale. On the question of should the president be sticking up for the Constitution, our folks say, "Well, great, I love him sticking up for the--we should have done that on medical--Medicare," where, in fact, he trashed the Constitution in the view of most of our folks. And in terms of him being here and then there, it reflects again our fear that this president is whimsical and doesn't really quite know where he is on any subject, even the larger subjects that are driving our folks in, in the street trying to make change in America.
Flash back with me to the August 16, 2009 edition of Meet the Press, where Dick Armey appears on Meet the Press with Rachel Maddow, Tom Daschle, Sen. Tom Coburn and...Dick Armey!
Death panels, anyone? While teabaggers are in an absolute froth over "death panels" and seniors are trembling over the potential loss of "their" Medicare, a position that Dick Armey used frequently to stir up town hall uprisings and the like, Rachel Maddow quietly calls him out on his personal radical views then.
MS. MADDOW: This is a really important point. The anti-healthcare reform lobby thinks that Medicare is tyranny, OK?
REP. ARMEY: I did—I said...
MS. MADDOW: This is an—I mean, you said in 1995 that “Medicare is a program I would have no part of in a free world.”
REP. ARMEY: Right. Absolutely right.
MS. MADDOW: You said in 2002, “We’re going to have to bite the bullet on Social Security and phase it out over a period of time.”
REP. ARMEY: And I’m going to enumerate exactly what I’m talking about. Medicare...
MS. MADDOW: Americans need to know this is your position and this is the position of the anti-healthcare reform lobby.
Dick Armey and Paul Ryan march to the same tune. That's not altogether surprising, and Armey has remained consistent in his objection to "mandatory Medicare." But that's where his honesty begins and ends, because while he believes it should be abolished, he's also aware that Medicare and Social Security are: a) wildly popular programs; and b) not going to be made "voluntary". Knowing that, he used their popularity and the security they give seniors to whip up anger against health care reform, and in particular, the public option, which is where the whole "government-run healthcare" is terrible (for all but seniors) except where it isn't (for seniors only).
Meanwhile, Dick Armey remains healthy and fit, thanks to his Medicare which he cannot opt out of without also opting out of Social Security benefits, which he evidently has no problem receiving.
The only whimsy I see is Dick Armey's.