August 15, 2013

Remember how Peggy Noonan leapt to the defense of the Dixie Chicks when they exercised their First Amendment right to criticize Dubya and express their shame at what he was doing in Iraq?

Yeah, me neither. Because she never did that. There is no record of her saying anything about them, positive or negative, that I can find when it comes to the Dixie Chicks.

Peggy Noonan, champion of free speech everywhere, must have been high when she wrote this:

This is the reason many people don’t like ObamaCare. It’s also part of why people wind up making fun of the president at state fairs. (On that, everyone should breathe deep and remember, as the noted political philosopher Orson Welles once put it: “It’s the business of the American people to take the mickey out of the president.” It’s not only what we do, it’s what we should do. Welles was speaking on a talk show; it was the 1970s; he was talking about people making fun of some Republican president, Nixon or Ford. So what? They can take it. And they’re not kings.

Let me suggest a classy Obama move that might go over well. From his Vineyard vacation spot he should have the press office issue a release saying his reaction to finding out a rodeo clown was rudely spoofing him, was, “So what?” Say he loves free speech, including inevitably derision directed at him, and he does not wish for the Missouri state fair to fire the guy, and hopes those politicians (unctuously, excessively, embarrassingly) damning the clown and the crowd would pipe down and relax.

This would be graceful and nice, wouldn’t it? He would never do it. He gives every sign of being a person who really believes he shouldn’t be made fun of, and if he is it’s probably racially toned, because why else would you make fun of him?

To Noonan, it's well within accepted social boundaries for a racist rodeo clown to stoke up some race hate and violent thought against the black guy who currently occupies the Oval Office. Because free speech!

Unless, of course, it's directed toward her side of the aisle:

Around that same time, Noonan was visibly irked by two notable Democrats who had the nerve to question the wisdom of the unfolding Iraq mission. "Two of our former presidents, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, have been talking a lot about their views and feelings on Iraq," she wrote in a February 24, 2003, column. "It would be nice if they took to speaking less and thinking more."

Oh yes, I'm sure it would. I wonder if Peggy has ever acknowledged that they were right.

Having disposed of the rodeo clown, Peggy then segues back to Obamacare, because that's actually the assignment for right wing conservative writers this week. Find nitpicky provisions and use them to destroy Obamacare every way you can. A groundswell of opposition, if you will, brought to you by Ted Cruz, Ginni Thomas, and the billionaires they represent.

Noonan's focus of the day is on a provision which appears to cause a problem for caregivers of adult children who also serve as their guardians. The original intent of the provision was to prevent financial fraud and conflicts of interest. It's obscure, and if we were in a different political environment, it's likely it would have gone back to Congress to modify or remove entirely. But we're not. We're in the Age of Gridlock, so there's not much possibility anything meaningful will be done by Congress.

That doesn't stop Noonan from advancing four of the most ridiculous arguments against the entire law ever. They might just be dumber than her "free speech for rodeo clowns" remarks.

First, no mother or child should be put in this position by a government ostensibly trying to improve their lives.

At the same time, one cannot rule out the possibility of a non-parent guardian who is also a caregiver for the purpose of financial gain. Noonan seems to want to shove her fingers in her ears to that one.

Second, everyone in America knows health care is a complicated and complex subject, that a national bill will have 10 million moving parts, and that when a government far away—that would be Washington, D.C.—decides to take greater control of the nation’s health care it will likely get many, maybe a majority, of the moving parts wrong.

"Everyone in America" knows? That would be why there were all those "keep your hands off my Medicare" signs back in the ancient 2009 protest days when all the seniors were out there protecting theirs by telling the rest of us to shut up and die. One cannot simultaneously argue that the ACA does harm to Medicare recipients and argue that regulation of health plans on a national level is somehow an automatic failure.

Third, because health-care legislation is so complex, it is almost impossible for people to understand it, to get their arms around what may be a given bill’s inadequacies and structural flaws.

Only when conservatives make it difficult to understand. For me, it boils down to a simple question that no opponent has ever adequately answered: Why do you want to exclude my son from having access to health care? The ACA is actually pretty simple. It ends discrimination against people who have pre-existing conditions, helps people pay for health care coverage, and puts an end to other discriminatory practices that drove up the costs of health care and health insurance. That's not complicated. It's actually pretty easy.

Fourth, when a thousand things have to be changed about a law to make it workable, some politician is going to stand up and say: “This was a noble effort in the right direction but let’s do the right thing and simplify everything, with a transparent and understandable plan: single payer.” Will that be Mrs. Clinton’s theme in 2016?

From her keyboard to God's ears, right? But I'm guessing that Hillary Clinton will find other, more pressing issues to focus on if she runs. After all, by 2016 Obamacare will be something everyone has, and likes. They will have lost the war on sick people forever. Running for election by opposing the ACA will be just about as popular as running for office by promising to abolish Medicare.

Maybe Ms. Noonan should take to writing less, and thinking more.

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