PolitiFact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact check website of the St Petersburg Times has announced its choice for "Lie of the Year."
This year's winner: "the government takeover of healthcare"
In the spring of 2009, a Republican strategist settled on a brilliant and powerful attack line for President Barack Obama's ambitious plan to overhaul America's health insurance system. Frank Luntz, a consultant famous for his phraseology, urged GOP leaders to call it a "government takeover."
"Takeovers are like coups," Luntz wrote in a 28-page memo. "They both lead to dictators and a loss of freedom."
The line stuck. By the time the health care bill was headed toward passage in early 2010, Obama and congressional Democrats had sanded down their program, dropping the "public option" concept that was derided as too much government intrusion. The law passed in March, with new regulations, but no government-run plan.
But as Republicans smelled serious opportunity in the midterm elections, they didn't let facts get in the way of a great punchline. And few in the press challenged their frequent assertion that under Obama, the government was going to take over the health care industry.
PolitiFact editors and reporters have chosen "government takeover of health care" as the 2010 Lie of the Year. Uttered by dozens of politicians and pundits, it played an important role in shaping public opinion about the health care plan and was a significant factor in the Democrats' shellacking in the November elections.
But we don't think this honor should be bestowed on only the lie. For the lie is just words. No, the dubious honor of the coining of the phrase "government takeover of health care" should indeed go to the man who conceived it in the blackness of his heart and avarice of his brain: Frankie "The Hair" Luntz.
So Frank, with all the fanfare and attention we can possible muster for someone so Orwellian, so nakedly partisan and deceptive and so willing to sell his future children's (should he ever find someone either mercenary or frankly, drunk enough) future away by creating these country-destroying lies, we dub thee
King of the Liars
May your reign be cursed and short.