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Rick Santorum wins the prize for the worst Nelson Mandela tribute
It involves a woefully misguided analogy to ObamaCare
 

ObamaCare is a great injustice, much like the institutionalized racism and segregation of post-colonial South Africa, according to former Pennsylvania senator and failed presidential candidate Rick Santorum (R).

In an appearance on Fox News with Bill O'Reilly Thursday, Santorum likened Mandela's anti-apartheid crusade to Republicans' continued efforts to dismantle the president's health care law.

"He was fighting against some great injustice," Santorum said, "and I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever-increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives. And ObamaCare is front and center in that."

Leaving aside the fact that shanghaiing a world leader's death to peddle your political beliefs is gross opportunism at its worst, Santorum's comparison is flawed for another simple reason: Mandela was a prominent proponent of expanding access to health care, especially for the poor and disadvantaged.

From a South African department of health report on the nation's health care system:

On the 24th of May 1994, President Nelson Mandela announced in his State of the Nation address that all health care for pregnant women and children under the age of 6 years would be provided free to users of public health facilities. The free care policy at primary care level was extended to all users from 1 April 2006. [DOH]

Free public health care? Sounds like socialism to me.

There's more.

South Africa's constitution enshrines a "right" to health care in the same subsection that it guarantees the rights to "sufficient food and water." The Kaiser Family Foundation named an award after Mandela honoring "the efforts of individuals who make extraordinary contributions to improving the health and health care of the most disadvantaged sectors of the population in South Africa and internationally." And Mandela's work, both in office and after, laid the groundwork for South Africa's new universal health care system.

We're sure Rick Santorum will be issuing a retraction any moment now.

 
Jon Terbush is an associate editor at TheWeek.com covering politics, sports, and other things he finds interesting. He has previously written for Talking Points Memo, Raw Story, and Business Insider.

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