RSS
Sarah Palin, Obama, and 'death panels'
The war of words heats up between Palin and Obama over end-of-life care
P

resident Obama is firing back at Sarah Palin, said Yael T. Abouhalkah in the Kansas City Star. When a woman asked Obama whether, under proposed health-care reform, the government would prevent old people from getting care, the president launched "into an attack on the 'death panel' myth" that former Alaska governor Sarah Palin "made infamous over the weekend." And Obama is right to say that doctors should be encouraged to talk to people about tests and end-of-life care.

"President Obama can try to gloss over the effects of government authorized end-of-life consultations," said Sarah Palin in Facebook, but the reality of ObamaCare is "clear enough." The Democratic health-care proposals "will lead to health care rationing" rather than real reform that will help patients.

Sarah Palin's response, said Marc Ambinder in The Atlantic, is a far cry from her first, more inflammatory Facebook missive, which said the government would decide whether the life of her son Trig, born with Down's syndrome, had value. Now, in an essay—complete with footnotes—that "doesn't seem to be in Palin's voice," she avoids the term "death panel" and seems only to be saying that "doctors ought to be careful and compassionate when they brief patients about end-of-life care."

It was "irresponsible" for Sarah Palin to "claim—outlandishly and falsely—that there's going to be some kind of 'death panel' to decide when to pull the plug on Aunt Sylvia," said Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post. But it's perfectly understandable that people are "frightened and enraged" to hear the government say it wants to cut costs, and then offer to pay doctors to advise patients about hospice care. Surely it's reasonable to fear that their options will be limited in Aunt Sylvia's final days.

No one would mistake Eugene Robinson for a "conservative shill," said Ed Morrissey in Hot Air, yet he, too, thinks "something smells, well, fishy about mandating end-of-life counseling sessions for the elderly and seriously ill in a bill whose backers claim the purpose of bending the cost curve downward." America is not a country where the government should be nudging people into hospice care, so let's not go down that road.

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week