Over the past five years, the topic of healthcare reform has inspired some decidedly heated rhetoric. Between the countless hours of debate and the thousands of articles that have been written, there has been ample opportunity for opponents to find creative ways to slam ObamaCare. (Who could forget Sarah Palin's death panels? Or when Maine Gov. Paul LePage compared the IRS to the Gestapo?) The legislation has been called fascist, socialist, communist, a train wreck, an assault on liberty, and everything in between.
The metaphors have only intensified in the wake of the problems with Healthcare.gov and the millions of policy cancellations. While there are dozens of examples of staggering hyperbole, here's a look at the five most outrageous:
1. ObamaCare is like slavery
Dr. Ben Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon who works as an analyst at Fox News, had this to say about healthcare reform in early October:
"You know ObamaCare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. ... And it is in a way, it is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health care. It was about control." [Fox News]
Carson, who like President Obama is African American, made the remarks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington.
2. It's like the Challenger shuttle disaster
Just 73 seconds after lifting off on Jan. 28, 1986, the Challenger exploded and disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, killing all seven crew members on board.
As many parallels as there are between the fateful maiden voyage of the Titanic and the launch of Healthcare.gov, however, there is another colossal technological disaster that may be even more apt: the catastrophic 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger just 73 seconds after liftoff. [New York Daily News]
Petroski went on to compare Obama administration officials with NASA executives who went ahead with the Challenger launch despite concerns about the weather. It's a fair criticism that administration officials knew of problems before the rollout (in fact, several news organizations reported today that the Obama administration knew as early as March that there were problems and still proceeded) but what Petroski describes is a bureaucracy that knowingly put peoples lives at risk.
3. It's like a World War II battle
This is one of the more obscure references, but former Republican Rep. Allan West from Florida wrote a blog post equating the Affordable Care Act rollout to the Battle of the Kasserine Pass, the first time American and German forces clashed on a large scale in World War II. The battle, which took place in Tunisia, saw 10,000 Allied deaths and went on for five days as the Germans pushed the American troops back. Although it's not clear who West intended the Nazis to be in this analogy, he compared Obama to the battle's incompetent American general:
President Obama has run into his own version of the Kasserine Pass with the humiliating state of his signature healthcare program, ObamaCare... It's almost as if Obama has ordered a suicidal assault — at least Major General Fredenhall ordered a retreat. While Obama faces his own Kasserine Pass, the question is whether he will take heed, retreat, and reexamine his strategy, and replace the incompetence – although likely not his own. [AllanBWest.com]
What West doesn't tell his readers is that American forces eventually rallied and hung on to stop the German assault.
4. It's like Watergate. No, wait, actually it's worse.
Both Bill Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, and Newt Gingrich, former House Speaker and presidential candidate, have compared the Affordable Care Act to Watergate. Gingrich tweeted that Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, has told lies worse than any that escaped the lips of disgraced President Richard Nixon. Kristol was more blunt:
ObamaCare, honestly, will do more damage to the country than Watergate ever could've done. … Watergate was stupid, petty, partisan politics and Nixon did misuse the Oval Office and then did lie to the country about it, probably. But, here, we have a legislative takeover of a huge percentage of the economy and an area that's so important to everyone's lives. [NewsMax]
5. It's like Hurricane Katrina
The New York Times has taken a lot of heat for Michael Shear's article comparing the Obama administration's work on Healthcare.gov to the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina. His central thesis was that like Katrina, the rollout has raised questions about Obama's competence and threatens to hinder the rest of his agenda. The comparison falls apart when you consider that close to 2,000 people died during the storm and its aftermath, and thousands more were displaced.
(Top, right image courtesy Bettmann/CORBIS / bottom, right image courtesy Michael Ainsworth /Dallas Morning News/Corbis)