From George’s Bottom Line at abcNEWS:
In his first comments on Sarah Palin’s “death panel” claims, John McCain is standing by his former running mate.
He doesn’t like the phrase “death panels,” but he defended the substance of Palin’s charge, saying the Democrats have only themselves to blame for the controversy.
Kids, it’s official. This is how seriously anyone should be taking Captain Underpants:
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president also says that the debate has been infected by falsehoods. And probably the most notorious one is the one made by your former running mate, Sarah Palin, who said that his bill would encourage death panels that would encourage euthanasia. He called that an extraordinary lie and he is right about that, isn’t he?
MCCAIN: Well, I think that what we are talking about here is do – are we going to have groups that actually advise people as these decisions are made later in life and …
STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s not in the bill.
MCCAIN: But – it’s been taken out, but the way that it was written made it a little bit ambiguous. And another thing …
STEPHANOPOULOS: I don’t think that’s correct, Senator. The bill, all it said was that, if a patient wanted to have a Medicare consultation about end-of-life issues, they could have it at their request and the doctor would get reimbursed for it, no panel …
MCCAIN: There was a provision in the bill that talks about a board that would decide the most effective measures to provide health care for people, OK?
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that’s not a death panel.
MCCAIN: So what does – what does that lead to? Doesn’t that lead to a possibility, at least opens the door to a possibility of rationing and decisions made such are made in other countries?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, every single independent group that looked at it said it just wasn’t true.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you think Sarah Palin was right?
MCCAIN: Look, I don’t think they were called death panels, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think – but on the best treatment procedures part of the bill, it does open it up to decisions being made as far – that should be left – those choices left to the patient and the individual.
(Video at link)
From POLITICAL ANIMAL (Steve Benen) at Washington Monthly:
How far gone is Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)? He isn’t even willing to reject the “death panel” nonsense pushed by his former running mate.
As promised, McCain appeared on ABC News’ “This Week” and George Stephanopoulos asked whether he could defend Sarah Palin’s most infamous and scurrilous attack on health care reform. Would the self-described “maverick” take a stand in support of reality? Take a wild guess.
Asked about the “death panel” lie, McCain said he doesn’t endorse the phrase, but argued the government, under reform measures, would “have groups that actually advise people as these decisions are made later in life.” When Stephanopoulos noted the phrase of the month — “That’s not in the bill” — McCain said the language in the legislation “made it a little bit ambiguous.”
It’s a good thing McCain was invited back onto another Sunday morning public affairs show — his 11th appearance since January, and his second on “This Week” since May — or we may have missed insightful policy analysis like this.
From Conor Clarke at the Atlantic:
MCCAIN: But — [...] the way that it was written made it a little bit ambiguous.
“Ambiguous.” Thus do we witness McCain joining the prestigious Michael Steele school of literary criticism. You see, a health-care bill is really a lot like Hamlet or The Wasteland. Interpretations may vary. Where some scholars find an utterly innocuous and optional expansion of Medicare coverage, others might see a program akin to mandatory government euthanasia.
I have expressed my frustration with this tactic many times before, and I know it is getting tedious. But, to recap, the tactic is this: (1) Make a preposterous and false claim about a bill. (2) Have the claim disproved. (3) Avoid defending the original claim, but instead observe that the controversy reflects “a legitimate difference of interpretation” about what might happen in the future. Effective opposition in three easy steps!