There’s already been a lot, perhaps too much, chatter about Ezra Klein’s silly claim that Joe Lieberman “seems willing to cause the death of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score.” But it’s worth pointing out a few things.
The first is that the “seems” in that line is the most important word. That’s how people who disagree with his preferred public policies seem to him.
Second, it’s worth noting that the same logic can be — and was — used by conservatives against liberals like Klein during the lead up to the Iraq War (I say like him, because he was a freshman or sophomore in college during the lead-up to the Iraq War). Saddam Hussein truly killed tens of thousands of his own people. One of the many arguments for invading Iraq was that it would put an end to the practice. Liberals shrieked bloody murder when anyone hinted that doves were objectively in favor of Saddam’s knife-work simply because they opposed invasion. But when Lieberman suggests that a slightly different approach to providing health care to the uninsured might be the better way to go, it’s okay to say he’s fine with the deaths of Americans. Super classy.
Last, Ezra’s line isn’t even original. I don’t think that’s so much a indictment of Klein personally as it is of the entire bunker-set he so often represents. Here’s an excerpt from Brian Doherty’s excellent essay, “Progressives vs. Democracy,” in the current issue of Reason:
Such uncomprehending hyperbole is not limited to opinion journalism, and it has been only sporadically directed at the people who actually hold power. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- Calif.) in July slammed health insurers—who have largely supported and helped shape most reform efforts this political season—as “immoral …villains,” even while she continued to back plans that would force every American to buy insurance from them. Pelosi’s counterpart in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), called the many U.S. citizens who spoke out against health care legislation at town hall meetings last August “evil mongers.”
The hate bath of policy disagreement was just warming up. Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein echoed George W. Bush’s you’re-either-with-us-or-with-the-terrorists formula in an August column. “The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage,” Pearlstein wrote. “They’ve become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.”
If the mainstream press was boiling, what about the progressive netroots? A Daily Kos blogger who calls him/herself “Nuisance Industry” voted to deport those citizens who don’t acknowledge the wisdom of the public option. “You heard me, get out,” Nuisance wrote, in a popular post that was cheered by hundreds of Daily Kos commenters and jeered by only a few. “You hate the people here enough that you want them to die.…You are un-American. Get out of my country.…You’d rather have our people die than provide them health care that doesn’t bankrupt them.”
Socialized America, love it or leave it, baby!
Update: From a reader:
Everyone seems to be missing a pretty obvious point about Ezra–I don’t read his stuff, but I’d imagine that he went nuts along with the rest of the Left when Palin talked about “Death Panels” and yet now it’s totally within the bounds of polite society to call out specific Senators by name and say that they prefer death for political purposes?
Man, I’m grateful for you guys who read his nonsense so I don’t have to. 🙂