There are so many unfounded rumors about the Obama administration flying around these days that it’s easy to miss one or two, but most have probably heard this one: Under the terms of the American Affordable Healthcare Act, old people are basically going to be tossed out into the street to die. For a quick summary of the roots of this rumor (right-wing talk radio, of course) and its utter disregard for the facts, see this article in today’s Washington Post. For an even quicker summary, read this excerpt:
The controversy stems from a proposal to pay physicians who counsel elderly or terminally ill patients about what medical interventions they would prefer near the end of life and how to prepare instructions such as living wills. Under the plan, Medicare would reimburse doctors for one session every five years to confer with a patient about his or her wishes and how to ensure those preferences are followed. The counseling sessions would be voluntary.
But on right-leaning radio programs, religious e-mail lists and Internet blogs, the proposal has been described as “guiding you in how to die,” “an ORDER from the Government to end your life,” promoting “death care” and, in the words of antiabortion leader Randall Terry, an attempt to “kill Granny.”
And the campaign has worked. Two local examples: this letter to the editor and this one, both published within the past three days. It’s no mystery where these unfortunates have gotten their “information” from.
This is really just an extension of the “They’re coming to get us!” mentality that wingnuts adopt in order to catalyze their combined victim/anger/helplessness complex. (The word “Fuddite” in the title, by the way, owes its existence–in my mind, at least–to the Warner Brothers cartoon character and refers to the class of wingnuts reflecting an especially virulent brand of this complex: hypercredulous, inclined to violence, and single-minded in their quest to remain both ignorant and pissed-off. I swear I had never heard it before using it today, but like every cool idea, someone else produced it first.) Wingnuts–and there are plenty in the senior ranks–have managed to convince themselves that Obama (and liberals in general, since liberalism maps 1:1 to communism) literally wants to “destroy America.” This is obviously senseless in the extreme; even if he were a thoroughly murderous rat-bastard, or even just interested only in achieving avaricious ends, an obvious fact remains: Obama, the ACLU lawyers charged with the same motives, and their scores of relatives all live here. So it should seem unlikely that calling in a nuclear strike, dumping arsenic in the drinking water, or even simply wrecking the standard of living on purpose are high on Obama’s list. And it might occur to people that a president hell-bent on ruin would not go to the energetic lengths Obama has in various ways when indolence alone would suffice.
But wingnuts aren’t content to call him incompetent, which is at least debatable; they have to call him evil, because it’s impossible to fully hate him without attributing malicious motives to his actions. And because of the high rate of xenophobia in the wingnut brigade, the “birther” phenomenon is not merely unsurprising; it’s inevitable. The Forces of Stupid are as tireless as they are blinkered, like a newly arrested man still wrecked on PCP slamming tirelessly off the walls of his jail cell. It’s the ultimate in misdirected energy and represents the quintessential squandering of human intellect.
This is also what has underwritten the excoriating, cartoonishly insane popularity among wingnuts of the Palin MILFbot. She comforts wingnuts and validates their complexes by cheerfully assuring them that she, like them, is just a goshdarn regular mom, not some establishment elitist. That the millions in her captive audience cannot see that they are being played to the max by a stammerfuck orator who is maniacally intent on being anything but “everyday” is the perfect encapsulation of America’s eagerness to embrace the lowest common denominator, all the while crowing about what a great country this used to be before the Kool-Aid drinkers took over.
Interestingly, generally speaking, the people on the “They’re coming to take our shit!/waste our tax dollars!/rob us of free speech!” side don’t have much shit, don’t earn enough to pay much in taxes, and can’t speak or write well enough to be understood anyway. Their lives ae often heavily subsidized by taxes collected through policies they themselves rabidly oppose. But cognitive dissonance, hypocrisy, and filthy-rich irony are all sine quibus non in today’s extreme right. When you live in a country featuring a huge bloc of people who both insist that history will vindicate Bush in 100 years and are perfectly comfortable declaring Obama a failure after 100 days in office, the only way to avoid fifth-degree cynicism is to join the cause or undergo a surgical or pharmacological lobotomy. The rest of us shake our heads and, of course, peach to the choir by loudly pointing out what should be self-evident.