Editor’s note: John P. Avlon is the author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics and writes a weekly column for The Daily Beast. Previously, he served as Chief Speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.
By John Avlon, Special to CNN
With health care on Capitol Hill, wingnuts have been busy trying to scare up support for their all-or-nothing vision of the bill.
On the left, Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein went the mass murder metaphor route against the liberals’ least favorite senator this week, Senator Joe Lieberman. He’s an independent who’s acting too independent for them, refusing to reflexively sign on to the Democrats’ bill and therefore blocking their attempt to get a 60-seat, filibuster-proof vote count.
Lieberman says that he’s trying to make sure the bill is fiscally responsible and lowering the Medicaid buy-in age to 55 is unlikely to make a system that is already going broke more solvent.
Klein saw something more sinister: “At this point, Lieberman seems primarily motivated by torturing liberals. That is to say, he seems willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score.”
The hundred thousand deaths estimate is based on an Urban Institute report that lack of insurance contributed to 137,000 people in the first half of this decade, but trying to hang that report around Lieberman’s neck is absurd, unfair and more than a little unhinged. It’s a fear-smear that aims for the same emotions as the summer’s "death panel" claims, with the opposite intention.
On the right, action star turned conservative columnist Chuck Norris offered a Yule-tide take on the health care bill from a fright-wing perspective.
“As we near the eve of another Christmas, I wonder: What would have happened if Mother Mary had been covered by Obamacare? What if that young, poor and uninsured teenage woman had been provided the federal funds (via Obamacare) and facilities (via Planned Parenthood, etc.) to avoid the ridicule, ostracizing, persecution and possible stoning because of her out-of-wedlock pregnancy? Imagine all the great souls who could have been erased from history and the influence of mankind if their parents had been as progressive as Washington's wise men and women! Will Obamacare morph into Herodcare for the unborn?”
That’s right, health care reform could kill Christmas.
And Chuck Norris fans won’t want to miss next week’s column, titled “Away with the Manger,” which he promises will show how “the feds are whitewashing America's Judeo-Christian heritage via a progressive, politically correct and pro-Muslim platform.”
The week’s news also provoked a bonus round of wingnut irony. Conservative protestors on Capitol Hill staging a “die-in” to illustrate the impact of what they call government-run health care. It’s the same street theater tactic that Code Pink used to protest war during the Bush administration. The right wing is reading “Rules for Radicals.”
Somehow the extremes always end up resembling each other and the result is always an assault on common sense.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Avlon.