Green Room

Why Sarah Palin Should Not Leave The Room

posted at 12:22 am on August 23, 2009 by

When I began writing for Hot Air, I never imagined I would find myself critical of Charles Krauthammer twice, after only blogging for four months. I’ve followed his work for years, and still eagerly read everything he publishes. He writes brilliantly on many topics, but he just doesn’t get Sarah Palin, or by extension her supporters… which by further extension means he misunderstands the precarious moment America finds itself in, and the opportunities that lie ahead for conservatives.

Let me dispense with the most controversial part of Krauthammer’s recent Town Hall column first: this condescending nonsense about asking Palin to “leave the room” while “we have a reasoned discussion about end-of-life counseling.” There’s only one group of people who needs to leave the room during that discussion, and it’s the socialist zealot in the White House, along with the craven cowards in his party. They’ve already demonstrated a remarkable gift for swiftly leaving the room when people start asking tough questions, so we’ll hardly notice when they slink out. Maybe while they’re gone, they could find the billions in Cash for Clunkers money that vanished into thin air.

Those Facebook pages she’s tossing around like ninja throwing stars are eloquent proof that no one has the right to pat Sarah Palin on the head and send her out of the room, while the grown-ups settle down to serious talk. She isn’t just writing snarky rants. She’s providing both devastatingly effective criticism, and substantial policy alternatives. It’s fairly obvious the White House paid a great deal of attention to her infamous “death panel” column. I haven’t seen that many people turned into nervous wrecks by Facebook since the last time the “Mafia Wars” servers went down.

As many others have noted, Krauthammer begins his latest essay with his bizarrely offensive demand that Palin “leave the room,” then spends the rest of the essay essentially agreeing with her. It seems fair to say that his problem is more with her style than her substance. He misconstrues the “death panel” comment in a manner that suggests he might not have read her original Facebook posting. The “death panel” solar flare occurs in this paragraph:

The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

There is no doubt Obama and his allies want to drive the United States toward a single-payer health system. Some of his more colorful co-conspirators, like Barney Frank, aren’t particularly cagey about it when they speak in front of friendly audiences, and Obama himself has expressed that desire in the past. A health-insurance industry dominated by a tax-subsidized public option, whose vampiric “providers” can re-write the laws of the industry to destroy their nominal competitors, will inevitably collapse… leaving only the government. Tossing a shark into your aquarium is not a good way to enhance “competition” among the fish. When America inevitably loses enough blood to lapse into a single-payer coma, there will be rationing, and that means government functionaries will decide how the limited pool of medical resources is allocated. I don’t think “death panel” is an unfair metaphor for the resulting system, and the sense of dread it provokes in the listener is entirely appropriate.

The death panel doesn’t have to take the form of nine robed Sith Lords, stamping your grandmothers’ termination orders with a giant red skull, then handing them to a ghoul in surgical scrubs. It will be no less deadly if it consists of thousands of faceless government drones in cubicles, processing Quality of Life spreadsheets and crossing out the unlucky Social Security numbers with pink highlighter pens. In fact, my only quibble with Palin’s prediction is that, given the style of the current Administration, it is much more likely that we’ll have a Death Czar. Using the same Noonan-swooning judgment that gave us a tax cheat for Treasury Secretary, Obama will appoint a serial killer to the position. The Death Czar’s first official act will be spending $2 billion in taxpayer dollars to hire a Brazilian company, which will extract organs from Americans after they receive their end-of-life counseling, then ship them overseas for use in foreign patients.

What Palin brings to the health-care debate is the energy, wisdom, and wit to make complex ideas understandable to ordinary people. Let me once again restate my admiration for Charles Krauthammer before saying, with regrettably brutal candor, that Sarah Palin had more impact on the health-care debate with one Facebook note than everything Krauthammer has written in the past year. That’s not because people are shallow, and didn’t pay attention until Palin kicked off a media firestorm. It’s because they understandably seek out leadership on complex issues, and leaders have a knack for rendering fearfully complicated issues down to their essential truths. Ordinary Americans are more eager to entertain appealing speech from an engaging personality, than sign up for a long series of dry lectures, no matter how brilliant the lecturer might be… and they don’t view their ballots as comment cards, to be completed on their way out of the lecture hall.

Every political movement needs both academic intelligence, and vital charisma. The Left has always viewed the relationship between its intellectuals and politicians as something like the production and marketing departments in a business – and when it comes to accumulating power, socialists are all business. People like Saul Alinsky and Bill Ayers spent decades weaving the strings that control the Obama marionette. They openly wrote of their understanding that savvy merchandising would be needed to make the public accept their agenda, at least until the public no longer has a meaningful choice about accepting it. When was the last time you heard a leftist intellectual belittle a popular liberal politician, the way Charles Krauthammer treated Sarah Palin?

The challenge for conservatism is to educate the voters in its basic principles, since they received no such education in the public schools. Conservatism always triumphs on the elementary questions of freedom and capitalism. The ideas of the Left are diseased in root and branch – history has shown there is no need to allow them to blossom, in order to see they are poisonous. Conservatives who allow themselves to be dragged into bickering about page 945 of a 1200-page bill have already conceded far too much of the debate. Americans deserve better than being told to sit down and shut up, while Washington plays Jenga with Obama’s obscene health-care proposals. They should be angry and insulted their time and money were ever wasted with this madness.

If Obama were the CEO of a private company, he would have already been “asked to leave the room” by the shareholders, and he’d be driving home in tears, listening to voice mail messages from the company lawyers. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to dispose of corrupt and incompetent elected officials… which is why they should be provided with the smallest possible operating budget, watched like hawks, and kept out of everything that isn’t their explicit Constitutional duty. We can begin the process in 2010, and finish it in 2012. I’d like to have both Charles Krauthammer and Sarah Palin in the room while we prepare for battle. I know she won’t ask him to leave.

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Dr.Zero zero’s in to the heart of the matter once again in another well written piece. Sorry, I knew I was going to have to do that sooner or later.

This “death panel” stuff is getting kind of old though it has exposed a lot of people such as the good Dr. K. Personally I would like to move on to her latest broadside at the sinking WH ship, that being her note about Tort Reform. Here she has put her finger on a fatal vulnerbility of the Dems. This needs to be talked up as much as possible. If the public catches on to this it’s all over for the other Zero.

shmendrick on August 23, 2009 at 1:09 AM

I have a special fondness for CK’s punditry. He’s intelligent, insightful, and well-educated. That said, he is absolutely too much “inside the beltway.”

Normally, that’s a good thing. Most people with his assets will find themselves out in the real world, trying to make their way in the world and make a living, and thus far removed from politics.

CK’s unfortunate personal history jolted him off of that path. He has taken this as a signal to burrow his way into the belly of the beast, and to comment upon the actions and motions therein — and he’s been exceptionally good at this. I’m sure that there is some regret in his mind that he didn’t become a doctor, but he has done far more for the American people over the years by bringing a doctor’s sensibilities, intelligence, and values into the media.

That said, there is a shared arrogance between the doctor and the politician — both know what’s best for you better than you do. And there can develop a certain shared delusion about the values inside and the values outside.

And in this case, despite my high regard for CK and my frequent admiration for his words….I think he’s wrong.

Palin had it absolutely right when she talked about a “death panel”, and Krauthammer is absolutely wrong to dismiss it. Each of us has the right to, as Dylan Thomas put it:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

We should insure against the violations of our own values — if we fear cancer, but welcome the surcease of Alzheimer’s, we should be able to insure for that. If we fear incapacity, but welcome release, we should be able to insure for that. If we fear a wasting, but expect a coup, we should be able to ensure for that.

But nobody should be forced to insure against something because some nameless bureaucrat found it to be more cost-effective.

There are all sorts of horrors involved with medical treatment — would it be worse to know that your loved ones withdrew a feeding tube because you could not move or speak…while you could still think and feel? — or would it be worse to perpetuate a vegetative existence…when your beliefs would have long since admitted you into a better place without such artificial aids? Medicine is all about the patient’s values, beliefs, fears, and hopes. How could it possibly be administered properly by a government that believed that it should all be the same?

cthulhu on August 23, 2009 at 1:44 AM

Terrific work, Dr. Zero. Thanks for this.

PhoenixUniversal on August 23, 2009 at 1:58 AM

Exactly. I yield to no one in my admiration for Dr. Krauthammer, but this needed to be said.

WasatchMan on August 23, 2009 at 2:16 AM

Nitpicking, cthulhu, but … Krauthammer did get his MD, specialized in psychiatry, and practiced as a psychiatrist for 10 years before going into journalism full time, although he was writing and opining during that time.

I agree with Dr Zero’s criticism of his comments about Palin.

YehuditTX on August 23, 2009 at 2:21 AM

I believe that Krauthammer’s objections to Palin’s remarks are rooted in his original profession.

If you imagine Dr. K as the brilliant, aloof, Harvard trained attending physician, never wrong, and Palin as the naive medical student who has the temerity to question his judgement, then his remarks make sense.

The truth of the matter is this, Palin was able to distill the argument to its essence while Krauthammer was not.

turfmann on August 23, 2009 at 5:32 AM

Meanwhile, in the real world, Medicare — the single-payer “public option” for retirees and the disabled — continues to cover increasingly expensive, life-saving treatments regardless of the patient’s subjective quality of life. Medicare accounts for 13% of our budget (which is a name politicians have misappropriated to label our expenses). It has been effectively operating at a loss from the time Lyndon Johnson signed the bill that created it. Note: no death panels. Bottomless deficits and stupefying inefficiency, yes. But no death panels.

Retirees are arguably the most powerful constituency in the United States. It would be political suicide to threaten the lives of seniors in the cartoonishly villainous way Palin is suggesting. This applies equally to conservatives and liberals. They’ll raise taxes, they’ll sell debt to hostile foreign countries, and they’ll cut every corner they think the voters won’t notice. They will not cut entitlements to seniors in any meaningful way. That would almost take fiscal responsibility.

Palin misses the point, misdirects her readers’ fears, and ultimately misinforms them. She makes it too easy for the opposition to dismiss legitimate criticism of their health care plan. She has nothing substantive to contribute to the health care debate — a debate that fiscal conservatives have been decisively winning without her. If she cares more about defeating socialized medicine than posturing for the 2012 Republican primary, she should leave the room.

RightOFLeft on August 23, 2009 at 6:13 AM

Bravo Dr. Zero. Are you sure you aren’t somehow me, appearing incognito and speaking brilliantly?
I was out of town when Dr. K’s spanking about “death panels” came out, so I didn’t have access to all my log in passwords or I would have gone nuclear on Dr. K. First, he continues to float the idea that death panels and “end of life counseling” are the same. Living wills and making sure you have medical POA’s appointed are obviously not death panels. Having ones doctor nudge you into making decisions that you avoided because they are, frankly, icky to discuss, are not death panels.
Dr. K first assumes that all us people in fly over country, and/or all us people who admire and listen to Mrs. Palin, are stupid. We don’t read. We aren’t smart like him. We darn sure don’t “get” that our beloved, intelligent, suave, handsome, well spoken and well dressed President would never deliberately stick the words “death panel” into a health care bill (or is it health INSURANCE reform bill?). Dr. K assumes that we stand around with pitch forks, in overalls, and when Sarah speaks, we shout and mob and chase the Frankenstein out with our torches, without ever once stopping to do any research or thinking of our own.
I was lucky enough to sign on as a SarahPalin facebook friend just one day before this hit the fan. And I went and read the sections she referenced. It isn’t the payment for counseling or living wills which are objectionable. It is that the next paragraph sets up panels, independent panels, which will review the care options available. Did it take a giant leap to go from A) independent panels, which will review the care options available to B) Death Panels?????? No. Which is why Sarah Palin will be the one they will be talking about when historians ask “what happened to Obamacare?”. Sarah Palin. One blog. Two words. Out of the mouth of babes.
Sorry if Dr. K wasn’t astute enough to get it. The rest of us did.

Ohio Granny on August 23, 2009 at 7:16 AM

Dr. Zero, You da MAN!!! What a smackdown.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Inside the beltway is a dis-ease.

Jayrae on August 23, 2009 at 7:24 AM

Hey, RighOFleft,
Medicare works because we have private insurance as the prime supporter of our health care infrastructure and as the standard to which government must live up to and meet. If you listen closely, the entire reason why this administration, Nancy, Harry, and the gang want to try to fool us into believing we need this this is because 1) Medicare is broke – fiscally and 2) Private insurance rakes in an obscene pile of cash (Nancy’s words) and 3) they want it.
Everyone points to Medicare as the reason we should go for the single payer system because it is so swell, but in the same conversation, will lower their voices and try to have the “teaching moment” where we are instructed, like children, that it is broke and is sucking all the money out of the economy.
When Obama was running, he claimed he could give us all cadillac health care just by ending the war in Iraq. Now, no one is holding his feet to that fire.
If private insurance goes bye bye, then we don’t get anything for free. We get to pay. Only we don’t get options. We don’t get to complain. We don’t get to take our business elsewhere. And just like in the Soviet Union, we will wake up and discover that nobody wants to go to school for 12 years and come out to work their butts off, and like just like the common folk. In Egypt, it is better to work for tips as a cab driver than to get the same salary as a person on welfare when you are a doctor.
Medicare piggy backed onto a functioning system that wasn’t perfect but which allowed for research and development, innovation, creativity, and advancements. Think that will keep on happening in a governmet run system with a government that wouldn’t be out of the red for the rest of this century?
This feels so much like a shell game that reasonable, responsible, and adult people reject the entire premise. We stopped being dazzled by his brilliance, and now we are working our way out of being buried by BS.

Ohio Granny on August 23, 2009 at 7:29 AM

Maybe Krauthammer needs to belittle Palin to maintain credibility with the elites in the beltway and do his job as a journalist.

zmdavid on August 23, 2009 at 7:30 AM

… he just doesn’t get Sarah Palin, or by extension her supporters…

This is what the press and the Dems miss when they are eager to criticize Sarah Palin. To dismiss her is to dismiss her supporting base as irrelevant as well. All the shots that they throw at her only fire up support.

She may not be a presidential contender yet due to her negative polling, but she can be the driving force in the debate and an influence in the upcoming Congressional and Senate elections.

Her decision to resign is a big plus for debating issues that are before the country right now.

b3026 on August 23, 2009 at 8:20 AM

Several things to remember about Krathammer:

1. He is a neocon, not a conservative. Like many neocons, he started his literary career with New Republic. He is very pro-abortion and anti-capital punishment and, at best, squishy on Second Amendment rights. This is directly opposite to Palin.

2. Krathammer is an elitist. He has lived his entire life in NYC, Montreal and DC. Palin is the biggest threat to the power structure Krathammer is part of. Krathammer is a Harvard grad and believes Ivy Leaguers should be in control, even if they are ruining the country.

3. Religion: Krathammer is Jewish and Jews often view Evangelicals, like Palin, with suspicion.

bw222 on August 23, 2009 at 8:38 AM

Country Club Krauthammer vs. Pit Bull Hockey Mom Palin.

No contest.

What Charles is missing, as I said over in the thread under Rovin’s article, is what Joe and Jane Sixpack are thinking.

Charles needs to get past “redneck dumb”* and understand their take on the issues, why they think the way they do.

Sarah has no need to do so, she already gets it. For Charles to dismiss her out of hand is .. well, perhaps “Ivy League dumb” applies.


* for those not familiar, “redneck dumb” is a form of mental judo by which non-city folk allow city folk to think “just another dumb hillbilly” while waiting for an opportunity to profit off this mistaken assumption.

acat on August 23, 2009 at 9:32 AM

Say it ain’t so, Charlie. Quit holding up Medicare up and a shining example of single payer insurance. We pay a monthly premium for it, so it’s not free health care, and yet it’s still going broke. If it is so great, why do I feel compelled to carry an additional private policy for a just in case moment?

Kissmygrits on August 23, 2009 at 9:40 AM

…quit holding Medicare up as a shining example…(damn keyboard).

Kissmygrits on August 23, 2009 at 9:42 AM

This post has been promoted to

Comments have been closed on this post but the discussion continues here.

Allahpundit on August 23, 2009 at 9:54 AM

From Federalist 41:

They will see, in all cases where power is to be conferred, the point first to be decided is, whether such a power be necessary to the public good; as the next will be, in case of an affirmative decision, to guard as effectually as possible against a perversion of the power to the public detriment.

It is along the second point that Mrs. Palin brought up her “death panel” concern, and it is along that point that her contribution has been appropriate.

Horatius on August 23, 2009 at 10:18 AM

This post has been promoted to

Comments have been closed on this post but the discussion continues here.

Allahpundit on August 23, 2009 at 9:54 AM

Hmm. Don’t see it on the main page and the link gives a 404 error.

zmdavid on August 23, 2009 at 10:28 AM

If the public catches on to this it’s all over for the other Zero.

shmendrick on August 23, 2009 at 1:09 AM

Now if only we had a leader that could boil it down for the avg American so they could understand. Like how Palin boiled down the “nonelected panels of experts in the bill to “death panels”. DId CK “leave the room” where is his witty phrase to draw the citizens to the lack of healthcare tort reform. How many people know what “tort” means? 30%? 50%?

Now if only CK could “understand” the concept of simplification. sometimes 2 words are better than 50. like “greedy capialists” or “death panels” or “loan sharks” or “liberal scum” or “tax and spend liberal” or “Evil doers” or “Axis of evil” or “Evil Empire”

I think since CK has written SOOOOO many words in his live he has forgotten that words are powerful and the right combination of words are the most powerful force on earth. Like “life,liberty and the pursuit of happiness” or “forscore and seven years ago” or “tear down this wall” or a “day that would live in infammy”

CK needs to “leave the room” and go take some addtional classes it seems.

Now about that “tort” reform. can we not call it “ambulance chaser reform”? or “parisite reform”?

unseen on August 23, 2009 at 10:33 AM

Now it’s on the main page, but comments here are still open.

zmdavid on August 23, 2009 at 10:41 AM

Once again, sharp and true. But I submit one missing element (though it wasn’t really the purview of the piece). That is, the core problem Krauthammer has with Palin concerns intellectual snobbery and political-class elitism and is completely irremediable.

rrpjr on August 23, 2009 at 11:13 AM

Krauthammer is OK, but he has clearly never seen a Natural before. At least most of the Democrats can recognize a Natural when they see one, and they certainly knew that Sarah was one … which explains the non-stop fear and hate they have of and for her. She’s a Natural

Karmi on August 23, 2009 at 5:05 PM

zmdavid on August 23, 2009 at 10:41 AM
Yes, comments here remain open, but the main discussion moves on.

Yes, the notice that the post has been promoted doesn’t mean it’s instantly visible. There’s a delay while Ed and Allah consult the various Internet Gods or something.

So, once a post is promoted you’ve got a choice – wait until it pops and reply to it, or keep chatting here. Different strokes, not-one-size-fits-all, etc. etc.


acat on August 24, 2009 at 10:19 AM

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