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Longboat Key Wednesday, May 20, 2009 13 years ago

Personal politics


In the battle over health-care reform, one man has become a thorn in the side of the left, and the left’s reaction to his talking points is an interesting story in how the left fights.

Rick Scott, former chief executive officer of Columbia/HCA, has started a group called Conservatives for Patients’ Rights (CPR). In a new ad campaign, CPR is doing what we all should be doing — highlighting the stories of patients stuck in Canada’s and Great Britain’s health-care systems.

The ads (see are powerful. Here is a sample:

Katie Brickell was told by Britain’s National Health Service at age 19 that the government wouldn’t pay for a pap smear until age 20, she waited. A year later, the government decided it needed to save more money and moved the minimum eligibility age to 25 years. At age 23, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer and has been told the disease is not treatable.

In 2005, Kate Spall’s mother was diagnosed with renal cancer. She was forced to wait two months for surgery that might have saved her life. But by the time her name was called on the waiting list, the cancer had spread to her kidneys. She died.

After waiting for the government to treat her kidney cancer, Angela French’s family persuaded her to see a private doctor, which she paid for out of her own pocket. The doctor told her the situation was urgent and operated on her immediately. But when Angela tried to tap the National Health Service to pay for life-saving cancer drugs, she found out that patients in her geographic area were not eligible for the medication, even though patients in other parts of the country were covered. As of the filming of the ad, Angela was still waiting on government approval so she could receive the medicine.

We know, because Sen. Jay Rockefeller, among others, has already told us, that government in President Obama’s health-care system will make cost/benefit analyses, and some people may not get treatment they want. In other words, the same criticisms the left has hurled at HMOs for years will now be done by Uncle Sam.

We also know that Obama’s health-care options are bad for Americans because they will take away freedom to choose our own coverage and costs.

So how has the left responded to the points Rick Scott has made? It hasn’t. Instead, the left has attacked him directly.Ben Smith, writing in the Politico, tells us Barack Obama’s allies meet every morning by conference call at 8:45 a.m. to build their talking points. The calls operate as a left-wing character assassination squad run by John Podesta of the Center for American Progress (“CAP”). Podesta was also co-chairman of the Obama-Biden transition project. The attacks on Rick Scott took shape on one of these calls.

On March 3, Jonathan Cohn wrote at the New Republic that Scott is “public enemy number one.” Ezra Klein, who also coordinates attacks against the right with journalists on a private e-mail list, then took to the American Prospect to attack Scott for business practices at HCA.

Two days later, Podesta, on Fox News, tried dodging a question Rick Scott had raised about the costs of Obama’s program by smearing Scott. On March 11, Christopher Hayes parroted his left-wing brethren at
The Nation writing, “Having Scott lead the charge against health-care reform is like tapping Bernie Madoff to campaign against tighter securities regulation.”

There has been no refutation of his arguments. There has been no refutation about his objections to Obama’s proposals. Instead, they have tried to discredit him personally. Sustained attacks on character as proxies for assaults on policy are a consistent left-wing construct.

We’re going to be seeing a lot more of it. But on our side, we need to pay attention to what Rick Scott is saying. He’s giving us the ammunition we need to fight back.

Erick Erickson is the managing editor of, the largest online community of conservative activists. This appeared May 10 on Reprinted with permission

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