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 August, 2009


 Right Wingers Find Another Invisible Death Panel

Profiles in Discourage

Have you heard this new “ObamaCare” will lead to government control of the National Football League?

Whenever any game ends in a tie, government bureaucrats will invoke “sudden death.”

That’s because the political right is intent on associating everything in health care reform with the word “death.”

Thanks to Sarah Palin’s misreading (if she did actually read it) of one of the health care bills, we’re going to get “death panels.”

That claim has been widely challenged and completely disregarded as nonsense.

There will be no “death panels.”

But the damage has been done. Rational debate about the direction our nation’s health care, has been replaced by town hall meetings populated by senior citizens who truly believe the government will force doctors to “pull their plugs,” rather than to provide them with critical care when needed.

Palin knows she started this wildfire. She knows it was not based in fact. Spreading fear helps strengthen her appeal. She knows that too.

But Fox News has uncovered yet another “death-based” Obama administration directive that’ll supposedly lead to the premature deaths of millions of Americans – the so-called “death book.”

Unlike that “death panels” ruse, the current uproar about the supposed “death book” isn’t the product of some headline grabbing ex-Governor – with nothing better to do than to feed her uninformed followers the latest reason to believe Obama is trying to kill Americans one-by-one.

The “death book” has risen from an op-ed piece written by the President of St. Vincent College in Latrobe.

As easy as it might be to dismiss this as yet another right wing effort to derail the president’s health care reform efforts – I can’t.

Jim Towey appears to be no potential presidential aspirant. He seems like a sensible man.

He’s a Democrat, whom on occasion, has sung the praises of Barack Obama.

Yet, his recent Wall Street Journal op-ed “Death Book for Veterans: Ex-soldiers don’t need to be told they’re a burden to society,” doesn’t prove there is indeed a “Death Book,” and most certainly there is no Obama administration directive that leads me to believe Ex-soldiers need to be told they’re a burden to society. I’m an ex-soldier, for one, and I can’t find Towey’s logic.

His op-ed takes issue with a booklet used by the Veteran’s Administration to help veterans with their end-of-life decisions titled “Your Life, Your Choices.”

In short, it can help veterans – if they’d like to – make a living-will.

Towey’s column implies that a document that was written in 1997 and has been used by three presidential administrations – has somehow become the direct handy work of one of them – Barack Obama.

I don’t question Towey’s sincerity (After all, he’d been the director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives under George W. Bush), just his judgment.

“When the government can steer vulnerable individuals to conclude for themselves that life is not worth living, who needs a death panel,” Towey asks.

That question, if you actually read the document, is unnecessary. It is a document that simply covers issues of advance directives.

Towey claims the VA had suspended use of the document during the Bush years, when it was determined that there were serious moral and ethical concerns about it.

Yet, it was available to veterans during the entirety of the Bush presidency.

All of this comes from a man, Towey, who also founded the non-profit Aging with Dignity in 1996, which has a similar end-of-life document “Five Wishes” that is for sale to organizations that would like to buy it.

The Veterans Administration apparently didn’t want to buy it.

Therein lays a problem of, not credibility, but of morality.

Even if there are questions about the nature of the existing document, why would a man who sells a similar document attempt to inflame the passions of America’s veterans by diminishing the VA document’s value?

Especially since Fox News needed a new term that includes the word “death” to continue its crusade to discredit all-things Obama.

It’s the same Fox News that had ignored the document from 2001-2008.

That’s why as the non-story developed Karl Rove appeared with a handwritten sign that read “Hemlock Society” while referring to page 99 of the VA document. That document only contains 52 pages.

Edward A. Owens of Uniontown is Webmaster of “Red Raider Nation: Where Champions Live.” E-mail him at freedoms@bellatlantic.net