Bob Franken

Did Sarah Palin Comparison?


Who knew that Sarah Palin was such a uniter? How else can you explain how the right and left want to wrap their wings around her. Conservatives embrace her as a voice of the future, liberals hail her as a present-day object of ridicule. Enter the Center for American Progress, definitely in the latter group.

In a piece on its “Think Progress” Web site, the group takes delight in pointing out that the very same Sarah Palin who has inspired so much hell-raising with her little Facebook “death panels” description, not too long ago proclaimed her belief in the kind of living will planning she now denounces in brutal terms.

She was Governor Palin then — before she had emerged from obscurity to become vice presidential candidate Tina Fey. In April 2008 she signed a proclamation declaring a “Healthcare Decisions Day.” It cited the importance of “the need to plan ahead for health care decisions, related to end of life care” and went on to “encourage hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, continuing care retirement communities and hospices to participate in a statewide effort to provide clear and consistent information to the public about advance directives.” Yada yada yada.

Obviously, that was before she saw the light — or, more accurately, the bright lights of national politics. Now that she’s dumped the people of Alaska, she’s seen the error of her ways: “End-of-life care” would now be an insidious tool of “death panels” intent on euthanasia. Just ask the screamers at the town hall meetings.

Or just ask Newt Gingrich, the voice of moderation who supports the “death panel” characterization. The “Think Progress” report notes that in April of this year Gingrich endorsed this kind of counseling as a way to “decrease the stress felt by caregivers.” He’s so quick on his feet he should be on “Dancing With the Stars” — with Sarah.

There are many who worry that by including provision part in a comprehensive health care package, such counseling would become subtle pressure to make pull the plug decisions that are less costly in an environment of rationing. That is worth considering. One of the GOP senators involved in negotiating the plan, Charles Grassley, believes the plug should be pulled on the idea because it has sparked a wild controversy that distracts from the larger purpose of creating workable reform.

It has probably already served the purpose of Sarah Palin. It keeps her out front, leading the people who don’t care whether Sarah’s shifting point of view makes her Palin comparison. And the more the left wing attacks her, the more the right wing defends. It’s a perfect example of a “wing-wing situation.”

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