Conservatives, the Hysterical Style and Health-care

In between hysterical accusations aimed at our deeply centrist president, one of the right’s newest hobbies is trying to scare America’s seniors to death. CBS News decided to help out with this hacktacular piece of  garbage, Thousands Quit AARP Over Health Reform

Letters were filled with cut-up AARP cards.

“I think that probably the seniors are most upset with cuts in Medicare,” said ASA President Stuart Barton.

The American Seniors Association is flat-out against President Obama’s plan, which calls for $313 billion dollars in Medicare cuts over ten years. The AARP is widely viewed as supporting the President.

Last week, Obama told a town meeting in Portsmouth, NH, “We have the AARP on board because they know this is a good deal for our seniors.”

The AARP called the President’s statements “inaccurate,” saying it hasn’t endorsed any plan or bill.

Some were left with the feeling that AARP was waffling.

“I feel they’re supporting it through the backdoor, and telling members that they’re not through the front door,” said Guardiani.

“AARP has not endorsed any plan at this point,” said Cheryl Matheis, AARP VP for Social Impact.

AARP’s monthly membership rolls will compensate for for a few thousand people that have bought into the scare stories over cutting Medicare. American Seniors Association is yet another piece of conservative astroturf. CBS News Slams AARP, Promotes Right-Wing ASA Instead

A little digging into Stuart Barton’s 60,000 member American Seniors Association would have made that clear. Founded in 2005 by Barton’s father Jerry as the National Association for Senior Concerns (NASCON), the group targeted the “radical agenda” of the AARP. Topping its program is Social Security privatization, hard-line opposition to immigration reform, and an overhaul of Medicare, which Barton deemed “the most abused and wasteful of all federal programs that could be bankrupt even before Social Security.”

Nothing like telling cruel and stupid lies to get people to panic. If the ASA revealed its real agenda of undoing every social safety net that Democrats have created for seniors, children and the disabled it seems unlikely they’d have more then a few radical zealots for members. Perrspectives mentions that quite a few seniors were and still are upset at AARP for supporting the drug benefit deal Bush worked out for the pharmaceutical industry. Obama’s plans for Medicare, public insurance options or co-opts aside, will put Medicare on better financial footing. Something that will benefit all seniors. AARP has not officially endorsed any plan, but they have been among the most gracious and fair minded in listening to the facts. Listening to the facts on health-care reform is enough to get any organization on the Conservative rage machine’s hit list. Media Matters also notes that ASA has connections to the birthers. ASA has pushed the deathers meme so that makes since. Birthers and deathers tend to be the same crowd, News broadcast, or infomercial?

And is the Elaine Guardiani who is “extremely disappointed in the AARP” the same Elaine Guardiani who wrote this about Barack Obama last in March of 2008? –

I think the church DOES represent Obama’s views. He was raised as a moslem then a perported christian ( although do not believe this). this church represents radical racial and hateful views and emulates moslem thinking. He could not be a member for 20 years without knowing about these inflammatory views and by his presence, he condones those views and espouses to them. As President of the United States, he cannot simply care about black people but must care about all people. Too many blacks think of themselves as a separate America. Do we want such views in the white house?
I think not!

Guardiani’s view is in lock step with the view of many conservatives. Ironic in that many Democrats are beginning to think that President Obama’s major fault is that he is too nice and tries too hard to be bipartisan. Analysis: Liberals tired of health care compromise

Frustrated liberals have a question for President Barack Obama and Democratic lawmakers: Isn’t it time the other guys gave a little ground on health care? What’s the point of a bipartisan bill, they ask, if we’re making all the concessions?

Why try to please Conservative Senators that are not that much more rational then ASA. In the last few days there has been some buzz about dropping or not dropping the public option. We didn’t see Republicans cheer, we just saw more determination to stop any and all health-care reform that is initiated by Democrats in the House or President Obama. If it is true that Obama is afraid of alienating Republicans, someone needs to tell him that ship has sailed.

Its really unfair to say that Conservatives do not stand up for freedom. Sure no lie is obscene enough, no insult coarse and no tactic sleazy enough to prevent average working Americans from joining together to get most Americans some kind of decent insurance. They also obviously enjoy the freedom of scaring the elderly and disabled. Most of all they also enjoy the freedom to be hateful and crazy, AZ Gun-Toters Tied to Violent 90s Era Militia, Woman Shouts “Heil Hitler!” At Jewish Man Praising Israel’s National Health System (VIDEO) and Barney Frank Confronts Woman At Town Hall Comparing Obama To Hitler.

It will cause a lot of unnecessary suffering to millions of Americans, but if conservatives are successful in stopping health-care reform then its still a win for Democrats, for liberals in particular. Health-care costs are not going to stop growing at twice the rate of inflation. Millions of Americans are not suddenly going to find great insurance plans and preventative health-care. The spiral will continue downward. Who stood in the way of innovation, progress and the moral imperative of health-care for the working Americans that make so much of this nation’s wealth possible? Conservatives, health-care corporate lobbyists, astroturf like Freedomworks and ASA. Just as liberals can look back and say we told you so about that $3 trillion dollar debacle in Iraq, those tax cuts that went mostly to the top ten percent income bracket and regulating Wall St, liberals will just have another we told you so moment. Its 2009, yet in most ways its just like 1964. There are enough people addicted to the crazy and paranoid that no matter now far or often they push America into the ditch, they’ll keep doing it because that’s what addicts do. They repeat the same destructive behavior over and over, The Paranoid Style in American Politics, By Richard Hofstadter, Harper’s Magazine, November 1964, pp. 77-86.

American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the Goldwater movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority. But behind this I believe there is a style of mind that is far from new and that is not necessarily right-wind. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind. In using the expression “paranoid style” I am not speaking in a clinical sense, but borrowing a clinical term for other purposes. I have neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past or present as certifiable lunatics., In fact, the idea of the paranoid style as a force in politics would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to men with profoundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant.

Of course this term is pejorative, and it is meant to be; the paranoid style has a greater affinity for bad causes than good. But nothing really prevents a sound program or demand from being advocated in the paranoid style. Style has more to do with the way in which ideas are believed than with the truth or falsity of their content. I am interested here in getting at our political psychology through our political rhetoric. The paranoid style is an old and recurrent phenomenon in our public life which has been frequently linked with movements of suspicious discontent.