Of all the falsehoods and distortions in the political discourse this year, one stood out from the rest.What made death panels such a pernicious, evil lie was because it assumed the American people weren't already being subject to faceless bureaucrats deciding if they got treatment, when your average health insurance company gets to decide that for thousands of Americans every year.
The claim set political debate afire when it was made in August, raising issues from the role of government in health care to the bounds of acceptable political discussion. In a nod to the way technology has transformed politics, the statement wasn't made in an interview or a television ad. Sarah Palin posted it on her Facebook page.
Her assertion — that the government would set up boards to determine whether seniors and the disabled were worthy of care — spread through newscasts, talk shows, blogs and town hall meetings. Opponents of health care legislation said it revealed the real goals of the Democratic proposals. Advocates for health reform said it showed the depths to which their opponents would sink. Still others scratched their heads and said, "Death panels? Really?"
The editors of PolitiFact.com, the fact-checking Web site of the St. Petersburg Times, have chosen it as our inaugural "Lie of the Year."
And it goes back to Jon Chait's argument from earlier in the day that the best argument the Republicans could literally come up with to oppose health care reform was Palin's homespun idiocy. Since it was so easily annihilated by anyone who ever had experienced a family member or friend who had a denied insurance claim, the entire attack backfired. The American people realized the Republicans were lying to them yet again, and they remembered why they voted for the other guys in 2008.
The final straw I think was the Republicans telling America the status quo was better when millions of Americans lost their insurance this year due to the insurance companies.