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Olbermann Oversteps the Line… Again

October 8, 2009

As he does all too often, Keith Olbermann stepped way over the line yesterday on Countdown.

I’m a lefty, I admit it. I lean left, I hug trees, I recycle and donate to charities, and I think about the plight of the underprivileged. But sometimes Olbermann is a bridge too far even for me.

Talking about health care insurance reform, Olbermann took to task the “just say no” members of Congress who are resisting overhauling health insurance industry. He blamed them and their “no government takeover of healthcare” rhetoric for hastening the death of elderly sick people. Check out the transcript of his Special Comment and see especially the beginning of paragraph 15:

And yet today, at this hour, somebody somewhere in this country is arguing against, or protesting against, or yelling against health care reform, because the subject is really life and death, and they’re scared, and they have been scared, and they have been mis-led by the overly-simple words of one side, and misinformed by the overly-complex words of the other side.

And that one person, at least that one person, who is tonight so scared that somehow sickness and pain and death will come sooner to them because of reform they do not understand….

C’mon Keith! That’s a cheap shot. It’s overheated, fear-mongering rhetoric and I think you know it.

On the other hand, I give Olbermann kudos for going on to make the point that Democrats are horribly, mind-numbingly, permanently bad at naming their programs. “The Public Option” is a scary phrase and the Republicans have made hay-us maximus out of making it sound even scarier than it is. As Olbermann says, “My health care is now optional?”

This is actually the crux of the argument, at least for me and I’ve been making it (mostly to myself) since the run-up to the 2000 election. Democrats can’t come up with good names for good programs and otherwise worthy programs suffer because of it.

CHiP. What the hell is that?? Those of us who were kids in the 70s and 80s think it’s a cheesy television show about two California motorcycle cops. To technogeeks CHIP is just a microscopic building block juicing their laptop. Nobody can rally behind a program called CHiP; it inspires no passion or compassion. Call it Care for Kids and suddenly it’s a lot harder to say NO. Who wants to be the Senator who voted against Care for Kids? Not me.

Had the Dems come up with a better name than The Public Option, we might be in a whole other debate right now. Olbermann suggests “Medicare for Everybody” and admits there’d be some ‘splaining to do even with that name.

How about we call it Guaranteed Healthcare? Universal Healthcare? Keep Yours or Take Ours? Even Healthcare for All would have been better than The Public Option. The name killed the idea and what I know for sure is I’m about to get hit with a government mandate to buy health insurance but nobody’s standing around to guarantee me that purchase won’t bankrupt me.

The number one cause of bankruptcy is medical illness. In the coming few years, the leading cause of bankruptcy might be health insurance.

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