Newsweek's Evan Thomas was more than awed by President Obama's visit to the landing beaches at Normandy. He spoke for progressives everywhere when he gushed that Obama was "sort of a god" in the way he seems to hover above races, nations, even the world. Hovering is good.
Obama is the acknowledged leader of the world's progressives. Progressives are liberals who are savvy enough to hide the fact that they are liberals. Progressives are people who live and move and have their being in government. Although as a U.S. senator, Barack Obama racked up the most liberal voting record, he was shrewd enough to avoid the liberal label.
In the latest Gallup Poll, nearly 80 percent of American voters identify themselves as not liberal. So it makes good sense to avoid that moniker. Plus, voters have long memories of what happened to them the last time they put a liberal in the White House. Because it's often hard to be elected to government as a liberal, it's better to be a progressive.
I'm reminded of those clever folks who try to persuade you to eat things like rattlesnake meat. "It tastes just like chicken," they'll say. Well, who could really be against chicken? It's only when they've gulled you into eating rattlesnake that it spoils your taste for chicken.
Last year, in a little-noticed presidential debate between three progressives-Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bill Richardson-the candidates were asked if they regretted anything they'd done in their careers. "Yes," said Obama forthrightly. "I regret that I did not object when the Senate gave its unanimous consent for the Terri Schaivo case to go into federal court." What Obama was saying at that moment was that on reconsideration, he should have been more liberal than 99 other U.S. senators.
He was saying that and more, a lot more. Terri Schaivo was not dying when her estranged husband decided her care was too burdensome. He refused Terri's family's tearful pleas to let them care for Terri. Terri had suffered a trauma and considerable brain damage, but she was not in a coma. She was not in what physicians call "a persistent vegetative state."
The Terri Schaivo case quickly made it to the nightly news, where it was consistently and even willfully misrepresented as a "right to die" case-except she wasn't dying. More accurately, it should have been billed as a "right to make her die" case. You've heard the expression "hard cases make bad law." Progressives find the hard cases.
This year, President Obama is no longer one of 100 mere mortals in the Senate. "He's sort of a god." He hovers above us all. A god, of course, is given the authority to make life and death decisions. President Obama is poised to fulfill the progressives' dream: government-run health care.
Progressive health care will involve-as it must involve-rationing of health care. Obama will probably designate a non-elected, unaccountable federal agency to decide when you, like Terri Schaivo, have had enough health care. Perhaps, as expert analyst James Capretta writes, it could be called something innocuous like the Medical Payment Advisory Commission (MedPac). It could even have its own czar. Then, as he has already told us, you or your loving family acting on your behalf will be denied access to the federal courts if there is any disagreement, if you think it is not time for you to be made dead yet.
Last year, Barack Obama famously told Pastor Rick Warren that the question of when human life begins was "above his pay grade." But the question of when it ends-or should end-is clearly not above his pay grade. Obama's progressive allies never talk about killing unborn children. Instead, they describe what they favor, and what they want us to pay for under national health care, as "inducing fetal demise."
So, be warned. Nobody will be denied life-sustaining health care by President Obama. Instead, some outfit like MedPac will likely suggest a lot more scaling back of "futile care" and reduction of government waste. Who could be in favor of futile care or government waste? It's how you decide without actually appearing to decide. It's how you hover above the political fray. And it's very progressive.
Ken Blackwell is a senior fellow with the Family Research Council.