Last week was marked by Senators Charles Grassley and Orrin Hatch making one more grandstand play on behalf of "freedom" and avoiding surrendering to the ugly clutches of "socialism."
What a familiar refrain this has become through the years. With FDR there was the American Liberty League and its panicky warnings that under Roosevelt's New Deal the grand republic we know and love was being plundered by socialism, and with it loss of our precious American freedoms.
Unlike what is happening now when Obama seeks compromise with those who are not interested in anything but their own narrow agenda and propagandizing toward that objective, Roosevelt knew the forces he was fighting and struck back in the public arena. He exposed the forces of greed arrayed against him as "economic royalists" and pointed out that what they really feared was losing their grip on monopoly.
Oh how we need that kind of leader now! In place of a leader who stands up to the lobbyists and those they represent, instead of confronting the enemy with cold, hard, irrefutable facts as Franklin Delano Roosevelt did, the response is to see if a compromise can be worked out.
In Charles Grassley's case we see what happened. He was finally compelled to concede that even if every one of his stated objectives were met that he would still have to abide by his natural constituency if that meant voting no on any proposal at hand, and we know where Grassley with plenty of health care money in his campaign pocket is being told to proceed.
Before Grassley was pushed to that level of admission, however, he soared to a new level of demagoguery that stands out even among those like himself who are committed to serving the ends of lobbyists with steely zeal. He warned about the creation of death panels under the Obama bill that might tragically pull the plug on granny.
The forces of archaic special interest reaction have been unleashing such parade of horrible examples for so long that any imagination has long been replaced by demagogic absurdity.
Such panels have been around since the onset of Medicare and are meant to provide an opportunity for family members and loved ones to discuss options in crucial life and death situations. There is nothing in the language of the current proposal that varies from the original Medicare legislation. In neither case was "pulling the plug" a factor.
Then again, the only reason why the Grassleys or Hatches of the Washington scene have anything good to say about the current Medicare program is that it would be political suicide to oppose it.
What did their ideological forebears have to say about Medicare in the sixties before its passage? What did they have to say about the Social Security Act some three decades earlier? As a matter of fact the opposition rate was 90 percent Republican each time, as candidate John F. Kennedy pointed out while campaigning for president in 1960.
Given the sober concern registered by Grassley and Hatch over the advent of runaway alien and destructive socialism on the health care scene, they might consider taking assertive action in the promotion of freedom.
Senators Grassley and Hatch, given your fears of socialism, do the noble thing and terminate your own health care plans as U.S. senators. Take a look at how extensive your coverage is.
If this is what makes you cringe when you think of even some of the same elements of your program being extended to others, then take the magnanimous step and declare that you are rejecting the socialistic health care plan under which you and your families are covered on the basis of principle.
Needless to say, this will not happen. It is just like abortion. The radical right as represented by the likes of Grassley and Hatch sound alarm bells while placing themselves on a privileged pedestal they seek to deny to Americans outside that select orbit.