As conservatives begin to come to grips with the passage of the health care law (and their failure to defeat it), they are -- predictably -- reacting poorly. Following weeks and months of failed rhetoric portraying passage of the law as "the end of America as you know it," some conservatives are still in denial, while others are stoking fears about what's coming.
What's coming? IRS "thugs coming with their guns" to force you into socialized medicine.
If it's not clear by now, it should be: Right-wing reaction to health care reform has the potential to become violent.
Fox Business Network's Stuart Varney took to Fox News this morning and claimed that the IRS is going to "hire 17,000 new agents and spend $10 billion so that they will check that you have the insurance that you're supposed to have." Varney's number of agents is based (shock) on a Republican estimate of the bill and the CBO actually projected that the costs to the IRS would be between $5 billion and $10 billion over the next 10 years.
Last night on Fox Business Network, America's Nightly Scoreboard host David Asman opened his show with an epic rant, repeatedly trashing the IRS and claiming that Americans "lost their freedom to choose their own health care options." Of the IRS, Asman stated:
[T]he IRS already has a history of forcing people to do what they don't want to do. But what's really scary about all this is that the IRS has a reputation of turning American justice on its head. In the world of IRS enforcement, you're often guilty until proven innocent. There have been many businesses that have had to fold up shop because of an IRS investigation, even if the owners of those businesses were later found to be innocent. And now IRS agents will have access to more of your personal files than ever. Does that make you feel good? Could that make any American feel good?
Asman wasn't done:
Frankly, it scares the hell out of Scoreboard. We don't trust the government with that kind of power and influence in our personal life. And we don't think that makes us anti-American, either. In fact, Scoreboard thinks that skepticism about growing government control is pro-American since America was founded on the principles of individual choice and distrust of government mandates that remove individual choice. This legislation is turning that philosophy upside down and putting IRS goons potentially in charge of matters that involve the most personal choices we make regarding life and death and this adds insult to injury.
Asman then immediately turned to a "man who spent his life fighting for the freedom to choose life," Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX):
ASMAN: Now the private option ... it's going to be illegal and not only will it be illegal because everybody will be forced to buy insurance, but you're going to have an IRS agent on your tail if you dare not to have insurance.What do you think of that?
PAUL: I think symbolically, the American people didn't have concern, they ought to just think about it: 16,500 armed bureaucrats coming to make this program work.
ASMAN: It's incredible.
PAUL: If it was a good program and everybody liked it you wouldn't need 16,500 thugs coming with their guns and putting you in jail if you didn't follow all the rules.
ASMAN: Exactly. I think you just said it. If it was a good program, you wouldn't need coercion. This is coercion. Using the power of the state as a coercive body rather than a representative of the American people's will. There's something deepy, deeply wrong with that.
Asman's portrayal of the legislative process as "coercion" rather than "representative of the American people's will," is of course absurd, if not childish.
But here's the deal:
Asman may not find "skepticism about growing government control" to be "anti-American" -- and he may indeed even see it as "pro-American" -- but referring to federal workers as "goons" and "thugs" is shameful.
And stoking fears that they are "coming with their guns and putting you in jail" if you don't comply is not only disingenuous, it's dangerous.
Noting that a Fox News text-message poll following the October 21 Republican presidential debate put Ron Paul in first place, Sean Hannity said, "Oh, this poll -- you've got all your supporters calling." Paul responded: "What, you mean your own poll isn't any good?" Hannity then said: "No, it's just a lot of fun." But Hannity has previously touted the results of the same type of text-message poll when those results were favorable for President Bush: In January, Hannity noted several times that "85 percent" of viewers who voted by text message said that Bush did an "excellent" job in his State of the Union address.
On Hannity & Colmes, Republican pollster Frank Luntz cited Republican focus group responses to an exchange over Iraq policy between Mike Huckabee and Rep. Ron Paul, and, echoing Huckabee's assertion about needing not "to lose our honor," declared: "Clearly, principle won out in this exchange." Luntz cited no evidence that the focus group participants favored Huckabee's comments because they thought that the comments -- in contrast with Paul's -- were based on "principle." In fact, Paul's position on the Iraq war has been consistent, though originally sharply at odds with public opinion.
The Associated Press uncritically reported that Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul was excluded from the Iowa presidential forum because, according to one of the groups sponsoring the event, Paul "didn't meet the criteria the groups drew up," including "having an established exploratory committee and garnering at least 1 percent in a national poll." The AP did not mention that Paul established his presidential exploratory committee months before invitations for the forum were sent and was polling at 1 percent in at least one national poll at that time.
Several media figures mischaracterized a response that Rep. Ron Paul gave at the Republican debate, with some asserting that Paul had "blamed" the United States for the 9-11 terrorist attacks and others simply accepting Rudy Giuliani's misrepresentation of Paul's statement -- that the United States had "invited the attack." In fact, Paul did not blame the United States for the 9-11 attacks or say that the United States had "invited" them.