After noting McCaughey's falsehoods, NY Times reports that "it has all seemed to raise her profile"


From a September 4 New York Times article, headlined "Resurfacing, a Critic Stirs Up Health Care Debate":

For the last few years, Ms. McCaughey has worked in a relatively quiet, noncontroversial fight against hospital infection death. Her campaign has drawn a broad coalition of support and has included the passage of a law in New York requiring hospitals to report infection rates.

But, she said in an e-mail exchange, Mr. Obama's health care proposals compelled her to weigh in. She said she keeps the effort separate from her organization and has not coordinated with any political groups. (Ms. McCaughey resigned as a director at the medical supply company Cantel last month amid accusations of conflict of interest, which she denied.)

Her work has, however, proved to be a boon to Mr. Obama's political opponents, giving explosive fodder for their accusations that his Medicare cuts will eventually adversely affect care (the administration says they will not) and frequently going over the line even by the standards of some conservative opponents of his health care plans.

She incorrectly stated in July that a Democratic bill in the House would mandate "people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner," drawing a "Pants on Fire" rating from the Politifact fact-checking Web site; her false assertion that the presidential health adviser Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel believes "medical care should be reserved for the nondisabled" helped form the basis for former Gov. Sarah Palin's discredited warning that Mr. Obama would create "death panels" to decide who is "worthy of health care."

Far from isolating her, it has all seemed to raise her profile to levels not seen since she left office, making her a regular guest on cable, radio and even last month, on "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central. (The host, Jon Stewart, said he found her analysis "hyperbolic and in some cases dangerous.")

Admirers and foes say Ms. McCaughey's loud re-emergence in the health care debate is a testament to the same singular drive - and unabated media appeal - that catapulted her from the obscurity of academia to the near-top of New York politics more than a decade ago.

But even to some friends, her criticisms are reminiscent of a trademark style of argument that, while effective in grabbing attention on national issues, frequently comes into dispute as out of bounds.


And so it was that Ms. McCaughey, who earned a doctorate in constitutional history at Columbia University, in 1994 wrote a scathing critique in The New Republic of President Bill Clinton's plan while a scholar at the Manhattan Institute.

The piece, credited with helping to kill the plan, won a National Magazine Award. It also won the attention of Mr. Pataki, who tapped her to run as his lieutenant governor.

But in short order, critics seized on the article for flaws, like its assertion that "the law will prevent you from going outside the system to buy basic health coverage you think is better," though the House bill specifically stated it would not prohibit "an individual from purchasing any health care services." The magazine, with a traditionally liberal bent, eventually repudiated the article, a move Ms. McCaughey described in an e-mail exchange as "political sour grapes."

Her renewed prominence has alarmed old opponents.

"I'm dismayed at her re-emergence as an agent of dangerous misinformation," said Judith Hope, the former New York State Democratic chairwoman.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Betsy McCaughey
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