Sarah’s Ghoulish Carousel

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich

I’m not sure the man who popped off and tweeted that Sonia Sotomayor was a “Latina woman racist” is the best Henry Higgins for the Eliza Doolittle of Alaska.

But Newt Gingrich was a professor. And he does know something about pulling yourself up by dragging down others and imploding when you take center stage — both Palin specialties.

Besides, he agrees with Sarah — who fretted that her parents and son Trig might be in danger from Obama “death panels” — that we should be very wary about trusting government with end-of-life decisions.

So Newt took it upon himself to become Palin’s Pygmalion. He told Politico that the out-of-work pol should write a book; take a commentator gig on TV; get a condo in D.C. or New York to use as an East Coast base; and prepare three types of speeches — one “to make money,” another to “project her brand” before universities and interest groups, and a vivid campaign stump speech to use for Republican candidates in 2010.

Most important, he advised, the dizzy Palin has to be “clear in her own head what she wants to do.”

At the moment, what she wants to do is tap into her visceral talent for aerial-shooting her favorite human prey: cerebral Ivy League Democrats.

Just as she was able to stir up the mob against Barack Obama on the trail, now she is fanning the flames against another Harvard smarty-pants — Dr. Zeke Emanuel, a White House health care adviser and the older brother of Rahmbo.

She took a forum, Facebook, more commonly used by kids hooking up and cyberstalking, and with one catchy phrase, several footnotes and a zesty disregard for facts, managed to hijack the health care debate from Mr. Obama.

Sarahcuda knows, from her brush with Barry on the campaign trail, that he is vulnerable on matters that demand a visceral and muscular response rather than a logical and book-learned one. Mr. Obama was charming and informed at his town hall in Montana on Friday, but he’s going to need some sustained passion, a clear plan and a narrative as gripping as Palin’s I-see-dead-people scenario.

She has successfully caricatured the White House health care effort, making it sound like the plot of the 1976 sci-fi movie “Logan’s Run,” about a post-apocalyptic society with limited resources where you can live only until age 30, when you must take part in an extermination ceremony called “Carousel” or flee the city.

Painting the Giacometti-esque Emanuel as a creepy Dr. Death, Palin attacked him on her Facebook page a week ago, complaining that his “Orwellian thinking” could lead to a “death panel” with bureaucrats deciding whether to pull the plug on less hardy Americans.

Never mind that Palin herself had endorsed some of the same end-of-life counseling she now depicts as putting Grandma down.

As the Democratic National Committee pointed out, Palin put out a 2008 proclamation for Healthcare Decisions Day “to raise public awareness of the need to plan ahead for healthcare decisions, related to end of life care … and to encourage the specific use of advance directives to communicate these important healthcare decisions.”

Consistency was long ago sent to a death panel in Palin world.

Sensing traction, she took more shots against Dr. Emanuel, quoting the bioethicist’s past writing that some medical services might not be guaranteed to those “who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens. … An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.”

“Dr. Emanuel,” she wrote ominously, “has also advocated basing medical decisions on a system which ‘produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuated.’ ”

She crowed that she had him on the run, and the White House felt that the doctor, who was being portrayed as a proponent of euthanasia, needed to get out there and explain his opposition to euthanasia. So he interrupted his hiking vacation in the Italian Alps to give a raft of phone interviews saying he was taken out of context and calling Palin’s charges “completely off the wall.”

But, much to Sarah’s delight, he also conceded to The Washington Times that his “thinking has evolved” on the “very vexing” issue of deciding who gets treatment and who doesn’t.

“When I began working in the health policy area about 20 years ago … I thought we would definitely have to ration care, that there was a need to make a decision and deny people care,” he told the paper, adding that he now feels that if we get rid of expensive “unnecessary care” that “we would have absolutely no reason to even consider rationing except in a few cases.”

A few cases? Sounds like another Facebook entry for Sarah.

Maureen Dowd
The New York Times


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