Like the rest of the media in recent months, Rush has been swept up in the health care reform debate, and his impact has been measurable. He has so far led the charge for conservatives wielding bunk talking points like death panels and other Betsy McCaughey-inspired falsehoods. But this week in particular made clear the flaw in Limbaugh's approach to reform: an obvious failure to grasp the fundamental concepts behind health care.
For weeks, Rush has been interjecting the phrase "single payer" into his diatribes against health care reform. But there are a few problems with this, the first and most apparent being that none of the bills being seriously considered by Congress would create a national single-payer health care system. But this fact doesn't seem to matter to Rush -- using these words is just a scare tactic for him. Take, for example, when he warned his audience on Wednesday that "you're gonna wake up one day and realize they all voted on single-payer health care with a public option on it."
If Congress did pass a single-payer system, you couldn't have a "public option on it." The public option is a government-run health insurance plan competing with private insurance. A nationally instituted single-payer system -- like what Canada has -- can't have a "public option" because it's pretty much the only option.
If Rush can't get his basic terminology straight, why should anyone take his opinions on health care seriously? (Maybe he needs pictures to help him better understand.)
As a famous scholar once said, buzzword-laden sentences do not a coherent argument against health care reform make:
LIMBAUGH: So, while they're planning this big national takeover of the health care plan -- single-payer, government public option, all this to bring down costs, all this to improve your care, all of this to reduce fraud and waste in government, all of this to reduce the federal deficit. I have never had my intelligence insulted like it's been insulted with this entire health care debate.
But failing his Health Care Reform 101 exam wasn't Rush Limbaugh's only problem in recent days. He also had a tendency to just say things with no evidence to support his claims. (Yes, we're aware he does this on a regular basis, but his habit noticeably flared up this week.)
These baseless assertions included Rush's claim that health care reform would result in Congress "tak[ing] over" hospitals, labs, "the medical profession," and insurance companies, all for the benefit of SEIU. Proof? Who needs proof when you have wild conjecture?
Rush also said that Democrats are "using the power of government" to deny health care to "those who don't support them." Again, there was nothing to back this claim up. Later that same day, Rush described how "all of us will be slaves" under "Obamacare" because of the "arbitrary and inhumane decisions of distant bureaucrats working in Washington." We believe that's from Section 12 of the-bill-that-Rush-Limbaugh-made-up-in-his-head, but it hasn't been printed out by the GPO yet, so we can't be sure.
And as Rush continued to lie about death panels during this discussion of "slavery," he projected his own fixation with death onto Democrats. Rush stated that it is Democrats who are "obsessed with your death" and that they are the "party of abortion and euthanasia, slavery and not liberty." The next day, Rush was at it again, responding to Rep. Alan Grayson's (D-FL) remarks that Republican health care policy amounted to a holocaust: "If there is a holocaust in this country, it is abortion."
And since we're talking about people invoking 1930s Germany -- Limbaugh and politicians alike -- this would be a good time to point out how Rush made a rather interesting reversal of a previous reversal regarding some of his more controversial comments in recent months.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that Rush claimed that he "never called" Obama a Nazi -- a claim that we refuted at the time, pointing out that Rush, despite his denial, compared Obama to Adolf Hitler and health care reform to Nazism. We kinda made a big ruckus about it.
LIMBAUGH: And just as Obama's doing, Hitler -- well, even prior to Hitler -- German socialists attempted to remake and order their country using health care as the springboard and the foundation. Same thing that's happening here. Hitler was a man of the left. Nazi is simply the term for the national socialists of Germany. They're far more in common, the national socialists and their domestic policies -- short of the Holocaust -- they're far more in common with what Obama's doing than with anybody on the right.
One more noteworthy theme from this week of Limbaugh was the way he joined his fellow conservatives in the witch hunt against "safe schools czar" Kevin Jennings. On Monday, Rush likened Jennings to Roman Polanski, and on Tuesday, he baselessly accused Jennings of having "encouraged" a relationship between a student and an adult. And on his Friday "Morning Update," Rush continued to refer to the student as a 15-year-old at the time of the incident. It became clear later in the day that the student was definitely of legal age at the time, but we don't expect a correction from Rush anytime soon.