The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto argues that U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson's recent ruling declaring The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would have been a more difficult judicial decision had ObamaCare been politically popular:
But it did not and does not. Americans never bought the bill of goods that Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and their supporters in the formerly mainstream media tried to sell. A good deal of the credit goes to Sarah Palin, for coining the phrase "death panel" in an August 2009 Facebook post.h/t: Benyamin Korn
Four months later PolitiFact.com, a project of the left-leaning St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, named the phrase "lie of the year"
In truth, PolitiFact was more vulnerable to the charge of lying than Palin was, for its highly literal, out-of-context interpretation of her words was at best extremely tendentious.
Palin put the term "death panel" in quotes to indicate that she was using it figuratively. She was not lying but doing just the opposite: conveying a fundamental truth about ObamaCare. Proponents were describing it as a sort of fiscal perpetual-motion machine: We're going to give free insurance to tens of millions of people and reduce the deficit! As a matter of simple arithmetic, the only way to do that is by drastically curtailing medical benefits.
"Health care by definition involves life and death decisions," Palin wrote. ObamaCare necessarily expands the power of federal bureaucrats to make such decisions, and it creates enormous fiscal pressures to err on the side of death. Whether it establishes literal panels for that purpose is a hair-splitting quibble. By naming this "lie of the year," PolitiFact showed itself to be less seeker of truth than servant of power.
President Obama, meanwhile, treated Palin's criticism as a joke. As we noted at the time, he told a New Hampshire town meeting: "The rumor that's been circulating a lot lately is this idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for 'death panels' that will basically pull the plug on grandma because we've decided that we don't--it's too expensive to let her live anymore." The transcript records that the audience laughed at this callous "joke."
The perpetual-motion claim wasn't the only deception at the heart of the argument for ObamaCare...