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Stewart and McCaughey Talk Death Panels

August 21, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Armed with the first 500 pages of the House health care bill (H.R. 3200) Betsy McCaughey, the first person to equate end-of-life planning with government-mandated euthanasia, went on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night to defend her position.

The show sort of underscores the anomaly of the health care debate in our country right now. This is comedy show where two people are having a fairly high-level discussion about actual legislative text, and the substance is compelling enough that it makes for good entertainment. There is a real desire to know what’s in the bill. Health care, obviously, is an especially important issue. But, also, I think the people that follow what happens in Congress are figuring out that there is a lot of misinformation standing in the way of having a smart debate of the bill, and they are trying to get the facts for themselves, which is fantastic.

Here’s the show in thee parts. Below the videos are links to the sections of the bill text they refer to.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Betsy McCaughey Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Page 425: Sec. 1233 – Advance Care Planning Consultation

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Page 432: Physician’s QUALITY REPORTING INITIATIVE – where McCaughey alleges the bill would effectively make the consultations mandatory.

The Congressional Budget Office report (.pdf) mentioned by McCaughey, with budget information on reducing fraud, waste and abuse.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 2
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

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  • dlmehlenhead 08/22/2009 3:55am

    I just want to start by saying thank you to McCaughey for talking with Stewart about this. McCaughey, as a politician going into an unscripted discussion turned debate like this, may not be thinking it went the way she hoped it would but I’m sure she knew that risk going on and I want to commend her for risking “political points”. (At least I think I do…)

  • dlmehlenhead 08/22/2009 3:55am

    However, I agree with Stewart’s concise phrase of “I like you, but I don’t understand how your brain works.” In the end, if I as a constituent can’t understand my representative’s thought process, they are not fit to be my representative because we will not be able to connect in order for them to represent me.

  • dlmehlenhead 08/22/2009 3:56am

    The comments within the permalinked page 432 above regarding the Quality Reporting Initiative make a good point that it is measuring how well the doctor, not the patient follows the living will and at the point the living will is implemented, the patient will no longer be able to change their mind as McCaughey was intent on believing will happen. Granted those with power of attorney (most likely family members) may still continue the discussion but that’s the point of creating the living will in the first place so that family and doctor can confront these challenging issues with logic as well as emotion and be better prepared for things to happen down the road so they don’t become as panicked or irrational as they may otherwise.

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 08/23/2009 10:17am

    Dlmehlenhead: you say … at the poiont the living will is implemented,, the patient will no longer be able to change their mind … ??? Well that is the POINT of a living will, to make your wishes known BEFORE you lose the ability to make decisions!

    If someone can ‘change his mind’ then… he CAN CHANGE HIS MIND!

  • dlmehlenhead 08/22/2009 3:57am

    And finally, (sorry for the multiple comments) I am excited to see health care discussion in more public platforms based on cited, legitimate sources and applaud McCaughey for being prepared to quote the bill verbatim as well as John for his apparent studying of the bill prior to the event. With so much public discussion it is imperative that we try as hard as possible to use credible, applicable sources and build debate from that.

  • madvilletimes 08/22/2009 4:25am

    But she wasn’t prepared to quote the bill verbatim. She went in “armed,” but she didn’t know how to shoot. If I have made an argument that hinges on page 432 of a big document, and if I make a show of walking into a debate with that big document under my arm, I make darn sure I can flip right to that page to answer questions about my argument. Or maybe I walk in with page 432 on top of the stack so I can read it immediately verbatim when challenged. Instead, she wastes time flipping through apparently unmarked, out-of-order pages, failing to answer the question each time pressed, and leaves it to her opponent to finally take the page and read the actual complete text in question. On performance points alone, McCaughey blows her chance to look sharp and press the point home.

  • Comm_reply
    dlmehlenhead 08/22/2009 6:43am

    Haha damn good point. Too bad she didn’t do a little more speech and debate in high school. At least she brought the book though.

  • Comm_reply
    madvilletimes 08/22/2009 8:25am

    I see high school debaters bring six tubs of evidence into debate rounds, too. Those tubs don’t matter a bit if the kids don’t know how to use them.

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 08/22/2009 12:34pm

    Perfectly stated.
    The simple fact is, she sank herself within five minutes by 1) breaking out such a transparent prop only to 2) draw
    attention to the showmanship of it by immediately stating that the salient portion was a mere 5 pages long. Then 3) she was so pitifully unprepared that she couldn’t locate the two-sentence paragraph that was the truly relevant part. By the time we figured out that she has a serious reading-comprehension problem, it was already over for her.

    I have never seen such a poorly executed media ploy.

  • Moderated Comment

  • Comm_reply
    Anonymous 08/23/2009 10:20am

    madvilletimes: exactly … once she was actually ‘confronted’ with defending her position, she couldn’t!

    As Jon said at one point: YES! It would be scary if it WAS IN THERE, but it’s not.

    At this point, anyone who still believes in this ridiculous ‘death panel’ myth, is no better than a birther… and we all know there is no point in talking to them!

  • aelliottus 08/22/2009 9:01am

    Her comments were oddly out of range.
    She said that because health care will cost too much, doctors won’t give life saving heart surgery or hip-replacements to elderly people. She had nothing to back herself up except reading something from the bill that talked about something completely different.
    She said since people can change their minds later they shouldn’t make plans now. And that doctors will be ‘required’ to NOT perform life saving measures when the part of the bill she read said the planning was to make sure life-saving measures patients DID want WERE taken.
    Her proof that she was right was a letter written by some random doctor who may have a credable arguement but just because 1 person no one has heard of agrees with her, doesn’t mean she is right. Nor does it even lend to her arguement.
    Also, the medical supply company she represents fired her the next day.

  • Anonymous 08/22/2009 10:26am

    Well, after that sad display on the Daily Show she has been forced to resign in disgrace as she should. Thank you Jon Stewart (again).

  • Comm_reply
    bjsvec 08/22/2009 10:32am

    Unbelievable! I just found out this woman was Lt. Governor of NY and has a PHD (in philosophy)!

    You would think she would have the intellectual skills to make a simple argument. I guess when you are being dishonest it shows through no matter what..

    I figured she was an ex roomate of Orly Taitz or something..

  • Moderated Comment

  • Anonymous 08/23/2009 10:27am

    Betsy did a good job of putting this sad little diversion to rest, though that was not her intention; now only die-hard ‘I want to stay uninformed’ will still believe in this nonsense.

    Anyone who still buys into the ‘death panel’ nonsense is way past the point of wanting to be informed. They are invested in the myth.

  • Anonymous 08/23/2009 10:33am

    People like Betsy are dangerous, because they appeal to people who do not inform themselves on issues; she blew it on The Daily Show, in part because she is accustomed to speaking to the choir. She reminds me of Sarah Palin in that respect; Palin can’t participate in a dialogue, she has no intellectual weight or knowledge, so she retreats to a forum where she can’t be challenged, (such as Facebook and Twitter) where she won’t be questionned, where anyone who poses questions is silenced.

  • Toonces007 08/23/2009 7:10pm

    What is missing in this all this mess is a bill from BHO himself. He has insulated himself from the issues by having the house and senate create multiple versions. Where is BHO’s version of the bill? He talks a lot about health care reform, but where is his bill!? He needs to shut up until a final version is drafted or bring his own bill to the table.

    This the same thing he’s always done as an elected person. All talk, no results.

  • Moderated Comment

  • Mover 08/24/2009 6:09am

    It looks like people are having lots of fun with their self-aggrandizing critique of Ms. McCaughey’s “performance”.

    But did any of you critics learn anything about HR 3200?

    Do you believe her description of “death panels” is accurate?

    Did you read the bill?

    I have read much of it and not withstanding her performance on the Daily show, I believe she has opened a few eyes on some serious problems with this so-called “reform”.

    Personally, I want reform. But the House version is not what any responsible American wants.

    How about a tax deduction for medical expenses instead of HR 3200’s new tax penalty for not having “acceptable” insurance?


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