Guest Post by Joe Christmas, Cheerio Girl and Sleuth
A very good overview of the "death panel" fiasco is readily available as a wikipedia page titled Death Panel. However, we think the matter is worth revisiting given the nerve it touches. As someone said, "the 'death panel' never gets old."
The "death panel" comment was really a microcosm of all that is Palin -- a road map to all her despicable escapades. An uneducated remark that continues to gnaw at our national fabric. Like most of her rhetoric, it wasn't even her idea. The phrase came from the notorious propagandist Betsy McCaughey. Nonetheless, she coined its inflammatory, simplistic, jingoistic nature and is now part of Palin's history. A slander to the truth and reality of a universal experience. And all of it was done solely to advance the self-serving interests of Sarah Palin. Generally, she knows nothing of what she speaks and it serves only to advance her grifting, political ambitions.
Moreover, when the overwhelming evidence, or even common sense, forces her to react, that reaction is predictable and pitiful. Stonewalling, denying, rationalizing, reverse-victimization, Fox News cover, and eventually making light. This pattern of Palin's responses to her banal comments has been played out over and over again. The "I read all of them" and "they were surveyor's marks" both followed this pattern. And "death panels" is no exception; it has entered our lexicon; and the day to day, ongoing presence of this bitter pill lives on. Furthermore the utter hypocrisy of this woman is seen in this link, Death Panel Flip-Flop, wherein, she was for rational end-of-life thinking before she was against it.
Even worse, her statements become insults to our humanity and intelligence. Nowhere was this more apparent than the "death panel" debacle. A crude remark becomes an affront to our sensibility. Our experience with end-of-life issues is belittled, demeaned and injected with fear. Palin's calculated phrase was essentially a torpedo designed to scare people and sink the healthcare bill. Oh, and isn't it interesting that it was also her first Facebook post after her quitting the governorship of Alaska? "Death panels" thus acted as a tool of the anti-healthcare reform set, a cheap ruse to cover the abandonment of her office and a vehicle to increase the celebrity of Sarah Palin.
Healthcare professionals certainly have a unique perspective, both in quantity and quality, with end-of-life care, but, end-of-life is something we all will face -- personally, or through a loved one. Quite frankly, there is honor in attending and witnessing this part of the life cycle. What further sets healthcare providers apart is that as a result of their experience, they have all thought thoroughly about details of end-of-life care. The matters of living wills, Do Not Resuscitate, advance directives, nursing home care, hospice, etc. have all been considered on an individual basis. Not one of these people, reasonably, would call that process a "death panel." An honest, open discussion -- without fear -- is nothing but civilized and humane. For your reference here is a medical directive by state and a more national one that can act as magnanimous templates for these important, universal matters.
Even if Palin's toxic, nefarious blurb only hit her base, it was still extremely destructive. Whether you are entering into a discussion about end-of-life care individually or with a loved one, you cannot be in denial or fearful of the conversation. We see too many people who avoid the issue and often times put themselves into a corner, or hurt themselves by not taking advantage of the resources that are available. There is nothing even close to a "death panel" or government bureaucrat rationing care when doctors, nurses, social workers and families enter into end-of-life discussions. And, as the wikipedia page states:
PolitiFact.com called "death panels" the "Lie of the Year"; FactCheck.org referred to it as one of their "whoppers" of 2009. The American Dialect Society, a group of English language scholars, reported that "death panel" was their "most outrageous" word for 2009.
So, how many people had to suffer unnecessarily for Sarah's fear mongering? To this day, how many people avoid entering into humane discussions with healthcare providers because of her outlandish, selfish poison pill? How further away are we from an open forum of these universal topics? Our two-bit, poorly educated, quitter of a public official has no experience or simple understanding of the complexities involved with end-of-life care. As an illustration, here is just one anecdote (from sleuth) that shows the depth of the matter:
On what was a run-of-the-mill local volunteer firefighter/ambulance call one early morning, I drove to a house about a mile and a half from my own house in a very rural location. I got there before the ambulance arrived (firehouse was five miles away from the location). I knew the deceased patient and her family. She was in final stages of terminal brain cancer and had a legal DNR.
We mustn't forget the damage her ill-begotten torpedo has caused. Essentially, "death panels" was rhetorical terrorism. A designed ploy to influence a group of people into a behavior she desired, i.e. media attention, diversion, and public policy. But, even though the enormous consensus is that she lied (again), she hardly paid any political price for such an egregious act. Deeper irony yet, she lied on top of a lie by claiming Trig, as "her baby", would be subject to the outrageous notion of a "death panel".
As healthcare professionals, and as human beings, we stand appalled at the callous disregard for dignity that Sarah Palin exhibited by coining the phrase "death panel". For those who care for the sick, elderly, or dying, it has hindered our stewardship. She was fed the line, and her supporters spread the untruth. There was never any effort on their part to correct or make amends with the damage it did. "Death panel" now stands in our lexicon, forever associated with Sarah Palin, as a roadblock to honest and open treatment of end-of-life issues. To us, "death panelgate" encapsulates all that is wrong with the public figure of Sarah Palin.
Reader Juicyfruity has added some important advice for this post.
Here is a registry site, for all fifty states. You can download and read about what is legal in your state and to request or fill out Advance Directive Forms. Each state, have different rules. So, if you are moving to another state and had a living will done in your previous state; you may have to change your living will, to what is acceptable, in the state you are residing in.
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