Saturday, August 22, 2009

The False McCaughey

Yesterday. All her troubles seemed so far away. But now it looks as though they're here to stay. . . .

Betsy McCaughey was giddy over her opportunity to go on the Daily Show and prove to Jon Stewart and his enormous audience that the sections in the Senate healthcare reform legislation to which she most strongly objected pose a deadly threat to senior citizens. McCaughey is to anti-healthcare reform what Orly Taitz is to the "birther" movement, only McCaughey has had far more credibility. Until that fateful Jon Stewart interview on Thursday. The next day Cantel Medical Corporation issued a press release stating that it had received from Betsy McCaughey a letter of resignation as a director, "to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest during the national debate over healthcare reform."

Cantel Medical, which which Forbes describes as being in the healthcare sector in the business of medical instruments and supplies, states on the header of its website that it's "Dedicated to Infection Prevention & Control." McCaughey was chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, which is ironic since that makes her the chairman of a death panel of sorts. If her committee had the power to reduce deaths, could it also increase them? If she and her Republican cohorts succeed in once again killing health insurance and healthcare reforms, she will indeed be responsible for increasing deaths. Because of the significant role she has played in preventing Congress from passing reforms fifteen years ago, she can certainly be said to have been responsible for quite a few deaths of Americans who would not have died had they had proper medical attention to which they would have had access had those reforms been passed. Discrediting the "Angel of Deathers" Betsy McCaughey is therefore no small victory.

It was, after all, Betsy McCaughey who is credited with almost single-handedly torpedoing the Clintons' healthcare reform legislation in 1994 with a couple of hit pieces--one an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, the second a cover story for Marty Peretz that appeared in The New Republic just before President Clinton's State of the Union Address.

If McCaughey has had more credibility than the leader of the birthers, it's undeserved, for it's she who's credited with inventing the hysteria over the "death panels" that were said to condemn the elderly to early graves. The trouble with McCaughey is she apparently does fine as long as she launches her sorties from the safety of her right-wing camp, but put her head to head with a leftist comic and she's comes across as ditzy as the lawyer/dentist/realtor Taitz, whose law degree is from an online course. McCaughey's rhetorical skills were outmatched by Stewart's. "We can discuss the slippery slope if you want, but that's not what this says." Her attempt to win points by resorting to the fallacy of authority--"I have a Ph.D.!--fell flat as well. Surely I wasn't the only one to ask, "Yes, but from where?" It might seem that she ordered her degree online. But it's from Columbia.

It just goes to show. No amount of education can cure the bigotry of ideologues. More on her other interesting causes later. For now, enjoy the "Real McCaughey" as she's exposed by Jon Stewart as a fraud, nothing but a Republican operative; and then the celebrations, as Rachel Maddow relishes the takedown and her resignation from Cantel, and as Keith Olbermann awards her Worst Person In The World on August 21, 2009.