|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Yes, McCaughey professes to have read the legislation currently circulating, and, as in 1994, she brandishes that fact like a talisman that can dispel any conflicting viewpoint. But, also as in 1994, she spins out an indefensibly sinister, apocalyptic translation of the text that no amount of countervailing evidence can shake. Thus, health care adviser Emanuel's theoretical writings about how to allocate scarce resources, such as human organs, morph into McCaughey's conviction that Obama's "deadly doctor" advocates denying treatment to the elderly and infirm on cost-benefit grounds. Likewise, a database to coordinate information on which treatments work best for which patients--an initiative supported by wonks across the political spectrum--is seen by McCaughey as the first step toward government-programmed computers ordering doctors how to do their jobs. Within the self-styled empiricist resides the mind of a pathological alarmist.
Asked why her analysis bears no resemblance to that of other experts regardless of ideology, McCaughey consistently responds, "My reading of the bills is correct." Even when it is pointed out that her interpretation is clearly hyperbolic--e.g., her fantastic assertion on Fred Thompson's radio show that "Congress would make it mandatory, absolutely require, that, every five years, people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner"--she will not budge. Ironically, her familiarity with the data, combined with her unrecognizable interpretation of it, makes it nearly impossible to combat McCaughey's claims in a traditional debate. Her standard m.o. (as "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart recently experienced) is to greet each bit of contradictory evidence by insisting that her questioner is poorly informed and should take a closer look at paragraph X or footnote Z. When those sections don't support her interpretation, she continues to throw out page numbers and footnotes until the mountain of data is so high as to obscure the fact that none of the numbers add up to what she has claimed. "It's impossible to keep up with the quantity of misinformation," laments Henry Aaron. "It's like being sprayed with muddy water."