Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The battle of the one-word weapons

The WaPo has two campaign stories that would have been better if either acknowledged the existence of the other; a compare & contrast would have been nice. Dana Milbank writes of "The Kerry Campaign’s One-Word Weapon," "There is seemingly no charge the Bush campaign can level against John F. Kerry that will not produce a one-word retort: Halliburton." (At least the word isn't Llanhyfryddawelllehynafolybarcudprindanfygythiadtrienusyrhafnauol). And Ceci Connolly writes about Cheney, who usually has a two-word retort at the ready, speaking about malpractice. Or actually, malpractice awards, since the Bushies continue to say nothing about reducing actual malpractice. Cheney essentially kept shouting lawyer lawyer lawyer at Edwards. The Milbank piece is a touch snide, and the Post should really leave snide to me, thank you very much. The Connolly article loses its critical thinking at a key point in its opening sentence. Read it and see if you can spot the problem: "Vice President Cheney, with a swipe at his Democratic trial-lawyer counterpart, yesterday blamed rising health care costs on 'runaway litigation' and promoted a $250,000 cap on medical malpractice awards as the central tenet of the White House program to improve access, affordability and quality of care." Did you see it? Well, you can maybe make a case that reducing awards would improve affordability and access to medical care, especially care by incompetent doctors, whose premiums wouldn’t keep going up, and who wouldn’t be forced into "defensive medicine," like running tests, spending more than 45 seconds on a patient, or showing up sober. But how does it have anything to do with quality of care? Cheney said, "This problem doesn't start in the waiting room [where they should be reading about this speech in about 3 years, if I know doctors’ waiting rooms]. It doesn't start in the operating room. The problem starts in the courtroom." Except, of course, it does start in the operating room, because awards only follow findings of malpractice. When Cheney says, "the Bush-Cheney ticket is on the side of doctors and patients," he means the doctors who fuck up.

Speaking of awards, the Indian government may finally pay Bohpal victims some of that all-too meager compensation money Union Carbide paid in 1989, little of which was actually distributed.


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