Topics: Obamacare

Democrats cry foul when Republicans use their favorite tactic against them

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Opinion,Noemie Emery,Columnists,Obamacare,Health Care,Magazine

Irked at the gall of Republicans in using the Democrats' votes for health care against them, liberals have discovered a plot that is even more sinister: the GOP is using "anecdotes" (i.e., the stories of people who have been hurt by the measure) in an effort to take the Left down.

By "anecdotes" they mean stories like the those of Edie Littlefield Sundby, the stage-four cancer patient who can't keep her old team of physicians; the parents who can't take children to the hospitals at which they were formerly treated; the people having trouble paying their premiums; or the story related in the Wall Street Journal on Monday by Stephen Blackwood, whose mother, also suffering from a rare form of cancer, can no longer get access to the medicines that have kept her alive.

This isn't quite what the Left had expected. Last year, Jonathan Chait mocked the frustrated quest of the Right for Obamacare victims, as the only ones likely were selfish rich people, and "neither the medical specialist nor the hospital executive nor the upper-income taxpayer quite offer the politically sympathetic face of the Everyman struggling under Obama's socialist boot."

This was in June. Since October, conservatives have been overrun with sympathetic and lovable Everymen of every description, leaving liberals and their flacks in a war to contain them, culminating in the assault on a leukemia patient in Michigan, where Democratic Senate candidate Gary Peters threatened the license of any television station that runs an ad daring to mention her woes. But this was a problem that the Left has created in forming a plan to fund new enlistees by squeezing the middle in money and coverage. Its mistake was in thinking that those hurt wouldn't notice, or, failing this, wouldn't care.

When the first wave of cancellations hit the individual market and Bill Clinton suggested his party make efforts to "fix" it, Jonathan Cohn helpfully told him no fixes were needed and that this simply proved that the whole thing was working: Middle-class angst wasn't a bug in the feature, this was the idea all along.

The best excuse one can make for Cohn (and President Obama) is that they were too naive to realize the damage this would wreak on the national market, and too dense politically to comprehend the impression that the cries of the wounded would make. They thought this would affect a small number of people who could buy new plans they loved on the exchanges, and that the praises of those who were helped by the program would drown out the protests of those who were hurt.

But these dislocations are likely to spread to many more people. Few of the uninsured entered the program, and those who bought new plans found them inferior to the less-costly ones they replaced. Although there were happy stories from winners, they were more than drowned out by the cries of the losers, and made no impression on people consumed by medical or financial anxiety. Although a decent person will give money to help the unfortunate, no one will ever accept a lower level of medical treatment, which is what Democrats are asking millions and millions of people to do.

Democrats don't always hate anecdotes -- they love them when used by Obama and Hillary Clinton -- but when used against them, they become the worst thing since the last time the truth was told about their egregious misjudgments. And so they are now in a war on women (with cancer), which no doubt will serve them quite well in the fall.

Noemie Emery, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."

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