Sen. Jeff Merkley has met the enemy of health and it is Frank Luntz. Via Huffington Post comes this linguistics lesson, in which the Beaver State's junior senator inveighs against loaded health-care debate language from the pollster and spin expert, whose Luntz, Maslansky Strategic Research official bio notes that he once "spoke for 24 straight hours as part of the 'Oxford Union Society Guinness World Book of Records' debate.
Merkley quotes some 24-karat Luntz, including a passage about the need to "humanize" overseas health-care-denial stories and the transmission of the term "government takeover" into the previously unstained halls of the World's Greatest Deliberative Body and Topless Car Wash. "With working Americans in every one of our fifty states going bankrupt from health care expenses" Merkley's rhetoric-free denunciation from the Senate floor concludes, it is irresponsible to use a "road map of rhetoric that comes from polling." Luntz's distortions of the debate's vocabulary, Merkley says, has "bearance" on the issue. Here's the D&P:
One of the few things I don't miss about being in the MSM cocoon is the task of treating low-protein verbal confections like "permanent supportive care" and "real comprehensive immigration reform" as if they have bearance upon human life on planet Earth. I also suspect Luntz congratulates himself a wee mite more than strictly necessary for his clever phrasings.
But the real reason to be glad about high-profile deconstructions like Merkley's is that Health Care Reform Part 2 will look worse the more its related texts are unpacked. Back when I was merely middle-aged and the Golden State was considering a mandated-insurance statewide health care reform proposal, I had fun trying to get Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to use the word "coercion" in describing how he was going to get hundreds of thousands of Californians who didn't want to buy insurance to buy insurance. His response -- that he was seeking to change the "mentality of people" in order to make Californians more closely resemble the Austrians he once bragged about fleeing -- was instructive. Schwarzenegger's health care overhaul failed specifically because its breezy assumptions couldn't survive the light of day. And that was in the land of the nuts and the fruits. Imagine how much bogus language remains to be unpacked as the realities of multi-trillion-dollar state-run programs and death's inescapable victory reveal themselves through the summer.