icon_gingrich.jpgIt seems that Georgia politicians Tom Price and Newt Gingrich have a wardrobe problem: their pants are on fire after both of them were caught lying on national news TV programs over the past week.


In both instances, the Peach State Republicans were lying about provisions that are supposedly included in the health insurance reform legislation but actually are nowhere to be found in the bills. Their untruths were pointed out by the hosts of their respective news programs. And they blithely pretended not to notice that they’d been caught lying and kept on talking as if nothing was out of the ordinary.

We’ll start first with Gingrich, the twice-divorced, silver-maned former speaker of the U.S. House. Gingrich was on This Week with George Stephanopoulos on the morning of Aug. 9 when Stephanopoulos asked him about claims that the healthcare bill would lead to the euthanasia of elderly citizens. Here’s the resulting exchange that happened on camera (you can check the transcript here):

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the other claims being made about the bill — and it’s related to cost control — is an — and opponents are spreading the idea that the president’s plan will encourage euthanasia. Most recently, Sarah Palin , on her Facebook page yesterday — I think it was Friday night actually — said that, “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.” Now, as you know, Mr. Speaker, the president called that outlandish. He said . . .

GINGRICH: But why — why didn’t you put up what Dr. Zeke Emanuel said? Because Dr. Zeke Emanuel, who’s the chief adviser to the president and brother of the chief of staff, said in writing . . .

STEPHANOPOULOS: He’s not the chief health care adviser. He’s written three articles between 1996 and 2008 that include some of those phrases . . .

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: . . . standards.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Those phrases appear nowhere in the bill. The only thing . . .

GINGRICH: But . . .

STEPHANOPOULOS: . . . but let me just explain what’s in the bill and then get you to respond to that. The only thing in the bill is they would allow Medicare to pay for what they say is voluntary counseling on end-of-life issues.

GINGRICH: I think people are very concerned, when you start talking about cost controls, that a bureaucracy — we don’t — you’re asking us to trust the government. Now, I’m not talking about the Obama administration. I’m talking about the government. You’re asking us to decide that we believe that the government is to be trusted. We know people who have said routinely, well, you’re going to have to make decisions. You’re going to have to decide. Communal standards historically is a very dangerous concept.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s not in the bill.

GINGRICH: But the bill’s — the bill’s 1,000 pages of setting up mechanisms. It sets up 45 different agencies. It has all sorts of panels. You’re asking us to trust turning power over to the government, when there clearly are people in America who believe in — in establishing euthanasia, including selective standards.

Let’s move on to Price, the orthopedic surgeon and House member from Roswell. Price was a guest on CNN’s State of the Nation yesterday when host John King made the same point that Stephanopoulos made to Gingrich: that the healthcare bill does not mandate the euthanasia of elderly citizens. Here’s the relevant exchange between host and guest (the transcript can be perused here):

KING: One of the things CNN obtained at this meeting was an e-mail that conservatives are using across the country. It’s gone out to millions of people, criticizing the Obama health care plan and the details. And you see it here.

And it goes line by line through many specific criticisms of the plan. I want to read you one of them. This e-mail says that, on page 427, lines 15 through 24 of the House bill, quote, “the government mandates program for orders for end of life. The government has a say in how your life ends.” If you go to the actual legislation on that page, what it is, is advanced care planning consultations. The bill would cover the costs of sitting down with someone to discuss a living will, to discuss a DNR.

Congressman Price, I want to go to you first. Many conservatives have said, “You know what? To say there are death panels, that the government can pull the plug on grandma, is simply wrong.” Does it hurt your cause when conservative critics are misleading people and are twisting the facts?

PRICE: Well, I think this is symptomatic of the process that we’ve been through, and that is that it’s been mostly in secret, that it hasn’t been a bipartisan way, certainly in the House.

The concern that people have across this land is, what role is the government going to play? Who’s going to make these crucial decisions? And when they go to that area of the bill and they see that the government will mandate, will dictate that the physician and the patient, who is eligible for Social Security, have that conversation at least once every five years, and then they see earlier this year that the Comparative Effectiveness Research Council was put in place, and the Congress refused to say that it would only deal with clinical situations, it would also deal with costs, and you put those things together, and people have a reasonable concern that the government is going to be making decisions that ought to be left to families and patients and doctors.

That’s where these decisions ought to stay. The problem is, that’s not what the bill says.

KING: Well, you say it mandates. Others who read the bill, including our organization’s fact-checkers and other organizations’ fact-checkers, says that it covers and recommends you have these conversations.

It is not amazing that Gingrich and Price were untruthful in claiming that the bill contained a mandate that is, in fact, not in the legislation. Politicians quite frequently stretch the truth when asked a question they don’t really want to answer. It’s what they do.

What is amazing is that Price and Gingrich lied so blatantly, lied on national TV, and got called for their lies by their interviewers — and still they are invited to discuss serious political topics on TV. When someone is caught on tape openly lying, you would think that might disqualify them from any further role in the discussion of important national issues. But you would be wrong.

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4 Responses to Excuse me, your trousers are burning

  1. Rubyduby says:

    The only thing that surprises me about this is that they actually got called out for lying, especially by Stephanopoulos.

  2. Paula says:

    I keep waiting for a national “Have you no shame, Sir!” moment after which the whole country will collectively realize how awful these people are. Sigh.

  3. J.M. Prince says:

    Another commentary on the same media phenomenon by noted conservative & Repug economist Bruce Barlett (again in the Wash. Mo)Here:

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_08/019508.php

    “THE PENANCE HAS NOT BEEN PAID, PART II…. Yesterday, I published an email from Bruce Bartlett, a veteran of the Reagan and H.W. Bush administrations, about the Republican Party, to this day, to pretend it did nothing wrong over the last eight years. The media doesn’t treat the GOP as if it’s been discredited, Republicans don’t take steps to correct their mistakes, and “those making the most outlandish charges are treated with deference and respect, while those that actually have credibility on the subject are treated as equals at best and often with deep skepticism.”

    The item generated some interesting discussion, here and elsewhere. Most notably, Atrios asked, “I’d be curious to hear what someone like Bartlett thinks about why the situation is as he describes.”

    Bruce responded to the question, and gave me permission to republish his thoughts on this:

    “Like I said, I don’t know why the media is so unwilling to exercise editorial judgment any more, but here are some thoughts.

    “The expansion of television news from the traditional 30 minutes per night on just three networks to 24 hours a day on several cable channels. The talking head format fit nicely into segments between advertising breaks and it just caught on. But as time went by I think that knowledgeable, responsible commentators got tired of the format, decided it was a very poor way of getting their points across, and mostly stopped doing it. Also, scholars will tend to agree with each other too often to make good television. So they were replaced by political hacks who know that their only job is to get the talking points of the day across and do everything possible to discredit their opponent. This has led to a deterioration in discourse that benefits those most willing to be outrageous. At present this benefits the right because they are out of power and need not take responsibility for actions by the administration. But I don’t think it inherently benefits the right. It’s a cyclical thing.”

    And of course they [Steve Benen/WM] also note:

    “Fox News, however, changes the game. If you’re crazy, Fox News will have you on as a guest to spew nonsense. If you’re really crazy, Fox News will give you a show of your own to spew nonsense all the time”.

    Bruce Barlett also has an excellent analysis piece on a related issue for the DailyBeast.com here:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-08-12/the-gops-misplaced-rage/full/

    The GOP’s Misplaced Rage

    by Bruce Bartlett

    “Leading conservative economist Bruce Bartlett writes that the Obama-hating town-hall mobs have it wrong—the person they should be angry with left the White House seven months ago.

    Where is the evidence that everything would be better if Republicans were in charge? Does anyone believe the economy would be growing faster or that unemployment would be lower today if John McCain had won the election? I know of no economist who holds that view. The economy is like an ocean liner that turns only very slowly. The gross domestic product and the level of employment would be pretty much the same today under any conceivable set of policies enacted since Barack Obama’s inauguration.

    Until conservatives once again hold Republicans to the same standard they hold Democrats, they will have no credibility and deserve no respect.”

    JMP

  4. J.M. Prince says:

    IOKIYAR: It’s OK If You’re A Republican. True today as it was ever, especially when the MSM is using the ‘Clinton Rules’, now ‘the Obama Rules’. And they wonder where their news audiences went? They went looking for more serious coverage of the news! By people who take their Reporting jobs more seriously & honestly. Almost always to now be seen, heard & read elsewhere. How many of us have to tune in to the BBC & read the FT.com, the Independent & the Guardian for accurate, timely, & serious reporting, analysis & commentary on same?

    And yet another example with ex Rep. Dick Armey who helped organize the Town Hall mobsters for his Lobbying outfit ‘Freedomworks’ :

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_08/019510.php

    “Second, note the competing standards. If some anonymous liberal compares Bush to Hitler, Armey thinks it’s “despicable.” If Armey organizes far-right activists carrying placards comparing Obama to Hitler, he thinks they’re “colorful.”

    And finally, now that it’s obvious that Armey said things he knows are untrue on national television, any chance he’ll be barred from returning? Will bookers conclude that Armey shouldn’t be invited onto television news programs, since he’s obviously willing to lie to the public? No, that’s not how the game is played, which is why hacks like Armey feel comfortable lying in the first place — there are no consequences.”

    And this is what’s on offer next from these awfully serious people, who’ll still be covered as the ‘brilliant minds’ of the Rethugs they are:

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_08/019518.php

    “IT NEVER ENDS…. The right said a bipartisan, common-sense measure on end-of-life care was scandalous. It wasn’t, but reality didn’t matter — conservatives believed it was true, and now it’s apparently gone from the bill. The right said a public option would represent a Soviet-style takeover of the health care system. . It wasn’t, but reality didn’t matter — conservatives believed it was true, and now the idea is in trouble.

    Ideally, reform advocates would be able to see around the curve, predicting what the next ridiculous right-wing attack might be, and preparing a response in advance. But that’s not easy; the Republican Attack Machine features a painful combination of creativity, paranoia, and pathological dishonesty.

    For example, Amy Sullivan reports on the next conservative temper tantrum….” [Wait for it!]

    VISITING NURSES!! [We kid not!]

    Obviously Blood Sucking Vampires. The lot of ‘em! JMP