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‘Death Panels’ Will Live Forever

Greg Sargent has an insightful post about how the Obama administration lost the initiative on health care.

During the campaign, Obama proved adept at not getting drawn onto turf favorable to opponents. That particular skill wasn’t in evidence this summer. When Obama pushed back against the death panel falsehood, he was defensively arguing that government wouldn’t do bad things to people. There may have been no other alternative. But that wasted time and political energy that could otherwise have been used telling people how health care reform could improve their lives.

This rings true, but I would extend the cone of shame. The White House did a lot of messaging about this, but the “death panel” smear, originating in a Sarah Palin post on Facebook, went wild in the liberal blogosphere and larger media infrastructure. Someone needs to count up the hours spent on liberal MSNBC mocking Palin or mocking Republicans who furthered the rumor, or the posts at liberal blogs doing the same. All those hours spent mocking Palin got some media victories — exposing Chuck Grassley as a bad faith actor in the health care debate, perhaps — but they largely spread around the rumor while putting nothing positive out there.

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