The Washington Post opens its op-ed page to political scientist Danielle Allen who proceeds to tell us that Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck really do have a valid point in protesting the death panels that will urge the elderly to die and decide it’s not cost-effective to treat disabled babies.

In Allen’s world view, Palin, Beck, Limbaugh et al aren’t vicious political opportunists stoking the crazies into anti-democratic disruptions and thuggery; they’re just misunderstood.

If we’d only listen to what these prescient sages are saying, we’d realize they really do have a point, because, gosh, even the best of intentions can go astray. Allen assures us, based on political theory (because she doesn’t actually quote what these people are saying) that Palin, Beck, Limbaugh don’t really believe Obama wants to urge granny to off herself, because no sane person would actually believe something that stupid and preposterous. So it follows that these sages must mean something else, something less insane. Gosh, what could that be?

If we’d only listen to Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, we’d realize that it really is possible that allowing Medicare to cover the costs of end-of-life consultation that patients voluntarily ask for could lead to Medicare trying to kill granny, not because that was the intended consequence, but because, you know, unintended consequences happen.

But if that’s true, it’s also possible that our gullible political scientist just got used by Fred Hiatt, not because she intended that outcome, but because she hasn’t spent two seconds thinking about unintended consequences of this op-ed, like legitimizing the mindless ignorance, hatred and thuggery fomented by Sarah Palin, Beck and Limbaugh and the Republican/industry-funded organizers.

I know this is hard to deal with, but it’s just possible there really are mean, vicious, stupid, manipulative demogogues out there, and we understand them very well. But perhaps Ms. Allen can tell us the positive message in this photo:

Fred Hiatt must be laughing his ass off today; he knows he just pulled a fast one in getting a clueless poli-sci theorist to condone the death panel crazies while pretending that’s not what she’s doing.

But the WaPo editorial board knew. That was the predictable, and thus intended result. We don’t know why the board would do something this outrageous, unless they have a death wish for their publication, but hey, Fred is just a misunderstood guy.

photo by Sal Peralta



John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley