How ‘Death Panels’ Became a ‘Justifiable Political Claim’

Columnist Rick Perlstein has a new analysis of “Birthers, Town Hall Hecklers and the Return of Right-Wing Rage” in the Washington Post (8/16/09).

In it, he tells why “liberals are right to be vigilant about manufactured outrage,”

and particularly about how the mainstream media can too easily become that outrage’s entry into the political debate. … Conservatives have become adept at playing the media for suckers, getting inside the heads of editors and reporters, haunting them with the thought that maybe they are out-of-touch cosmopolitans and that their duty as tribunes of the people’s voices means they should treat Obama’s creation of “death panels” as just another justifiable political claim.

“If 1963 were 2009,” Perlstein asserts, “the woman who assaulted Adlai Stevenson would be getting time on cable news to explain herself.” And “that, not the paranoia itself,” according to Perlstein, “makes our present moment uniquely disturbing.”