She is changing legislation in the Senate by saying idiotic things, and for some reason the Democrats are allowing this to happen. TPM is reporting that the Senate Finance Committee is now stripping from a bill a provision that would reimburse Medicare doctors who provided end-of-life counseling to dying patients. As TPM notes,
"Until a few days ago, the measure--which is included in House legislation--was completely uncontroversial."
It had been in the bill for a long time, and was not a big deal at all. In fact, Matt Taibii has a fanstasic post here about how Newt Gingrich used to LOVE end-of-life services. But then something hilarious happened. Land-monster Sarah Palin referred to this practice as creating "Death Squads," which is the rhetorical equivalent of a toddler going limp in a super market.
Everybody had a good laugh about this, and sort of haha-ed it away, because it is a very stupid and wrong thing to say. Then a few hours later, a standard right-wing practice began. Gingrich changed his mind and started talking about death squads. The media started talking about death squads. Sen. Chuck Grassly started talking about death squads. None of anything that any of them were saying was honest, or supported by facts, in any way. But, next thing you know, everyone in America is talking about death squads.
Once the seed had been planted, conventional wisdom took hold and began to run its course. Here's how the process works: a right-wing insane person says something so patently false and unsubstantiated that merely repeating the statement in its entirety elicits laughter from any non-child; next, the media says, "is what this insane person said something we should be talking about?"; then the media begins "covering the controversy;" and then the Democrats go on the defensive for some reason and begin compromising left and right like they gettin' paid for it (many of them are).
Watching the Democrats fall for this trap time and time again, I feel like I'm watching a horror film screaming, "Don't go upstairs! They're going to continue to define the fucking debate if you go upstairs!"
So, to sum up, toilet-water-drinker Sarah Palin vomited up "death squad," Gingrich ate it on TV, Grassley shat it out in a Senate committee, and now the Senate's health care bill is weaker. And nobody in Washington, in New York, anywhere, could say with a straight face that this is how our legislative process is supposed to work. And, yet, on some level, it's feels completely unsurprising and natural that our national discourse should follow these despicable tracks.
When corporate lobbyists control Congress people, whose campaigns are funded by those very same special interests, and we count on corporate-owned novelty media acts to serve as watchdog, why should we be surprised when this happens? A better question is: how could it not?