Pearlstein Dubs Health Reform Opponents “Political Terrorists”

(cc photo by niemster)

(cc photo by niemster)

I think Steven Pearlstein’s latest column, an appropriately outraged assault, on the lies and bad-faith with which opponents of health care reform are operating, is pretty great. I highly recommend that you read it. It’s probably even something you should send around to your family and friends. Impassioned, informative, etc.

That said, I think this involves an unfortunate metaphor:

The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they’ve given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They’ve become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.

The problem here is that all terrorists are “political” terrorists. Terrorists murder innocent people to advance their political agenda. And Republican leaders clearly aren’t doing that. They’re engaging in dishonest and hypocritical rhetorical gambits. That’s bad and people should say so. But it’s not the same thing. I think it’s an unfortunate aspect of U.S. political institutions that they make it so easy for a defeated and discredited political opposition to mount a successful rear-guard campaign of political obstruction, but we’ve been playing the game with these rules for a long time so nobody should be surprised.