From Erika Bolstad in Washington D.C. --
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's Facebook comments last week on the health care debate elicited a lot of raised eyebrows over the weekend, including from conservative columnist David Brooks. They've also earned a "Pants on Fire" rating from the folks at PolitiFact, who won a Pulitzer Prize this year for their fact checking of claims made during the 2008 presidential campaign.
On Friday, Palin called Obama's health care proposal "evil" and posted on her Facebook page the unfounded claim that the proposed health care overhauls being considered by the House of Representatives force people to face a so-called "death panel."
"The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil," Palin wrote on her Facebook page.
Here's what PolitiFact said: "We agree with Palin that such a system would be evil. But it's definitely not what President Barack Obama or any other Democrat has proposed. We have read all 1,000-plus pages of the Democratic bill and examined versions in various committees. There is no panel in any version of the health care bills in Congress that judges a person's 'level of productivity in society' to determine whether they are 'worthy' of health care."
Palin did get some support from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who defended her comments Sunday during an appearance on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos. She also has received quite a bit of support for the post on her Facebook page, where 6,304 people gave it a thumb's up, and another 2,175 commented on it. (Former fellow Republcian governors, however, were less enthusiastic about embracing her comments.)
Palin, who has been posting regularly on Facebook since she stepped down as governor last month, has not revised or retracted her comments about a death panel. She did, however, have this to say (also on Facebook) about maintaining a civil level of discourse at the health care town hall meetings planned this month by Alaska's U.S. senators:
"There are many disturbing details in the current bill that Washington is trying to rush through Congress, but we must stick to a discussion of the issues and not get sidetracked by tactics that can be accused of leading to intimidation or harassment. Such tactics diminish our nation's civil discourse which we need now more than ever because the fine print in this outrageous health care proposal must be understood clearly and not get lost in conscientious voters' passion to want to make elected officials hear what we are saying. Let's not give the proponents of nationalized health care any reason to criticize us."
Meanwhile, the White House launched a website to debunk what it says are myths about the health care debate. (And Republicans have been just as quick to point out what they say are mythical claims by the White House on its website.)