A well-known newspaper had this to say about writer Nat Hentoff upon his departure from the Villiage Voice at the end of 2008 after a 50-year run:
Across his 83 years, his three dozen books and his countless newspaper columns and magazine articles, Mr. Hentoff has championed free speech and opposed censorship of any kind, whether by liberals or conservatives. Few have more assiduously and consistently defended the right of people to express their views, no matter how objectionable.
The thing is that, agree with him or not, Nat Hentoff offers no opinion that isn’t supported by facts, diligently gathered.
Mr. Hentoff may not hear as well as he once did, or stand quite as straight. But he will not fade to silence.
That tribute appeared in the January 8, 2009 New York Times, in a column by Clyde Haberman.
Despite that praise, the Times is pretending that the fearful alarm Hentoff is sounding over ObamaCare doesn't exist. But it does.
In his August 19 column at Jewish World Review, Hentoff reminds us of a mostly-forgotten presidential quote from April, and makes an important, real-world point about how Washington carries out vaguely written laws:
I am finally scared of a White House administration
I was not intimidated during J. Edgar Hoover's FBI hunt for reporters like me who criticized him. I railed against the Bush-Cheney war on the Bill of Rights without blinking. But now I am finally scared of a White House administration. President Obama's desired health care reform intends that a federal board (similar to the British model) — as in the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation in a current Democratic bill — decides whether your quality of life, regardless of your political party, merits government-controlled funds to keep you alive. Watch for that life-decider in the final bill. It's already in the stimulus bill signed into law.
.... No matter what Congress does when it returns from its recess, rationing is a basic part of Obama's eventual master health care plan. Here is what Obama said in an April 28 New York Times interview (quoted in [a] Washington Times July 9 editorial) in which he describes a government end-of-life services guide for the citizenry as we get to a certain age, or are in a certain grave condition. Our government will undertake, he says, a "very difficult democratic conversation" about how "the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care" costs.
..... As more Americans became increasingly troubled by this and other fearful elements of Dr. Obama's cost-efficient health care regimen, (Dr. Wesley) Smith adds this vital advice, no matter what legislation Obama finally signs into law:
"Remember that legislation itself is only half the problem with Obamacare. Whatever bill passes, hundreds of bureaucrats in the federal agencies will have years to promulgate scores of regulations to govern the details of the law.
"This is where the real mischief could be done because most regulatory actions are effectuated beneath the public radar.
..... Condemning the furor at town-hall meetings around the country as "un-American," Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are blind to truly participatory democracy — as many individual Americans believe they are fighting, quite literally, for their lives.
I wonder whether Obama would be so willing to promote such health care initiatives if, say, it were 60 years from now, when his children will — as some of the current bills seem to imply — have lived their fill of life years, and the health care resources will then be going to the younger Americans?
Given the Times's open acknowledgment of Hentoff's stature just a short time ago, its refusal to recognize Hentoff's warnings is yet more proof, as if needed, that the Times is primarily about promoting a political agenda, and only tangentially about reporting the news.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.