Robert Reich has finally responded to the audio of him telling "brutal truths" to an audience at Berkeley which your humble correspondent chronicled here in NewsBusters on Tuesday. Here are the gems delivered up by Reich as to what he claims an honest candidate for president would say about health care if he didn't worry about getting elected:
"We're going to have to, if you're very old, we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It's too expensive...so we're going to let you die."
"...I am going try to reorganize it to be more amenable to treating sick people but that means you, particularly you young people, particularly you young healthy people...you're going to have to pay more."
"...What that means, less innovation and that means less new products and less new drugs on the market which means you are probably not going to live much longer than your parents."
So what was Reich's excuse for these assertions? Why he was "taken out of context." Here is Reich making his claim on Wednesday:
Lou Dobbs, Sean Hannity, Rush, and the right-wing blogosphere seem interested in a talk I gave in September, 2007 to students in a political science class here at Berkeley, in which I played the role of a presidential candidate so politically incorrect and tone-deaf as to pummel every sacred cow in sight -- including the notion that our society could afford and would continue forever to pay whatever amount of money was required to keep everyone alive forever. The whole point of the mock exercise was to show that presidential candidates can't state what everyone knows to be the truth because they'll be taken apart by the Right or the Left. I slew many other sacred cows in that mock exercise, some of which are held dearly by the Left. Nonetheless, two years later the Right has exhumed the lecture and taken my words completely out of context purportedly to show that Obama and the Democrats plan death panels.
If their desperation weren't so pathetic it would be funny. After all, they have proven the whole point of my lecture. UC Berkeley maintains an archive of webcasts and my speech is available there verbatim, should you wish to listen to it in its entirety.
What everyone knows to be the truth? How is this out of context? Reich's own words contradicts his "out of context" excuse:
"I'll actually give you a speech made up entirely, almost on the spur of the moment, of what a candidate for president would say if that candidate did not care about becoming president. In other words, this is what the truth is and a candidate will never say, but what a candidate should say if we were in the kind of democracy where citizens were honored in terms of their practice of citizenship and they were educated in terms of what the issues were and they could separate myth from reality in terms of what candidates would tell them."
Let me repeat Reich's own words and tell me how this is out of context:
I'll actually give you a speech made up entirely, almost on the spur of the moment, of what a candidate for president would say if that candidate did not care about becoming president. In other words, this is what the truth is and a candidate will never say, but what a candidate should say if we were in the kind of democracy where citizens were honored in terms of their practice of citizenship and they were educated in terms of what the issues were and they could separate myth from reality in terms of what candidates would tell them."
But wait! There's more! Reich in his "out of context" excuse post provided a link to his entire speech. Perhaps he was hoping that no one would actually listen to his speech that lasted over 47 minutes but I decided to plunge in and what I found at about the 15:45 mark, after stating what an "honest" candidate would say about health care, global warming, foreign policy, agriculture, etc., was Reich himself putting his speech into crystal clear context:
"I just gave you the kind of speech that politicians will not give. And I've said a couple of things that although they seem entirely reasonable to me are sacred cows and are therefore politically untouchable."
And thank you, Robert Reich, for putting your own speech entirely into the context we always knew it was in all along.
H/T: Verum Serum