A “landmark health care overhaul”?

A piece by Tory Newmyer at Roll Call today begins with this:

House Democrats got some more good news for their landmark health care overhaul on Friday, as three former opponents of the measure declared their intention to support the final package.

When I saw for the thousandth time that phrase, “landmark health care overhaul,” I was struck more than ever by the inaccuracy and the implicitly approving quality of it. So I sent a message to Newmyer in which I said something which has been in my mind to say for a long time. Here it is:

Phrases such as “landmark health care overhaul” that you and other reporters commonly use for the health care bill are not accurate. Also, they have a celebratory and thus partisan sound to them. To be accurate and descriptive, you should describe the bill along the the lines of, “a historic government takeover of health care,” or, “the nationalization of health care.” For that is what the bill actually is.

To illustrate my point, if you were reporting on the nationalization of the major industries in Great Britain in 1946, would you call it a “landmark major industry overhaul”? Or if you were reporting on Stalin’s mass starvation of the Ukrainian kulaks (independent farmers) in 1933, would you call it a “landmark farming overhaul”? You see my point? “Overhaul” is an empty term; it has no specific content. It conceals from the reader the actual nature of what the bill will do.

Thank you.

- end of initial entry -

Paul K. writes:

I have to take exception to your saying that “‘Overhaul’ is an empty term; it has no specific content.” In fact, it implies correcting problems, as in “to examine thoroughly for needed repairs” (Websters).

Obama constantly describes the world’s finest medical care system as “broken,” implying it needs an overhaul. It is far from broken; what it is is expensive. There have been many suggestions as to how to address the problem of expense at VFR and elsewhere, such as Ann Coulter’s current column. But of course addressing the actual problem is not the Deomcrats’ purpose.

Peter Wood writes:

I see the makings of a fine game in your letter. Choose any disaster, find the right contextual euphemism, and bracket it with “landmark _____ overhaul.” DeFoe’s Journal of a Plague Year? Oh yes, the recent landmark population overhaul. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius? You mean the landmark Pompey overhaul?

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 19, 2010 09:53 PM | Send

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