Romney’s Praise of Israeli Healthcare Shows GOP Blind Spot

Earlier this week, Mitt Romney visited Israel, and in a speech praised the Israeli healthcare system for keeping down costs. This sounds like an utterly uncontroversial statement (Republican politician praising Israel), until one realizes that Israel has a single-payer, universal health care system.

OH BOY.

Yet, oddly, there was very little mention of this in conservative spots. I checked The Weekly Standard, Hot Air, the Washington Times, even The Blaze, but none of them talked about Romney’s statement. Not even Fox News seemed to have an article about it. Instead, places like the Boston Globe, the Washington Post (in particular, Ezra Klein), Matt Yglesias at Slate, and Steven L. Taylor at Outside the Beltway were the ones who seemed to actually notice what Romney said.

There are a lot of issues here. First and foremost is the unending debate over government run single-payer healthcare and the free market, consumer driven alternative. Looking at Yglesias and Taylor, both ask why we aren’t have a discussion here about using price controls to force down health care costs. The reason is that price controls have never, ever worked. Ever. Considering how much health care we Americans aim to consume, price controls would mean lines even longer than the ones at Chik-Fil-A. And while the so-called “price” might be low, the actual “cost”—in time lost waiting, in inefficiency and bureaucracy—would make health care far more expensive than it is today.

You might think otherwise, but even though we have a lot of problems, America actually has it pretty good.

That is the the policy, the ideology, the economics problem with this situation. The other two are, however, both political. They are first that Mitt Romney is not really a good candidate to take on Barack Obama, and secondly, that Israel is the GOP’s blind spot.

Mitt Romney is easy to take down: you want a candidate who will eliminate Obama’s health care system by nominating the guy…who made its prototype? Really? And now, he’s put his foot in his mouth again by praising that which the GOP has sworn to defeat. (I once heard a guy describe the Democrats, more or less, as experts at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. That seems to be more of the Republicans this go around.)

The other issue is quite a big larger and is nowhere near as easy to dismantle. It’s the Republican Party’s—and the right-wing in general—blind support of Israel, always praising and never criticizing the Middle Eastern nation. Every single day I see comments about how Israel needs to be supported by America and what we need to do about the Palestinian problem. There were comments by Newt Gingrich on how Palestinians were an “invented people.” We had standing ovations for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he spoke to Congress. Then there’s the perennial favorite: demagogue anyone who says anything critical of Israel as an “anti-semite.”

Let me be clear: I am not an anti-semite. I have no problems with the Jewish people whatsoever. My problems are not with the people, but with the state of Israel, with it’s policy of transforming West Bank and the Gaza Strip into veritable bantustans (though, really, it’s more with Great Britain, which after World War II just marched in, confiscated the territory from Palestinians, and gave it over to the Israelis. I mean really, we couldn’t have had a free market, pay for the land individually sort of thing?).

This leads the GOP into many awkward situations. Israel does not have the best human rights record, and it doesn’t really help out with our national security in the Middle East. There has been some change on this issue, with more criticism towards Israel coming, but there is still a lot of kneejerk defenses of a country that should not be defended in the American political sphere. (Nor does it need the $70 million Obama recently “gave” them for military aid.)

The GOP needs to wake up. Israel is not perfect. Certainly, we can stand with Israelis who are harmed by terrorism; violence should be denounced everywhere and every time. But we need to take a good, hard look at the overall situation, and ask “Why are the Palestinians doing this?” Saying that their religion forces them to, that they want to exterminate the Jewish race, is not an answer. Maybe we should actually look at how Israel was created, and how it was not the way for peace.

Unless and until the GOP gets its head straight around this issue, there are going to be more of these embarrassing gaffes that the right would rather ignore. They need to learn the concept of “tough love,” and that sometimes criticism is the right thing thing for a friend. But for now, expect more silly statements, corner-backing, and other things that the GOP would be better off without.


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