That Quote Doesn’t Mean What Liz Cheney Thinks it Means

Jon Chait beat me to this. I don’t care. I’ve have a ridiculously busy morning, and I want to point it out, too.

Liz Cheney has an op-ed in the WSJ today on how if Republicans don’t act, and soon, to fight President Obama’s agenda (and Obamacare!), it will soon be too late to save America. She starts with a stirring quote from Ronald Reagan in 1961:

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it and then hand it to them with the well-taught lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same. And if you and I don’t do this, then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.

Pretty persuasive stuff. That is, if you don’t know of the history of that quotation. Reagan, was of course, warning people against the passage of Medicare. It’s part of a recording he made for the AMA. Here it is:

Yes, Medicare was the death of freedom in 1961. It was tyrrany. It was the end of America.

Last I checked, Medicare passed, and America is still here. Now it’s Obamacare that will kill freedom, enact tyranny, and end America.

At what point do people who use such hyperbolic rhetoric stop and recognize that their dire warnings never come to pass? One would imagine that people who repeated Reagan’s talking points back in 1961 might find it a bit humbling to see how wrong they were. You’d think they’d shy from repeating those arguments again.

But, no. They get op-ed space on the WSJ. For the record, this hypocrisy isn’t new. Other politicians have used Reagan’s words in their work as the “protectors of Medicare“.

[Originally posted at The Incidental Economist]