MoveOn to GOP: ‘Answer the question’

Oddly enough, one of the more memorable moments of the race for the Republican presidential nomination came this week, and it wasn’t something a candidate said or did.

During the debate on CNN, Wolf Blitzer posed a hypothetical scenario to Ron Paul, asking about a young man who makes a good living, but decides to forgo health insurance. Then, tragedy strikes and he needs care. Paul stuck to the libertarian line. “But congressman,” the moderator said, “are you saying that society should just let him die?”

And at that point, some in the audience shouted, “Yeah,” and applauded.

Yesterday, MoveOn.org turned the moment into a powerful video, challenging the GOP presidential field.

The woman in the video is Susan Grigsby, who lost her brother to cancer after he was laid off and no longer had health insurance.

“What really horrified me about that debate wasn’t the poorly phrased question, it wasn’t Dr. Paul’s answer, and it wasn’t even the scream after Wolf Blitzer asked ‘would you let him die?’ and somebody in the audience yelled ‘yeah’?,” Grigsby said in the ad. “That wasn’t as horrifying as the silence from the stage.”

Grigsby said that her brother Steve “was too young for Medicare and he was too male for Medicaid.” Grigsby said that her brother had soon, “slowly, painfully” died from cancer five months after he lost his job.

“That’s what it means to let someone die,” Grigsby continued.

Grigsby then says if she could ask the Republican field one question, it would be if they really believed a person should be allowed to die because they don’t have insurance.

The on-screen text reads, “Dear GOP candidates: Answer the question.”

It’s a powerful video. I wouldn’t expect to see it on television anytime soon — it’s two minutes long, and commercials are generally 30 seconds — but it’s a way of keeping the story going, at least online and through word of mouth.

Jonathan Cohn had a related piece yesterday, explaining why common decency demands that our society not let people die based on the status of their health insurance.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.