See if you can tell when the following statements were made:
"At present the United States has the unenviable distinction of being the only great industrial nation without compulsory health insurance. The only real argument against it is that it is un-American because it is compulsory, but that has been made against compulsory education, workmen's compensation and other measures."
"(The national health care bill is) the most socialistic measure that this Congress has ever had before it."
"This (health care bill) is the kind of regimentation that led to totalitarianism in Germany and the downfall of that nation."
"The American system has given liberty-loving people the inherent right to engage physicians of their own choice. It has stimulated the greatest medical progress ever known to mankind. We should correct its imperfections, not destroy it."
"Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all Republicans have come up wit his this: 'Slow down, stop everything. Let's start over.' You think you've heard these same excuses before? You're right. … 'Things aren't bad enough about slavery,' … When women wanted to vote, 'slow down, there will be a better day to do that.' "
The truth is any of these statements could have been made at any time during the past 100 years. They are all-purpose, cut-and-paste political blather.
For the record, the first statement, although it has a distinctly modern ring to it, was made in January 1917 by Yale professor Irving Fisher, who was at that time president of the American Association for Labor Legislation. The everyone-else-is-doing-it argument has been a staple in health-reform debates.
The second statement came in July 1946, at a time when the word "socialistic" was starting to get a bad name. Sen. Robert Taft, R-Ohio, uttered it in regards to the Wagner-Murray-Dingell bill backed by President Harry S. Truman. Taft, who as a chief opponent of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal knew a thing or two about socialism, may have used that word as a pejorative, but the Chicago Tribune that day put "socialized medicine" in the headline without quotation marks. That's what foes and friends alike were calling it at the time.
The third statement, invoking Nazi Germany, was no doubt meant to shock. It was made by Dr. Morris Fishbein, editor of the American Medical Association Journal in November 1945, as reported by the New York Times. Adolf Hitler was a fresh memory then.
The fourth one, with its "liberty-loving" hot button, came from May 1938 and was attributed to Dr. William J. Carrington of Atlantic City, N.J., who had just been made president of the New Jersey Medical Society and, the New York Times said, was pledging to fight anything resembling "group medical aid."
The fifth one you might have guessed. It belongs to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from neighboring Nevada, who last week was pulling out all the rhetorical ammo he had, just short of Fishbein's "totalitarianism in Germany."
This newspaper published an opinion poll recently by Dan Jones & Associates, showing that at least half of all Utahns support making insurance plans portable, requiring them to ignore pre-existing conditions, requiring everyone to obtain insurance and including a public option to "compete" with private carriers. But they oppose the Democrats' House bill, which includes those four things.
The easy conclusion is that many Utahns are ill-informed, conflicted and knee-jerk about anything attached to the word "Democrat." That's too simplistic, of course. The House bill may include those four elements, but it also includes much more in its 1,900-plus pages.
And yet it is true that people react emotionally to certain things. Participants in the health care debate have known that for most of a century. I guess it beats having to prepare for a real debate.