Controversial quotations

There’s an email circulating around with a quotation attributed to President Obama, blasting opponents of his administration’s plan to shift some military health care expenses from the government’s dime to private insurance companies’. The proposal itself has been withdrawn, due in no small part to public outrage, but the controversy remains.

Here’s the text of the email:

Bad press, including major mockery of the plan by comedian Jon Stewart, led to President Obama abandoning his proposal to require veterans carry private health insurance to cover the estimated $540 million annual cost to the federal government of treatment for injuries to military personnel
received during their tours on active duty.

The President admitted that he was puzzled by the magnitude of the opposition to his proposal.

“Look, it’s an all volunteer force,” Obama complained. “Nobody made these guys go to war. They had to have known and accepted the risks. Now they whine about bearing the costs of their choice? It doesn’t compute…”

“I thought these were people who were proud to sacrifice for their country,” Obama continued. “I wasn’t asking for blood, just money. With the country facing the worst financial crisis in its history, I’d have thought that the patriotic thing to do would be to try to help reduce the nation’s deficit. I guess I underestimated the selfishness of some of my fellow Americans.”

Now, the idea that the President of the United States — regardless of his political party, military experience or lack thereof, or personal views — would say such a thing is absurd. And yet, this email has a rabid following among conservatives and anyone who doesn’t like Barack Obama.

What’s worse is that it’s allegedly confirmed by snopes.com (infamous rumor-confirming or rumor-dispelling website), at least according to the email. In fact, snopes.com specifically refutes the quotation, saying, “It’s false in the sense that President Barack Obama did not utter the words attributed to him above; this piece is an excerpt from a form of satire that makes political or social points by putting outrageous words into the mouths of others.”

To be fair, though, the website goes on to explain that the “quotation” is actually a form of satire, saying something outrageous and unbelievable for the sake of exaggeration to prove a point. To many people who opposed the plan (including me), the administration might as well have been saying the words attributed to the President, as the message received could be perceived essentially the same way.

But that’s not the same thing at all. And spreading it as an allegedly quotation, directly attributed to the President of the United States, and then going so far as to directly lie and say it had been confirmed by snopes.com (to add credibility for readers who won’t bother to look it up themselves) is just sad. It’s sad that people have to resort to this kind of thing to get others to agree with them.

Hate the man, if you want. Hate his policies. Hate his opinions. Hell, hate his skin and his family if you want. But at least be honest about what you hate and why. If your argument can’t stand up on its own without adding lies and deceit, then maybe you should rethink your convictions.

Or stubbornly stick to your guns, but don’t try to trick others into agreeing with you.

4 Responses to Controversial quotations

  1. dane says:

    isn’t this essentially a more eloquent version of “bush lied, people died,” bumper stickers?

    additionally, as a likely potential recipient of this email, this is the first i’m seeing it. are you sure it’s not an inside job?

  2. Austin says:

    If someone sent me a quote from the president of the freaking PTA saying our soldiers need to make more sacrifices because that’s what they signed up for, and then cited SNOPES.COM as the source, I’d delete the email right then and there. And possibly track that person down and hit them. Snopes proves the validity of stories involving neighbor girls, their dog and a jar of peanut butter. When Obama disses the troops, believe me, it’ll be on CNN.

  3. Steven says:

    Aren’t these the same people challenging the validity of Obama’s birth certificate?

  4. […] cling desperately to ridiculous notions like this. I’ve ranted about something like this in a previous blog entry, in which I blasted an email chain falsely saying Pres. Obama complained about military veterans […]

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