Navigate to News section

Crazed Health-Reform Opponents

See Nazis and ‘death panels,’ blame Zeke Emanuel

Allison Hoffman
August 10, 2009

Traditionally, if you were going to pick an Emanuel brother to hate, you’d most likely pick either Rahm—known variously as the White House chief of staff, Machiavellian enforcer, and “Undersecretary for Go Fuck Yourself”—or Ari, the Hollywood superagent who inspired Jeremy Piven’s supremely arrogant, supremely successful Entourage character. But now, thanks to the rapid descent of the health care debate into the netherworld of Nazi references and Commie jokes, the latest hot target for conservative activists is the eldest brother, Ezekiel, a physician and doctorate in political philosophy who is advising the Obama Administration on health-care policy.

Last week, Minnesota Republican Rep. Michelle Bachmann attacked Ezekiel Emanuel in a floor speech, citing a New YorkPost columnist’s interpretation of his writings about rationalizing the distribution of health care to argue that under the Democrats’ healthcare plan, elderly or disabled patients like her senile father-in-law would be stiffed medical care. On Friday, Sarah Palin—making the most of her unemployment—posted an item on Facebook inflating Bachmann’s critique into an attack on Emanuel’s “Orwellian thinking” and accusing Obama of planning to convene “death panels” of bureaucrats who will decide, essentially, who shall live and who shall die. It’s not really clear how far the Nazi trope will go—Mengele references are already circulating in the outer reaches of the Free Republican universe, after surfacing, perhaps predictably, on the blog of perennial presidential candidate (and anti-Semitic crank) Lyndon LaRouche—but if Zeke is anything like his brothers, it’s not likely to keep him up at night. After all, even actual torture doesn’t scare him: “I’ve had various episodes where people have not liked what I said and tried to put the thumb screws to me to shut me up,” he told The New York Times last spring.

Allison Hoffman is a senior editor at Tablet Magazine. Her Twitter feed is @allisont_dc.