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Rick Santorum: ObamaCare Is Just Like Apartheid

Facepalm

In the twelve hours or so since Nelson Mandela’s death was announced to the world, we’ve seen some pretty dumb political observations but Rick Santorum seems to have made the dumbest one to date during an appearance on Fox News Channel:

As condolences and reflections followed the passing of Nelson Mandela, Rick Santorum linked the injustices the former South African president fought and Obamacare.

“He was fighting against some great injustice, and I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever-increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives — and Obamacare is front and center in that,” Santorum said Thursday on Fox goinNews’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Yes, because a government program enacted in a democratic republic that has been upheld by that nation’s highest court after being fully considered at all levels of the legal system is exactly the same as a regime of oppression that was in place for nearly a century under which the majority of the people of South Africa were systematically oppressed, forbidden from voting, segregated into atrocious slums, forbidden from traveling anywhere in the country without carrying around internal passports, and jailed for showing the slightest resistance to the political injustices they were subjected to.

I’m not fan of the Affordable Care Act, as I’ve made clear many times in posts here at OTB. I think it’s bad policy whose negative effects will, in the end, far outweigh its alleged benefits, and I object to the expansion of Federal Government power that it represents. That’s a point we can, and likely will, continue to argue about for years to come and there are legitimate points on both sides of the argument. However, for Santorum to argue that there is some kind of equivalence between bad public policy and real political oppression is either a demonstration that the person making the analogy is quite simply ignorant, or that they are engaging in the kind of absurd hyperbole that justifies not paying attention to them at all.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    Godwin is going to have to start franchising.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  2. Ah well, Rand Paul has likened it to slavery (and a writer at Red State agrees).

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  3. Mr. Replica says:

    I think this deserves a double face-palm.

    Knowing there are people out there nodding along to this drivel by both Santorum and Paul. People who have no f**king idea what real slavery is, nor understand the meaning of apartheid.
    But, I guess I can’t blame either Senator. When your voting base makes you scrape the bottom of the barrel for their votes…this is what you dredge up for notoriety.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  4. legion says:

    Actually, he’s not all that wrong. 20-30 years ago, conservatives strongly supported the Apartheid government – Congress had to override Reagan’s veto to pull support from South Africa. Just like 20-30 years ago, conservatives were interested in single-payer health plans, Romneycare, etc.

    Now, decades later, they’re at least willing to admit (in public) that it’s ok that Apartheid isn’t around anymore, and they’re frothingly against healthcare for pretty much anyone but themselves. The fact that Santorum’s on the wrong side of pretty much every public issue himself is just window-dressing…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  5. Scott says:

    that they are engaging in the kind of absurd hyperbole that justifies not paying attention to them at all.

    Promise?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  6. Nikki says:

    However, for Santorum to argue that there is some kind of equivalence between bad public policy and real political oppression is either a demonstration that the person making the analogy is quite simply ignorant, or that they are engaging in the kind of absurd hyperbole that justifies not paying attention to them at all.

    Why can’t it be both?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1

  7. Buffalo Rude says:

    Rick Santorum seems to have made the dumbest one to date during an appearance on Fox News Channel…

    Yeah, it’s early still. I can’t wait to see what gets said by some of these morons.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  8. al-Ameda says:

    This mental midget uses this occasion, an opportunity to celebrate the life of a moral giant, to run a negative partisan political statement. What a waste of oxygen and bandwidth.

    And to think, he was a viable candidate to be the Republican nominee in 2012. He came in second, right? I’ve got to say, I hope this moron is the standard bearer in 2016.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  9. Facebones says:

    @Buffalo Rude:

    I can’t wait to see what gets said by some of these morons.

    Have any of the usual suspects tried to claim him as a conservative who would have voted for Reagan?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  10. mantis says:

    Funny how many Republicans want to pal around with the terrorist Nelson Mandela these days.

    Yes, the US labeled him a terrorist under Reagan, a designation removed only in 2008.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  11. JWH says:

    If you’re going to use bellicose analogies, it’s best to go with fictional events.

    “Obamacare is the real Hunger Games.” “Obama is just like President Snow.” “Vice-President Biden is worse than Sauron.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  12. Tony W says:

    @JWH: Sure – forcing people to pay for the health care that they are going to ultimately receive feels just like placing teenagers in an arena to kill each other.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  13. mattbernius says:

    Remember folks — according to the Conservative Inc., its *just* liberals who make everything about politics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  14. James Pearce says:

    @Nikki:

    Why can’t it be both?

    In Santorum’s case, it is.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Ah well, Rand Paul has likened it to slavery

    Didn’t Sarah Palin just do that recently?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  15. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    Yes yes I’m sure all three remaining Santorum supporters are nodding sagely, while plotting their next national electoral “victory.”

    By all means, please proceed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  16. JWH says:

    @Tony W: My point is not that I agree with the analogy. My point is that if you compare something to fictional events, rather than to real-world atrocities and injustices, you’re less likely to offend people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  17. @James Pearce:

    Didn’t Sarah Palin just do that recently?

    I believe she did, yes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  18. legion says:

    @JWH:

    If you’re going to use bellicose analogies, it’s best to go with fictional events.

    Well, the average Republican voter can’t tell the difference between fiction and reality anyway… that’s why they vote Republican in the first place.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4

  19. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    No, no, no, Rick! ISRAEL is just like apartheid. You must have missed that memo…

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 17

  20. stonetools says:

    Has Sarah Palin weighed in yet?:

    ” Mandela was just like Reagan, ringing bells and calling for freedom from socialism and government health care in the land of Africa.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  21. humanoid.panda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Israel-Apartheid comparison is (arguably), foolish. ACA-Apartheid comparison is ghoulish. There is a major difference here you’d be cognizant off if you weren’t a ghoul, or rather played one on the internet.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  22. john personna says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    I’m not an expert, but in Israel where you live (which side of the fence) and whether you have a full vote, determined by ancestry?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  23. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @humanoid.panda: :Let me clarify: I was mocking the convention (mainly on the left) likening Israel to apartheid-era South Africa. The first example that comes to mind is Jimmy Carter’s last book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 13

  24. john personna says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    There is a long page on it here:

    Israel and the apartheid analogy

    I think we can safely say that the roots of Israel did not come from the desire to have a regional, poly-cultural, democratic republic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  25. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    No, no, no, Rick! ISRAEL is just like apartheid. You must have missed that memo…

    Actually, he missed the memo wherein he was advised to avoid making bad analogies that equate Nelson Mandela’s struggle to eradicate apartheid with the GOP struggle to obstruct legislation that would make health insurance available to more Americans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  26. andrew e. says:

    I hate copying and pasting but this from Andrew Sullivan leaves little else to be said about the insanity of the modern talk-radio led Right:

    “…Santorum’s mind is simply unhinged, and that the reflexive need to describe anything that this president has done as pure evil has become a kind of sickness of the mind and soul on the right. It has abandoned any connection to the real world. It lives in a narcissistic, warped, ideological echo-chamber of victimhood and utter obliviousness to the real tragedies of human history.” http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2013/12/06/yes-it-gets-worse/

    But obviously maintaining the base requires this kind of rhetoric. The hysteria needs to be constantly ratcheted up or the people stop paying attention, stop buying books and sending money.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  27. Pinky says:

    Terrible headline, but the commenters seem to have bought it. Of course he’s not saying that Obamacare is just like apartheid, unless he said that Obamacare is just like apartheid. (Did he? It’s not in your excerpt.) His statement is a stretch, sure, and awkward, but his point is valid that an expanding government can be dangerous.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 21

  28. C. Clavin says:

    @James Pearce:
    In fairness I think she was talking about debt…which given the deficit decline …makes about as much sense

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. C. Clavin says:

    @Pinky:
    Yes… Enforced segregation and limited rights based on race is just like buying insurance.
    Wait..the State of CT requires me to purchase auto insurance.
    APARTHEID!!!!
    Moron.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  30. humanoid.panda says:

    @john personna: I actually live in Pennsylvania, but grew up in Israel. The citizenship situation in Israel is basically this. Both Jews and Palestinians born within the 1967 borders have full political rights (though Palestinians face various forms of economic and social discrimination). The law of return does stipulate that Jews are eligible for citizenship and others not, but other democratic countries have similar laws (for example, a Turk born in Germany is not eligible for citizenship, but descendants of groups who migrated from Germany to Russia in the 18th century are eligible.) The situation in the West Bank is dangerously close to becoming Apartheid-like, but many left wing Zionists, myself included, believe there is still time for a two state solution. Unless this is achieved somehow in the next few years, Israel will face a choice of either a binational state (which will lead to a horrible civil war and an ethnic cleansing) or an Apartheid state.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  31. mattbernius says:

    @Pinky:
    You know, this reminds me of the time you tried to convince us that Steve King didn’t imply that lots of “dream act” kids were probably drug mules… only to have Steve King explicitly double down on that implication a few days later (with some pretty racially tinged language as well).

    Now, as then, I don’t think you really understand how analogies and implications work.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  32. john personna says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    It is horribly complicated, and when I am on the fringes of conversations in Encino, Califorina, I just listen.

    The “return” you talk about though, to “1967 borders,” comes out of the mess of the 1940′s and the UN attempt at partition.

    It’s too bad there wasn’t an empty land available in 1948, with which to create a new state, without displacement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  33. mattbernius says:

    @john personna:

    It’s too bad there wasn’t an empty land available in 1948, with which to create a new state, without displacement.

    If you haven’t read it, based on that comment, you might be interested in
    Michael Chabon’s “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” –
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Yiddish_Policemen%27s_Union

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  34. rudderpedals says:

    Freeeeeee Richard Santorum dah dah dah

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  35. john personna says:

    @mattbernius:

    Thanks, I’ve read Michael Chabon, but not that one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  36. KM says:

    This is just Santorum taking the much-beloved persecution complex to logical extremes. Someone who has never known true oppression, systemic legal harassment and government-sanctioned hate trying to liken their politically-unfavorite pet peeve is sickening. Suffering! They haz it, Oppressed!Santorum is oppressed! Like those people over there with the terrible trauma and unjust miserable existence – my transitory manpain is just like theirs on the inside!!

    It’s like watching someone with a minor papercut try to tell someone with two broken legs & no painkillers their pain is somehow equivalent. Self-centered in the extreme.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  37. @C. Clavin: Now that you mention it yes: she was talking about debt in general.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. humanoid.panda says:

    @john personna: Problem is that by this point there were already over more half a million Jews in Palestine, who had no intention of going anywhere.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  39. al-Ameda says:

    @Pinky:

    His statement is a stretch, sure, and awkward, but his point is valid that an expanding government can be dangerous.

    Heck yeah, and what better occasion than an opportunity to reflect on the life and times of Nelson Mandela? I mean, who wouldn’t immediately think of apartheid and health insurance at the same time?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  40. john personna says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    I know. I am certainly not suggesting that there were easy answers at any point along in the history. But sadly, too often one tragedy led to another.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  41. Mikey says:

    Wow, that has to be one of the clumsiest segues in history. Insensitive, lame, and stupid–pretty much today’s GOP in a nutshell.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  42. David M says:

    @Pinky:

    His statement is a stretch, sure, and awkward, but his point is valid that an expanding government can be dangerous.

    Simply, no. Pointing out that an expanding government can be dangerous is never a valid point. It’s idiocy.

    “big government bad” is one of the biggest loads of crap produced for the rubes on the right, but that’s no reason to pretend it’s a respectable argument.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  43. MarkedMan says:

    @humanoid.panda: There may be some kind of small potatoes argument as to whether Israel is an apartheid state, but I don’t see how anyone can deny that Israel maintains an apartheid regime. After all, wasn’t South Africa’s creation of the Homelands a significant part of the effort to make Apartheid more palatable to the rest of the world (including large swaths of the American Conservative mainstream)?

    For those too young to remember, South Africa took parts of its land that were predominately black, created borders around them that carved out every white enclave and valuable mineral or water resource no matter how ludicrous it made the resultant maps, and said they were separate countries. Of course they were under the military, police, economic and effective political control of the Afrikaners, and any attempt by anyone within them to organize or even speak out loudly against the SA establishment was met by assassination and punishment of family’s and even whole towns. One of the main reasons this was done was to try to claim the ratio of black SA to white was more balanced by not counting the millions of blacks in the homelands. The American conservative establishment, including Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley, used their political and publishing might, respectively, to help legitimize this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  44. john personna says:

    @David M:

    I don’t suppose Pinky applies “big government bad” to War Department funding.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  45. David M says:

    @john personna:

    There are ways bigger government can mean less freedom just as there are other ways that bigger government can mean more freedom. The simplistic “less government is better” isn’t a good-faith argument though.

    (I’m pretty sure you understood what I was getting at, but i didn’t want there to be any confusion about what I was objecting to.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  46. Jim Henley says:

    One of the things going on here is that a certain sort of white conservative can’t stand the idea of “a black thing” – even an unpleasant one. Santorum’s leveling move doesn’t just inflate the enormity of healthcare reform, it deflates the the injustice of apartheid, and washes out its distinctive coloration. And given the racial anxieties animating much of conservative populsim, Santorum casting Obamacare opponents as victims of/resistance to the black tyrant in Washington plays into what Greg Sargent points out is a longstanding trope of opposition to racial progress.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  47. john personna says:

    @David M:

    Oh sure, but I was going for the even easier one, that “big government” isn’t even consistent. It’s “that I don’t like.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  48. James Pearce says:

    @C. Clavin:

    In fairness I think she was talking about debt…which given the deficit decline …makes about as much sense

    The debt, Obamacare, providing women with healthplans that include contraception….yeah, it’s all just like slavery.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  49. C. Clavin says:

    @James Pearce:
    Exactly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  50. Tillman says:

    @mattbernius: I heard the Coens were going to adapt it to film.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  51. DrDaveT says:

    The idea that such people can be seen as legitimate presidential candidates makes me sad beyond words.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  52. Latino_in_Boston says:

    From my FB feed:

    Apartheid and the ACA are identical in exactly one way: Santorum understands neither.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  53. Kylopod says:

    Well, I guess Santorum figured it was past time to pull out his OBAMACARE MAD LIBS. It’s a game many other conservatives have played. The rules are simple. You have the sentence….

    Obamacare is/has/is like _________________.

    …and underneath the blank line it asks you not for a noun, a verb, or an adjective, but for a “bad thing.”

    Previous entries to that blank line have included Nazism, Communism, Kenyan Anti-Colonialism, and Death Panels. Other, perhaps even more colorful, examples have ranged from forced circumcisions to racist tanning-bed taxes. “Apartheid” is merely the latest, I suppose, pulled out to commemorate the death of an actual African anti-colonialist.

    What’s next? What to compare Obamacare to? Be creative. Carjackings? Alien Abductions? Miley Cyrus? Send your entries to…

    OBAMACARE MAD LIBS, INC.
    1234 Fox Avenue
    New York, NY -00001

    (And don’t forget to include your $50 donation, all for the good of your country, of course.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  54. mattbernius says:

    @Tillman:
    That would be excellent. It’s totally up their alley.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  55. al-Ameda says:

    @James Pearce:

    The debt, Obamacare, providing women with healthplans that include contraception….yeah, it’s all just like slavery.

    How did you get access to the Draft Republican Platform for 2016?
    I’m jealous.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  56. ernieyeball says:

    @Mr. Replica: When your voting base makes you scrape the bottom of the barrel for their votes…

    And to think that there are Citizens who believe that laws should force all eligible Americans to vote in all elections.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  57. J-Dub says:

    Just when I though I could stop Googling “Santorum”…

    http://blog.spreadingsantorum.com/

    Rick, you frothy mixture of ignorance and hate!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0