POLITICS
10/16/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Huckabee Doubles Down On Controversial Kennedy Comments

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee doubled down Sunday on controversial remarks he made last week, in which he declared that Ted Kennedy would have been told to go home and die under ObamaCare.

"What did I say that wasn't true?" asked the one-time presidential candidate on his Fox News show "Huckabee."

Huckabee accused "George Stephanopoulos, Time Magazine, the Huffington Post, and scores of liberal bloggers," of going "berserk" over his suggestion that Kennedy would have been told to take a pain pill for his brain cancer,

"I pointed out that when Senator Kennedy was diagnosed with terminal cancer he chose to fight with all that was within him and to do that for life, instead of choosing the pain pill that President Obama spoke of," said Huckabee.

"In fact, listen to what I said. It was actually a tribute to Senator Kennedy and an observation that he did what Americans would want to do: follow the best health care advice that they can find. And we don't want the government telling us to go home and take a pain pill and die," he added.

"When diagnosed with terminal brain cancer at age 77, Senator Kennedy didn't do as President Obama suggested and take a pain pill and ride it home. He did what most of us would do or want to do. He went to the very best medical facilities in the world, had surgery, and sought to live as long and as strong as possible."

These latest remarks seem likely to further stir the debate over which side of the political aisle is attempting to reap the greatest political gain from Kennedy's death. Earlier in his Sunday show, the former governor accused Democrats of trying to "capitalize on [Kennedy's passing] with calls for hurriedly enacting government run health care as a tribute to him."

As for Huckabee's question regarding what he said that wasn't true, the fact-checking organization, Politifact, tackled the supposed "pain pill" charge when Rep. Dan Lungren, (R-Cali.) jumped on it in late July.

We went to the transcript of the event and found that Lungren is distorting Obama's words. While Obama did bring up the example of patients and their families possibly having to choose between a pill and a pacemaker at some point, he did it as a hypothetical example while emphasizing that the government's role should be to provide background information so that patients and doctors can better sort through thorny, end-of-life issues.

[snip]

Looking at the full transcript, it's clear that Obama voluntarily brought up the example of having to choose between a surgery and a pill. But he did so as a hypothetical example of difficult decisions about medical treatment for older patients. He was not advocating, much less requiring, bureaucrats to make a potentially life-ending decision for a centenarian.

"I don't want bureaucracies making those decisions," Obama said.

One can be skeptical about whether Obama's promises to keep the government out of doctor-patient decisionmaking will hold if health care legislation becomes a reality. But Lungren goes beyond that to distort what the president actually said. We rate Lungren's claim False.

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