Why Do Conservatives Think They Can Make Diagnoses Via Televison?
Last year, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) laughably concluded that Terri Schiavo wasn't in a persisntent vegetative state, based not on his personally examining Schiavo, but instead on the court testimony of a discredited doctor, William Hammesfahr.
Frist was later proven wrong, of course, by the results of Schiavo's autopsy. And like so many conservative leaders today, Frist promptly agreed with the autopsy results, skipping over the fact that he had made the original diagnosis-via-video.
Fast forward to this week, when conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh tried to "pull a Frist" by diagnosing the extent of Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's Disease.
Frist, for all his faults, is a licensed doctor. The closest Rush Limbaugh has come to being a doctor is when he over-prescribed his own use of oxycontin and other pills.
Yet on his Oct. 23 show, Limbaugh said Fox either "didn't take his medication or he's acting" when Fox was showing symptoms of Parkinson's in commercials he taped on behalf of Democratic Senate Candidates Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Ben Cardin of Maryland.
Yesterday, Dr. Limbaugh continued pushing his ignorant line:
LIMBAUGH: I stand by what I said. I take back none of what I said. I wouldn’t rephrase it any differently. It is what I believe; it is what I think. It is what I have found to be true.
That would suggest he actually consulted with a doctor. And certainly, he could find some discredited yahoo to support his ignorant statements, just like Frist and other conservatives defended their ignorance on Terri Schiavo by rallying around the discredited Hammesfahr.
Those of us in the fact-based universe know that Fox wasn't acting. "Anyone who knows the disease well would regard his movement as classic severe Parkinson's disease," Elaine Richman, a neuroscientist in Baltimore who co-wrote Parkinson's Disease and the Family, told the Washington Post. "Any other interpretation is misinformed."
Thankfully, most Americans aren't buying Limbaugh's ignorance now, just as they didn't generally buy into the conservatives' ignorant claims a year ago on Schiavo.
In fact, a new study shows that Americans across the political spectrum increased their support for embryonic stem cell research after watching Fox.
The poll shows that the vast majority of Americans support such research. The Bush Administration doesn't understand as much, kowtowing instead to the religious right and fringe conservatives.