"'ObamaCare' ... is a disparaging reference to the President of the United States. It is meant as a disparaging reference to the President of the United States. It is clearly in violation of the House rules against that," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. "ObamaCare," according to several blogs, is the new "n" word.
When did "ObamaCare" become a slur?
Proponents, after all, boast that President Barack Obama succeeded in signing "universal care'' legislation when every Democratic president since Harry Truman failed to "get it done." Why isn't President Obama flattered to have his name attached to his signature achievement and a now-fulfilled campaign promise? Was there a hissy fit over "HillaryCare" or the widely used "RomneyCare"?
A LexisNexis search turns up what might be "ObamaCare's" first use in print. An April 4, 2008, enthusiastically supportive article in the Salt Lake Tribune said: "Obama's national health insurance program, let's call it 'ObamaCare,' provides Americans with affordable premiums, co-pays and deductibles." Hmmm, not too much racial insensitivity there.
Alrighty then, what exactly is the problem?
Assume, for the sake of argument, "right-wingers" use "ObamaCare" in a "mean-spirited" way. The left well understands and embraces the tactic: personalize or make a caricature about a policy; or use a description to induce a negative reaction. Here are a few:
"Reaganomics": Used to personalize and attach to a "cold-hearted conservative" president an economic agenda the media opposed and assumed would fail. Incredibly, New York Daily News' Joshua Greenman recently wrote, "(HillaryCare and ObamaCare) were used, from the get-go, as slurs, unlike, say, 'Reaganomics.'" Nonsense. Many Reagan supporters actually liked the term, but opponents meant it as a slur. We know this because when President Reagan's policies began to show results, the media's use of the term nosedived. "I could tell our economic policy was working," Reagan said, "when they stopped calling it 'Reaganomics.'"
When the media use the word "ObamaCare," Ken Shepherd of NewsBusters.org points out, they use quotations marks to distance themselves from the term or are quoting a Republican. "Reaganomics," however, was often used as a descriptive term -- no quotation marks.
"Star Wars": Used to derisively describe Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, a missile defense program critics thought technologically impossible. The media increasingly began using the acronym SDI in part because the Cold War ended and in part because SDI-inspired technology became reality.