Paul Greenberg

If that isn't a government takeover of American health care, it's mighty close. Indeed, it's the very essence of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, aka ObamaCare. (Those phrases about "patient protection" and "affordable care" are highly debatable themselves, but I wouldn't call them lies -- just slick merchandising.)

Mr. Truman's takeover of the steel industry failed when the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. Which must have been quite a surprise to the president, who by then had made a habit of seizing industries embroiled in labor disputes -- steel, coal, the railroads ... you name it.

The history books refer to President Truman's seizure of the steel industry as a seizure. Also a takeover. Is that a lie, too? If so, it was certainly a widespread one.

Today it's not just the cost of insurance premiums but talk about them that the Department of Health and Human Services (The Hon. Kathleen Sebelius, secretary thereof) seeks to control. Last September, when some insurance executives complained about the rising costs being imposed on their companies, she declared that "there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation...."

If that's not a threat to free speech, it's certainly the kind of comment that can be expected to have a chilling effect on it.

When is a government takeover not a government takeover? Here's the gospel according to Politifact:

When government determines the limits of insurance coverage and medical fees and patient treatment through price controls, that's not a government takeover of health care. It may feel like one, it may have the same effect as one, but the federal government doesn't actually own the hospitals, clinics and medical practices. It just controls their prices and policies by controlling health insurance. Ergo, any talk of a government takeover of health care is not just wrong but a lie. Indeed, the biggest lie of the year.

You have to wonder if PolitiFact would recognize Government Motors, a takeover in which the federal government actually got stock in automobile companies, as a takeover. Maybe, maybe not. After all, the government didn't confiscate GM or Chrysler. It just seized control of them. Was that a government takeover? Who knows? Only PolitiFact.

PolitiFact seems to have its own, arbitrary definitions of words. Words like takeover. And fact. And lie.

Politifact'seditor might as well be Humpty Dumpty, who told little Alice, "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

Alice didn't buy it, and neither do I.

I'm not saying PolitiFact is lying. How about just stretching the truth? Whatever it's called, its political prejudices are showing.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.