Politico's 'Doc Fix' Memo: Fake, But Accurate?

Update:  Please READ THE POST before launching into your attacks.  Hint:  the headline is name checking a famous quote, not suggesting that this was a valid idea.  Had you read the post before beginning your cringe-inducing denunciations of my "hypocrisy", you would have, um, known that.

It's widely believed that the Democrats have been holding the "doc fix" above the head of the AMA in order to keep them out of the health care fight.  This is not just believed on the right; I don't know any left wing pundits who believe that there is any chance that Congress will allow the "automatic" cuts to Medicare doctor reimbursements to take effect, because that would result in a 21% fall in payments--and a mass defection of doctors from the program, as Medicare patients suddenly became literally money-losers.  A mob of angry seniors would descend on Congress with pitchforks shortly thereafter.


The fact that Democrats keep doing very short-term temporary fixes to the program--the current one is just for a month or so--while saying they want to do a permanent fix, seems to make it clear that this is the price of AMA support.

So naturally, when a memo was posted on Politico, allegedly from some Democratic communications person, that seemed to be evidence for exactly such back-room dealing, the right half of the blogosphere leaped on it.

Democrats, however, are saying it's a fake, and Politico has taken it down. 

I've seen the memo, and If it's a fake, it's a very good fake; just as people who write political dramas and novels can almost never bear to give the opposition any convincing arguments, the kind of people who write the fakes I've seen generally make the alleged authors sound like unreasonable buffoons.  This memo actually makes some compelling arguments for the Democratic side, which is one reason to believe that it might be real.  (The other major reason, as far as I'm concerned, is that Politico posted it; one assumes that they vetted it somehow).

On the other hand, there are also reasons to be suspicious:

1)  The memo nowhere identifies where it's from
2)  There are several very juicy, very damning bits, and I am always suspicious that people would actually put such things into writing
3)  In some subtle way that I can't put my finger on in any particular quote, the memo writer tends to make the GOP sound too convincing, too powerful
4)  Its appearance is at an awfully convenient time for the GOP--although of course, this is the actual time when communications memos are circulating.
5)  The Democrats are denying it's theirs; of course, if Politico can confirm the provenance, this will only elevate a minor kerfuffle into a big story.

If it's a fake, "fake but accurate" is not a defense.  I mean, it may be of Politico, provided they act swiftly to rectify the mistake.  But rightwing bloggers should not do what the left did in the Dan Rather case, and insist on its accuracy well past the point of reason.  There are decent reasons to worry that it's a fake, and no one should circulate the talking points from the memo until the provenance has been confirmed.
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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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