Another way of putting this question is as follows. Within what frame or worldview does this outcome (killing elderly people) seem both likely and deliberate? And what are the characteristics of those people who view Obama's healthcare plan in this way?
One of the hotly contested frames is the religious one. Obama is specifically addressing the religious lobby, and is hoping to get the moral high-ground. Obama turns to faith leaders Josh Gerstein (Politico, 20 August 2009).
Care for the elderly has apparently become a focal point for opposition to the healthcare plan. Conservative religious leaders such as Dr Alveda King (niece of Dr Martin Luther King jr and supporter of John McCain in the recent presidential election) adopts the rhetorical trick of stringing emotive words together ("health reform ... unborn ... elderly ... genocide"), which may create the desired effect in some audiences without the need for detailed (and refutable) argument.
One of the interesting things here is the way a single word or phrase (in this case "elderly") becomes a substitute for a proper argument and well-articulated worldview. This is a very common phenomenon: the word acts as a totem, creating a frame around itself. The power of words.
- Health reform fact check: Euthanasia of the elderly, Cindy House. Rocky Mountain Independent, 10 August 2009
- Fox & Friends crew frighten elderly viewers: health-care reform is 'a subtle form of euthanasia' David Neiwert Crooks and Liars Blog, 27 July 2009