Among the topics that Tomi Lahren and Chelsea Handler discussed on at the nonpartisan event Politicon was Obamacare. Lahren's admission that she benefits from Obamacare herself — while remaining a fierce critic of the law — sparked derision. She is able to remain on her parents' health care plan because a key provision of the Affordable Care Act allows young people to do so until they are 26 (she is 24). But after being widely criticized, Lahren blamed the "media's liberal crusade" for ruining her debate with Handler.
In an op-ed published in The Hill on Wednesday, Lahren accused "the liberal media" of tarnishing "a productive debate between two political adversaries with the usual pro-Obamacare spin." She went on to reiterate, as she explained in her debate with Handler, that she and many other conservatives do not oppose every single tenet of Obamacare.
According to her op-ed, Lahren hopes that any future health care plan adopted by the GOP includes a provision to keep young people on their parents' insurance, as well as coverage for preexisting conditions. That being said, Lahren also said at Politicon that she doesn't need the under-26 provision if its elimination was "for the betterment of a free market system." But Lahren failed to mention the many other young people who would not be "OK" if the ability to stay on their parents' insurance was taken away from them.
Lahren also wrote that her debate with Handler was an "important step for free speech," but this statement was immediately followed by a criticism of "liberal snowflakes" on American college campuses. This, despite claiming to champion respectful debates between people who disagree.
Her argument about not wanting to do away with every aspect of Obamacare is sound — and is a reminder that conservative opposition to Obamacare is nuanced — but it also seems to stem from her desire to safeguard policies that benefit her while disregarding the ways in which Obamacare has benefited millions of other Americans. This is reflected in her dismissal of the "liberal media" and "liberal snowflakes" while simultaneously advocating for "open dialogue."
Lahren claimed that she is glad of the opportunity to debate someone who disagrees with her, but followed up with statements like this, which back Trump's other policies while appearing to question liberals' intelligence: "Don’t expect liberals to weigh the costs of their sweet-sounding policies."
So while healthy debates are certainly important — and indeed, critical — Lahren's almost universal dismissal of her political opponents makes it challenging to create spaces in which such debates can occur in an atmosphere of mutual respect.