Last night on his show, Glenn Beck took a quick break from his over-the-top ranting to deliver a heartfelt message to President Obama:
Barack Obama said he wouldn't use the fear of politics [sic] like George W. Bush did. America, I have to tell you, this man has violated every single campaign promise he has made - except those to the labor unions.
This is a big one, because that's exactly what he's doing now. He is breaking the one that really, America, really wanted to stop. Just do anything for politics: that's the change we wanted. And here he is, using the politics of fear, to rally his base.
See, President Obama has broken his promise that he wouldn't use the politics of fear. And that just breaks Glenn Beck's heart, because he hates the politics of fear so much. Right.
Let's rewind the clock a few days, and take you through just one week of Beck's non-stop fear mongering.
Purporting to show how passage of the health care bill pales in comparison to other major events from our nation's history, Beck showed how his foaming-at-the-mouth hatred of all things "progressive" can lead him to make a fool of himself:
BECK: You know what this is? They locked arms, because they wanted to compare themselves to the civil rights activists. How dare you!
Look at these people [civil rights activists]. They refused to get up! But Nancy Pelosi. I don't know how you could be offended by that.
It's unclear if Beck's last line was a slip of the tongue or sarcasm, but let me take a quick moment to explain how "people could be offended" by what Beck is yelling about. Unfortunately for Beck, it's likely not what he had in mind.
That man to the left of Pelosi in the image that set Beck off? Civil rights hero John Lewis, who you may remember from recent news reports that a tea party protester called him the n-word this weekend. Quick primer on just some of Lewis' bio:
He was born the son of sharecroppers on February 21, 1940, outside of Troy, Alabama. He grew up on his family's farm and attended segregated public schools in Pike County, Alabama. As a young boy, he was inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which he heard on radio broadcasts. In those pivotal moments, he made a decision to become a part of the Civil Rights Movement. Ever since then, he has remained at the vanguard of progressive social movements and the human rights struggle in the United States.
As a student at Fisk University, John Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1961, he volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South. Lewis risked his life on those Rides many times by simply sitting in seats reserved for white patrons. He was also beaten severely by angry mobs and arrested by police for challenging the injustice of Jim Crow segregation in the South.
During the height of the Movement, from 1963 to 1966, Lewis was named Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which he helped form. SNCC was largely responsible for organizing student activism in the Movement, including sit-ins and other activities.
While still a young man, John Lewis became a nationally recognized leader. By 1963, he was dubbed one of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. (The others were Whitney Young, A. Phillip Randolph, Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer and Roy Wilkins). At the age of 23, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963.
In 1964, John Lewis coordinated SNCC efforts to organize voter registration drives and community action programs during the Mississippi Freedom Summer. The following year, Lewis helped spearhead one of the most seminal moments of the Civil Rights Movement. Hosea Williams, another notable Civil Rights leader, and John Lewis led over 600 peaceful, orderly protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965. They intended to march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state. The marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as "Bloody Sunday." News broadcasts and photographs revealing the senseless cruelty of the segregated South helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Despite more than 40 arrests, physical attacks and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. After leaving SNCC in 1966, he continued his commitment to the Civil Rights Movement as Associate Director of the Field Foundation and his participation in the Southern Regional Council's voter registration programs. Lewis went on to become the Director of the Voter Education Project (VEP). Under his leadership, the VEP transformed the nation's political climate by adding nearly four million minorities to the voter rolls.
I don't think John Lewis needed Beck's little history lesson about how civil rights activists "refused to get up."
From the Department of Religion at Dartmouth, here's an iconic image of civil rights activists locking arms at the Selma Civil Rights March. You may recognize the man on the left:
I've often wondered if conservative media figures buy their own hype (fueled by blatant misinformation) about the horrors of the health care reform bill that just passed in the House last night. For some, it's unclear if they actually think the bill is "slavery" that will bring about "the end of America as we know it," or if they are just worried about what will happen to the GOP's electoral prospects if the Democrats score a major domestic policy victory. It's pretty clear that Confederate Yankee, aka Bob Owens, falls into the former group.
I stand by my comment that the Democrats who crammed this unwarranted bill down the throats of the American people who clearly and overwhelmingly opposed it deserve to be drawn and quartered.
As Wikipedia notes, having someone "laboring against that person's will to benefit another, under some form of coercion" is the very definition of involuntary servitude... slavery. We are Americans, and will be slaves to no man, no Congress, and no President.
As Wikipedia also notes, describing what it means to be "drawn and quartered,":
1. Dragged on a hurdle (a wooden frame) to the place of execution. This is one possible meaning of drawn.
2. Hanged by the neck for a short time or until almost dead (hanged).
4. The body beheaded, then divided into four parts (quartered).
Owens is openly calling for the torture and execution of Members of Congress who think it should be a right for all people in this country to have access to health care. In case you were thinking he may be speaking metaphorically, he clears up any confusion with his latest post.
Owens is essentially calling for armed revolution. I wish I were exaggerating:
Some are calling for the armed revolt against this encroaching tyranny. It was for this specific reason, after all, that our Founders made sure Americans would not be denied the use of arms.
Some misguided souls seem to already be responding to this affront to liberty with violence. I fail to find the usefulness or utility of such symbolic and largely impotent acts. This sort of petty vandalism is not what the Founders sought to protect.
They sought to protect our right to replace--yes, overthow--would-be tyrants and rouges that history has taught us always eventually arrive to usurp power and run roughshod over the rights of the people.
As we have been told countless times by philosophers and statesmen, tyranny is always seeking power and it comes in many guises. Sometimes sunlight is enough to dissuade those who would enslave others. In other instances, the mechanisms of justice can undo such wrongs. Thankfully, the final mechanism our founders instill to protect us from tyranny has not had to be used since an isolated event 64 years ago.
We live in a nation full of freshly-experienced combat veterans and graying patriots alike that still remember their oaths to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The taste of liberty is much sweeter for them, having been to parts of the world where such things cannot be taken for granted. Pray that we are not required to call upon their service in a struggle against our own countrymen. God protect us all if we are forced to such extremes by a power-mad clique intent on transforming citizens into dependent subjects.
I have some hope that the courts will respond favorably to the many states suing to eradicate this unconstitutional scheme, or that November's elections will destroy the Democratic majority and lay the ground for a full repeal of a bad law designed purely for one party's political gain.
The thought of the morally-required alternative is almost too much to bear.
To recap: Owens has "some hope" that the bill will be ruled unconstitutional or that Dems will be voted out of office, or else Owens and "freshly-experienced combat veterans" may be forced to resort to the "morally-required alternative."
Owens doesn't want to have to kill us, but he may be forced to. Nice blogosphere you have there, conservatives.
The response from the conservative blogosphere to reports that Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) was called the n-word, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) was spit on, and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) was called a homophobic slur during yesterday's tea party protest at the Capitol has been mostly predictable. Many bloggers have attempted to paint Lewis, Cleaver, and Frank as liars playing identity politics in order to garner sympathy, with the added caveat that if the allegations are true, they are deplorable and in no way represent the movement as a whole.
Atlas Pam nicely encapsulates this line of thinking in her post today titled "America's Day of Wreckoning,":
This campaign of destruction culminated yesterday when a specious charge was made that a protester shouted "ni**er" at the Congressional Black Caucus. Color me skeptical. I am not sure why the Black Congressional Caucus deliberately chose to walk through the crowd as they shouted "killl the bill," but it sure sounds like a set-up. And if someone shouted something so grotesque, it was either a plant, an infiltrator, or a freak who attached himself to a group that wants no part of him. It in no way reflects the millions of capitalist Americans standing up for their country. I have been to enough of these protests to know. These protesters are the salt of the earth. The best of America, our salvation, if it is to be had.
As for Barney Frank alleging that he was called a faggot -- I prefer to call him what he really is, a liar. Where is his outrage at the term "tea bagger"?
Is it a coincidence that after a year of millions marching against this ugly leftist power grab, that on the day before the vote both racist and homophobic slurs were allegedly hurled? Hmmmmmmmmm.
Let's start with Geller calling Barney Frank a "liar." First of all, the slur was first reported by Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler, not Frank:
And that wasn't an isolated incident. Early this afternoon, standing outside a Democratic whip meeting in the Longworth House office building, I watched [emphasis added] Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) make his way out the door, en route to the neighboring Rayburn building. As he rounded the corner toward the exit, wading through a huge crowd of tea partiers and other health care protesters, an elderly white man screamed "Barney, you faggot"--a line that caused dozens of his confederates to erupt in laughter [Emphasis added].
Granted, TPM, which won a Polk award for Josh Marshall's work on the US Attorneys scandal, doesn't have the sterling reporting reputation of Atlas Pam and her fellow conservative bloggers, but it's still worth noting that Frank didn't exactly run to a podium after the incident. He was approached about it by TPM. Though I suppose that could have been a cleverly constructed conspiracy.
More important, I want to address the idea in Geller's post that people throwing around hateful slurs would somehow be out of place in the conservative movement. I wonder where these dead-enders could have gotten the idea that it was okay to mock Barney Frank based on his sexuality?
So as to keep the list to a reasonable length, these examples are just from the past year or so.
Rush Limbaugh has called Barney Frank "Banking Queen," said Frank is the reason shower curtains were removed in the congressional men's locker room, said that "we all know that Barney patrols Uranus" and "spends most of his time living around Uranus," and remarked on "young Barney Frank...covering his upper body with shaving cream": "are they sure it was shaving cream?"
Radio host Jim Quinn has called Barney Frank a "great big pompous, sanctimonious homo." Michael Savage said that Frank could help "redesign the tailpipes" of GM cars. In a graphic on Fox Business Network, Eric Bolling pictured Frank "appropriately positioned...catching, of course." At last month's CPAC conference, to laughter from the audience, Jason Mattera said that a "feminist new black man" is a "crossover between RuPaul and Barney Frank." And here's an example from just this week:
On yesterday's edition of Fox Business Network's America's Nightly Scoreboard, guest host Tobin Smith discussed a 402-1 vote in favor of a motion to refer a resolution calling for an investigation of former Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) to the House ethics committee. Fox News contributor Monica Crowley said of the vote: "I want to know who the one member of Congress was that voted against" this. Smith replied, "I'm thinking Barney Frank, but maybe that's just me." Crowley responded, "Good one, Toby, good one."
Frank, of course, wasn't actually the one no vote. But he's still gay - haha!
Some of the slurs coming from people associated with the tea parties have been more direct. For example, Freedom Works chair and tea-party organizer Dick Armey, once called Barney Frank "Barney Fag."
The vitriol hasn't been reserved for Frank, either. In 2007, Tea Party Express co-chair Mark Williams referred to former President Jimmy Carter as a "creepy little faggot" on his blog. Tellingly, this wasn't an isolated incident, as Williams wrote in 2008 that members of a Vermont town shouldn't be called "retard CHUDs" but "genetically defective, circus freak, tiny cranium, hairy-arm-pitted female & faggot alleged male biological train wrecks who totally make the argument for forced Eugenics"
Other than that, though, attacks on Barney Frank's sexuality are totally out of character for the movement.
Which brings us to the racial attacks. Conservative bloggers have been quick to yell "race card!" and smear Lewis and Cleaver as liars. In order to buttress their point, numerous conservative bloggers like Gateway Pundit have posted a short video of members of the Congressional Black Caucus walking through a crowd of protestors, during which no racial epithets are clearly audible. I can't believe I actually have to type this sentence, but here goes: 48 seconds of video does not prove that Lewis was not called the n-word at any point during what was seemingly a much longer walk.
To give you some idea of the level of investigative reporting going into debunking these allegations, Jim Hoft uses the video to proclaim: "No one screamed "n***er." No one screamed "f*ggot." No one was spit on." Aside from the fact that Barney Frank isn't even in this video, the fact that the incident doesn't appear on camera here is, in Hoft's words, "video proof that these horrible leftists are liars." You tell 'em, Jim.
Once again, though, I want to focus on the idea that it is somehow Democrats who have made the health reform debate about race. Here are a couple flashbacks from arguably the two most prominent conservative media figures in the country.
Last month, "colorblind" Rush Limbaugh attacked reform as a "civil rights bill," probably assuming that his audience would realize he meant that as an insult. Later in the same rant, he called the bill "reparations."
Limbaugh wasn't alone in classifying the bill that way. In July, Beck stated outright: "The health care bill is reparations. It's the beginning of reparations."
Could it be that conservatives no longer want to drink the tea they've been brewing?
For the past few days, our political media has been waiting with bated breath for the latest CBO score of the health care bill (or, as Glenn Beck calls it, "a bloodstream disease" that "will be incurable.")
Well, the numbers finally came in this morning, and the news is good for Democrats and those who support health care reform. Here's Ezra Klein reporting the estimate:
According to a Democratic source, CBO has finished its work and will release the official preliminary score later today. But here are the basic numbers: The bill will cost $940 billion over the first 10 years and reduce the deficit by $130 billion during that period. In the second 10 years -- so, 2020 to 2029 -- it will reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion. The legislation will cover 32 million Americans, or 95 percent of the legal population.
To put this in context, that's more deficit reduction than either the House or Senate bill, and more coverage than the Senate bill.
Uh-oh -- that's not going to go over well with Fox News. So, how did they cover it?
In breaking the news of the score, Bill Hemmer (and the Fox chyron) stressed the $940 billion "cost" of the bill over the first ten years. He vaguely mentioned the deficit reductions by saying that the CBO "talks about reducing the deficit over a period of ten years, and compares that to reducing the deficit over a period of twenty years."
Hemmer was careful not to mention specific numbers, likely due to fear of giving Fox viewers accurate information that might derail a lot of the Fox fearmongering about reform. Unfortunately for Hemmer, his guest Juan Williams then read the numbers on air. Hemmer's reaction? Asking Williams if he "believe[s]" that. No, really:
The damage control continued later in the hour, when Hemmer discussed Democrats' reaction to the bill. He introduced a statement by Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), who described the Democrats as "giddy" over the estimated deficit reductions. Hemmer's reaction to this uncomfortable reality belongs in the Fox News Hall of Fame:
So, Rep. Clyburn discusses how the Democrats are giddy over the deficit reductions in the bill, which Hemmer ignores to assert they are happy about the $940 billion "price tag." That's not what he was referencing, Bill!
As an aside, it should be noted how blatantly dishonest Fox's focus on the "cost" of the bill is. The bill could "cost" $5 billion dollars or "cost" $5 trillion dollars - the net impact on the deficit is a more accurate assessment.
How many ways can Fox obscure the deficit reductions in the bill in order to stress the $940 billion "cost"? This should be fun to watch over the course of the day...
With the health care reform debate hitting the closing stretch (in theory), Fox News is taking their role as the "voice of the opposition" very seriously. As Eric Hananoki detailed a few weeks ago, Fox News has spent much of the past several months actively promoting falsehoods and smears about reform:
But Fox News has made defeating health care reform its top priority, as the channel's hosts, reporters and pundits have pushed a steady stream of falsehoods and smears about "death panels," euthanasia, deficit explosions, the public option, constitutionality, rationing, abortion, and socialized medicine. Fox News served as the chief promoters of anti-health care reform disruptions of town halls, the anti-health care "Code Red" rally and Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-MN) anti-health care demonstrations.
In the past day, the usual torrent of Fox News health care misinformation has become a deluge. Fox & Friends ran a video comparing the reform process to Alice in Wonderland (with Speaker Pelosi as the Red Queen); Steve Doocy, Bill O'Reilly, Bill Hemmer and Brian Kilmeade lied about abortion funding in health care legislation; Greta Van Susteren allowed Bart Stupak to lie about the same thing; Fox News employee Sarah Palin posted another falsehood-laden Facebook policy paper (dutifully reprinted by Fox Nation); Glenn Beck attacked the mother of an uninsured woman who died; and Sean Hannity declared "Princess" Nancy Pelosi and "Prince" Harry Reid the losers in the health care debate.
Apparently not content with letting their parade of misinformation do the work of opposing health care reform, Fox News has repeatedly promoted their own employees' anti-reform activism. If you are a Fox viewer, you are likely aware of the anti-reform protest in D.C. today, thanks to Fox & Friends promoting it this morning.
If you don't have access to a TV, fear not: Fox has all of your anti-health care reform needs covered online, as well. Here's Fox Nation promoting today's anti-reform protest:
See, Fox Nation is just quoting their employee telling people to attend the rally. They aren't directly telling people to go -- that would be unbecoming of a news organization. It's such a good trick, they went with a variation of it this morning:
If you click on the link, you are directed to a page on Fox Nation that reprints Fox contributor Laura Ingraham's list of targets in Congress (along with phone numbers) that people should call and encourage to vote against reform. If you want to email instead, Fox Nation includes this helpful pointer for people contacting members from out-of-district: "Please note: Most representatives' email contact forms require you to enter a zip code and address located within their district."
And then there's Fox News "political analyst" Dick Morris, who throughout the health care debate has been a one-man anti-reform fundraising and organizing machine thanks to the generous amounts of air time.
Recently, Dick Morris has encouraged Fox viewers to visit his website for information on how to oppose health care reform. The solicitations have paid off, as Morris bragged in a February 26 email that he raised $200,000 in three days for his anti-Dem ads.
Since then, Fox has continued to help Morris promote his anti-reform activism. Yesterday, Morris went on Fox Business to promote his anti-reform campaign. Later that night, Morris went on Hannity and implored the audience to "get off your couch" and "donate for ads" to oppose reform.
On Saturday, Fox host Mike Huckabee cut out the middle man and urged his viewers to "call, email, write" Congress to oppose health care reform bill.
Maybe Fox would have a better claim to being a legitimate news organization if they weren't so shameless about their blatant activism.
Today, in a post titled "Media Reality Check: A Year of Spin for Liberal ObamaCare," Newsbusters' Rich Noyes details what he calls liberals' "huge advantage" throughout the health care reform process thanks to journalists purportedly "stack[ing] the deck in favor of a big government takeover of health care." Predictably, it's a train wreck.
Here's his lead-off of "the worst spin":
On March 1, 2009, previewing Obama's first White House meeting on health care, ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson championed the liberal side. "We spend more than twice as much, per person, on health care in this country as the average of all other industrialized countries, yet we're the only one that doesn't have universal coverage. That's a national shame," Johnson announced on World News.
You may notice something missing -- namely, any explanation whatsoever for how this is inaccurate or "spin." Both points Johnson makes are accurate: Americans do spend twice as much per person on health care compared to other industrialized countries and we are the only industrialized country without universal coverage. I guess Noyes disagrees that this is a "shame?" Uh, OK. What would have been a less liberal bias-y way to frame these facts? "We spend more than twice as much, per person, on health care in this country as the average of all other industrialized countries, yet we're the only one that doesn't have universal coverage. That's a source of great national pride."
Noyes also takes issue with this comment from Keith Olbermann:
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann was the most extreme, equating ObamaCare foes to suicide bombers: "When Hamas does it or Hezbollah does it, it is called terrorism. Why should Republican lawmakers and the AstroTurf groups organizing on behalf of the health care industry be viewed any differently -- especially now that far too many Tea Party protesters are comparing President Obama and health care reform to Hitler and the Holocaust?"
I'm not going to defend Olbermann's comment, but if Noyes wants to list comparisons of political opponents to suicide bombers in his roundup of "worst spin," he should be sure to include Rush Limbaugh (at least three times,) Erick Erickson, Fox News' Gretchen Carlson, The Washington Times, Breitbart's Big Journalism, and Investors Business Daily.
Noyes challenges Chris Cuomo and Matt Lauer for asking if Republican opposition to health care reform was politically-motivated:
As opposition to ObamaCare began to take hold, journalists led a counterattack. On the July 22 Good Morning America, ABC's Chris Cuomo indignantly asked California Govenor [sic] Arnold Schwarzenegger: "Do you believe that the Republicans are playing politics here, at the risk of people's health care?...Is this getting to be a little bit of a reckless situation?" On NBC's Today, Matt Lauer accused Senator Jim DeMint: "Are you rallying conservatives to the cause of health care reform? Or are you rallying conservatives to the cause of breaking a President?"
Gee, I wonder where Lauer could have gotten that idea? The interview in question was less than a week after DeMint told the group Conservatives for Patients Rights, "If we're able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."
Clearly, Noyes is including this example to suggest the media have unfairly portrayed conservatives' surely principled opposition to reform as politically motivated. However, since the exchange in question, conservatives have constantly moved the goal posts for reform, criticized Democrats for using procedures they previously employed, and attacked President Obama's embrace of GOP health care ideas as a "gimmick."
I'll spare you the tedium of going through all of Noyes' examples, because it isn't the main point I want to make. More importantly, what Noyes includes in his "worst spin" isn't nearly as important as what he leaves out. Noyes turns a blind eye to the year-long campaign of blatant lies, distortions, and misinformation emanating from conservative opponents of health care reform -- lies that were often forwarded by the "liberal" media.
I'm aware Newsbusters doesn't search for conservative misinformation in the same way Media Matters doesn't focus on correcting liberal misinformation, but, for comparison's sake, below are some examples that don't exactly fit in with Noyes' view that reform efforts were given a "huge advantage" thanks to the "liberal" media.
Last August, media outlets repeatedly forwarded the insane suggestion (started by Betsy McCaughey and popularized by Sarah Palin via her Facebook policy paper,) that voluntary end-of-life counseling included in the reform bill amounted to "death panels" that would "pull the plug on grandma." Think about that for a second. Now look back to Noyes listing in his examples of "worst spin" Time's Mark Halperin saying it is "immoral" that America is the only industrialized democracy not to insure every person.
One of these things is not like the other.
One of the main complaints about political coverage that both sides can agree on is the media's obsessive focus on horse race and process instead of focusing on policy details. This has been just as true for the health care debate, with embarrassing results.
In a display of cynical, self-serving dishonesty that deserves to be put in a time capsule if only for its audacity, conservative media figures have attempted to redefine a word in order to attack Democrats for their supposed "hypocrisy." I'm getting tired of typing this, but just for old time's sake: Reconciliation is not the nuclear option. And conservatives weren't so upset about the use of reconciliation when they used it repeatedly.
Reform and deficits
Tapping into populist rage over government spending, conservatives have engaged in a concerted effort to portray this reform bill as massive government spending that will increase deficits. Or, as John McCain stated with no pushback from Fox News' Major Garrett: "2.5 trillion in debt on future generations." In fact, as we've noted repeatedly, the CBO has estimated that the reform bill will reduce the deficit over the next decade and beyond.
And just for safe keeping, here are some other examples of the media stacking the deck for "Obamacare": Inventing the "Death Book for Veterans," repeatedly mocking the uninsured, repeatedly misinforming about reform "raising premiums," repeatedly misinforming about federal funding for abortion, adopting the term "ObamaCare," asking if Obama's health care plan is "scarier than cancer," falsely claiming benefits don't kick in for several years, adopting the GOP's "ram it through" characterization of the health care vote, directing viewers to contact Congress to oppose reform, and telling people they are going to jail if they don't purchase insurance.
And that's just a partial list -- we've got a couple hundred other examples, if you care to sort through the archives.
But hey, that liberal Tim Johnson thinks it is a "shame" that our country pays more money for less coverage than other industrial nations. Bias!
If this is what a "huge advantage" for liberal reform efforts looks like, I'd hate to see a disadvantage.
Two of Fox News' favorite Democrats published an op-ed in today's Washington Post which purported to warn of the frightening horrors that await Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections if they pass health care reform. What they gave us, however, was an embarrassing display of half-baked analysis that encapsulates so much of what is wrong with the "debate" over health care reform in our media.
Here's the central point of their column:
First, the battle for public opinion has been lost. Comprehensive health care has been lost. If it fails, as appears possible, Democrats will face the brunt of the electorate's reaction. If it passes, however, Democrats will face a far greater calamitous reaction at the polls. Wishing, praying or pretending will not change these outcomes.
While polling numbers for the health care reform bill are certainly not strong as Democrats might hope, as Jon Chait points out in response to Caddell and Schoen, support for the bill has been trending upward. But that's beside the point.
What makes this op-ed so dishonest is that Caddell and Schoen spend the entire column expressing their concern over polling about health care reform without once suggesting that polling numbers may be so low because conservatives (and even self-identified Democrats like Schoen) have spent the last year lying - repeatedly, unabashedly, and without consequence - about health care reform.
Here's Caddell and Schoen discussing the specifics of a recent Rasmussen poll:
Many more Americans believe the legislation will worsen their health care, cost them more personally and add significantly to the national deficit. Never in our experience as pollsters can we recall such self-deluding misconstruction of survey data.
This might have been a good opportunity to correct the record and inform The Washington Post's readers that no, for the vast majority of people, health care reform won't increase the cost of their premiums. Additionally, according to the CBO, the Senate Bill will actually decrease the national deficit by $118 billion dollars. Though judging from their column, I wouldn't be surprised if Schoen and Caddell agree with Limbaugh that the CBO is "lying."
The fact that most Americans "believe" the legislation will worsen their health care could be attributed to the fact that they have been lied to about reform - but Caddell and Schoen never even consider that possibility. And they outright reject the idea that if the Dems pass reform support for the bill may increase when people realize President Obama isn't going to euthanize their grandmother:
The notion that once enactment is forced, the public will suddenly embrace health-care reform could not be further from the truth -- and is likely to become a rallying cry for disaffected Republicans, independents and, yes, Democrats.
Don't go looking for their evidence for this claim - they don't even bother trying to provide any.
Then there's their section on reconciliation:
Now, we vigorously opposed Republican efforts in the Bush administration to employ the "nuclear option" in judicial confirmations. We are similarly concerned by Democrats' efforts to manipulate passage of a health-care bill.
For the millionth time, reconciliation is not the nuclear option. Anyone arguing that it is either has an awful memory or is being deliberately dishonest in order to obscure serious debate about health care reform. Either way, they probably shouldn't be publishing op-eds in The Washington Post on health care reform.
I do, however, agree with one point made in the column:
Health care is no longer a debate about the merits of specific initiatives.
This is true - thanks in part to people like Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen.
Caddell and Schoen's advice for Democrats is so good, even the GOP is eagerly promoting it. And, as we know, they always have Dems' best interests in mind.
I thought conservative rhetoric on health care reform hit rock bottom during last year's "death panels" nonsense, but if there's one thing I've learned in my years here, it's never to deem anything the conservative media does "rock bottom."
In the past 24 hours, various conservative media figures have taken a new angle in attacking health care reform.
This morning, Matt Drudge informed us that Barack Obama plans to have sex with health care, or something:
Rush Limbaugh's summation of Obama's health care message is now: "Shut up, debate over. Bend over." (Though, to be fair, Limbaugh's referenced "bend[ing] over" numerous times before, and hasn't only reserved this terminology for health care.)
And now we have the Director of Health Care Policy at the Cato Institute weighing in:
Apparently, this is what happens when you have no substantive arguments: "Health care reform will kill your grandma!" Not even slightly true. "It will raise premiums!" Not for the vast majority of people. "It will increase deficits!" Another miss. "You are going to jail if you don't have health insurance!" No, you aren't. "People without health insurance should be mocked and ridiculed!" That's just crazy.
"It's the British nationalized system!" No, it's not. "It's the Canadian socialized system?" Also no. "The government is going to track everything you do!" Nope. "Dems are using the nuclear option!" No, they aren't. "Reconciliation is unprecedented!" No, it isn't.
"Barack Obama wants to have sex with your health care!"
An hour ago, I published a post pointing out that a RedState blogger attacked media outlets referring to Sen. Jim Bunning's (R-KY) move to block legislation that would extend unemployment benefits as a "filibuster." The blogger - Hogan -- called them "freaking idiots" not "capable of comprehension" and lacking "rudimentary understanding of the U.S. Senate." Only problem is, RedState Editor Erick Erickson made the "filibuster" claim at least twice.
Purporting to defend himself, Erickson just tweeted:
OMG, Media Matters is attacking me for calling Bunning's objection a filibuster *last week* based on the initial media reports. How dare I.
Big problem here: of the two examples I included in my post, one was posted yesterday, March 1, at 11:47 am:
The point of supporting Rand Paul was driven home to me last Thursday night as Senator Bunning launched a one man filibuster against the Democrats.
I look forward to Erickson's explanation for why the post he wrote yesterday doesn't count either.
Meanwhile, Erickson has taken to chastising Roll Call for "dumbing down" the discussion of Bunning's actions by calling them a "filibuster."
The mind reels.