And keep in mind this was in a news article. Yet more proof that Rupert Murdoch is slowing turning the Journal's once-sterling newsroom into Fox News Lite.
Picking up the right-wing blogosphere trend, which was to mock personal anecdotes told at yesterday's health care forum (shared mostly by Democrats), here's the straight-down-the-middle WSJ news headline:
Talks Suffer An Outbreak of Anecdotes
Gee, nothing loaded in that language, right?
Check out the lede [emphasis added]:
Thursday's health-care summit revealed a new malady: call it anecdote-itis.
Squeezed around a square table at Blair House, President Barack Obama and about 40 members of Congress scratched around for stories that would score political points.
And here's a nice tough, as the news article openly mocks the president:
The president, playing the part of Patient Zero, sparked the epidemic, recounting the time his daughter Malia was rushed to the ER with asthma after coming into the kitchen and telling her father, "I can't breathe, Daddy."
UPDATED: There's something deeply revealing, I think, by the media's tendency to mock yesterday's anecdotes, which of course were personal illustrations about people suffering serious health problems, and their struggle to deal with today's health care system.
In a sense, the so-called health care debate that's taken place over the last year or so should have always focused on those sorts of illustrative stories, but the press never really went there. The political press never had any interest in humanizing the story. The Beltway press much preferred to make health care reform a process story. (Who's got the votes? What's the latest polling data.)
So I guess it shouldn't be surprising that when some Democrats tried to use anecdotes to shed some light on health care reform, one media reaction was to mock the move.
One of the lingering questions about Andrew Breitbart's dishonest attempt to help spread the falsehood that James O'Keefe was dressed as a pimp inside the ACORN offices, is was Breitbart himself duped by the masquerade?
Did he, in fact, not know that O'Keefe wasn't dressed as a pimp while meeting with ACORN workers? Instead, was Breitbart mislead by his protégé's undercover videos and only found out the truth much later? And is that why Breitbart's so reluctant to come clean about the hoax, because he'd have to admit that even he got duped, and that as the editor of the site that published the ACORN videos, even he didn't know the truth about their contents?
Any such an admission by Breitbart would be devastating. Because remember that for months he personally vouched for the videos. He's claimed that he's told "the truth" every step of the way about the ACORN clips. But what if we find out that Breitbart himself didn't actually know what was on the tapes. What if we find out that Breitbart, like everyone else, got fooled by the ACORN pimp hoax and mistakenly assumed, after watching O'Keefe's deceptively edited clips, that O'Keefe strolled into ACORN offices wearing the outlandish pimp outfit.
If we find out Breitbart himself was duped by the ACORN clips -- if he, as the chief promoter, didn't even know the truth about the contents -- then I think we can close the books on the whole ACORN video caper, as well as Breitbart's credibility.
UPDATED: The exit question: If Breitbart was fooled by O'Keefe, did he ever get an apology?
From Gerson's February 26 Washington Post column headlined "TR: The conservatives' new demon":
So Glenn Beck, speaking recently at the Conservative Political Action Conference, identified a great enemy of human freedom as . . . Teddy Roosevelt. Beck highlighted this damning Roosevelt quote: "We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used."
Ah, you don't discern the scandal in this statement? Look closer. "This is not our Founders' idea of America," explained Beck. "And this is the cancer that's eating at America. It is big government -- it's a socialist utopia." Evidently, real conservatives defend wealth that is dishonorably gained and then wasted.
The problem with America, apparently, is not just the Great Society or even the New Deal; it is the Square Deal. Or maybe Beck is just being too timid. Real, hairy-chested libertarians pin the blame on Abraham Lincoln, who centralized federal power at the expense of the states to pursue an unnecessary war -- a view that Ron Paul, the winner of the CPAC presidential straw poll, has endorsed.
Lincoln doesn't need defenders against accusations of tyranny -- the mere charge is enough to diagnose some sad ideological disorder. But the Rough Rider also does not deserve such roughing up.
TR picked a number of fights with conservative Republicans, fight-picking being his favorite sport. But Roosevelt hated socialism. "It would spell sheer destruction," he said.
After stating that "few today would wish to return to 19th-century labor, health and antitrust standards," Gerson added:
All those few, however, seemed to be in attendance at CPAC, determined to sharpen an ideological debate. In the name of constitutional purity, they propose a great undoing. Not just the undoing of Obamaism. Undo Medicare and Social Security. Undo the expansive American global commitments that proceeded from World War II and the Cold War. Undo progressive-era economic regulations. Undo the executive power grab that preserved the union. Undo it all -- until America is left with a government appropriate to an isolated, 18th-century farming republic.
This is a proposal for time travel, not a policy agenda. The federal government could not shed these accumulated responsibilities without massive suffering and global instability -- a decidedly radical, unconservative approach to governing.
From an editorial in the February 26 edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Canadians who are not independently wealthy still struggle to raise the cash to avail themselves of superior medical care "south of the border" whenever they consider the problem serious enough. Why is that, if the Canadian system is so good that we should emulate it, as Barack Obama insists?
Medical innovation continues in the United States because it's profitable. Medical innovation has stagnated in Canada because it's not, and because the best doctors and researchers have fled to countries where they can still make money at their trade -- most notably, the United States.
If the United States adopts a Canadian-style, rationed, inferior medical system in which more people die while waiting in line, where will Americans go in pursuit of better care? Where will Canadians go? And won't that lead to precisely the "two-tiered" system -- better care for those with enough money to hop a plane -- that Democrats claim to oppose?
Or will they just refuse to let us leave?
Did you know that Republicans made a good-faith effort to find agreement on health care over the past year, but they were met by Democratic intransigence and pledge-breaking? It must be true; the Washington Post's Shailagh Murray and Anne Kornblut say so:
During Thursday's session, both sides expressed regret about the way the debate has unfolded. What started nearly a year ago as a good-faith effort to find broad agreement quickly devolved into a partisan grudge match, marred by favors to secure votes and deals cut by the White House and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill with special-interest groups. As several Republicans noted, most key decisions were reached behind closed doors, a breach of Obama's campaign pledge to make health-care negotiations transparent.
"Both of us during the campaign promised change in Washington," Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, said to Obama. "In fact, eight times you said that negotiations on health-care reform would be conducted with the C-SPAN cameras. I'm glad more than a year later that they are here."
No mention anywhere in the article of the Republican ideas that have been incorporated into reform legislation -- and certainly no mention of the fact that despite the incorporation of those ideas, no Republican has supported health care reform, or even indicated what it would take to win his or her vote. And no evidence that Republicans approached anything in "good faith."
"Fatal Attraction," the Washington version is playing on a television near you as Obama's bipartisan summit on healthcare approaches. Like a possessed, rejected maniac the president refuses to allow the idea of a massive restructuring of our healthcare system to fade.
You're just not that into his healthcare bill? Too bad. He won't be ignored.
Obama is hoping that by rebranding and reworking the old, rejected versions of the House and Senate bill into an even scarier narrative coupled with a televised meeting, the pressure will be so intense that he can kidnap the handful of Republican votes he needs to catapult this monstrosity over the finish line.
To get our attention, Democrats attempted legislative suicide. After laying low, they're back again, and like any prey dealing with a psycho, Republicans are nervous.
They understand that this is a carefully calculated public relations gimmick designed to force their hand. They know that if they don't show up, the images of empty chairs across the table from their caucus will be used, repeatedly, to paint them as unwilling to govern and to target them in campaign ads as obstructionists. Forget alerting the wife, the White House is going to out your bad behavior on C-SPAN. In other words: this is blackmail, Beltway style.
Like any concerned observer frightened for my friend's life, as well as my own, I urged Republicans to set some terms and not accept the invitation to the president's gathering unless he agreed to start over. Apparently, Mr. Obama was in favor of a second chance for the relationship and demonstrated his willingness by crafting a more expensive and politically explosive version of the first health care bill -- just on his own terms (so much for bipartisanship).
With each passing week that the president ignores jobs, choosing to focus on his obsession and an unprecedented legislative trick to stalk the public into a submitting to a relationship they don't want, the more he looks like a lunatic who has escaped the asylum, just waiting to surprise you outside your window, in the rain on your fire escape until you relent.
What has become evident to everyone except the Democratic leadership is that the American majority has no interest in a relationship so dysfunctional, so unstable, so completely unhealthy.
Obama has stumbled many times trying to get his way. Act Two of heath care reform might be his biggest mistake on the issue yet. In an effort to hit a button to reset the process, he might have hit the one that just blew it up. Like any good horror film, the element that's most despised just won't die. Let's hope we can finish health care off before anyone gets hurt.
Earlier this week, Media Matters' Christine Schwen detailed the virulent Muslim-bashing at CPAC's "Jihad: The Political Third Rail" event, co-hosted by Pamela Geller and featuring one speaker's assertion that "[r]ape is also a part of" Muslims' efforts to convert non-Muslims in Europe and that and that "[d]emocracy is being deliberately removed" from the European Union by "incorporating Muslim countries of North Africa and the Middle East in the European Union." (Not to mention Geller's own charming description of Umar Abdulmutallab as "the Christmas balls bomber.")
It's worth mentioning that Geller has been a columnist at Newsmax for the past several months, where she regularly spewed her anti-Muslim and anti-Obama venom. Newsmax, you may recall, has had some issues in recent months with columnists going a bit over the top -- advocating a military coup against Obama, calling for a allegedly figurative "tenting" of the White House to kill the "varmints" inside, etc. -- prompting some hasty column deletions.
We were going to ask if Geller's CPAC hate-fest was acceptable to Newsmax, but it seems that question has already been answered. The latest Geller column in the Newsmax archive is from February 10 -- which means it removed a February 16 column in which Geller smeared Obama as a "weakling," "jihad-enabling," and, finally, "President L-dopa" because "Obama is to American people what L-Dopa was to Oliver Sacks' patients." (Here's the Newsmax column in Google cache, and here's a version of it at Big Government, which apparently has no problem with Geller's vicious insults.)
Anyone familiar with Geller's long record of inflammatory comments could have seen this outcome as inevitable. The question is why Newsmax believed that such hatred deserved to be enshrined in a column on its website in the first place.
From Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce's website:
Never one to miss an opportunity to attack President Obama, the first lady, or health care reform on his radio show (not necessarily in that order), Rush Limbaugh managed to hit all three in the span of a few seconds today while mocking Obama's health care summit. Limbaugh, referring to Obama's anecdote about having to rush his daughters to the emergency room, stated:
LIMBAUGH: Any person in America, from the richest guy in the country to the cheapest, poorest illegal immigrant can do exactly the same thing Obama just described and that's go to the emergency room. And Tom Coburn made that point. Everybody gets treated in this country. That's not what we're here talking about. We're talking about fraud, waste -- we just need to get it out of there.
Now, why, since Obama just described this wonderful system where his two daughters -- two fat daughters, according to his wife -- his two fat daughters came down with some sort of a disease and had to rush them to the emergency room, why design a system that destroys the very best private health care that he says he's so thankful for?
Limbaugh cited no evidence that Michelle Obama -- who has made it a personal goal to raise awareness of, and combat, childhood obesity -- has ever once referred to her daughters as "fat." Obama did mention her children during an appearance on Fox News' Huckabee, where she talked about her impetus for starting the Let's Move campaign:
MICHELLE OBAMA: I come to this issue more so as a mom than a first lady and I shared my story before because this is really how I became aware of the issue just in my own kids. You know, life has changed for families a way that I can see: We're busier; we're less active; you know, our kids watch more TV; sometimes it's hard to get outside; drive-thru fast food is easier and cheaper; and as a result, you know, we're seeing the effects on our kids and I saw it on mine. And it was because of my pediatrician that just sort of waved a red flag, you know.
MIKE HUCKABEE: What did he say?
MICHELLE OBAMA: He said, you know, he monitored our kids' body mass index. He didn't just do it for our kids, but he did this throughout his practice because he was seeing obesity rates increase. It was in an urban African-American setting and he saw those trends, so he did it for all of his patients. And he just said, you know, it -- you know, this -- the trajectory isn't what it should be so you may want to think about doing something. And I didn't know what to do. So we just started making some really small changes in our diet: more water, less fruit juices, more vegetables, I cooked a little bit more -- you know, even though we still had to go out because we were busy -- made sure my kids weren't sitting in front of the TV -- no TV during the week. Little things like that.
HUCKABEE: No TV for your kids during the week?
MICHELLE OBAMA: During the week -- you know, just on the weekend, and now they have homework, so you know they're really busy. So with those minor changes, I saw the impact on my kids almost immediately. So when I got to this position, I thought, you know, families don't even know how modern day life has really changed the way our kids move and eat, and if I didn't know, you know, what about communities where people aren't even talking about this issue? So, I thought that this platform would give me an opportunity to shine a light, to give more information to parents, to talk about health of food in schools, to talk about access and affordability issues, so it is really personal for me.
She made similar comments during an event in late January where she talked about the concerns of her children's pediatrician, who she said "warned that he was concerned that something was getting off-balance" and "cautioned me that I had to take a look at my own children's BMI." The AP further reported:
Obama said parents often recognize that kids in general don't eat right and aren't exercising enough, but "we always think that only happens to someone else's kids, and I was in that position."
"Even though I wasn't exactly sure at that time what I was supposed to do with this information about my children's BMI, I knew that I had to do something," she said. "I had to lead our family to a different way."
The first lady said that over the next few months she made some small changes that got her daughters back on track. No more weekday TV. More attention to portion sizes. Low-fat milk. Water bottles in the lunch boxes. Grapes on the breakfast table. Apple slices at lunch. Colorful vegetables on the dinner table.
"It was really very minor stuff, but these small changes resulted in some really significant improvements, and I didn't know it would," Obama said. "It was so significant that the next time we visited our pediatrician, he was amazed. He looked over the girls' charts and he said, 'What on earth are you doing?' "
Did I miss the part where she called her daughters "fat"?