Yesterday, I noted that former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, in his current gig as a columnist for the Washington Post, crossed the line between making an argument and arguing dishonestly. Today, another Bush-speechwriter-turned-Post-columnist, Michael Gerson, followed in Thiessen's footsteps.
a reconciliation strategy would both insult House and Senate Republicans and motivate them for future fights. The minority would not only be defeated on health reform but its rights would be permanently diminished -- a development that would certainly be turned against Democrats when they lose their majority.
But Gerson includes no explanation of how the use of reconciliation would "insult" Republicans, much less how it would cause the rights of the minority to be "permanently diminished."
This is because there can be no such explanation. See, reconciliation has been used in the past, by Democrats and by Republicans. It has been used for health care. It has been used for health care by Republicans to enact the agenda of a Republican president for whom Michael Gerson worked at the time.
Let me say that again: Reconciliation was used to enact changes to health care laws when Michael Gerson was writing speeches for President George W. Bush. For Gerson to now assert that using reconciliation to pass changes to health care laws would "insult" congressional Republicans and diminish their rights is simply not honest.
Following is a list of criticism of Democrats by Republicans that is included in the Washington Post's article about the GOP's strategy for tomorrow's health care summit:
And here are the Democratic responses to those criticisms the Post included:
Finally, here are the criticisms of Republicans by Democrats that the Post included:
Today's Washington Post flashes back to the mid-1990s with opinion pieces by Haley Barbour and Newt Gingrich:
Gingrich's piece attacks Democratic health care proposals -- no surprise there -- while identifying Gingrich as "the founder of the Center for Health Transformation." But the Post left out an important fact: the Center for Health Transformation is funded by insurance companies, as Media Matters has detailed:
Gingrich's Center for Health Transformation receives annual membership fees from insurance groups. According to the center's website, members pay tiered annual membership fees, providing varying degrees of "[a]ccess to Newt Gingrich on your company's strategy," among other benefits. Insurance groups UnitedHealth Group -- the parent of UnitedHealthcare -- and WellPoint Inc. are listed as "Charter" members; BlueCross BlueShield Association is listed as a "Platinum" member; and the industry's trade association, America's Health Insurance Plans, is listed as a "Premier" member.
UPDATE: in his column today, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz quotes Glenn Greenwald taking the New York Times to task for running an op-ed by Lara M. Dadkhah without disclosing that she works for Booz Allen, a defense contractor that could benefit from Dadkhah's policy proposals. What are the chances that tomorrow Kurtz will note the Washington Post's decision to run a piece by Newt Gingrich attacking Democratic health care reform proposals without noting that he runs an organization funded by insurance companies? One percent? Two? Remember, Kurtz insists he is as "aggressive" toward The Washington Post as he is towards news organizations -- like, say, the New York Times -- that don't pay his salary.
Here's the DC headline:
Presidential approval ratings dip to all-time low as Obama moves to sell health care
Well, that doesn't sound good for Obama. The Daily Caller's proof? Rasmussen (surprise!), and some survey that only polled Iowa independents. No joke:
A new poll from Iowa-based Selzer and Company shows that since November, Obama's approval rating among Iowa independents dropped sharply from 48 to 38 percent — reaching its lowest level yet.
Similarly, Rasmussen Reports' latest release of its nightly automated tracking poll yesterday showed that the number of people who "strongly approve" of the president's performance reached an all-time low of 22 percent, down from a high of 45 at the beginning of his presidency.
Conservatives, as well as mainstream journalists, love to push the idea that Obama's polling numbers are in the tank and that he's fading fast. (I think at this point Peggy Noonan dreams about Obama's supposedly dreadful approval rating.) It's all part of the preferred narrative that the presidency is slipping away from Obama, etc. etc.
But here's the truth about Obama's job approval ratings. If you look at Gallup, the polling gold standard, the president's approval rating has remained essentially unchanged since August. That's right, over the the past six months, Obama's poll numbers have not budged.
But that's not a tale the press wants to tell.
UPDATED: Right on cue comes Rush Limbaugh:
If Mr. Obama hasn't noticed, his approval numbers are in a free fall.
From the February 24 edition of NPR's Morning Edition:
From Michael Gerson's February 24 Washington Post column headlined: "Obama's health reform gamble raises questions of judgment":
On health-care reform, the strategy of President Obama and Democratic congressional leaders is psychologically understandable -- as well as delusional.
It is easy to imagine the internal dialogue: "Well, they voted for me, overwhelmingly. I didn't hide my views on this issue; I highlighted them. If they actually knew what was in the plan, they'd support it. If I don't believe in this, I don't believe in anything. Sometimes you just have to lead." But there is a problem with this reasoning: After a year of debate, Democratic leaders -- given every communications advantage and decisive control of every elected branch of government -- have not only lost legislative momentum, they have lost a national argument. Americans have taken every opportunity -- the town hall revolt, increasingly lopsided polling, a series of upset elections culminating in Massachusetts -- to shout their second thoughts. At this point, for Democratic leaders to insist on their current approach is to insist that Americans are not only misinformed but also dimwitted.
And the proposed form of this insistence -- enacting health reform through the quick, dirty shove of the reconciliation process -- would add coercion to arrogance. Majority Leader Harry Reid has declared that "everything is on the table" -- as though Senate Republicans and Democratic moderates were the domestic equivalents of Iran. This is the political context that Democratic leaders have set for their historically "transparent" health summit -- a threat as transparent as a horse's head in a senator's bed.
From a February 24 The Guardian article:
Rupert Murdoch's media giant News International could face a judicial inquiry after a highly critical parliamentary report today accuses senior executives at its top-selling newspaper of concealing the truth about the extent of illegal phone hacking by its journalists.
The 167-page report by a cross-party select committee is withering about the conduct of the News of the World, with one MP saying its crimes "went to the heart of the British establishment, in which police, military royals and government ministers were hacked on a near industrial scale".
MPs condemned the "collective amnesia" and "deliberate obfuscation" by NoW executives who gave evidence to them, and said it was inconceivable that only a few people at the paper knew about the practice.
On February 23, FOXNews.com posted an article about the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) under the headline "Gay Discrimination Bill Will Stifle Free Speech, Advance 'Homosexual Agenda,' Critics Say":
From Barone's February 24 Washington Examiner column:
It's an argument that has often been appealing to Europeans but that has always been unappealing to Americans. That's why these advocates segue to other arguments, like Barack Obama's assertion that the government can expand coverage and save money at the same time.
But voters quickly sniff out what this means. The government will use the "science" of comparative effectiveness research to achieve cost savings the only way government can: denial of care. The Soviet medical system kept down the heart disease caseload by placing cardiac care units on the fifth floor, walk up. Death panels, anyone?