As in [emphasis added]:
Congress may be gone for several weeks enjoying a winter holiday, but Republicans have vowed to keep up the pressure on Democrats who succeeded in getting their Senate health insurance overhaul bill passed before Christmas -- if just barely.
Final U.S. Senate vote for passage of health care reform: 60-39.
UPDATED: Some readers have suggested that the "just barely" above refers to Democrats getting health care legislation passed before Christmas, and not to the margin of the vote. And I think that's a fair point. But I continue to be struck by how so many journalists describe the final health care vote as being so suspenseful, "bitter" and "bruising".
But was it? Every GOP member of the senate opposed the bill and in the end 39 voted against it. i.e. Health care passed with what was approaching a 2/3 majority vote. That doesn't seem so "bruising" to me. Although I assume the GOP is happy the press describes it that way.
Due to the holidays, posting will be light for the next week and a half. Thank you for a great 2009 -- we'll see you next year. Happy Holidays.
The Post's Broder writes today that he's in awe of the health care reform legislation now being passed in Congress--and then spends most of his column condemning how the legislation is being passed. Indeed, Broder devotes just a few sentences to kinda/sorta explain to readers what's actually in the bill, and the rest of his (latest) Harry Reid-hating column explaining why the process was all wrong.
Broder concedes that with its historic passage, "the shame of this affluent society tolerating the denial of health care to its citizens will be largely lifted." But that's not what Broder's really passionate about. What he's really passionate about is the process. And according to Broder, and lots of other pundits, the Democratically-controlled process was all wrong.
Earlier this year when the Beltway chattering class attacked the process by which the Obama White House got its stimulus package passed, I noted this:
Traditionally, the standard the press used for judging a new president was: Could he get his initiatives passed? With Obama though, that's morphed into, can he get his initiatives passed in a certain way?
Broder's in "awe" that health care reform legislation is heading to the White House. So, of course, Broder writes an entire column hating on the process by which it was achieved.
Eighty advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred of white people." Here are his December 23 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
Fox News spent a good portion of today running wild with the GOP talking point that the Congressional Budget Office undermined its December 19 and 20 estimates that the Senate's health care reform bill would reduce deficits by $132 billion during the first 10 years, with continued deficit reductions in the ensuing decades.
For example, FoxNews.com advanced the Republican spin under the headline, "Senators cite new budget letter to argue health care bill will hike deficit."
Problem for Fox News: The Congressional Budget Office actually reaffirmed its support for its estimate. Sen. Max Baucus noted on the Senate floor that day that he had received an email from CBO standing behind the earlier figure and explicitly stating that the memo pushed by Republicans and Fox News did not alter the earlier estimate:
BAUCUS: CBO says, CBO and the staff at the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that the legislation would reduce the federal budget deficit by $132 billion during the ensuing period. Next, CBO expects the legislation will reduce federal budget deficits during the decade beyond 2019 relative to those projected under current law with a total effect during that decade in a broad range of one-quarter percent and one-half percent of GDP. Of course, we know that's about $650 billion to $1.3 trillion. That's CBO. Today.
From the front page of FoxNews.com at 7:04 pm ET:
Boy, David Weigel at the Washington Independent really nails this one, as he details the on-going absurdity of the media's decision to take seriously Palin's Facebook postings (which she may or may not even write herself), and to cover them as news. To not only cover them as news, but to allow Palin to also stiff journalists with her on-going refusal to submit herself to a single question from an actual political reporter.
Instead, Palin (or somebody working for Palin), posts something on Facebook, all Wizard of Oz-like, and the Beltway press dutifully types it up as news. Because hey, that's how the political press always treats losing VP candidates, right?
You have to give Palin credit (I guess), since she's managed to create a whole new media space for herself which allows her to stay in the news without ever have to answer a single reporter's question. Of course, I'm guessing if she were a prominent Democrat and uniformly stiffed the Beltway press corps like that, she'd get hammered. (How dare she?!) But instead, reporters dutifully pass along Palin's online postings and news and pretend it's not unusual that a high-profile Republican refuses to speak with reporters.
The media's indulgence of Palin's strategy — which often results in pure stenography of press releases that may or may not have been written by her — is ridiculous, bordering on pathetic.
Sometimes a headline says it all:
Pretty good distillation of WND's worldview, isn't it? The word gays in scare-quotes, the premise that "cooperating" with gay people is fundamentally inconsistent with being a conservative.
The article begins:
A viral alarm spreading among conservatives that the American Conservative Union is accepting homosexual sponsorship for its annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington is not the first indication that the organization is stepping away from its conservative foundations, based on an invitation from CPAC to WND a few months ago.
Oh, no! Not "homosexual sponsorship"! (WND describes the sponsor in question as "GOProud, which calls itself 'the only national organization for gay conservatives and their allies.'")
Interestingly, while WND is up in arms about a group of gay conservatives co-sponsoring CPAC, the article doesn't raise any concerns about another event co-sponsor: The John Birch Society.
Which isn't to say CPAC's "cooperation with 'gays'" is WND's only complaint. They're also miffed that CPAC doesn't seem to have much interest in allowing WND's Joseph Farah to peddle his Birther conspiracy theories at the event:
Joseph Farah, WND's chief executive officer and founder, said he received an invitation from CPAC's Lisa DePasquale for WND to be a cosponsor for the 2010 event, scheduled Feb. 18-20, and he responded with a brief private e-mail suggesting an interest in discussing the issue of President Obama's eligibility to hold office at the event.
"Never heard back from her - not even a polite acknowledgement of receipt of my e-mail," he said. "But months later she offered to an interviewer from the L.A. Times, among others, that CPAC 'turned me down.'"
So to sum up: WorldNetDaily thinks CPAC should exclude gays but include Birchers and Birthers.
When you get past Howard Kurtz's weird obsession with Tiger Woods, and his clumsy attempts to link Woods and President Obama, there's another problem with his piece today about Obama's race. Take a look:
I have no doubt that no matter how deep a hole Obama digs himself, African Americans, who are already the most loyal Democratic group, will remain his fiercest defenders. The latest Gallup tracking poll puts black support of the president at 90 percent -- just where it was after the inauguration. White support for Obama, by contrast, is at 42 percent.
See what Kurtz did there? He used white opinion as his baseline. In Kurtz's formulation, the fact that white support for Obama is at only 42 percent means that Obama has dug himself a hole. But African Americans support him anyway, despite his failings. White support for Obama, in this construct, is the impartial baseline against which Kurtz assesses Obama's "true" performance as president -- he has dug himself a hole. And since African American opinion of his performance doesn't reflect that "true" assessment, African Americans will fiercely defend Obama no matter what.
Later, Kurtz wrote:
[T]his is a striking formulation:
"The only thing I cannot do is, by law I can't pass laws that say I'm just helping black folks. I'm the president of the entire United States. What I can do is make sure that I am passing laws that help all people, particularly those who are most vulnerable and most in need. That, in turn, is going to help lift up the African American community."
In other words, Obama argues, good politics generally is good black politics as well.
Well, no. Obama is talking about policy, not politics. It isn't surprising that a Washington Post reporter would conflate the two, but it is disappointing.
Reporting on Sarah Palin's response to Politifact naming her claim that Democratic health care bills contain a "death panel" the 2009 "Lie of the Year," Politico's Ben Smith suggests that it's possible that this has all been a big misunderstanding:
She was talking about, she now says, the Medicare Advisory Board, in combination with forecasted declines in Medicare spending:
In the haze of confusion over this issue, some of Palin's defenders had equated her words with a measure, since dropped, to provide of end-of-life counseling.
Contrary to Smith's suggestion, back in September, when asked what Palin was referring to when she said that under reform, "Obama's 'death panel' " would "decide" whether her parents or her son Trig, who has Down syndrome, were "worthy of health care," Palin spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton responded in an email to ABC's Jake Tapper: "From HR3200 p. 425 see 'Advance Care Planning Consultation'."
That is, of course, the very provision serial health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey had referred to in claiming that the House health care reform bill would "absolutely require" end-of-life counseling for seniors "that will tell them how to end their life sooner." The media subsequently debunked McCaughey and Palin's claims more than 40 times.
Either Palin's own spokesperson was caught up in that same "haze of confusion"... or Palin is cynically changing her definitions in an attempt to preserve her credibility.
Oh, and the Medicare Advisory Board isn't a "death panel" either.
UPDATE: Smith responds, calling my argument "pretty convincing."