Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Editorial: Battle ends; war on health goes on

I'll try not to make too much of the unnamed Courier editor's headline fail here, although it's really hard to resist something so Freudian-slippish as "war on health goes on" from so dutiful a soldier in that cause. I'll even skip lightly over his reuse of the photo from yesterday that makes Speaker Pelosi look so bad. What we need to talk about, once again, is content and propaganda.

The editor tries to make it look like he's rising to the 50,000-foot level and standing above the grisly fray. What's he's really doing is reinforcing myths and unreasonable doubts to make political points.

The "unanswered questions" the editor alludes to are in the main well answered, but the reactionaries won't hear it. (This is not unlike to the inability among a small minority to accept that the president was born in the US.) He asserts that few in Congress have read the bill, which may be technically true, but the implication is that few "if any" understand it, which is certainly not true, and further that the language just dropped out of the sky from somewhere, rather than evolved in the fire of intense negotiation. And yes, there will be unintended consequences, but that's true of every piece of legislation ever passed. The editor's dark foreboding is just theatre, and you'll notice that he doesn't even try to back it up with a single fact.

The parliamentary "hurdles" the editor mentions were apparently only important to Fox News commentators, as the bill is expected to breeze through the Senate this week. The constitutional challenges being mounted by a small minority of state AGs ("aspiring governors," as I saw it put so well this morning) are political theatre as well, though given our Bush-packed Supreme Court, a few nuts might try with not unreasonable hope to get slavery declared constitutional again.

He waves the red flag of abortion, always good for a roar from a certain small constituency. That straw man has been knocked down so many times it should be in the same bin with the birther conspiracy.

"Polls showed a majority of Americans opposing the bill right up until Sunday night's vote," intones the editor. He was accurate about that until today, sort of, but not in support of his argument that the Dems are risking electoral losses for it, since the same polls he was reading found that 52% of respondents either supported the bill or favored something more liberal. Even that's moot today, as new polls are coming out showing even higher favorables, vindicating several pundits I heard weeks ago predicting that once the thing was in the bag, the majority would embrace it.

Finally, evoking the tea-party wingnuts protesting the bill as some sort of decisive political force while ignoring the many more who publicly gave thanks for its passage is just silly. The editor is looking for what he wants to see in the world, and seeing it. He's either trying to fool you, or fooling himself. This is absolutely not the sort of person that you want running any news outlet.

Health care reform: Legislation makes numerous changes

Joanna takes a stab at laying out what's in the bill, doing what a reporter should be doing. Then the editors come in and turn it into a political debate piece by running a sidebar with comments from McCain and Kirkpatrick.

They won't let it go, it all has to be about politics. This keeps voters confused and stirred up emotionally so they can't think with any clarity about what's actually happening. The photos are more than twice the size of the sidebar, top of page one: so what's the message?