I think the thing that blows my mind the most about the coverage of the Tea Parties pt. 2 is the fact that all the media outlets cover the protests, and all the crazy beyond off base stuff the protesters are saying, without comment. Why not use this opportunity to fact check what they, and Republican leaders, are saying? Why not talk about some of the stuff that is actually in the bill?
Since the text medium can’t convey this, I will preface that I mean this in a non-sarcastic, non-snarky way: Is there a bill; or several variations contending to be the bill? In either case, does anyone - who isn’t an author of the bill(s) or in closed-door negotiations - know what’s really in it/them?
A major advantage the protesters have is the Democrats have made the straw men for them, pushing an amorphous, unwieldy bill by peristalsis. The specifics/extent of the public option and the impact on private insurance are still unclear. The the tax burden funding it may expand beyond the rich. The CBO can’t make Obama’s numbers compute.
The Dems’ consensus counter-punches to Town Hall unrest seem to be 1) mocking vulnerable, ill-formed people who can’t connect the dots between Medicare and ObamaCare. (The mocking smacks of elitism to those same people.) And 2) calling Town Hall disturbances conspiracy. It may be, but until the YouTube mash-ups are posted showing the same 20 suits shouting down every town hall, I’m inclined to credit Peggy Noonan’s line: “you can’t get people to leave their homes and go to a meeting with a congressman (of all people) unless they are engaged to the point of passion.”
Maybe these obstructors are evil geniuses and pricks, but maybe they’re people who’ve already taken lumps in the recession. Despite agreeing healthcare needs some kind of systemic change, they’re satisfied with their health care. They misunderstood, or were misled about what they might lose (via taxes, hypothetical nationalization-creep under the public option, …)
Powerless and scared, feeling town hall meeting won’t be debates so much as sales-pitches, too reasonable to resort to riots, but deprived of electoral options off-cycle - they’re gumming up the works with incivility and letting every Blue-Dog know that if they back Obama/Pelosi here, they’re out on their asses in 2010.
In fact, Noonan may have the right script for Obama at this juncture:
The Democrats should not be attacking, they should be attempting to persuade, to argue for their case. After all, they have the big mic. Which is what the presidency is, the big mic.
And frankly they ought to think about backing off. The president should call in his troops and his Congress and announce a rethinking. There are too many different bills, they’re all a thousand pages long, no one has time to read them, no one knows what’s going to be in the final one, the public is agitated, the nation’s in crisis, the timing is wrong, we’ll turn to it again—but not now. We’ll take a little longer, ponder every aspect, and make clear every complication.
In the interim, they could stump for (further) patching of popular “socailized” programs - like Medicare, Social Security, S-CHIP; saving the major health push for when our eventual economic recovery has most Americans feeling flush again. It would also help if they have a clearer mandate as a starting point next time. This time around they started writing the book before the query letters.
Anyone interested in a spectacle? I’m jogging Hoboken’s Washington St in a shamelessly tight top!
Bring Gatorade in little cups.