Monday, March 22, 2010

You Ain't Seen Nothin' yet

So it has come to pass. I spend yesterday trying my best to avoid hearing, seeing, or reading anything about the imminent passage of the health care reform bill. And between Mass in the morning, a walk to the park in the afternoon to savor the lovely spring weather, and a hockey game at night, I was for the most part successful. Oh, I knew what was happening all right. There really wasn't any way to completely escape it. But I was able to put it out of sight and mind as much as possible. No reason to ruin a perfectly good Sunday.

My first reaction upon waking this morning with the dawning realization of what had transpired last night was to launch into a "Planet of the Apes" tirade:

By the way, a good spoof on what our health care future will look like would have the Taylor character discovering a MRI machine or perhaps the ruins of the Mayo Clinic jutting out of the sand.

Over the last ten years, the decline of the influence of the mainstream media has been obvious. Part of this decline has been brought about by technology, but part of it is also no doubt due to the MSM's dereliction of duty when it comes to reporting in a factual and objective manner what is really happening. This unwillingness or inability to communicate in a straightforward manner was again in evidence throughout the health care reform debate, particularly so as it reached its climax over the last week.

I can't even count how many times in recent days that I heard news stories about how the House Democrats were trying pass a health care reform bill in the face of "fierce opposition" from Republicans. This was narrative that was presented again and again, yet it was fundamentally not accurate. It wasn't House Republicans that Nancy Pelosi was bribing, threatening, and cajoling to get the bill passed, it was her fellow Democrats.

Most news reports also did not mention that poll after poll has shown that most Americans did not support this bill. A more accurate narrative might have been that Democrats were trying to pass a health care reform bill in the face of fierce opposition from the American people. Funny that wasn't the one they went with.

The media also paid scant attention to what really was going on with the critical debates about government funding for abortions, choosing instead to present it as "one side says this and one side says that and no one knows who's actually right." Or buying in to the notion that because a few nominally Catholic groups or individuals supported the bill, it was okay for Catholics to support it in spite of clear and consistent statements from Church authorities to the contrary.

The media was also complicit it pretty much blindly accepting the Obama Administration's claims about the costs and deficit impacts of the plan because they had the imprimatur of the CBO. Even today's WSJ had a front page story with a box showing how much the plan would reduce the deficit. "Where's the freakin' asterisk?," I wanted to scream when I saw that this morning.

The media's behavior in the health care reform battle is just the example of how far they've fallen. Reporters either cannot because of their own intellectual limitations or choose not because of their own ideological motivations to provide the full story. Some of it can also be explained by their attitude that most Americans are too stoopid to too apathetic to truly understand or care about how the sausage is being ground through the process. In reality, Americans did care and many did take the time to understand exactly what Congress was up to.

And that's why if Democrats think this is going to blow over in a few weeks now that the deed is done, they are sadly mistaken. I've never seen the level of anger, disbelief, and frustration with the powers that be and the processes that they used to get this bill passed that I see now. And it's not just the usual political junkies either. I know a lot of people who, except for a few weeks during a presidential election, typically aren't that interested in politics who are now paying attention. And they're pissed.

These people aren't necessarily Republicans or conservatives. While they might have some sympathy to their cause, they haven't showed up at Tea Party protests. Yet. They're what you would call your average Americans, usually more concerned with their church, their families, their jobs, their friends, and yes their fun, than what politicians in Washington, D.C. are doing. But this time is different. This time, they do care. This time, they have paid attention. And this time, they're not going to put up with attempts to return to "business as usual" in Congress and move on to the next agenda item. This time, when they say they're going to "throw the bums out" they mean it. That battle is over, the campaign has just begun.

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