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Yes, I watched. I don’t get CSPAN3 over the air, so at first I was pleased that the three major cable news networks were covering it until both CNN and MSNBC felt the need to interrupt the actual proceedings so their pathetic panels could tell me what I had seen and who was winning.
If ever there was case study on the abject failure of the American media to just cover an event and let it speak for itself, this was it. MSNBC kept cutting to commercials when Democrats were speaking, and gave us Pat Buchanan and Armstrong Williams(!) to provide their surly insight. CNN outdid them by bringing Ben Stein – yes, THAT Ben Stein – on. The apex of his punditlicious insight? That Republicans would pay for the Democrats’ health care plan because a higher percentage of Republicans pay taxes than Democrats.
He really said that.
But I digress. If there was one theme to the day, it was Obama (and most, but not all, of the Democrat’s attendees) focusing on how many of the basic concepts in their bill(s) are ones with which Republicans can (and have, in the past) agree, and that most (but not all) Republicans focused on how awful the various Democratic proposals were.
My sense was that Democrats talked more about policy and Republicans talked more about politics – they were the ones who warned against Democrats doing anything so silly as trying to pass a reconciled bill using a mere majority, and bringing up polls that demonstrated that their scare tactics on the subject had been successful – but, at the end of the day, there were no breakthroughs and no consensus achieved.
Which isn’t a surprise. During the event, I noted that the divide between Obama and GOP on health care was, in fact, very difficult to bridge, because Obama wants to fix the problem, and the Republicans don’t want him to.
If that isn’t abundantly clear by now to every sentient Democrat who has any sort of power in Washington, DC, then Democrats are, in fact, more clueless than I thought. (And, for the record, I think lots of them are fairly clueless.)
With luck, what yesterday did was piss off wavering Democrats enough that they’ll get health care reform over the finish line.
At some point, Democrats – all of them – have to ask themselves a question: What do I believe? Because polls asking people about health care reform are useless. 60% of this country can’t find Iraq on a map. 57% oppose the Democrats’ health reform plan, yet more than half support nearly every element within it.
I am not a fan of the Republican party, but I’ll give them this: they aren’t afflicted with crippling self doubt, and they don’t act like abused puppies whenever people say mean things about them. If they think something should be done, they do it. Usually, that winds up being a disaster for the rest of us, but still.
It would be nice if, just once, Democrats did the right thing because they knew it was right, without caring whether polls supported it. (Even though, with an educated electorate, polls DO support it.)
We’re all talked out. Do the right thing. As I said a month ago, pass the damned bill. And brag about it.