So I'm skimming my bookmarked sites for post ideas and on CongressMatters (which, if you don't read regularly, you should), David Waldman blogged about this ridiculously slanted article in today's Washington Post:
Sniping Among Liberals May Jeopardize Votes Needed to Pass Bill
By Ceci Connolly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Hmmmm....interesting spin. It's the liberals' fault. Not the obstructionist Republicans or centrist Democrats standing in the way of what the people want. Of course. It goes on:
Provided that the Democratic legislators in question were actually pressing for, you know, legislation that these constituencies actually agreed with and wanted to see passed. There's nothing "natural" about it, in the sense that support should be assumed or taken for granted. But that's the implication. I'm not the "natural" ally of anyone who insists that something supported by 76% of the population is really just some sort of "left-leaning" nonsense, and that we need to find "centrist" compromise with the other 24%.
But that's the underlying premise of the entire article, helped along by quotes from Democratic lawmakers and staffers who repeat the mantra, especially when it comes to the pressure being put on them (or rather, that they claim is not actually being put on them, because they all "ignore" ads and other "unhelpful" input from the grassroots).
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), for example:
"I do not think this is helpful. It doesn't move me one whit," she said. "They are spending a lot of money on something that is not productive."
That's a hell of a thing for a Member of Congress to say, don't you think? Spending a lot of money on something that is not productive? You don't say! At least it's private money, Senator. Gosh, sorry to bother you, Di!
Much of the sparring centers around whether to create a government-managed health insurance program that would compete with private insurers. Obama supports the concept, dubbed the "public option," but he has been vague on details. Left-of-center activists want a powerful entity with the ability to set prices for doctors and hospitals.
76% support for a public option. But only "left-of-center activists" want it.
When asking me about the Progressive Change Campaign Committee's TV ads (which begin airing Monday in DC) holding Senate Dems accountable for taking millions from insurance interests and being on the verge of opposing a public option supported by 76% of Americans, Connolly would ask me ridiculous questions like, "Why are you attacking your friends? Wouldn't you agree that these Democrats are better for you on most health care issues than Republicans?"
I had to patiently explain to her that the public option is the defining issue of the health care debate -- if Senators like Baucus and Nelson aren't with us on that, they are not our friends.
Connolly listened, and then chose to dismiss silly activists who are fighting for what 76% of Americans want:
Activists say they are simply pressing for quick delivery of "true health reform," but the intraparty rift runs the risk of alienating centrist Democrats who will be needed to pass a bill.
As if passing the bill is the goal, regardless of what's in it. Notice how she wrote "Activists say" for the side of an argument representing what 76% of Americans want and simply stated the other side as truth.
But just in case you weren't sure for whom Connolly was advocating:
Connolly then asked me why progressives were picking a political fight on the public option, as opposed to another issue. I guess the fact that it's the #1 domestic issue of the day -- one that affects millions of American families -- wasn't explanation enough.
I figured she was looking for a quote summarizing the political stakes, so I thought for a moment and said, "The public option has become a proxy for the question of whether Democrats will stand on principle and represent their constituents."
I was quite proud of that answer. It summarizes what a lot of people are feeling -- the public option is the "line in the sand" issue for Democrats, something Chris has written about here on OpenLeft several times.
Connolly's take on that quote:
Green, in an interview, was hard-pressed to articulate a substantive argument for the public plan but said that it "has become a proxy for the question of Democrats who stand on principle and represent their constituents."
WHAT? Connolly asked me a question on the politics, and when I gave her an answer on that, she said I didn't answer on the substance?