Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tomorrow's News as Old News

Headlines from the President's State of the Union speech have been leaking all week--a three-year spending freeze on domestic programs today following yesterday's package of tax credits for child care, caps on student loan payments and automatic retirement savings for employees.

After whatever revelation the White House is saving for tomorrow morning, by the time Barack Obama faces both houses of Congress in the evening, the only remaining suspense will be about his demeanor and delivery.

Even reactions are prematurely available as a John Boehner factotum derides the spending freeze with “Given Washington Democrats’ unprecedented spending binge, this is like announcing you’re going on a diet after winning a pie-eating contest.”

Before anything is said and done, the story is wrapped up and explicated for those who can confirm their predilections and prejudices by turning to CNBC or Fox News, the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times for "reporting" on what they knew all about before it happened.

In this speeded-up spin cycle, little wonder that Americans have grown accustomed to having strong opinions before they can possibly know what they are talking about.

The economic stimulus is a perfect example. With much of the $787 billion still undistributed and very little hard information about results available, Democrats and Republicans are equally confident that it is a success or failure, depending on their own perspective.

At this rate, both parties can go on vacation until next November, since the pundits have told them how the voters are going to react in the election nine months from now. After all, last week's vote in Massachusetts, which nobody foresaw until a few days before it happened, made it all very clear.

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