Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dumbed-Down Democracy

Watching Rep. Eric Cantor, the House Republican Chief Deputy Whip, on PBS’ News Hour last week was a depressing experience. He was debating Rahm Emanuel on the S-CHIP legislation and, with an infuriatingly smug smile, making Bush’s “philosophical” case for denying needy children health care.

Now here we are this week without enough votes to override the President’s heartless, brainless veto. Why? A USA Today/Gallup poll today shows how, in this age where You are Time’s Person of the Year, too many you’s are not motivated to get past slogans and charades on an issue that affects millions of children’s lives.

Although 49 percent have been following news about the bill “not too closely or at all,” 55 percent are concerned that “expanding this program would create an incentive for middle-class Americans to drop private health insurance for a public program.”

The Gallup people, by framing the question this way, are contributing to the confusion and their USA Today partners are still doing what mass media have been doing throughout the Bush years, letting the Administration set the specious terms for public debate.

Through the obfuscation, a solid majority of voters still manage to get the point and “have more confidence” in Democrats than Bush to handle the issue, by 52 to 32 percent, but with a President who listens only to himself, that won’t be enough.

Nancy Pelosi talks about fighting on, but the lack of enough public outrage will force Democrats to accept a defeat masked as a compromise.

If sanity in both parties can’t prevail on an issue this clear, we are in deeper trouble than any of the ’08 candidates is willing to admit.

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