Sunday, August 16, 2009

Political Pennance

Our quote of the day, from Bruce Bartlett, decribed in Wikipedia as "a domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan and a treasury official under President George H.W. Bush:"

I believe that political parties should do penance for their mistakes and just losing power is not enough. Part of that involves understanding why those mistakes were made and how to prevent them from happening again. Republicans, however, have done no penance. They just pretend that they did nothing wrong. But until they do penance they don't deserve any credibility and should be ignored until they do. That's what my attacks on Bush are all about. I want Republicans to admit they were wrong about him, accept blame for his mistakes, and take some meaningful action to keep them from happening again. Bush should be treated as a pariah, as Richard Nixon was for many years until he rebuilt his credibility by more or less coming clean about Watergate with David Frost and writing a number of thoughtful books.

One reason this isn't happening is because the media don't treat Republicans as if they are discredited. On the contrary, they often seem to be treated as if they have more credibility than the administration. Just look at the silly issue of death panels. The media should have laughed it out the window, ridiculed it or at least ignored it once it was determined that there was no basis to the charge. Instead, those making the most outlandish charges are treated with deference and respect, while those that actually have credibility on the subject are treated as equals at best and often with deep skepticism, as if they are the ones with an ax to grind.

I am truly baffled by this situation, as I'm sure you are.

I do not find this baffling, in the least. As I noted today in response to comments at our post, Canada's Medical Care Lottery, which highlighted outlandish, blatant distortions by Fox commentator Glen Beck about public medicare in Canada:

It may be that Beck represents only the fringe. The problem, however, is that Fox has provided quite a megaphone for these distortions, and the resulting need to refute them has dominated the narrative, in both the media and Congress, on health care reform.

That is no accident - rather, that is the game plan of Beck and the "protesters" on the right.

They are a tiny minority that don't have the numbers to win a vote. So they try to make enough noise to force the issues off the table altogether.

Do not underestimate this wing of the conservative movement. They are building momentum, and will be in power again at some point in the future. If Democrats do not fight back HARD (and they never do), that will probably be sooner than we think.

Sure enough, Democratic leaders were floating trial balloons today that signal an imminent capitulation on health care reform - for all the wrong reasons: White House willing to drop public option, say Sebelius and Gibbs.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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