can we have a real health care debate with half the country
unrepresented? Ask David Gregory, because he certainly thinks nothing
of it. Yesterday on Meet the Press, Gregory devoted the top half of the
show to health care. Strangely, or not so strangely, not a single guest
agreed with the roughly 50 percent of Americans who agree with the
President’s plan for reform. Here’s a rundown.
First, David Axelrod. He’s become a regular, but only because the
White House makes him available for David Gregory to use as the
headliner. Axelrod’s a smart guy, but he’s really not adding to the
debate. He’ll never say anything that gives away President Obama’s
position or causes harm to the Administration and its goals. Hardly a
neutral commentator, but also one who says little of substance.
Next, Tom Brokaw. I really have nothing against Tom Brokaw, except
to say that as a “neutral” journalist, he’ll repeat whatever the common
wisdom of the day is so that he doesn’t get Dan Rather-ed out of a job.
His gem this Sunday? Telling the audience that over 50 percent of
Americans don’t understand proposed reforms, but he thinks it’s more
like 80 percent. Thanks, Tom.
Oh, Rudy Giuliani, the right’s favorite guy to love… unless
anyone else is running against him. Why do they keep booking this guy?
Easy. He’s a horribly failed presidential candidate, but one who will
repeat whatever GOP talking point is fed to him. Plus, he’s got a
penchant for going to the mat on statements that are widely known to be
factually incorrect. He loves malpractice reform, tax reform,
interstate insurance exchanges – all the stuff that has very little
empirical effect on health care, but work great as talking points.
Don’t forget Tom Friedman. This gadfly will sit on anyone’s panel
for the right price (and that price is *high*), but he’s usually just
out testing new slogans. After all, his entire career as an author and
speaker is built on finding pithy slogans and promoting the hell out of
them. Until he finds “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” of health care, we
won’t know what side he’s on, and he won’t either.
Harold Ford pops up now and again. His goal, and the DLC’s goal, is
to sound completely reasonable as they represent the corporatist wing
of the Democratic Party. So he wants to sound like a Democrat by
arguing with Rudy, but if you listen closely he quickly concedes on
malpractice reform. If he’d spoken any longer, he and Rudy’s pitches
would be nearly identical.
This is one of the greatest policy debates in a generation, yet our
media is unwilling or unable to facilitate a real discussion over the
ramifications of health care reform. Supporters of health care reform
and the public option need to step out of the shadows and demand to be
part of a real national debate. David Gregory isn’t the most egregious
offender, but he is one of the most visible ones. Where’s the debate,