July 1, 2009

With Fiends Like These...

Hatched by Dafydd

Is the worm beginning to turn the tide?

AP breathlessly writes about President Barack H. Obama's health-care insurapalooza today in Virginia -- but look what they're saying! The tough-love starts with the headline: "Emotion, few details, in Obama's health care pitch"... and it only goes south from there:

  • "The health care changes that Obama called for Wednesday would reshape the nation's medical landscape. He says he wants to cover nearly 50 million uninsured Americans, to persuade doctors to stress quality over quantity of care, to squeeze billions of dollars from spending.

    "But details on exactly how to do those things were generally lacking in his hour-long town hall forum before a friendly, hand-picked audience in a Washington suburb."

  • "Some of Obama's questioners Wednesday were from friendly sources, including a member of the Service Employees International Union and a member of Health Care for America Now, which organized a Capitol Hill rally last week calling for an overhaul. White House aides selected other questions submitted by people on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

    "Republicans said the event was a political sham designed to help Obama, not to inform the public.

    "'Americans are already skeptical about the cost and adverse impact of the president's health care plans,' Republican National Committee spokesman Trevor Francis said. 'Stacking the audience and preselecting questions may make for a good TV, but it's the wrong way to engage in a meaningful discussion about reforming health care.'"

  • "'The biggest thing we can do to hold down costs is to change the incentives of a health care system that automatically equates expensive care with better care,' the president said. He said the formula system drives up costs 'but doesn't make you better.'

    Obama did not make specific recommendations for changing the incentive formulas."

  • "Obama said, however, that he is working with the American Medical Association to explore ways to reduce liability for doctors and hospitals 'when they've done nothing wrong.' He offered no specifics for a problem that has vexed the medical and legal industries for decades."
  • "Obama said a government-run 'single-payer' health care system works well in some countries. But it is not appropriate in the United States, he said, because so many people get insurance through their employers working with private companies.

    Still, he again called for a government-run 'public option' to compete with private insurers, a plan that many Republicans oppose."

Each of these points is factually correct, and one might argue that each is neutral; but they are not presented in a neutral way... and astonishingly enough, the spin is entirely anti-ObamaCare.

Even the last point presents the government option as a refutation of his pledge not to push a "single-payer" system, tacitly accepting the well-founded GOP warning that a subsidized and privileged government option will necessarily drive employers away from private plans for their employees, plans that are overtaxed, heavily regulated, and disfavored in a myriad other ways.

The Washington Post was nearly as bad; please pay close attention to the adjectives used in the opening of their story:

President Obama offered today a wonkish defense of his embattled health care reform effort during an hour-long town hall meeting in Annandale that featured seven questions, including one sent in via Twitter and several from a hand-picked audience of supporters.

As the president's health care bill struggles on Capitol Hill, the administration increasingly is seeking to pressure lawmakers with evidence of the public's desire to get something done as well as proof that the health care industry is a stakeholder in -- not an opponent of -- the effort.

The tone sometimes turns neutral, but never pro-Obama. And I nearly fell out of my chair reading this a few paragraphs later:

In the highly stage-managed event, questions for Obama came from a live audience selected by the White House and the college, and from Internet questions chosen by the administration's own new-media team.

Of the seven questions the president answered, four were selected by his own staff from people who submitted videos on the White House Web site or who responded to a request for "tweets" from the administration.

The president called randomly on three audience members. Each turned out to be members of groups with close ties to his administration: the SEIU union, Health Care for America Now, and Organizing for America, which is a part of the Democratic National Committee. White House officials said that was a coincidence.

Yeah, yeah, a "coincidence" -- that's the ticket!

If the president turns to the New York Times for succor, he will be disappointed. Here is a news commentary story on the global-warming bill just passed in the House; the story is written by John M. Broder, and it's found in the Politics section, not among the Op-Eds:

As the most ambitious energy and climate-change legislation ever introduced in Congress made its way to a floor vote last Friday, it grew fat with compromises, carve-outs, concessions and out-and-out gifts intended to win the votes of wavering lawmakers and the support of powerful industries.

The deal making continued right up until the final minutes, with the bill’s co-author Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, doling out billions of dollars in promises on the House floor to secure the final votes needed for passage.

The rest of the piece details some of these payoffs -- including a number that are sure to produce screams of anguish and rage from potential Obama supporters, including:

  • Utilities that operate coal-power plants will receive "tens of billions of dollars worth of free pollution permits," as well as "billions for work on technology to capture carbon-dioxide emissions from coal combustion to help meet future pollution targets." Broder notes that the deal was negotiated by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA, 84%), "a conservative Democrat from Virginia’s coal country;" that is the only concession to the Times' traditional animus against "conservatives." (When did someone who votes 84% liberal become a conservative Democrat?)
  • A billion dollars of pork for Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL, 33%) to distribute around Chicago.
  • "Democrats from Southeastern states" got a special deal: reducing the target for getting energy from renewable resources from 25% to 15%, "with states given the ability to reduce it further if they cannot meet the target."
  • More tens of billions of dollars in government goodies for refineries, rural energy co-ops, and a massive expansion of "carbon offsets" that can be sold by argibusiness -- as well as shifting their regulatory burden from the EPA to the "farmer-friendly Department of Agriculture."

I wonder if this change in the media weather has something to do with the Obamacle's sagging approval ratings? Today, Rasmussem Reports has the president's approval down to 54% positive, 45% negative -- which can hardly be called "sky high" anymore -- and with an approval index (percent strongly approving minus percent strongly disapproving) in negative territory, at —1% -- 32% strongly approve, 33% strongly disapprove.

CNN/Opinion Research notes that, although Obama's approval remains high at 61%...

"Since March, Obama's approval rating has gone down one percentage point each month in CNN polls," notes CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

If that continues for another year...

In the current ABC/Washington Post poll, Obama's approval advantage has dropped from 43 points in February to 34 points in June -- still high, but still shrinking.

Gallup still maintains the fiction that Obama's approval is 2-1 positive; but even they show his disapproval rating rising 20 points since he was inaugurated.

In any event, no matter what the reason, the antique news media have begun to wake from their Obamic torpor: They are finally starting to question the One about his supposed solutions, though they still give him a pass on his own litany of the problems he "inherited" from "the previous administration." (Watch for them to give Barack Obama the credit for winning the Iraq war, because the final pullout will occur on his watch.)

Huzzah. Now let's see some actual coverage of the many, varied, and far more American Republican alternatives to Obamunism.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 1, 2009, at the time of 4:59 PM

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The following hissed in response by: AD

The MSM are just reflecting the heartburn that they are detecting within the Dem caucus on Capitol Hill. These plans, and the spending, and taxes, and regulatory restrictions that go with them, are becoming unpopular within the President's own party; and, as more voters voice their displeasure to their elected representatives, the un-ease increases, and is transferred to the media for expression in the public square.
Plus, perhaps this is completely unrelated, Henry Waxman was admitted to a L.A. hospital today...too much stress?

The above hissed in response by: AD [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 1, 2009 8:27 PM

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