Fear and Loathing

Observing the devolution and deterioration of the health care "debate" over the course of the last few weeks, it is becoming increasingly difficult to stifle a sense of amusement at what passes for political discourse and informed comment in the United States. Aside from the spectacles offered by the numerous protests at town hall events across the country, a new low may have been reached last Friday in commentaries for the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, which took up opposite sides in the dispute. I am referring, of course, to the dueling pieces by Peggy Noonan and Steven Pearlstein. Noonan takes it upon herself to speak on behalf of the protesters and opponents of health care reform:
The passions of the protesters, on the other hand, are not a surprise. They hired a man to represent them in Washington. They give him a big office, a huge staff and the power to tell people what to do. They give him a car and a driver, sometimes a security detail, and a special pin showing he’s a congressman. And all they ask in return is that he see to their interests and not terrify them too much. Really, that’s all people ask. Expectations are very low. What the protesters are saying is, “You are terrifying us.
Pearlstein, on the other hand, articulates the fears of liberal Democrats, when he writes:
The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they've given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They've become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.
Given that this is what passes for elite, mainstream, political opinion and commentary in the United States, it is mystifying to me that there are still people who consider themselves Republicans or Democrats in this country. I happened to read these two pieces one after the other, and did not cease laughing for quite some time. In fact, I'm still chuckling at this very moment. This is what "terrifies" Republicans and Democrats now? The prospect of health care reform and opposition to the prospect of health care reform? What is truly terrifying is the speed and consistency with which the hysterics and alarmists among us are capable of successfully hijacking virtually every issue of political concern, from the hyper-local to the trans-national, aided and abetted by the corporate media and a political ruling class composed of opportunists and demagogues.


James Carville said...

When one uses the term un-American, we think of McCarthyism, black lists and witch hunts. Here we are 60 years later and that word is being used again. It is an embarrassment for Arkansas that one of our senior elected leaders was the first in the country to use it. Although she apologized, Senator Blanche Lincoln will forever be remembered as the mother of the un-American movement. Unfortunately, the Arkansas State GOP is extremely incompetent. They have offered up no one in the last Congressional Race. They have 5 or more ready to run for US Senate, but no one for Governor or any of the other Federal Offices. Arkansas with a large number of independent voters will more than likely go for someone like Trevor Drown, the former Green Beret from Russellville. He has become the conservative voice of Arkansas while the rest stay in the dark ages. I can see a populist grass roots movement taking place across the country and Arkansas will be the starting point.

d.eris said...

JC, I would argue that this is nothing new, while the right is now being called "unamerican" for engaging in protest, just a few years ago it was the left that was called "anti-American" for engaging in protest. It is a standard duopoly language game. Btw: I just did a short post on Trevor Drown a few days back, see: Third Party Tea Party.