Americans Get President’s Message, Democrats Not So Much

briefing1At today’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs cited an NBC poll that shows that shows that only 45% of Americans currently believe in “Death Panels.” He cited this as evidence that the President has been effective in debunking myths about health care reform.

I would argue that 45% is an awfully large number to believe in a health care Sasquatch, but even granting that, the President’s effectiveness at combating myths is cold comfort if the Democrats in congress don’t get the message.  I asked Gibbs what happens to the next health care provision to become the subject of an urban legend:

TC:  On health care, you were talking about Chuck’s poll earlier, that — I mean, the good news that most Americans no longer believe in death panels. But the fact remains that Section 1233 was taken out of the House bill. So what can you do to reassure voters that the same fate won’t befall other provisions of the bill if some rumor like the death panels gets started about the public option?

MR. GIBBS: I don’t — I’m not following the thesis of your — the section that’s been pulled out.

TC:Section 1233 about the end-of-life care.

MR. GIBBS: It’s been?

TC: There was a report earlier this week that it’s been dropped.

MR. GIBBS: Well —

TC: Is that not true?

MR. GIBBS: This is in a Senate Finance Committee bill that nobody has seen? Look, what I’m saying is, I think the President is going out there and explaining what those provisions are and what they’re not — regardless of whether they’re in what section of what bill at what time, I think it’s something that the President has been focused on doing and correcting the record. I think it has more to do with a sustained dialogue in dealing with the misrepresentations as it has whether or not a provision may or may not have been dropped.

While I’m happy to credit the President with quelling some of the “death panel” nonsense, I would be more comforted if he could lend some of his, shall we say, fortitude to his panicky congressional standard-bearers.

Media Eager to Report Death of Public Option

forks

The big story this morning, aside from Mad Men and Michael Vick, is the death of the public health insurance option.  On  TV, on newspaper front pages, and on blogs, various stages of the public option’s demise are being reported.  The basis for all of this pessimistic reporting?  Statements, this weekend, by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the public option is not a deal-breaker.

Ex-sueeze me?  That’s the big news?  This is one of those questions that come up so often at White House briefings, we can all recite the answer like a well-dressed Rocky Horror audience.  “The President strongly supports a public health insurance option, but the main goal is to provide health care reform that results in quality, affordable care for every American.”  (throw toast at Gibbs)

The media has stood ready to stick a fork in the public option since this debate began.  Off the top of my head, there was this July report that Rahm Emanuel had “caved” on the public option by answering this very question.  That story was quickly walked back by the President later that day.

The White House’s strategy seems to have been to “rope-a-dope” on the public option, putting it out there and letting opponents punch themselves out at it.  In the end, the White House doesn’t need the Republicans, or many of the Blue Dogs, to push this through.  The question is whether or not they realize what’s at stake.

An even bigger question is, why is the media so ready to eulogize the public option?  While recent polls have reflected slipping support for health care reform as it is being debated, those same polls either show overwhelming support for the public option, or they simply don’t ask.

There are two obvious answers.  First, corporate influence over the mass media that drives news coverage is always a popular go-to bogeyman, and not necessarily in the tinfoil-y, paranoid sense.  A media culture that intersects so strongly with a corporate culture is bound to reflect those values disproportionately.

There’s also the voracious nature of the 24-hour, 1440-minute news cycle that grants outsized importance to mundanities and inanities, particularly in the entertainment-starved dog days.

The answer is a combination of the two, abetted by desperate and dishonest opponents of the public option and their squeaky wheels.  Look for the White House to spend the day, and the week, pushing back against this.

Keith Olbermann’s Heroic Healthcare Special Comment

Countdown’s Keith Olbermann returned in style last night, “firing” Richard Wolffe, breaking his Billo truce, and delivering a fiery Special Comment.  Watch the video first, if you haven’t seen it yet, and then I’ll tell you what I thought.


Continue reading

Exclusive Video: Tomorrow’s White House Lunch with Senate Democrats

At today’s White House Press Briefing, Robert Gibbs announced the following: (via email transcript)

MR. GIBBS: Just a couple of quick announcements before we get started…Senate Democrats will come down to the White House tomorrow and have lunch here with the President.

Q All of them?

MR. GIBBS: All of them.

Q Open press?

MR. GIBBS: Unclear.

Q But we’re all invited to the lunch?

MR. GIBBS: You didn’t get your invite?

Q Is beer being served? (Laughter.)

Q Why are they —

MR. GIBBS: To continue to talk about the priorities that they have, talk about what has been accomplished in the first six-and-a-half months of the administration, and to talk about our priorities.

Yeah, I’m sure there won’t be any particular topic.

In an unprecedented coup, Daily Dose has obtained video of Rahm Emanuel’s remarks at tomorrow’s luncheon.  Continue reading

Best Blue Dogs Headline Evah!

blue-dog

BLUE DOGS MAKE DEAL WITH DEMS

That’s HuffPo, making the distinction that should’ve been made long ago.

Fact Check: Republicans Have No Health Care Plan

While readers of this blog already know this, FactCheck.org provides confirmation that all the GOP has, right now, are a bunch of disingenuous talking points and lies. From Fact Check:

In the sunny wrap-up to the ad, the narrator describes “the Republican plan”: “If you like what you have, you can keep it,” he says. “Access to an affordable basic coverage.” But there is no plan around which Republicans have coalesced. Back in May, some GOP lawmakers offered a bill that would have cut the tax deduction that employers get for offering their employees health insurance plans, and given workers tax credits instead. But there’s been little talk of the bill since then. And Missouri Republican Rep. Roy Blunt was tapped to head a GOP health care task force in February, which was charged “with crafting Republican solutions to increase Americans’ access to quality, affordable health care,” but which so far has produced no plan and seems unlikely to do so.

Of course, Alex Castellanos’ RNC memo makes this abundantly clear.  When  I originally wrote about the memo, I declined to take on the individual, fake “policy ideas” in the memo because, well, they’re fake.  However, I’ve changed my mind.  Even though these ideas aren’t part of any GOP plan, you still deserve to know why they’re lousy. Continue reading

Embarrassed Blue Dogs Flustered by Sarah Palin’s Offer to Campaign

blue-dog

If I know my political media coverage at all, this is going to be played as an embarrassment for future former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, but I don’t see it that way.

Politico is reporting that, all over the Hill, congressional Blue Dogs are channeling their inner keyboard cat when asked about Palin’s offer to campaign with them:

Some of the members lunged for elevators, others moved to get into meetings (or at least behind closed doors), and a few just chuckled nervously and replied in a clipped fashion that reflected an immense desire to not discuss the topic at any length.

It should have been obvious to anyone that Palin’s offer was more about burnishing her “maverick” cred than any expectation that Democrats would take her up on it.  So the fact that Dems are hemming and hawing is no surprise.

The real embarrassment here is that these are Democrats being asked if they want Sarah Palin to campaign with them.  Given their recent attempts to eff up the healthcare bill by killing the public option,  maybe the idea that they’re being equated with the Thrilla from Wasilla will make them re-think what it means to be a Democrat.

Palin’s offer, on the other hand, may or may not have been politically wise (I think it was one of her rare good moves of late), it displays at least the appearance of something the Azure Lapdogs lack: stones.