It is a new year and a new Congress, but the changing of the calendar has served only to usher in new controversy on a settled subject; health care reform. The Affordable Care Act, passed by majorities in both houses, consolidated into one measure according to congressional rules, and signed by the President, is under attack by revisionist conservatives. Lacking any real, democratic basis for repealing the measure, the conservative mainstream media revived the original law’s biggest boogieman; the Death Panel.
When you are talking or writing about America, it is customary to use superlatives. We are the “greatest nation” in the world. We have the “largest economy” in the world. We are protected by the “greatest military” in the world. Many writers could go on for paragraphs on these themes, but the basic point is as simple as our country is large. Yet when it comes to accurately reporting on issues facing our democracy, these same writers set aside the scale and focus on sticker shock.
The issues relating to the theft and release of millions of secret documents has dominated news cycles for months now. Should governments have secrets, what limits exist on freedom of the press, and what defines national security? I would argue that another issue, lying just below the surface, is fueling this story. Is the United States government ours, or is it somehow some outside entity bent on malevolent control? If this is still the government of we the people, then only a hypocrite would suggest it not be permitted secrecy. In fact, it is my argument that many who line up now to cheer the perpetrators of this theft are indeed hypocrites.
The headline on the New York Times top stories bar read, “Key GOP Senator Deals Blow To Obama On Arms Treaty”. The message, from a source often called a liberal bastion, is an old one; Republicans versus Obama and the Republicans win. This is the very same message screamed from the headlines and cable talk-fests for two years, regardless of which “bias” the given source is alleged to have. Turn on your TV now, or flip through the national pages of your local fish-wrap, and you will find all of your political reporting wrapped up into neat little packages of us versus them.