Friday, February 19, 2010


Hack pollster Douglas Schoen on the Wall Street Journal editorial page today:

Speaking of health care, Mr. Obama must go back to square one....

What that means very simply is that the Democrats need to start over and embrace ideas that have broad-based support, like insurance reform, cost control, affordability, eliminating denials of insurance coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and electronic record-keeping.

The president is wrong to say that doing this will be seen as capitulation to the Republicans.

Excuse me -- what on that list hasn't been embraced by Democrats, however much the House and Senate bills may have watered some of the ideas down? How are any of the items on the list Republican ideas?

It should be obvious to everyone that a passage like this is at odds with objective reality, so obvious that Schoen couldn't possibly publish it. But that's the problem -- Obama, despite his mega-awesome speeches, is a godawful communicator, and so nobody knows the truth of what Democrats are proposing, or have proposed. You can criticize the Democratic proposals any way you choose and it's plausible. (And, in addition, nobody knows that these aren't wonderful, benign, suppressed Republican ideas. Nobody knows what the Republicans' ideas actually are, or what's wrong with them.)


Elsewhere in the op-ed, there's another stretcher: Schoen says that the victories that gave Democrats the White House and Congress "were a reaction against the Bush spending policies and paralysis in Washington." (Emphasis mine.)

I can't blame Obama for this shameless rewriting of history -- the notion that ordinary Americans are obsessed with deficit spending is rapidly becoming conventional wisdom, and Schoen is just giving it an extra retroactive twist. (In reality, Americans just think we should act in the simple way ordinary citizens act -- in tough times, tighten your belt. They'd forget about deficits instantly if we had a real recovery.) But if the White House and Congress were giving Americans hope some other way in the midst of this gloom, the conventional Beltway wisdom wouldn't be getting traction the way it is. And that's true not just about what Schoen writes, but also about the teabagger version of reality: it would be a hell of a lot harder to get a positive response railing about "socialism" if Americans really felt they were benefiting from "socialist" policies.

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