Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Gallup tells us that Americans -- teabggers excepted, naturally -- want the debt supercommittee to play nice:

Americans Want New Debt Supercommittee to Compromise
Only Tea Party supporters take hard-line stance

Six in 10 Americans say members of the new bipartisan "supercommittee" mandated to find new ways of reducing the federal budget deficit should compromise, even if the agreement reached is one they personally disagree with. This includes a majority of Republicans, independents, and Democrats. A majority of Tea Party supporters, however, say the committee should hold out for a plan they agree with, even if no agreement is reached....

Americans told Gallup the same thing last month about the congressional negotiations:

Two-thirds of Americans would like government officials to agree to a compromise plan on the debt and budget deficit negotiations now underway. Fewer than 3 in 10 want lawmakers who share their views on the debt and budget deficit to hold out for their desired plan. A majority of Republicans, independents, and Democrats favor reaching a compromise....

But here's what I want to see polled: Do Americans know Democrats compromised, and how much? Do they know how little Republicans compromised?

Polls suggest that voters are noticeably more negative about the GOP now than they were before the debt negotiations became the main topic of news conversation in this country. That suggests that there's at least some awareness of who was most responsible for the brinkmanship.

But is that really the case? What percentage of Americans think Republicans were intransigent? And what percentage think Democrats were? Do Americans really know? And do either Democrats or members of the press think they have an obligation to make that Americans know?

What's appalling is that Tom Friedman doesn't seem to know. I'm going to ignore the main point of his column today, in which he imagines a joint appearance by President Obama and congressional leaders in which they all agree to give a little so we can attain ... the Simpson-Bowles "Grand Bargain." I'll just point out that in Friedman's fantasy, John Boehner says the following:

To my Tea Party colleagues, I say: thank you. Your passion helped spur the nation to action, but the country cannot be governed, and our future secured, by bowing solely to the passions of any single group -- liberal or conservative. I know that the Tea Party activists are true patriots and they will work with us as well.

But the Tea Party activists aren't true patriots and won't work with anyone except those who accept the tenets of the One Truth Tea Party Faith. Regardless of what Friedman's ideal is, what's truly dangerous about him is that he doesn't recognize this basic fact. On this, he's a low-information voter.

But I suspect there are a lot of such voters. I'd just like a measurement of how many there are.

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