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How to make something controversial

People say the media is more viscerally sympathetic to Democrats than Republicans. But working in the other direction is the fact that Republicans understand the media much better than Democrats do. Take the reconciliation process. The media is giving blanket coverage to this "controversial" procedure being used by the Democrats. But using reconciliation for a few fixes and tweaks isn't controversial historically, and it's not controversial procedurally. It's only controversial because Republicans are saying it is. Which is good enough, as it turns out. In our political system, if Democrats and Republicans are yelling at each other over something, then for the media, that is, by definition, controversy. This is something Democrats did not understand when George W. Bush was in power.

The Senate reconciliation vote occurred on May 23, 2003. In the month of May, only one New York Times article so much as mentioned the use of reconciliation for the tax cuts -- a May 13, 2003, article that devoted a few paragraphs to wrangling over whether Senate Republicans could assign the bill number they wanted (S.2) to a bill approved via reconciliation. The Times also used the word "reconciliation" in a May 9, 2003, editorial, but gave no indication whatsoever of what it meant.

And that's more attention than most news outlets gave to the use of reconciliation that month. The Washington Post didn't run a single article, column, editorial, or letter to the editor that used the words "reconciliation" and "senate." Not one. USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and the Associated Press were similarly silent.

Cable news didn't care, either. CNN ran a quote by Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley about the substance of the tax cuts in which he used the word "reconciliation" in passing -- but that was it. Fox News aired two interviews in which Republican members of Congress referred to the reconciliation process in order to explain why the tax cuts would be temporary, but neither they nor the reporters interviewing them treated reconciliation as a controversial tactic.

And ABC, CBS, NBC? Nothing, nothing, nothing.

And why was there nothing? Because Democrats weren't complaining. The tax cuts might have been controversial, but they weren't creative enough to polarize the procedure the Bush administration was using to pass them.

But some of the credit for that has to go to the Bush administration, which took seriously the need to institutionalize reconciliation when they were strong and popular rather than weakened. When Bush came into office, he used reconciliation for his first tax cuts. That was a sharp break with precedent: Reconciliation had never been used to increase the deficit, and the process was so poorly suited to the purpose that the Bush administration had to let all of them sunset after 10 years. It was a bizarre, bizarre bill. But by using it for his popular first round of tax cuts, Bush normalized it such that Democrats couldn't really complain when he used it for his much more controversial second round of tax cuts.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 5, 2010; 9:53 AM ET
 
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Comments

"People say the media is more viscerally sympathetic to Democrats than Republicans."

Actually, I think it is the other way around. The media is more "sympathetic" to Republicans because more people in the media are "left-leaning." So, to provide "balance" they present the Republican talking points or media spin as "starting point," forcing the Democrats to defend what should be the non-controversial position as now controversial.

Look simply at the talking points on health care you will see the media absorbing the Republican message. Not solely because Republicans spin the media more effectively, but because the media needs to look like they're giving their ideological enemy the benefit of the doubt.

The media is far more likely to be hypercritical of liberals, even though they are more likely to be liberal themselves.

Ask yourself, how many of the Republican talking points -- even though they are demonstrably false -- are part of the healthcare discussion? (I think the answer is "all of them. All of the ones that are put in front of me.")

Posted by: jade_7243 | March 5, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

You are forgetting about the personal responsibility and participation of rank-and-file Republican voters in all of this, who obediently do what they're told when they're told to believe something is "controversial" which, shockingly, they never got very agitated about before.

Orrin Hatch's ravings against reconciliation would be considered the ramblings of a lone nut were it not for the active participation of not only the media but rank-and-file Republicans willing to believe and repeat this stuff.

Posted by: constans | March 5, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

"But working in the other direction is the fact that Republicans understand the media much better than Democrats do."

I think this may be true, now. I don't think it was always true. And, to some degree, I think it demonstrates a problem with having a sympathetic media.

If the media is generally left-of-center (and I think it certainly has been), you don't have to work to spin it. You don't have to understand it, particularly. They agree, they'll do what you want, so cool.

When the opposition finds a way to start pushing the buttons and making a media that ostensibly leans against them actually work in their favor, the folks who always took media sympathy for granted are left discombobulated. The liberally sympathetic media is working overtime to get Republican talking points out. How did that happen?

@constans: "You are forgetting about the personal responsibility and participation of rank-and-file Republican voters in all of this"

What if you're a rank-and-file Republican voter and aren't agitated by the idea of the Democrats using reconciliation at all, and think the Republicans are being disingenuous in attempting to make reconciliation controversial?

I'm still going to vote against the Democrats, so what difference does it make if I agree that the Republicans are essentially lying about the process on this particular bill?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 5, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

The media is clearly right of center.

That's why, for example, supply-side economics theories are the ones most often pushed, or why anti-science voices are given more than equal weight to climate change scientists, or why Swift Boat scumbags are allowed to romp at will.

The media helped Bush lie his way into Iraq, helped the GOP spread the Death Panel and tea bagger hysteria.

On my local TV news shows, they constantly inform people how to join the tea baggers or their protests, or how to find websites to protest tax hikes or liberal polices. I have never seen a TV news show inform liberals how to do these things.

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 5, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

@Lomillialor: "That's why, for example, supply-side economics theories are the ones most often pushed, or why anti-science voices are given more than equal weight to climate change scientists, or why Swift Boat scumbags are allowed to romp at will."

On MSNBC? On CNN? On ABC? On NBC? On CBS? Really?

Or are you confining your complaints to Fox News and local media outlets?

Certainly, if you're talking about MSNBC or NBC or ABC (or, heck, print periodicals like The Washington Post) then what you're calling "right of center" simply means "not far enough left for you, personally".

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 5, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Uh, yeah... not sure that's the best comparison. I think the Dems didn't make a fuss about reconciliation in 2003 because they didn't want to do wall-to-wall media about how much they didn't want to cut Americans' taxes. General media ineptitude probably never got a chance to come into it.

Posted by: roquelaure_79 | March 5, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

"Republicans understand the media much better than Democrats do"

Any theory that relies for its validity on the notion that one party is dumber than the other party in some obvious and easily fixable way is nonsense.

Posted by: ostap666 | March 5, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

*I think this may be true, now. I don't think it was always true.*

Kevin, you aren't that much older than 40. Your entire adult life has been spent watching Republican talking points "flood the zone" in the public media.

*what difference does it make if I agree that the Republicans are essentially lying about the process on this particular bill?*

I don't know you, nor do I care about you, personally. In general, though, a hypothetical Republican who does not personally mindlessly repeat those talking points is one that one can, at least, discuss the issue with which is the point of these comment sections. That does not apply to most, though, especially ones that you are likely to see in blogs. More likely we have the willing participation of rank and file republicans who never worried about reconciliation screeching or typing in all caps about how this is a nuclear option and the greatest threat to human freedom ever.

When it comes to the problem with rank-and-file Republicans, I tend to agree with the Republican National Committee's take on them: they are motivate by fear, desperate for ego stroking, and react well to name-calling, and the problem with Ezra's analysis is that it leave out the willing and ready participation by the rank-and-file in this willfully dishonest enterprise.

Posted by: constans | March 5, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Kevin_Willis: If you think the Washington Post is a lefty paper, you can't be reading it very attentively.

Posted by: thehersch | March 5, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Ah, the media. Remember when 65,000 tea baggers marched on the capital and the media gave it huge coverage. They even claimed the 65,000 were actually 2 million.

Now think back to all the coverage of the antiwar protests of 2002 and 2003. Millions of people protested, and not just in America. The media, even MSNBC, hardly covered it at all.

Now this example is a mixed blessing in that both sets of protesters are deeply embarrassing. The left wing anti war people with their giant puppets and poor hygiene turn off those of us that are left of center yet not far-left. And the tea-baggers with their racist, silly, misspelled signs are probably embarrassing to right of center people.

That said, at least the anti-war protesters had some idea what they were protesting and it would have been nice if the media had said something. The tea baggers were insisting that the government stay out of Medicare and complaining that the government had raised their taxes, even though the opposite was true.

Posted by: nisleib | March 5, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I think the health care bill is controversial, so anything that happens with it is getting blown up. I never felt true outrage at government until I saw a 60 minutes piece on Medicare Part D. I remember being upset when it passed, because of the failure to include the ability to negotiate prices for the plan. However, when it came out that we were lied to about the costs, that people lost their jobs because they tried to publicize the real costs, and the sheer number of congressional staffers and members that took jobs in pharma directly or as lobbyists, I completely lost faith in the system to function. I now see a plan that is entrenching the current system even further, making it harder to replace it with something functional, and making me worry every day about the negative effects of this on my personal health, the availability of care for my family, the cost of care for everyone else. So, yeah, just like all the threats, bribes, and nonsense that were used to push Medicare part D on us, let us all bear witness to the sick process which is being used to ensure that it's going to be even more difficult for us to afford to be sick in the future.

Posted by: staticvars | March 5, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

@thehersch: "Kevin_Willis: If you think the Washington Post is a lefty paper, you can't be reading it very attentively."

Well, I don't read it attentively. I draw my conclusions based on a handful of articles I've read, and the columnists whose work out of the paper I may be more familiar with. So perhaps it's a right wing rag. However, it's also important to be clear: "lefty" and "left-of-center" are not the same thing. It might be 10° left-of-center and if most of the commenters here are between 20° and 50° left-of-center, they'd think I'd be smoking crack to call The WaPo liberal-leaning. There are some conservatives who think calling Fox News right-leaning is a joke. But there's a big difference between left-of-center news networks and periodicals and the extreme left.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 5, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Yes Kevin

On those channels, the things I said were and are clearly true.

A careful reading of my post will reveal I did not suggest that there weren't progressive hosts or biases on certain shows, only that certain philosophies dominate (even on MSNBC and CNN and NYTimes and WashPost).

The actual NBC newsroom, for example, pushes supply-side economics as the norm. They also parade anti-science NUTS who have no climate science education and tout them as experts. They also broadcast interviews of pro-Iraq generals and other pro-Iraq war voices.

NYTimes and WashPost pushes anti-science opinions and helped Bush with the Iraq War runoff.

Even our beloved Ezra started this post by saying "People say" the media is biased towards liberals, He didn't say "Republicans say...." You see how that works?

Guess what? Almost all media outlets are owned by wealthy conservatives. 98% of talk radio is dominated by conservative owners.

MSNBC is not an equal foil to Fox News. Morning Joe and the main NBC newsroom is conservative.

CNN is constantly pandering to tea baggers with their broken gvmt mantras.

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 5, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"So perhaps it's a right wing rag."

Bingo!

Posted by: thehersch | March 5, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

@constans: "Kevin, you aren't that much older than 40. Your entire adult life has been spent watching Republican talking points "flood the zone" in the public media."

While it is true that I'm a mere 40 years old, my entire adult life has not been spent watching Republican talking points "flood the zone", but I take your point.

"I don't know you, nor do I care about you, personally."

Constans, I'm hurt. I care about you.

"tend to agree with the Republican National Committee's take on them: they are motivate by fear, desperate for ego stroking, and react well to name-calling"

So, assuming you are correct, what's the solution? Other than making some people feel better about themselves by comparison, what good does it do placing that particular bit of blame? Unless the idea is that the Democrats should start doing more fear-based ego-stroking and name calling.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 5, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

@Lomillialor: "Even our beloved Ezra started this post by saying 'People say' the media is biased towards liberals, He didn't say 'Republicans say....' You see how that works?"

Oh, my. Even Ezra is Republican shill.

This is the sort of issue I think it's impossible to reach any kind of agreement on if you're on ideologically opposite ends of the spectrum.

If you think a conservative philosophy dominates MSNBC, I can only assume that, because it's not actively touting the utopian benefits of Communism, it's "conservative".

It's a point where we aren't going to agree (and most people on the left and right will not agree on media bias) because our perspective must, at some point, distort our judgement, and the distortion cannot be all on one side. Given that I've seen conservatives constantly complain about the liberal media, and liberals constantly complain about the conservative (or pro-Republican media), I suspect the truth may be somewhere in the middle. But I would think that way, being a Republican, after all.

Is there any outlet, at all, that you believe shows no conservative bias? Is it even possible for an outlet to show a liberal bias? Or is there just an objective truth progressively tainted by more and more untruth (i.e., conservative bias)?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 5, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

There are few entrenched ideas that are as self-evidently false as the suggestion that MSNBC is a left wing version of FOX. As has often been the case in our country's history it takes a comedian (Jon Stewart) to break through the chattering idiot masses and point out the obvious - there is no clear separation of opinion and fact on FOX. Whatever you think of Maddow, Olbermann, etc., they are clearly defined as opinion programming. Same with Beck and O'Reilly. What you do not see on MSNBC are the news anchors casually injecting party opinions into what is supposed to be unbiased news coverage. That is a major point of difference and it's why FOX can not and should not be considered a news outlet in the traditional sense.

And for the Republicans reading this who are already replying that the mainstream media is liberally biased, save your energy. It may have been decades ago, but the only media bias for at least a dozen years now has been in favor of slack-jawed incompetence and a complete abandonment of the profession's ideals.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | March 5, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

So what are you suggesting, Ezra? That Democrats should have used the budget reconcilliation process to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in order to circumvent the likes of Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, Evan Bayh, and others? Do you think such a package could have got the votes of Mark Begich, Michael Bennet, Robert Byrd, Tom Carper, Russ Feingold, Kay Hagan, Tim Johnson, Blanche Lincoln, Claire McCaskill, Mark Pryor, Jeanne Shaheen, Mark Warner, Jim Webb, if the stimulus bill were bigger and went through the budget reconcilliation process?

And you well know that the community rating, the minimum benefits package, the Exchange, and many other core health care reform items could never have survived the budget reconcilliation process. You also know well that budget reconcilliation is only allowed once a year.

I'm not saying the budget reconcilliation shouldn't be used to fix part of health care reform or pass the stimulus. It should be. It's just much more complicated than you're making it out to be.

Posted by: moronjim | March 5, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

"If you think a conservative philosophy dominates MSNBC, I can only assume that, because it's not actively touting the utopian benefits of Communism, it's "conservative".

You see Kevin, you do delve into wingnut, eyes-bulging theories after all.

You constantly put words in my mouth and fail to address specifics.

I was quite clear that certain conservative philosophies dominate almost ALL networks, including NBC. Supply-side economics, anti-science climate voices, Swift boaters, tea-baggers, all are issues that are allowed to run free on all networks, including NBC.

It is obvious that the media is corporate biased, not Democratic or Republican. Media contributions history proves the media contributes most to the candidates most likely to win a given election. Pew Research Center studies also show the perceived losing candidates will recieve more negative stories.

So stop pretending I said Ezra is a Republican shill, because I didn't say that.

Stop, saying I said MSNBC is a conservative outlet, because I didn't say that.

blah blah blah

Read more carefully and think before you respond.

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 5, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Kevin, what I think Ezra is not really touching on the fact that the choice between the parties is a choice between to behavioral/moral points of view. I think it is clear that the Republicans and their follows have specific behavioral/intellectual differences at work here, and I think we get a taste of that from FastEddie on a regular basis. It is fine to point out that Republicans have a knack for manipulating the media narrative in dishonest ways. There is less talk about how they actively get rank-and-file Republicans to participate in their dishonest charades.

*If you think a conservative philosophy dominates MSNBC, I can only assume that, because it's not actively touting the utopian benefits of Communism, it's "conservative".*

That is a nice retort which I suppose sounds nice to you. It's also a common retort repeated by many Republicans when taken to task for their "false equivalence" statements about MSNBC, compared to Fox News. Several hours in the morning dedicated to a roundtable of conservative commentators led by a former Republican congressmen might seem "liberal" to you because you are personally invested in a narrative in which you believe that MSNBC is "leftist." But you are right-- your judgment is distorted. And interesting question is why the Republican rank and file general accepts and enjoys participating in the active distortion of their own judgment to fall in line with the active propaganda campaigns taken by the party. Does it make you feel better? Does it make you feel like you're participating in something "greater than yourself," filling a void left by not having a fulfilling career or not being particularly relgious or getting much spiritual satisfaction out of your faith? What is it? It isn't *just* the media-- the Republican rank-and-file actively participated in these dishonest enterprises.

Posted by: constans | March 5, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I actually just read an article on the Huffington Post the other day by linguist George Lakoff explaining why it is that Republicans and conservative thoughts have dominated the media through language. Very interesting read.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-lakoff/a-good-week-for-science_b_470500.html

Posted by: kmaye012 | March 5, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,

If you want to kill a snake, you don't poke at it with sticks in 25 different places -- you chop off its head.

So you need an overarching case against the tax cuts. Substance matters far more than process. Would Democrats have voted differently on the 2003 Bush tax cuts (capital gains, dividends, etc.) had they been done through regular order? At the end of the day, Democrats have to make the core case that there the Republicans go again believing that tax cuts solve all the world's problems -- from a major economic downturn to a massive budget surplus from an overheating economy to declining Sunday school attendance to the massive breakout of teenage acne.

Posted by: moronjim | March 5, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Quick reality check on the "liberal" WaPO

Featured on todays opinion page:
THIESSEN-Bush speechwriter
Gerson-Bush speechwriter
Krauthammer-right wing reactionary pundit
Editor-Hiatt-tax cutting, war mongering, Bush apologist
And let's not forget
George "climate change denying" Will

Just a random day on the Fox on 15th st.

Posted by: srw3 | March 5, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Kevin

Crap like this is why I am no longer a Republican

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-03-04/billboards-of-hate/?cid=hp:mainpromo2

I've personally seen billboards similar to this in my local area of central florida.

I've seen reprehensible Swiftboat scumbags being paraded on the networks.

I've debated 100s of wingnut Republicans and seen how they shy from the facts and avoid the hard realities of the damage their policies have wrought.

Dems have lunatics too, and lie, but the scale is vastly different. I'd prefer a third party, but the fact is any party with humans will attract its share of crazies. The GOP though RELIES on the crazies and the racists and tax-haters and the swiftboaters and the jingoists. NO THANKS.

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 5, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

You make some excellent points. Of course, the main reason for this imbalance is that the Democratic strategists are generally either castrated imbeciles, or long-time Fox News correspondents. Each of them needs to be put on a rocket ship, and shot into space.

Posted by: antontuffnell | March 5, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

When healthcare reform passes, the Repubs will drop the whole "nuclear reconciliation" meme like a hot potato. There is no way they can ride that issue into the next election. If the Dems have any sense they will structure the financial reform so that it, too, won't get Repub votes, and then part of it will have to be passed by reconciliation. Make the Republicans stand as close to the bankers as possible, without them actually sharing their underwear.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | March 5, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein:
Has it occurred to you that the reason Dems did not scream about reconciliation in 2003 is because that would have cast them as insisting upon the filibuster-overriding supermajority for A TEMPORARY TAX CUT -- something a majority of the public tends to favor. The Democrats right now are using reconciliation to pass the most sweeping expansion of federal interference in the private economy, well, ever -- and it has been roundly rejected by more than 60 percent of the public in every poll in the last eight months. Oh, and they aren't really using it to pass that bill, which the Senate already passed; they are using it to entice and pressure House members of their own party into committing political hari-kari by passing it in their chamber, eight months before an election, despite the fact that their leadership's zeal for this enterprise has already cost the party the seat of its elder statesman in the bluest state in the nation (with the possible exception of California, if you only count districts less than 20 miles from the Pacific). If you think that a ginned-up controversy designed to obstruct tax cuts would have been a political winner for Dems in 2003, you have bigger problems than an inability to "uderstand the media" as well as Republicans do.

Posted by: reheiler | March 5, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

@kmaye012:

I read a Lakoff article posted on "Truth Out". Not sure if they're identical, but I found the science fascinating and it has really affected the way I see/hear Repubs and Dems, from politicians to blog commenters. Have you experienced that change in perception?

I second Kmaye's suggestion to read the Lakoff article. Here's another link to the one I read as well:

http://www.truthout.org/obama-tea-parties-and-battle-our-brains57089

Really interesting read.

Posted by: onewing1 | March 5, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Let us not forget former Presidential candidate and Vietnam veteran John Kerry's admonition of reconciliation in 2005:

"This is a 'nuclear option' on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge," Kerry said at the time. "They do not like the rules; change them. This does not belong in the budget. It belongs in a debate on the energy policy of the United States."

Sounds pretty controversial to me.

Posted by: JackIL08 | March 5, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Nor can we forget our old friend candidate Obama:

"You can't deliver on health care. We're not going to pass universal health care with a 50-plus-one strategy. We're not going to have a serious bold energy policy of the sort that I proposed yesterday unless you build a working majority."

Times sure do change.

Posted by: JackIL08 | March 5, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

@Lomillialor: "You see Kevin, you do delve into wingnut, eyes-bulging theories after all."

Oops, you've got me. Frothing at the mouth wingnut, that's me. Ouch.

"So stop pretending I said Ezra is a Republican shill, because I didn't say that."

I didn't say that, I just followed out your statements to their logical implication given the information your provided. Now that you clarified, with additional information, what you actually meant but did not say previous is better understood.

That being said, I wasn't "pretending" anything. You hadn't made yourself clear.

"Read more carefully and think before you respond."

I'll do my best, but I was responding to the information you initially provided. I think you're confusing "reading" with "mind-reading".

"Crap like this is why I am no longer a Republican"

Fair enough, and I completely understand. I feel the same way about why I am no longer a liberal--although since that change happened about 20 years ago, it feels really weird to refer to myself as "no longer a liberal".

That being said, if you found out that the people who did such stupid things used the same brand of toothpaste you did, would you switch? If you found out they drove the same kind of car, or that you both belonged to the Rotary, would you change?

If you saw a Republican working in a soup kitchen and then donating blood (it happens--I know for a fact it does) , would you then feel compelled to become a Republican?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 5, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

@JackIL08:

Times certainly have changed ... Obama has (hopefully) FINALLY learned that building a working majority isn't possible when the minority is unwilling to participate and is hell-bent on nothing but your demise.

Posted by: onewing1 | March 5, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

@constans: "Several hours in the morning dedicated to a roundtable of conservative commentators led by a former Republican congressmen might seem 'liberal' to you because you are personally invested in a narrative in which you believe that MSNBC is 'leftist.'"

Left-of-center. I'm personally invested in the narrative that MSNBC is "left-of-center". I've known leftists and have consumed my share of leftist materials, and there is no cable news network that I would describe as leftist. And I went to pains to make that distinction.

But, as you note, my judgement is probably distorted. So I have to consider that in my assessment of MSNBC vs. Fox, and that was my point, not to make the case that MSNBC is transparently left-of-center to anyone not invested in a narrative of universally corporatist or conservative media. :)

"It isn't *just* the media-- the Republican rank-and-file actively participated in these dishonest enterprises."

Fair enough. So, why can't the Democrats make a better case against transparent falsehoods and political manipulations? Why can't they turn the duplicity of the Republicans--elected and rank-and-file--against them? How come they can show so few people the light?

And, my central question goes back accepting the assertion that the rank-and-file Republicans are all complicit in a web of lies and deception. We agree, for the sake of argument, that's a given. Then what do you do? They aren't just going to come around to the correct way of thinking. Do you just write them off, or is there some way in which that observation--that the rank-and-file Republicans are complicit with corporate media in advancing lies and fear-based thinking--can be used to change things in some productive way?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 5, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

@JackIL08,

You need to work on your reading comprehension.

Kerry was simply arguing that opening the Artic Refuge to oil drilling was not a budgetary issue, not that reconciliation itself was controversial or "nuclear," but instead that the stupidity of trying to open up the refuge using budget reconciliation was nuclear stupidity.

Likewise your Obama quote is moot. Healthcare already passed with 60 votes in the Senate. 50+1 is only being used for a set of narrow amendments to legislation that will have already passed with a super majority.

Each quote has ZERO relevance to the reconciliation bill being prepared now, and neither comment supports any argument that reconciliation is any sort of exotic or inappropriate method to enact the sidecar changes to the Senate bill, once approved.

Posted by: Patrick_M | March 5, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Democrats may have a had a much more controversial process, but Bush's cuts will soon be long gone, while Democrats may change our healthcare system in a much more significant and long term way.

Posted by: zosima | March 5, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

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