Wednesday, July 22, 2009

All You Need to Know About American Public Opinion: The Facts

1. Americans want to expand health coverage for all, but it must not cost them anything or affect their own coverage negatively.

2. They want to reduce the deficit but such fiscal constraint must not reduce any of their cherished benefits or raise their taxes.

3. They want the unvarnished truth, but they do not want to hear any arguments, facts, or reasons that challenge any of their cherished beliefs.

4. They want to understand issues, but they do not want to spend any time seriously investigating all sides of the issues with open minds.

5. They want bipartisanship as long as that means both parties will accept their own preferred doctrines.

6. Congress stinks, but their own representatives are great as long as they bring federal dollars, jobs, public works, and other goodies to their own area.

7. They are against unnecessary military spending unless the obsolete or unneeded weapon or parts of it are made in their own state or district, in which case it is essential to national security.

8. Wasteful spending is bad, but any benefits that accrue to them are necessary for their survival and well-being and justly deserved.

9. They believe that government is bad except when they want something from it.

10. Above all, they want lower taxes and increased benefits.

11. They are against unnecessary medical treatments, improving efficiency, reducing overall costs, but they want unlimited access for themselves.

12. They want a full understanding, but don't bother them will any hints of complexities, ambiguities, trade-offs regarding public policy, but they know full well that their own personal lives are full of complexities, ambiguities, and trade-offs.

Now you know, so forget about all those public opinion polls.

Canonizing Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite was a great journalist. Doubtless he deserves all the tributes he has been given. But, just for once, wouldn't you like to hear about an instance in which he blew it, lost his cool, got the facts all wrong, gave misleading information, and just royally screwed up? Enough of hagiography already!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Unfortunately, You Will Never Hear This on TV

If I were a member of the Obama Administrating being interviewed, here is what I would say:
Before we begin, I understand our roles as follows: You the interviewer will stress the negative, listing objections to Obama policy, roadblocks, difficulties, Republican criticism, likelihood of failure, unfavorable polls, critical assessments from alleged authorities, and so on.

My role is to deflect, refute, and ignore all that, to "accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, and not mess with Mr. In Between." Now what is your first question?
Since it is an unwritten rule understood by all parties that sustained substantive discussion with any depth of sophistication and analytical acumen recognizing complexity, ambiguities, and trade-offs will be avoided in favor of cliches, slogans, and nifty or colorful comments with gentle bite, the process can continue without further ado.

Sotomayor Once More and Finally

The Sotomayor hearings were tales told by partisans, full of boredom and trivia, and signifying nothing beyond the determination of the nominee to get confirmed by whatever means necessary, means canonized since the Bork defeat because he dared engage in serious intellectual debate.