In The Unprecedented—and Contemptible—Attempts to Sabotage Obamacare longtime beltway think tank denizen and professional common sense centrist Norm Ornstein once again lays into the GOP for their behavior, he and Micheal Mann wrote the book on how the GOP is at fault for the unprecedented gridlock in D.C. But again, he does so in such civil language – “unprecedented”, “contemptible”, “unacceptable” – that one has to wonder, no, there’s no wonder, nothing changes. The media continues to be mealy mouthed about what should earn the GOP daily tongue lashings and excoriation for behavior that has ground government to a halt at a time when we need it more than ever.
When Mike Lee pledges to try to shut down the government unless President Obama knuckles under and defunds Obamacare entirely, it is not news—it is par for the course for the take-no-prisoners extremist senator from Utah. When the Senate Republicans’ No. 2 and No. 3 leaders, John Cornyn and John Thune, sign on to the blackmail plan, it is news—of the most depressing variety.
Once again, there’s nothing normal about what the GOP has been doing, where it has gone and where it is going. There’s nothing positive about it. It takes an ultra-acrobatic stretch of the media’s dedication to the two party system to keep propping up one of those parties when they’ve clearly gone insane. The GOP’s economic and social policies have gone off the deep end and only a small section of the media are willing to depart from he said/she said, who’s up, who’s down coverage enough to actually analyze what policies the parties espouse and whether they make any goddamn sense.
But to do everything possible to undercut and destroy its implementation—which in this case means finding ways to deny coverage to many who lack any health insurance; to keep millions who might be able to get better and cheaper coverage in the dark about their new options; to create disruption for the health providers who are trying to implement the law, including insurers, hospitals, and physicians; to threaten the even greater disruption via a government shutdown or breach of the debt limit in order to blackmail the president into abandoning the law; and to hope to benefit politically from all the resulting turmoil—is simply unacceptable, even contemptible. One might expect this kind of behavior from a few grenade-throwing firebrands. That the effort is spearheaded by the Republican leaders of the House and Senate—even if Speaker John Boehner is motivated by fear of his caucus, and McConnell and Cornyn by fear of Kentucky and Texas Republican activists—takes one’s breath away.
Make no mistake, for the greater portion of an apolitical public, how the press reacts to the actions of the political class they cover has a great effect on the public’s opinion of it. If the press doesn’t run around with their hair on fire then the public will think that the status quo is just the normal dysfunction of government. If they allow liars to lie with impunity, propagandists to put forward self-serving fantasies, truth and falsehood to become a balanced debate, and they lazily report that “both sides do it” so as not to offend one side, then the public can throw up their hands and say “what can you do?” And it never has to change.