Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Oh, the Insanity

Josh Marshall observes the spiraling of the healthcare debate.

In any sane civic discourse Sarah Palin’s comments about ‘death panels’ would have permanently written her out of any public debate about anything. But even though very few people actually believe this stuff, the entire debate gets knocked off the rails by this sort of freak show which allows the organized interests who want to prevent reform to gain the upper hand.

Not that I’m necessarily pessimistic. I see some signs that this latest outburst of freakery may be starting to backfire on the GOP. We’ll have to watch and see.

The media — regardless of whether you think they’re left or right or just tipping over — will go for the freak show and the ballyhoo every time. If you offer them a reasoned discussion about insurance reform and actuarial tables held in a committee room on Capitol Hill or a screaming mob outside a VFW hall in Tampa with people carrying signs with swastikas and Congressmen hanged in effigy, which story are they going to run with? No contest. It sells papers, it boosts ratings, it gets you on YouTube.

And don’t think for an instant that both sides of the debate don’t know this and aren’t using it to their own ends.