That’s Show-Biz! President Obama, Health Care and the Media

September 16th, 2009

Last Sunday’s Op-Ed column by the usually engaging Frank Rich was typical of the disturbing transition of journalism into just another form of theater. Entitled Obama’s Squandered Summer (NYTimes, 9/12/09), it completely misses the lessons our learned President has been trying to teach his constituency during these past months. Call it Civics 101, in which we’ve been provided with an astonishingly clear view of how legislative and corporate agendas ‘play’ in the town halls of America, on network television and in the newspapers. It appears that spam isn’t limited to the internet.

I went to a town hall meeting to see how the public both digested and regurgitated the facts being discussed by our Commander-in-Chief. Northern New England tends to be more disciplined than most places so the audience was politely divided into the usual ‘pro’ and ‘con’ camps. Only a very small minority were annoying us with completely fatuous fables about non-existent legislative bills, death panels planning to “off” grandpa, and complaints that more insurance means more pay for ‘baby-murderers’.

These spurious tales have been authored by the sharp minds representing extremely dangerous special interests, in a manner that ridicules genuine concerns by real citizens. End-of-life planning should not be considered a synonym for euthanasia. Access to birth control and decent pre-natal care should be celebrated instead of universal insurance being condemned as a cheap way to deliver birth control via abortion to every underage girl in America. These slogans can be dismissed with a view to basic common sense and were given short shrift by the representative running this particular town hall meeting.

On the other hand, fears of important legislative proposals can be eased with a basic review of their constitutionality. Having a President who used to teach constitutional law is quite a plus. Still, the media would have Obama spend every waking minute arguing with idiots who’ve likely never even read that document. There’s an old saying that one should never argue with a fool because observers have a hard time telling one from the other. Unfortunately, it makes for great entertainment and sells as another form of reality T.V.

Sorry, Frank but the summer was extremely educational. The public has now had a taste for the desperate lies of the rabid right. When Wilson called the President a liar while he was speaking, it exemplified the fact that reasoned opposition was now absent in this new theater of the absurd we refer to as government. Between Palin and Wilson, it is time for the American people to begin scrutinizing the educational resumes and behaviors of their candidates before voting. I certainly don’t want to vote for anyone who didn’t surpass my own educational achievements. And Wilson’s name isn’t even ‘Joe’. I like a representative who can remember his name even if I forget mine occasionally.

Please, media moguls! Bring back journalism worthy of the solemnity of the task of bringing the NEWS to the public so our representatives won’t need to act like reality T.V. characters to get attention. The President of these United States should not have to play to the 24-hour news cycle. The cycle should present what they have and let the networks offer reruns of Survivor during the remaining hours. It is preferable to turning the legislative process into a show where only the boring, smart and sane representatives get voted off the Island.

This was my disappointed response to that article in the NY Times blog.

197. September 13th, 2009
1:38 pm

Mr. Rich,

While I normally applaud your columns, today’s statements are an example of why the media is undercutting President Obama’s agenda. This type of message is misinforming the American people of why our need for universal health care is not being addressed.

You are imbuing the office of the Presidency with powers it does not have. This is not the time for journalists and commentators to perform as theater critics, reviewing Obama’s manner and every other possible nuance of communication as if that alone can shape our legislation. Such an idea merely serves the conservative agenda. Conservatives, operating under the leadership and financing of special interests, are devoted to the least attractive aspect of our Republic. They know that decisions being made have nothing to do with the direct will of the people. Yes, the Democrats may control the House and Senate, but our representatives are all operating under the constitutionally mandated form of government we possess, which is that of a Republic. We, the people, elect others to think and act on our behalf. We place those individuals at a level of power in which they are free to ignore the wishes of their constituencies and do as they choose. They can choose ‘our’ will or that of corporate masters, willing and able to purchase the votes of the greedy or simpleminded. Those masters offer both the money and rhetoric necessary for their sock-puppets to justify abandoning the wishes of the voters and proclaim their choices in loud, meaningless statements about their love of country and their outrage at logical arguments which contradict their choices.

President Obama is ensuring that the people hear about our choices so that we can influence those responsible for seeing our will be done. He discusses governments like Iran and North Korea so that we pay attention to events there instead of reciting slogans about an ‘axis of evil.’ The corporate masters behind our health care system now hold sway by influencing the votes of our Senators and Congressman or by delaying action with yet another non-sequitur about death panels intending to knock off Grandma Rose. Obama can only remind us to look to our nation’s IQ level when there are those among us ready to believe that a public option in health care would transform us into a socialist country. Our current public option, Medicare, has been keeping many of us alive these past decades, including Grandma Rose. We are still a Republic.

President Obama can only remind us that each moment of delay means more dollars in someone’s pocket and another day of suffering for someone with a preventable or curable illness who lacks appropriate health care. The media can help guide us in sorting through the facts and trace the strings leading from the sock-puppets to the puppet masters.

Otherwise, it’s really about government and ultimately, up to us.

Categories: Newspaper Commentary, NY Times, Published

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