JONATHAN CHAIT JANUARY 21, 2011
A huge proportion of our political discourse is consumed by bullshit -- statements that have absolutely no bearing to the actual beliefs of the person uttering them. The other day I noticed this quote by GOP Rep. John Kline in National Review, on the subject of the House GOP's plans to mount an exhaustive attack on the Affordable Care Act:
The Republicans dismissed criticism that the GOP is focusing too much time and energy on health care, as opposed to job creation. “Just because we’re going to be looking at the impact of this health-care law doesn’t mean that committees won’t be actively engaged in other aspects of our responsibilities,” Kline said. “We don’t have limit ourselves to one subject at a time.”
I actually happen to agree with this -- of course it's possible for Congress to deal with more than one issue at a time. But Kline just threw overboard a talking point that Republicans has employed ad nauseum for two years.
Here’s Scott Brown, March 12, 2010:
When the people of my state elected me in January, they sent more than a senator to Washington - they sent a message. Across party lines, the voters told politicians in Washington to get its priorities right.
And from my travels and conversation with people throughout this country, they told me that they want their President and Congress to focus on creating jobs and reviving America’s economy. Instead, for more than a year now, we have seen a bitter, destructive, and endless drive to completely transform America’s health care system.
Haley Barbour, last January:
[I]t's interesting that the American people have been saying from the day Barack Obama got sworn in, 'Jobs are the biggest issue in the country, get our economy back going, it's the biggest issue for the country.' But for the last eight months, all I've heard about is the Democratic Party trying to ram health care down the country's throat.
Mitch McConnell, after the State of the Union:
The President talked about jobs tonight. This is a welcome change in focus after the President and his administration spent nearly an entire year pursuing a partisan health care plan that would have spent trillions of dollars we don't have rather than on a plan for getting Americans back to work.
And…wait for it…John Kline, January 8, 2010:
Unfortunately, majority leadership and the Obama Administration have chosen to rely on their failed trillion dollar so-called stimulus package and in the meantime have diverted their attention toward policies that will do greater harm to our economy. Whether it is the threat of new taxes on energy and investments or the ongoing pursuit of a government takeover of health care, Minnesotans see a majority in Washington that is out of touch with their needs and the needs of our economy.
He also said the following last August:
Today the unemployment rate continues to hover near 10 percent and 14.6 million Americans are unemployed and searching for work. I see the evidence of this every time I travel back home to Minnesota: inevitably, the first concern my constituents raise is jobs – or the lack thereof. People want to know: Where are the jobs and what is Washington doing to help create them?
And now the casual admission that, in effect, this putatively deep belief was total nonsense.
Are you surprised? Of course not. And yet the M.O. of the media is to pass on such utterly disingenuous statements without subjecting them to the slightest bit of pressure. It goes on in both parties. I think it's worse in the GOP, because that party has access to a propaganda network (Fox News, talk radio) that will repeat its talking points unconditionally, whereas Democrats have to pass muster with mainstream news organs, which have some standards about truth.