Jonathan Chait

In Which I Again Succumb To The Temptation Of Condescension

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P.J. Gladnick at Newsbusters accuses yours truly of hypocrisy:

Remember all that hype from the liberals until last night about how horrible the Senate ObamaCare was? Yes, they admitted it was a terrible piece of legislation but it was necessary for the House of Representatives to pass it in order for the Senate to somehow improve it via reconciliation. Well, toss that all out the window. Suddenly, sans any change in that formerly detested bill, it has suddenly become a "brilliant" piece of legislation as you can see in this gushing ode to the current unchanged ObamaCare bill by Jonathan Chait of the New Republic...

A "masterfully crafted piece of legislation?" If so, why even bother to try to improve this brilliance via reconciliation in the Senate? Of course, Chait's article makes absolutely no reference to reconciliation. That pretense seems to have been dropped. It will be interesting to see how many other liberals suddenly discover the "brilliance" of what was previously considered a lousy Senate ObamaCare bill and drop their former urgency over the necessity for improvement via reconciliation. For Jonathan Chait all that matters now is that the once hated Senate ObamaCare bill has passed despite the consequences to come.

Okay, so I "hated" the Senate bill before but now I love it. Hypocrisy! Except there are a couple problems with this accusation. The first is the the House last night passed both the Senate bill and a reconciliation bill that will change it. So it's not as if somebody who hates the pure Senate bill should have been upset by last night's proceedings. Perhaps Gladnick turned off his television set before the third vote.

Second, and more problematically for Gladnick, even if the House were voting to enact the unamended Senate bill, I do not hate the Senate bill and never have. Indeed, in December I wrote a three thousand word story arguing that the Senate bill would amount to "the most significant American legislative triumph in at least four decades." Moreover, I don't see how Gladnick could be confusing me with anybody else, because none of the other center-left wonk-pundits I know hate the Senate bill, either. At worst, they say the House bill is a little better overall, though all of them believe the Senate bill is better in at least some key regards, and all of them consider it an enormous improvement over the status quo. To the extent that I differ from them, it's that I'm more pro-Senate bill than they are. I know of nobody outside of the actual Senate itself who has championed the Senate bill more strongly than I have.

Here's a piece of journalistic advice for Newsbusters. In general, I'm a big fan of the "first you said A, now you're saying not-A" genre of blog post. The key to making the genre work is to find examples of the subject saying both A and not A. You can't just quote them saying one thing and assume they said the opposite at some point. I mean you can -- I could write that "P.J. Gladnick now says Obama is bad but last year he was saying Obama was the greatest president ever." But if you fail to actually quote your subject saying the other thing, your non-mouth-breathing readers are going to notice.

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