And The Right Wing Republican Media is Winning
It appears that President Obama has turned Healthcare reform into the biggest battle of his Presidency, at least so far. I have already expressed how much I disagree with his timing and tactics on this issue. I think Obama may have miscalculated the power of his opponent & the willingness of the other side to do absolutely anything to obstruct Progressive initiatives. He also miscalculated the level of utter contempt & hatred that his opponents have for him.
In my previous commentary on Healthcare reform I mentioned the importance of controlling the narrative and winning the PR battle. Obama started from a disadvantage and didn’t even realize it. He must have believed (mistakenly) that the office of the Presidency would give him the platform that he needed to get his Healthcare initiatives through the Congress. But I warned that the Republicans, especially their Right wing media, controlled the microphone. They always control the microphone. And he who controls the microphone (megaphone in the case of Republicans) by dominating T.V. and radio, ends up dominating the debate and controlling the narrative. And whoever controls the narrative will carry the day & win the battle. This is how Republicans have been able to convince Americans (at least a sizable number) that they don’t want what they know they actually need - affordable Healthcare where decisions about treatment aren’t made by insurance companies. Americans know this, but the message from radio & the big networks over the last several months, driven by Right wing media, has convinced people once again to go against their own best interests. Add this media war against the American public to the behind the scenes lobbying where members of Congress are being bribed by insurance companies, and you have an almost impossible situation for Obama and Progressives in Congress.
Certainly there are some legitimate issues about costs, but many of the concerns amongst the public are baseless or have been overblown by the Right wing Republican propaganda which is simply aimed at scuttling Healthcare reform legislation. And the fear tactics seem to be working as usual. The right has even scared Blue Dog Democrats into falling in line…. The Blue Dogs are vulnerable to Republican political campaigning because many of them are from Conservative districts and could theoretically be ousted if targeted by Republican attack ads. So the Blue Dogs have been giving in…. mostly because several have elections coming up in 2010. It’s amazing that a bunch of rich Congressmembers, who have great health insurance, will block any efforts for the rest of us to have reliable healthcare all because they are running for re-election.
I have mentioned a million times that Progressives should build a media infrastructure that can compete on equal footing with Republican media. If Progressives & even independents want to get their message out, they will have to create their own media outlets. I’m afraid that Progressives will need a lot more than NPR and MSNBC. Although these networks do a decent job, they don’t put Progressives on equal ground with Right Wing Republican media. This should have been done years ago. Until a Progressive media infrastructure is created, Dems will start out at a disadvantage for whatever policy initiatives they want to get approved, even when their political party has a majority in Congress. Why? Because they can’t impact public opinion in their favor. They can’t even get their own message out. Not even when their Party controls the White House.
Fortunately, it looks like Obama has gotten the message that he will have to do more to grab the microphone & get control of his message if he wants to gain support for his initiatives. He gave a great speech on Healthcare in Ohio last week that seems to show that he has gotten that memo. It seems clear from the Ohio speech that he understands that he has to go on the offensive. Or does he? These were my thoughts last week…when I first wrote this…. But after observing his actions this week… I’m not so sure that he understands. He has already been conceding to Republicans and Conservatives within his own Party on core issues regarding Healthcare reform. After Conservative Democrats and Republicans made it clear that they would not support a public option, Obama has pretty much abandoned the idea. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated on CNN just today that we should be looking at Co-ops as the public option. In other words, she was admitting that the Public option was dead. Obama and Co. are now spinning Co-ops as the “Public Option” to compete with the private sector. But the truth is…. the basic plan as it is currently written not only leaves the private health insurance industry in charge…. But it will reward them with millions of new customers for their services…. making them even richer. So not only did the insurance lobby (with the Help of right wing media) stop the public option, but they have made themselves even bigger and richer in the process. [I wrote this post last week…before my computer died….warning that the American people and Obama were about to get scammed by this whole thing….and my God… before I could post this… it looks like it has already happened.]
Obama also seems confused about who his opponent really is in this battle. Based on the speech in Ohio, he seems to think that his opponents on Healthcare are primarily politicians in Washington. But once again, he is sadly mistaken. His opponent isn’t Mitch McConnell or John Boehner. They are simply following instructions & doing what they always do - obstructing without offering a cogent & meaningful plan of their own. Nor is his real opponent the “official” RNC leadership. Michael Steele himself admitted recently that he doesn’t do policy and isn’t interested in policymaking. Obama’s real opponent is the Right wing Republican media. This is the driving force behind the Republican Party itself. It is the nerve center for everything the GOP does. It’s no coincidence that there is speculation that Sarah Palin is considering talk radio or has already accepted a deal to do her own show. This would not be far fetched considering her background as a sportscaster. The quicker Obama recognizes what he is actually up against (a propaganda machine) the better for his chances to really get something done on Healthcare and any other big Progressive initiatives. Obama seemed shocked that folks in the GOP have no shame when they tell half truths and mislead (and scare) the American public. But I’m shocked that he’s shocked.
The Healthcare debate is shaping up to be one of the epic battles of Obama’s Presidency & one of the biggest political battles in recent memory. This could be a heavyweight political fight the likes of which we haven’t seen in quite some time. Both contenders are champions - each carrying titles into the ring. One side you have Barack Obama - probably the most unlikely President we’ve had in a Century. No one (including yours truly) believed that he could actually ascend to the highest office in the land. But he (along with his supporters) vanquished 2 very powerful political machines to claim victory…although he received a Hell of a lot of assistance from a thing called the economic crisis. On the other side you have the Republican media apparatus - the most powerful & most organized media network in U.S. history. One of the most powerful media apparatus’s in the World. The way the Right controls information, controls debate, and influences public opinion (through dirty tricks, disinformation efforts, propaganda & just by its sheer size) rivals what the World saw in Soviet Russia and Hitler's Germany. It is also no stranger to big victories. The Right Wing media destroyed efforts by a Republican President to achieve Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
How will we be able to tell who won this battle?
The Right Wing Media will claim victory if they can kill the public option. And on that front… it looks like the Fat Lady is done with rehearsals and is about to begin her performance. Round 1 in this 3 round fight clearly goes to the Right Wing Republican Media, to the Insurance companies and their allies in Congress. But it may be worse than that…. It looks like the Right wing media and its allies are in a good position to win outright.
Obama and Progressives in Congress will claim victory if they can get anything through at this point. They are already spinning a private Co-op plan as a public option….how pathetic can they get. This is far worse than watching Tyson getting knocked out for the first time…and seeing him try to get up for more. Sad. Obama seems to have already accepted some level of defeat.
What’s most likely to happen?
Both sides will claim victory….
The Right will claim victory because they were able to kill the public option. Not only that…. But internally, within Right wing circles, they will be laughing hysterically because they played the American public and Obama in a way that is really embarrassing. Why? because if the current private plan goes through… they would have pulled off one of the biggest hoodwinks in history- not only will we not have Healthcare reform… but in the process of killing real reform, they will make their allies even richer. They will also be able to claim that they played an integral role in reforming Healthcare in America…. The talking points that they plan to use in future elections. So in other words… they will hijack Obama’s initiative and make it their own.
On the other side… Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress will spin any legislation as a victory…simply because they were able to get SOMETHING through Congress. This is what I warned about in my previous post on Healthcare reform - that we will end up with a watered down plan that won’t really deal with the fundamental problems regarding our broken Healthcare system. The plan being considered won't make Healthcare more affordable to the poorest Americans, won't cover everyone, won't include a mandate for employers...and won't do much to deal with rising premiums.
The real winners?
The real victory goes to the right wing Republican media, the health insurance companies and their allies in Congress.
The real losers?
The real losers on this issue (if the current legislation is passed and signed) will be you and me.
Previous Post on Healthcare Reform
Obama initiative headed for defeat