Friday, September 11, 2009

Aiding and abetting a partisan president

"My door is always open," declared Barrack Obama, describing his willingness to listen to "serious" health care proposals. If this is so, perhaps he should stop characterizing opponents of his plan as "those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost" and start paying attention to their proposals.

As Byron York reports, there are more than a few of them: H.R. 77; H.R. 109; H.R. 198; H.R. 270; H.R. 321; H.R. 464; H.R. 502; H.R. 544; H.R. 917; H.R. 1086; H.R. 1118; H.R. 1441; H.R. 1458; H.R. 1468; H.R. 1658; H.R. 1891; H.R. 2520; H.R. 2607; H.R. 2692; H.R. 2784; H.R. 2785; H.R. 2786; H.R. 2787; H.R. 3141; H.R. 3217; H.R. 3218; H.R. 3356; H.R. 3372; H.R. 3400; H.R. 3438; H.R. 3454; and H.R. 3478.

But far from entertaining these ideas, Obama has succeeded in ignoring them, while characterizing opponents as obstructionists with no ideas of their own. The media has been Obama's accomplice in this, largely refusing to give air time to any but Obama-friendly bills. York reports,

A search of the LexisNexis database of newspapers, magazines, television programs and major blogs finds about 3,000 mentions of the major House Democratic bill, H.R. 3200, in the past six months. (Those are just the stories that refer to the bill by its House number; there have been thousands more stories referring generally to the Democratic legislation.) A similar search found 60 mentions of H.R. 3400, the Price [a Republican] bill.

Another Republican bill, H.R. 2520, the Patients' Choice Act, by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, received 12 mentions in the same time period. And two other bills, H.R. 3217 and H.R. 3218, the Health Care Choice Act and the Improving Health Care for All Americans Act, by Rep. John Shadegg, together received 20 mentions.

The virtual embargo on reporting Republican legislation has allowed Democrats and their allies in the media to keep up the "Republicans have no plan" attack. Just hours after the president's speech, for example, the Democratic National Committee released a new commercial claiming that Republicans "refuse to offer a plan" to reform the health care system.

Obama continues to claim he wants a bipartisan solution to health care reform, but what he really means is he wants Republicans to just shut up and vote for his agenda. That's fine as a political tactic, but it's not bipartisan, and it's not good for the country. Nor is it good for the country when the media fails to call him on it.

But someone should. So let me say, in the words of Joe Wilson: Mr. President, when you and your minions claim that your opponents have offered no plans of their own, "you lie!"

Update: "On May 13, House Republican leaders all wrote the President a letter reading in part: "We write to you today to express our sincere desire to work with you and find common ground on the issue of health care reform....We respectfully request a meeting with you to discuss areas for potential common ground on health care reform." Nearly four months later, that meeting has yet to take place."

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