Two of Fox News' favorite Democrats published an op-ed in today's Washington Post which purported to warn of the frightening horrors that await Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections if they pass health care reform. What they gave us, however, was an embarrassing display of half-baked analysis that encapsulates so much of what is wrong with the "debate" over health care reform in our media.
Here's the central point of their column:
First, the battle for public opinion has been lost. Comprehensive health care has been lost. If it fails, as appears possible, Democrats will face the brunt of the electorate's reaction. If it passes, however, Democrats will face a far greater calamitous reaction at the polls. Wishing, praying or pretending will not change these outcomes.
While polling numbers for the health care reform bill are certainly not strong as Democrats might hope, as Jon Chait points out in response to Caddell and Schoen, support for the bill has been trending upward. But that's beside the point.
What makes this op-ed so dishonest is that Caddell and Schoen spend the entire column expressing their concern over polling about health care reform without once suggesting that polling numbers may be so low because conservatives (and even self-identified Democrats like Schoen) have spent the last year lying - repeatedly, unabashedly, and without consequence - about health care reform.
Here's Caddell and Schoen discussing the specifics of a recent Rasmussen poll:
Many more Americans believe the legislation will worsen their health care, cost them more personally and add significantly to the national deficit. Never in our experience as pollsters can we recall such self-deluding misconstruction of survey data.
This might have been a good opportunity to correct the record and inform The Washington Post's readers that no, for the vast majority of people, health care reform won't increase the cost of their premiums. Additionally, according to the CBO, the Senate Bill will actually decrease the national deficit by $118 billion dollars. Though judging from their column, I wouldn't be surprised if Schoen and Caddell agree with Limbaugh that the CBO is "lying."
The fact that most Americans "believe" the legislation will worsen their health care could be attributed to the fact that they have been lied to about reform - but Caddell and Schoen never even consider that possibility. And they outright reject the idea that if the Dems pass reform support for the bill may increase when people realize President Obama isn't going to euthanize their grandmother:
The notion that once enactment is forced, the public will suddenly embrace health-care reform could not be further from the truth -- and is likely to become a rallying cry for disaffected Republicans, independents and, yes, Democrats.
Don't go looking for their evidence for this claim - they don't even bother trying to provide any.
Then there's their section on reconciliation:
Now, we vigorously opposed Republican efforts in the Bush administration to employ the "nuclear option" in judicial confirmations. We are similarly concerned by Democrats' efforts to manipulate passage of a health-care bill.
For the millionth time, reconciliation is not the nuclear option. Anyone arguing that it is either has an awful memory or is being deliberately dishonest in order to obscure serious debate about health care reform. Either way, they probably shouldn't be publishing op-eds in The Washington Post on health care reform.
I do, however, agree with one point made in the column:
Health care is no longer a debate about the merits of specific initiatives.
This is true - thanks in part to people like Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen.
Caddell and Schoen's advice for Democrats is so good, even the GOP is eagerly promoting it. And, as we know, they always have Dems' best interests in mind.