The political pissing-match continues, and along with the verbal volley-du-jour we have an extra helping of double-speak and fiscal legerdemain surrounding the obsession with passing Health Care Reform yesterday, if not sooner.
But first the always popular Anita Dunn, whose smugness is much more endearing than her message, has been lambasted by supposed right-wing-media outlets for her recent YouTube twofer concerning Chairman Mao and control of the media respectively.
At a speech to high school students Dunn said this in regards to future choices the students would be making about their lives, ".... In 1947, when Mao Tse Tung was being challenged within his own party on his plan to basically take China over, Chiang Kai-Shek and the nationalist Chinese held the cities, they had the army. They had the air force. They had everything on their side, and people said how can you win? How can you do this? How can you do this? Against all the odds against you, and Mao Tse Tung said, you know, you fight your war, and I'll fight mine, and think about that for a second." How many of these students have a clue who Mao is, or know much more about China beyond the fact that the communist country manufactures roughly 80% of the crap they buy at Wal-Mart, is unclear. It's probably safe to say that they don't have a thorough grasp on Mao's true role in Chinese history. They probably don't realize the latter statement is true, either.
When word got out Dunn's rather anemic response to her critics was that former chairman of the Republican National Committee Lee Atwater also quoted Mao. It appears to be the fault of Republicans whenever anyone in the current administration is pressed to be accountable for their words or deeds. Conveniently, Atwater is deceased and can offer no context for his own quote. Own your comments, Madam. It is, as of this writing, still a free country, and your First Amendment rights still apply.
Which bring me to the second gem spouted by Dunn at a conference in the Dominican Republic addressing specifically the tactics used during the Obama campaign to disseminate information via the media. "Very rarely did we communicate through the press anything that we didn't absolutely control. We just put that out there and made them write what [David] Plouffe [Obama's chief campaign manager] had said as opposed to Plouffe doing an interview with a reporter. So it was very much we controlled it as opposed to the press controlled it..."
Of course, when the story broke the fact that Dunn was describing strategies used during the election morphed into, "The White House is controlling the media - and bragging about it!" Not at all what Dunn said. All you have to do is pay attention to know that. Dunn's defenders are quick to point out that both of these quotes were unearthed by Glen Beck (whose style offends all of my sensibilities; which I'll explain in a separate post soon) of the infamous Fox Network so, of course, he's taking them out of context.
Okay, let's assume for argument's sake that Beck is building mountains out of molehills; not a stretch by any means. Are we then to assume that these tactics are no longer in use now that the candidate is the President, surrounded by the same people?
Let's ask Helen Thomas, shall we? A self-confessed liberal, former presidential correspondent and current member of the White House Press Corps, Thomas accused White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs and the Obama administration of “controlling the press” during a briefing earlier this year. She also called questions from the Huffington Post and the administration's responses, "blatant" management of the news. Of the current White House she asked, “What the hell do they think we are, puppets? They’re supposed to stay out of our business. They are our public servants. We pay them.”
Have the tactics changed post-campaign? Just go to the Health and Human Services website and click the "state your support" button. You will then have the honor of sending an e-mail in support of Obama's health care reform plan; well, sort of. You won't be allowed to use your own words, instead you're sending a form-letter with language like, "We strongly support your commitment to comprehensive health reform. This is not a luxury. The continuing, sharp escalation of health care costs for families, businesses, and government is unsustainable. Reform is imperative. We believe that health reform must be enacted this year." It goes on to say, "During these extraordinarily challenging times, we need to put aside past differences and address the health and economic crisis. Our shared interest must come before narrow interests so we can achieve a health system that is affordable and provides high quality for all Americans. We will support your budget with its reserve fund dedicated to achieving health care reform in a fiscally responsible manner. Each of us must be prepared to contribute to achieving this fundamental goal. By signing this statement we affirm our commitment to work with you and our Congressional leaders to enact legislation this year which provides affordable, high quality coverage for all Americans.”
No anonymous signers, please. The form letter requires your name, email address, and zip code and would like to have your mailing address and phone number as well.
Finally, if you weren't already nauseous, the slight-of-hand over Health Care Reform continues. In what can only be kindly called creative accounting it appears as of this writing that the Congressional Budget Office has determined that ObamaCare will cost 87 billion dollars a year (the defense budget is 55 billion per year) and can be deficit-neutral if the $300 billion owed to doctors for Medicare reimbursement is removed from the cost of the bill and tacked on to the national debt. New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg points out that even with this shuffling, "the CBO were told to score the expenses beginning in the fourth year and the income beginning in the first year, so it isn't deficit-neutral." Gregg adds, "I think they've found a new job for Bernie Madoff because this is [clearly] a Ponzi scheme."
Although details on this issue are changing almost daily, and the Senate bill is over 2500 pages long, elected officials are racing to get this unread legislation passed. All the more reason to stay informed and, regardless of which side of the issue you happen to favor, exercise your First Amendment right to free, not preprepared, speech by contacting your local Senator or Congressperson. Don't delay or you'll be too late to be counted.