- First it was, "Hey, look at these crazy people opposed to health care reform screaming at town hall meetings."
- Then it was, "These screaming people are representative of the overwhelming, grassroots opposition to the Democratic health care proposals."
- Next, "Oh wait, the screamers are largely funded and organized by health insurance companies and the big business lobby." And, "Wow, did Sarah Palin really just say something about a death panel'?"
- Then back to, "Hmm, death panels. Those sound scary. Maybe there are death panels in England or something."
- Next it was, "Well, we looked into it and there are no death panels--not in any proposed health care bill and not in England."
I have to say, I think the death panel crap was a turning point. Once the shock and creepiness of that phrase wore off, reporters and thinking people realized that the anti-reform crowd had absolutely nothing to go on. The former Republican nominee for Vice President and a senior Republican senator were just making s#*% up to try defeat health reform that most people support. And it wasn't even creative s#*%. It wasn't even s#*% that would take very long to verify as s#*%. That kind of s#*% requires some real moral and mental bankruptcy.
So now, just a day after the media was reporting (or hoping?) that the Obama Administration may have been backing away from the public option, here comes news that progressives--and that pesky public option--haven't gone anywhere. The House Democratic caucus is solidly behind the public option and not falling for the watered down co-ops. Major unions are warning conservative Democrats that if they do not support the public option, they risk losing labor's support in the next elections. Progressives across the Internet are warning that Democrats who don't support the public option will face progressive primary challengers. And supporters of health insurance reform are now outnumbering the tea-bag types at the town halls.
I think the Right overplayed its position. This is a loooong Congressional recess, and we're seeing that there's plenty of time for people to realize how ridiculous the death-panel fear tactics are before any votes are cast on any bills. And there's plenty of time for Obama's sometimes painfully laid-back, cool-headed style to win out, since the deathers are probably already suffering from burnout. The swastika signs and guns brought to health care discussions get old pretty quick.
I'm hopeful that what we're about to see is first a defining moment for the Democratic Party, when labor/progressives will assert some leadership over the business-oriented Blue Dogs, and then a defining moment for the country, when we all begin to treat health care as a right and not a privilege.