by Max Brantley
There's been quite a bit of talk and linking to an op-ed in the Washington Post. It's about how crazy noise has dominated the health care "debate" and how the mainstream media, unwilling to call a lie a lie, have been enablers.
Conservatives have become adept at playing the media for suckers, getting inside the heads of editors and reporters, haunting them with the thought that maybe they are out-of-touch cosmopolitans and that their duty as tribunes of the people's voices means they should treat Obama's creation of "death panels" as just another justiciable political claim. ....
It used to be different. You never heard the late Walter Cronkite taking time on the evening news to "debunk" claims that a proposed mental health clinic in Alaska is actually a dumping ground for right-wing critics of the president's program, or giving the people who made those claims time to explain themselves on the air. The media didn't adjudicate the ever-present underbrush of American paranoia as a set of "conservative claims" to weigh, horse-race-style, against liberal claims. Back then, a more confident media unequivocally labeled the civic outrage represented by such discourse as "extremist" -- out of bounds.
The tree of crazy is an ever-present aspect of America's flora. Only now, it's being watered by misguided he-said-she-said reporting and taking over the forest.
The illogical result, you might argue, is a sitting U.S. congressman who felt driven to this utterance.
When a conservative Democrat takes the time to promise that he will not "kill old people," you really know Democrats are struggling to maintain their footing on healthcare reform. So it's pretty stunning that Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), a leading Blue Dog Democrat, felt it necessary to make that pledge on CNN today.
"I will never vote for a bill to kill old people, period," he said
It is, however, too kind to excuse Ross' unnecessary defense on account of pressure from the crazies. He's always been among the first to push the crazy buttons. The politics of fear -- Pledge of Allegiance and gun waving and gay and baby-killer bashing -- along with prompt succor for the special business interests have always been Mike Ross' stock in trade.