Monday, September 27, 2010

Bob Dutko Rails Against the Liberal Media

I caught a bit of Dutko today. In the first hour he spent some time talking about how the "liberal" media basically enables Obama in his propaganda. Apparently Obama had made some sort of commercial related to his health care plan where he speaks on the phone with a person that now can get treatment. Diane Sawyer picked up the story and treated it as if it was news rather than an item created by Obama's staff. A quick scan of right wing news sources turns up Dutko's probable source, which is here. Dutko gets his talking points from foxnews, onenewsnow, newsbusters, drudge, etc.

I tend to think Dutko is right on this point partially. The media does love Obama and does carry water for him. But he's wrong to say that the media is liberal. Loving Obama and being liberal are two different things in the real world, though not to Dutko. Dutko wants to pretend that Obama represents liberalism. That way if you're to the left of that you're really off the spectrum and crazy. But if we gauge liberalism by the attitudes of people that regard themselves as liberal, or even against the views of the American people generally, we find that not only is Obama not a liberal, he's to the right of the bulk of the American people.

So take the war in Afghanistan. I recently discussed public opinion on this. 54% of the American people think we should not be involved in this conflict now. That's the American people generally, not the opinion of liberals alone. If you were to poll the opinion of liberals presumably the margin would be even higher. Obama has offered us troop surges in Afghanistan.

Dutko would have us believe that Obama Care represents some sort of triumph of liberalism. This is utter nonsense. For decades the American people generally have supported some sort of public style care, like what exists in every other industrialized nation. The numbers do vary based on the way the question is asked, but the results are pretty consistent. Take this 2003 poll. By a margin of 62 to 33% Americans preferred universal public care to the present system. Moving to more recent surveys, voters in key states by wide margins preferred a public option system to the plan that Obama was offering. Look at the support amongst liberals. Like 80%. The same was true in nationwide polls. When a single payer option appeared on the ballot in Massachusetts a whopping 73% voted in favor. These are extremely popular positions.

Let's back up just a bit and look at how John Kerry took advantage of these extremely popular positions. Here's how the NY Times reported it just prior to the election:

But there is so little political support for government intervention in the health care market in the United States that Senator John Kerry took pains in a recent presidential debate to say that his plan for expanding access to health insurance would not create a new government program.

Not only is there no political support for single payer health care. There's no support for government intervention of any kind. The Times is totally right. All we have is positions supported by lopsided public majorities, but that's not what it takes for something to have political support. You need corporate support for political support. The public doesn't matter so much.

So how liberal was Obama with regards to health care? He started by immediately taking the extremely popular single payer option off the table. Liberals pleaded with him to at least retain a public option. While paying lip service to it Obama basically crushed it in a deceitful and absurd display. Greenwald has the details here and here. What he gave us was something worked out with major input from the large insurance companies and the pharmaceuticals. Sure, it's not the Republican plan. Republicans of course want to create a real utopia for the corporate masters. They were content to leave millions uninsured. Basically the status quo. What Obama offers does a little good, but still it is loved by the insurance companies. They can retain their 30% overhead and Americans can continue to pay twice what the rest of the world does while getting outcomes near the bottom of the spectrum of industrialized countries. This is not liberalism.

By a margin of 59 to 31% Americans believe that the UN should take the lead in solving international crises, not the US. So given that this is the attitude of Americans generally, imagine what the attitude of liberals would be. So in November of 2009 Obama's UN representative had the chance to join the world and accept the international consensus on a 2 state settlement in Palestine, or he could stand virtually alone against the world. The vote was 164-7 with the US of course among the few opposed. Is that liberalism? And try to find a reference to this extremism in the major media. This resolution is a sensible plan. A similar plan is even supported by the Israeli public generally. But not by the extreme right wing elements of the Israeli government and the extreme right wing elements of the American population. Obama goes along with them, not his liberal supporters.

Obama's positions on his authority to the order assassination of US citizens is so extreme it's even making right winger's blush. Not only is this not liberalism. This is right wing extremism. Now, perhaps Dutko is happy to give the President the authority to assassinate US citizens with no oversight. Maybe he's thinking Obama is making the good, tough decision. But is this liberalism?

There's a reason Obama and his press secretary Robert Gibbs have lately been going after liberals. Real liberals are openly hostile to Obama because Obama is not a liberal, though he did give the impression that he was.

Dutko loves to point out the hypocrisy of so called liberal media personalities in that they harshly criticized policies related to torture, war, and surveillance when Bush was implementing them, but now that Obama is implementing them they're quite silent. They're ready to abandon liberal policies just to support their favored candidate and party. This should be enough to help Dutko recognize that support for Obama and support for liberalism are not the same thing.


Darf Ferrara said...

You have a lot of ideas here. Some aren't clear to me, so I'm just going to hit some random points and also see if you can clarify some points that you made.

I suspect that the media labels anything democrats do as liberal and what the republicans do as conservative. I think that this is a degeneration of the english language, but it has become engrained and I don't think that it will change.

Are you claiming that liberals are what would be more accurately labeled prorgessives? If that is the case then the points you are making is that Obama is not a populist rather than a progressive (liberal). I say this because the evidence you give is that Obama doesn't pursue policies that the general American populace supports. If you wanted to support your point you might point to polls that show that democrats are unhappy with Obamas positions. If that was the case, the liberal (democratic) media would spin it as Obama acting as a moderate.

Do you think that Obamacare was a liberal or conservative piece of legislation? And given the fact that every special interest in the world had to be bought off in order to pass it, do you think it was possible to pass single payer?

Now a few random questions.

(1) Since a given poll question can be asked in two different ways and give opposite answers (for example Fox News asks Do you want big govenment paying for healthcare even for drug addicts?, CNN asks Do you want to make sure that no American lacks Heathcare?) how do you know what the public really wants?

(2) Do you understand that health insurance is not healthcare? And also that health insurance isn't insurance, it is pre-paid medical coverage (mostly)? And the fact that American paying too much for healthcare (drugs especially) implies a huge subsidy for healthcare to the rest of the world?

(3) Do you understand that our current system has evolved to the state it is in now because of the voting that people have done in the past? In other words, redistributive systems like SS, "protective" legislation like FDA, the military industrial complex were passed because many Americans at some point favored them. This caused an aggregation of power in DC where it can be manipulated by "corporate overlords". How can increasing the authority of DC by democratic processes help?

Jon said...

I'm using the word "liberal" the way I understand Dutko is using it and I'm asking if in fact the media is liberal in the sense he understands it. For him the half of the population that elected Obama is liberal. They're for things like ending wars, single payer health care, etc. Obviously they're pro-choice. So this label is being applied generally of course. Obama is liberal on some things, like abortion. Really that's about it. Is he liberal on something else?

I'm pointing to issues that the bulk of the American population support and if you were to poll people that regard themselves as liberals you'd find that these policies are supported by even larger majorities. So on these issues not only is Obama not liberal, he's to the right of the bulk of the American people.

I don't think Obama Care was liberal. I think it was sort of Republican light. A sell out to corporations, which is generally a Republican mentality, but with a few bones thrown to the left. Liberals supported a public option over the Obama plan at a rate of 80%, with the whole of the population preferring a public option to the Obama plan by like 65%. So once again what Obama offers I would say is not liberal and in fact is to the right of the population.

Can single payer be passed? Not if we don't get some fundamental change out of government.

1-You take a look at a variety of polls, note the ones that ask loaded questions, and form the best judgement you can. According to Chomsky the support for government care like what is in the rest of the world has had massive support for decades now, and he does a lot of work tracking public opinion. I don't have the data he's working with, but you can take his opinion for what it's worth. He's usually pretty good about sources.

2-I think the word "healthcare" can mean different things in a sentence based upon the context in which it is used. Yes to the rest of your questions.

3-See Chomsky reddit interview. I'm not arguing the merits of more government involvement in this post. Besides I think you already know my answer.