On Thursday morning, conservative S. E. Cupp was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe with Lawrence O’Donnell, Al Sharpton, Ezra Klein and Howard Dean. Toward the end of the debate over the health care law’s Medicaid provision, Cupp said that most Americans oppose the Affordable Care Act. No one challenged her. The fact is that all responsible surveys about the law, right from the day it was passed, have shown a roughly three-way tie on support for it. One-third of us oppose it completely, one-third of us support it completely, and one-third oppose it because it didn’t go far enough – it didn’t have a public option or create a pathway to single-payer nationalized health care. The Republicans, since that first survey, have done what Cupp did – lumped in those who wanted a public option with those who hate the law. And no one challenged her – not O’Donnell, not Sharpton, not Dean who ought to know better because of his own experiences with health care in Vermont and not Klein who damned well does know better because he’s reported it.
Right there, in just a few short minutes, was the whole story of the Democratic Party for the past four years. Their brains are in slow gear. They don’t come back against the lies. They don’t challenge the spin. They don’t have the statistics and the facts at the front of their brains to answer the stupid statements of the conservatives.
In Great Britain, there is a wonderful tradition called Prime Minister’s Question Time. The mechanics are not important. What is important is that the PM’s staff knows in advance who will be asking a question at a session and they research what issues are important to that member of Parliament. Then, the PM is sent to the question period with a notebook that includes answers to potential questions based on that analysis of the members. It is extremely rare for a member to throw something out that takes the PM totally by surprise.
Damn it, we know what the Republicans and conservative media mouths will say. They have been saying the same things for over three years. So, why is everyone so unprepared to challenge those statements? How many brain cells does it take to learn the facts about the polls on the ACA? Is it impossible to learn that the United States and Japan are the only nations in the G8 showing GDP growth? Our side is coming off stupid looking because we don’t shoot out the answers in a knowledgeable manner.
Look, I’m no genius – gifted, yes, but not a genius – and I sit here and throw out the statistics and historical facts on news site comment streams without even bothering with Cliff notes most of the time. While I do have the data on file, I can sit here and not look it up and tell you that if the United States were in the EU, our national debt would rank 19th of 27, that the UK’s national debt is 400% of GDP while ours is holding at 100%, that Japan’s was 200% and somehow magically has come down to 100% since the tsunami (I haven’t found an explanation for that yet). I can tell you that our national debt in 1946 was 126% of GDP, our factories were closing because of the end of military production, we had 16 million veterans returning to civilian life and they were 11% of our total population, which translated into over 20% unemployment. I can tell you that President Truman’s furthering of our debt to fund the GI Bill and hitting the wealthy with a 90% top tax rate was a decision agreed to by President Eisenhower, and added to when Eisenhower authorized the construction of the interstate highway system. And it worked. It worked even better than Roosevelt’s policies in the Great Depression. It created the explosion of the American middle class and our manufacturing economy and the first great housing boom with the building of millions of suburban homes beginning with my own childhood home in Levittown on Long Island, New York. And I haven’t looked up a single one of these facts or statistics. They are just here, in my brain, along with the recipe for tonight’s dinner and the balance on my credit card. So, why the hell didn’t Ezra Klein challenge S.E. Cupp this morning? He’s half my age. His brain should be more agile than mine.
This has been the pattern with Democrats and liberals. Some Fox News jerk will throw a question at a Democratic legislator and they go mealy-mouthed and dumbstruck. What were they expecting, softballs? Why weren’t they prepared? Why aren’t television journalists and contributors speaking up and putting down the spins and the lies?
If one wanted an ironclad formula for losing an election, this is it. There is too much at stake in this election for our party and our commentators to do stupid all the time. We are facing a party that wants to impose a permanent majority in our Congress and Supreme Court, and gain permanent occupancy of the White House. Our democracy is at stake here. Our opponents want to turn us into a one-party state.
Everyday, we hear the right call our President and the Democratic Party “socialists” and “Marxists.” And all during the Bush/Cheney administration, the Democrats avoided using the opposite term to define the right wing. In fact, we have hesitated to call out Glenn Beck for saying that the Nazis were socialists. Well, here’s a quote for those who speak for our side. They need to learn it…
“Fascism should rightly be called ‘corporatism’ because it is the perfect merger of corporate and government power.” – Benito Mussolini.