Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 23, 2009

LIES AND THE LYING LIARS WHO TELL THEM.... Over the weekend, Roll Call ran an online item, explaining, "With the Senate preparing to vote Saturday on whether to consider a $848 billion health care overhaul bill, national Democrats on Friday launched a rapid response system aimed at blunting each GOP criticism of the bill."

I have to say, the DNC's rapid-response fact-checking was pretty damn impressive. I lost count of how many alerts hit my inbox during the debate, but just about every time a Republican senator would make an appearance -- on the Senate floor or on one of the cable networks -- another alert went out, pointing to his/her demonstrable falsehoods. Late yesterday, the DNC posted the entire package of fact-checking items, which serves as a timeline of sorts, chronicling each bogus claim as it was made.

But let's not miss the forest for the trees here. Looking over the rapid-response list, the efficiency of the DNC operation is impressive, but the key takeaway is more important: Good lord, Republicans sure do lie a lot about health care.

I mean, GOP lawmakers weren't even close to the truth. Watching the debate as it unfolded, one got the sense that reform's opponents either know literally nothing about the issue at hand, prefer almost pathological levels of dishonesty, or perhaps both.

Over the weekend, Josh Marshall noted in passing that the congressional GOP lied quite a bit during the 1994 reform debate, but Republicans are now "upping their game ... lying even more shamelessly than in round 1."

I'm reminded of Ruth Marcus' reaction to the House debate a few weeks ago, when she marveled at the "appalling amount of misinformation being peddled" by Republicans.

I don't mean the usual hyperbole about "a children-bankrupting, health-care-rationing, freedom-crushing, $1 trillion government takeover of our health-care system," as Texas Republican Jeb Hensarling put it. Or the tired canards about taxpayer-funded abortion or insurance subsidies for illegal immigrants. Or the extraneous claims about alleged Democratic excesses....

I mean the flood of sheer factual misstatements about the health-care bill.... You have to wonder: Are the Republican arguments against the bill so weak that they have to resort to these misrepresentations and distortions?

Their Senate colleagues were just as offensive, shamelessly pretending as if reality had no meaning whatsoever.

John McCain, for example, said in a written statement that the reform bill would add "more than a trillion dollars to our country's deficit," would put medical decisions "in the hands of government bureaucrats," and amount to a "government takeover of our health care system." He's obviously lying. None of this is even remotely true.

But McCain and his cohorts have a strong incentive to be as blatantly dishonest as they can be. For one thing, it keeps the rabid GOP base worked up. For another, it might confuse the American mainstream, who won't know who's telling the truth and who isn't.

Ordinarily, the media would help sort this out. So much for that idea: "The media is basically letting all opponents of health care say whatever the hell they want about health care reform with little pushback. I don't know why I continue to be surprised when this happens, but I do..."

Without political consequences for dishonesty, this is only going to get worse.

Steve Benen 1:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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Of course, the media will counter all the lies and be sure the American public knows the truth. Right? Right?

Posted by: Obama Won on Change on November 23, 2009 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK
Without political consequences for dishonesty [for Republicans], this is only going to get worse.


Remember: The media only cares about "accountability" when it's a Democrat. When it's the GOP, well, you know, both sides do it so it's totally kosher.

Posted by: Mark D on November 23, 2009 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

"Ordinarily, the media would help sort this out."

I'm much too young to remember that time.

Posted by: ferg on November 23, 2009 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Remember: The media only cares about "accountability" when it's a Democrat. When it's the GOP, well, you know, both sides do it so it's totally kosher.*********************

So sad, so true. "Fairly unbalanced", as the saying goes.

Posted by: sosad on November 23, 2009 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

As the media mavens will quickly point out, their job is to provide balance. And balance means that Coburn's most risibly dishonest claim gets printed, along with (6 paragraphs later after the jump) a single sentence about how "some say Coburn's statement is not true" with no further explanation.

Posted by: Domage on November 23, 2009 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

"Without political consequences for dishonesty, this is only going to get worse."


What do you think 'worse' would sound/look/feel like, and do you envision any consequences for the 'worse' behaviour?


Posted by: Bill on November 23, 2009 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

For all of you slow learners, let me repeat myself:

We lie...
We know that we lie...
There are no consequences for our lying...
Our base believes all of our lies...
We will continue to lie...

The fact is that our lying works.
The fact is that our base believes our lies.
The fact is that our lies confuse many/most of the 'independents' and get them totally convinced that all sides are lying.
The fact is that our corporately owned media will not point out our lies.
The fact is that our corporately owned media will continue in their fantasy world of 'he said - he said'.
The fact is that there is no reason for us to stop lying!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on November 23, 2009 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps we should start lying on our side.
Here's a few off the top of my head:
1. Health Care reform will add inches to that certain part of the male anatomy.
2. HCR will provide free plastic surgery to middle-aged Republican women.
3. HCR will eliminate menopause
4. HCR will pay off your mortgage.

Posted by: John D'oh on November 23, 2009 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

The Dims and Obama administration's worries about the deficit may not be lies like, you know, Repugnant lies, but -- shit -- the motivations are very similar: corporate health over human health.

And the Dim and Obama blather about Afghanistan may not be lies, like Repugnant lies, but, you know, people are dying for no good reason...

So no soapbox for the Dims...

Posted by: neill on November 23, 2009 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

OK, but what are the political consequences? Voters can't be roused re: individual lying Reps/Sens. if they don't know -- and not everybody has time or interest to follow as closely as we do or, even more, the astonishing Steve (and even he marveled at all the lies). There's obviously no fact-checking by TV or papers on smear ads. Reid has no influence with Senate Republicans, but seems often unable to keep in line alleged "moderate" Dems.

Posted by: SF on November 23, 2009 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

And in other news, dog bites man...

Posted by: citizen_pain on November 23, 2009 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

How much good does the DNC fact checking do if it is reported only on liberal blogs and read by liberals? Dems need to stand up in the halls of Congress, shout "You lie!" and then tell the world the truth, citing references. That would get the attention of the MSM, maybe.

Posted by: CDW on November 23, 2009 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Eric Boehlert of Media Matters has an excellent post on the sad state of media. The media is driven by the right wing noise machine. Just watch any White House Press Corps briefing with Robert Gibbs. The majority of the questions start with "critics say" (aka the Republicans) blah blah blah. How do you respond to that?? Meanwhile, the media is too lazy to do any fact checking. If the conservatives are complaining about it, it must be news.

Following are excerpts from Eric Boehlert's post.
Unfortunately, the bow charade proved once again the press still cannot resist the right-wing's siren song. The press cannot turn away from the loud, fringe shouts, even when those shouts revolve around utter trivia, and when those knee-jerk shouts are about a story that can easily be answered with the question, "Who cares?" As in, who cares if some people online didn't like the angle of Obama's greeting?

The sad truth is that the press is still way too impressed with the right-wing shouts and still capitulates to them, and then dutifully translates those shouts into "news" with coverage that seems purposefully dumbed down in order to avoid bringing news consumers to the obvious conclusion that the Obama-hating allegation being "debated" that day is absurd. Or, to avoid bringing news consumers to the equally obvious conclusion that the allegation being "debated" raised more questions about critics making it (i.e. what is wrong with these people?), than it did their target.

Posted by: Ladyhawke on November 23, 2009 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, the media will counter all the lies and be sure the American public knows the truth. Right? Right?

Hey, look at what is happening long term. Traditional media are going down the tubes financially, as they should. And bloggers are becoming more useful in countering the liars.

So, apart from real pressures on the issue of the moment, health care, the long term trend is good: MSM media down, bloggers up.

Posted by: Bob M on November 23, 2009 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

On The Other Hand:

Newspaper readership is dwindling, and TeeVee news casts draw audiences a fraction of Idol/Stars/MNF.

And that audience of a few hundred thousand viewers is made up of (A) the Wise and Informed -AKA readers of this blog- (B)hard core Neanderthals- AKA Palin in 2012! supporters, and (C) Independant people who tuned in by mistake and will believe anything on TeeVee because 'it must be true, or they couldn't say it.'

That third group may fall for the GOP lies from time to time, but, given their attention span and limited memory, we need not fear for the future of our Republic just because the Republicans are lying.

Besides, everybody knows that if they keep it up, their noses will grow longer. . .

Posted by: DAY on November 23, 2009 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

I think that the GOP is phoning it in -- knowing that the Dems will pass something called Health Care Reform in the end -- and that they have no real role in the process, nor do they want one. So why spend a lot of time and mental energy on marshalling a substantive argument on the merits. Better to let Bachman talk about blood rites and Orrin Hatch's Holy war. It's just a show.

Posted by: tom in ma on November 23, 2009 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

The sad truth is the Chinese government is amused at the macinations of the US government on the hook. There will be trying times shortly. Count on it!

Posted by: EC Sedgwick on November 23, 2009 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

The media doesn't just accept Republican lies, it promotes them. Virtually all news coverage about healthcare has been about the opposition and its false claims. Look at Stephanopoulos's so-called round table this last weekend: one Democratic Congresswoman against three attack dogs: a rabidly dishonest Republican Congresswoman, perhaps the nastiest Republican senator of all (OK's Coburn), and Ben Nelson. Even the supposed "facts" about the healthcare bill, such as that it will "cost" x billion dollars, are fundamentally dishonest when presented out of context, as they always are. The bill won't cost one penny in reality; it will save money. Imagine if businesses, considering layoffs, were to describe them as "costing" money because of the severance pay, as opposed to what they always do say: that the layoffs will "save" so much money.

Posted by: keith on November 23, 2009 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

the US can never be more than a hollowed vestige of its former self, false prophet of its grand ideals as long as the public information is controlled by plutocrats. If US corporate media isn't neutered, a decent just America is not possible.

Posted by: pluege on November 23, 2009 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Its their motto: Just Lie; Its easier! Why do research?!?! Just make it up. Hey, it works on Republicans: supply-side works! neocon foreign policy works! Obama is a muslim! Why not try it on everyone.

Posted by: John Henry on November 23, 2009 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

The media abets these lies because they're consistent with Republican ideology. It's not enough to point out the lies, which the media just yawns at--you have to point out the hypocrisy.

And the Democrats don't have to lie. They just have to spell out the consequences of not doing anything: how much average Joe and Joan's health care bill will go up, how millions of people will lose insurance year after year, how drugs will keep getting more expensive.

Unfortunately, Obama isn't very good at simplifying the obvious: this bill means cheaper health care, cheaper drugs, more care for your children, and more help when you're sick. It's as simple as that:

More help when you're sick.

Posted by: polthereal on November 23, 2009 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans aren't lying -- they're looking into the future, after healthcare reform turns the USA into a full-blown communist nation and Obama reveals himself as the Antichrist (they know darned well Obama is really Osama with his beard shaved off).

Then all their lies will come true.

Posted by: William Slattery on November 23, 2009 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

It is time to go on the offensive and publicly blast Republicans as the Party who think it is OK for people to go bankrupt trying to pay for health care. Think it is fine for people to pay extra for insurance because the uninsured are forced to use emergency rooms. The Republicans think it is OK for thousands of people to drive hundreds of miles and wait outside in long lines for health care that they can not otherwise afford. The GOP thinks it is Ok that if you lose your job you also lose your health care.

Posted by: bakho on November 23, 2009 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

Dems need to stand up in the halls of Congress, shout "You lie!"

Each and every time a fib is uttered, get up, shout "YOU LIE" and sit down. Wouldn't that be a sight to behold!

Posted by: Kevin on November 24, 2009 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Deedee on January 18, 2011 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK



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