Tilting at Windmills

September/October 2012 Where’s the beef?

By Charles Peters

One of the main problems of Obama’s health care bill has been the lack of public understanding of its provisions. Why doesn’t the public know? One answer comes from the Pew Research Center, which studied media coverage of the bill and found that only 23 percent was of substance, while 49 percent was about “politics and strategy.” Of course, the same is true every day on every issue as the media continues to focus on politics, not substance.

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly and the author of a new book on Lyndon B. Johnson published by Times Books.


  • Richard Monahan on September 01, 2012 10:33 PM:

    Democratic pundits continue to labor under the delusion that if they just had more time to explain, just one more speech, one more Times Editorial, the public will understand how wonderful this truly is. No., there has been a major over reach on medical reform, a misreading on how far to go and how to lead on this. Emanuel had it right. There has been more than enough time to bring the public on board and its delusional to think that at the eleventh hour some magical transformation is going to take place. Sorry, deal with reality. Obama spent considerable political capital on this in the midst of a horrible economic crisis. He got what he wanted and people hate it. Even if it proves to be a good thing in the long run, and since this thing is designed worse than a Rube Goldberg Contraption, that proposition is 50/50 at best; its still a net minus for now. Not only does the national leadership run from it, your Senate and congressional candidates aren't out singing its praises either.

  • Roger Keeling on September 13, 2012 6:52 PM:

    Monahan's comment is meaty enough to elevate him above the level of "troll," but only a bit. His comment is based on approximately nothing, just his bland assurances that he has some special insight in all this. Like virtually all rightwingers these days, when confronted with real-world numbers that don't affirm his preconceived positions, he just ignores them. Mr. Peters cites real-world numbers; Monahan does nothing to actually prove them erroneous.

    I don't have any hard numbers myself, but I know for a fact that the general public does NOT particularly understand all the features of Obamacare. They don't both because it is complex in any case, and because it has NOT been much explained by the media, or even by partisan advocates. My job involves discussing key elements of the new law with virtually all of my clients, and the level of utter ignorance about the details is remarkable. Thing is, the law will be almost entirely in force by 2014. And while folks may not know the details, they sure will know the results as they experience them. The rightwingers know this, too, which is why they are SO desperate to dismantle the Affordable Care Act BEFORE that happens ... something they can do only if they control the White House and both houses of Congress.