Thursday, August 27, 2009

On The Fringe, Apparently

Sometimes what a politician says quite actually reflects what he, or she, really is thinking. Instead, however, the media would prefer to give the hometown, or statewide, heroine a pass and report what she would rather readers believe that she has said.

A case in point is the comment made by U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D.-La.), whom no one has ever confused with a liberal/progressive. Greg Hilburn of the writes that Senator Landrieu appeared before the Monroe, Louisiana Chamber of Commerce on August 26 and

When asked after her speech if the senator would support a public option under any circumstances, she said, “Very few, if any. I’d prefer a private market-based approach to any health care reform that would extend coverage.”

Understandably, Hilburn concluded "U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu told a relatively friendly overflow Monroe Chamber of Commerce crowd that she would likely oppose any government insurance option in health care reform...."

It's too much to expect a local paper to investigate the Senator's connections to the industries she supports. Except in a few rare istances,that isn't done any more, in part bcause of a lack of financial incentive. It would have found something worth critical evaluation, such as

Sen. Mary Landrieu raised $1,676,353 from the health and insurance sectors over the course of her career. Her first day in office was January 7, 1997. In total, she has served 4,574 days as a United States Senator. This calculates out to her raising $366.50 every day from the health and insurance sectors.

But someone from Louisiana or national media might have asked Senator Landrieu what she actually meant when she asserted her preference for a

private, market-based approach (to)

any health care reform that would extend coverage.

This is not putting words into the Senator's mouth, but rather what she said. She likely would oppose "any health care reform that would extend coverage" because it is not a "private market-based approach." Her own words, if true, mean that she opposes extension of coverage. Perhaps if asked, she would deny that she meant that. Or maybe she would admit to it. Either way, she would be denied the privilege of having moderate and conservative Louisianans- as well as the mainstream media- believe that she is merely supporting a "market-based approach" while her more conservative audience, doubtless dominating the Chamber of Commerce gathering, is left happily believing that its senator opposes any extension of health care coverage. (Then she might be asked why she likes a "market-based approach" but dislikes competition.)

This is more than an exercise in semantics. Words have meaning. And negotiating with Republicans, or even as in this case, a moderate-conservative Democrat, who oppose even the modest concept of extending health care coverage is (alliteration alert) not only fruitless. It is futile. And foolish. And foolhardy.

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