RealClearPolitics Media Watch

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Health Care Coverage: Tastes Great, Less Filling

I associate with what I like to think of as a fairly informed crowd. Most of these folks are up to date, and take great interest in the important issues of the day. Some of them even nudge up against brilliance when discussing current affairs.

Still, I doubt I'll offend any of my smart and sort-of-smart family and friends when I venture that there isn't a one of 'em that could give you anything resembling specifics on about half of what ended up in the health-care reform legislation that passed the House over the weekend.

I couldn't.

I'll bet you every single one of them, however, could come within a vote or two of telling you what the final tally was.

I can.

The Democrats passed the bill, 219-212, and something referred to as a companion bill that essentially tweaks the original piece of legislation was passed on the heels of the original, 220-211.

I suggest you not be impressed by that.

If I am correct in my assumption that after 14 months or so of endless debate on this landmark legislation that most people couldn't begin to tell you what is actually in the bill, is it worth looking around for blame?

If not, thanks for hanging in this long. Have a good day.

If so, the media is always a good place to start, right? Except I'll have none of that this time.

There has been entire forests of newsprint spent on this subject in newspapers alone -- especially the larger papers of record such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post. And many of these stories house almost nothing but eye-bleeding specifics.

If you are brave enough, Google their coverage. Then call me next year when you are done going through it to tell me what you found.

The major television networks also cumulatively devoted many hours to the subject. My gosh, the cable-news channels seemed to cover nothing but health care over the past few weeks. And except for the liberal and conservative screamers on these channels, there was some real meat in the coverage.

Certainly radio, led by NPR, offered wonderful reporting and discussion on the subject.

So if you are still with me, why is it so few of us can converse intelligently about the specifics in a bill that could have such a major impact on our lives?

Because it got to the point (as it always seems to these days), where it was a helluva lot more entertaining to watch our elected officials scream at each other, that's why.

Because somewhere along the line the discussion was co-opted by the yahoos on each party's fringe.

Because everything is either red or blue these days.

Because we like it this way, even if we won't admit it.

The partisan battle over health-care reform became the most important part of the story, not what was in the bill itself.

In some cases politicians took things to extreme levels. In the final two days the bickering on both sides made your average food fight look like a garden party.

Obama and Pelosi are socialists -- communists even! Boehner and McConnell hate poor people, and want them to die of a head cold!

So we were treated to this modern-day display of the Hatfields and McCoys for weeks on end. We watched it, we read about it, we listened to it ... and we talked about it.

But, hey, in-between, and if you cared at all, there were plenty of specifics ...

Then again, who bothers with the spinach when there's so much fast food to swallow?!

Oh, no ... maybe the media is to blame for all this ...

(Got a tip, a gripe, or some kudos? Send 'em along.)