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October 20, 2009

Signs You're Settling Into "Deployment Mentality"

Standing in line at our local grocery emporium the other night, the Blog Princess suddenly found herself settling into The Groove: that Nirvana-like state inhabited by We Who Stand and Wait. There are signs - ominous signs and portents - which herald this enviable condition:

1. Though you detest TV and have no idea how to use any of the 5 remote controls in your living room, you find yourself turning on the television every evening after work.

Hey - it beats regaling the dog with the highlights of your work day.

2. You have seen both seasons of Deadwood 30,000 times. It just never (*%$ gets ^%$@-ing old....

3. The mysteries of the magazine rack begin to beckon. Exactly what did happen when Jennifer Anniston drunk dialed Brad and Angelina picked up the phone? Can you really lose 75 pounds in one week by adding this wonder food (see page 24) to your diet? Should you buy the latest issue of Marie Claire? You know, the one with "MUST READ - 'I was a sex slave - and escaped!!!" in big letters on the cover.

4. Your idea of a hot time between the sheets is settling in with a hot cup of green tea and the latest issue of Marie Claire.

5. You haven't slept more than 3 hours in a row in the last month.

6. Nothing gets your foolish heart racing quite like the politics section of the Washington Post.

The folks at the WaPo are feeling kind of tingly, too:

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that support for a government-run health-care plan to compete with private insurers has rebounded from its summertime lows and wins clear majority support from the public.

Americans remain sharply divided about the overall packages moving closer to votes in Congress and President Obama's leadership on the issue, reflecting the partisan battle that has raged for months over the administration's top legislative priority. But sizable majorities back two key and controversial provisions: both the so-called public option and a new mandate that would require all Americans to carry health insurance.

I will admit that (my passions being utterly spent by viewing the first season of Deadwood yet again) I was slightly more intrigued by the Post's euphoria than by the unexplored delights of the Anniston/Pitt/Jolie love triangle. Which so-called public option was the Post referring to? The naughty little impure version in the Senate? (perhaps an escaped sex slave in a past incarnation)

The "optional" House version? Just what is it that a "clear majority [of Americans] support"?

As it turns out, the option a "clear majority" support isn't before either the House or Senate right now. Let's call it the "hypothetical public option", because from what I can see when people were asked about what Congress is likely to vote on, more are still opposed than in favor:


Congress hasn't repealed the laws of mathematics, have they? Isn't 48 opposed still greater than 45 in favor? But then... doh! I forgot! A "clear majority" now favor "the public option"! Could this have anything to do with the fact that the words "public option" and "government run" never appear in the question. In fact, the question is cleverly phrased to make it seem as though it might be a market based solution such as a coop:


When we're not talking about some ambiguously phrased hypothetical plan:

68% of respondents thought it would increase the deficit
43% (a plurality) thought it would weaken Medicare
42% (plurality) thought it would result in too much government involvement in health care.

Those are not good numbers. Fortunately, the Democrats in Congress can rely on the President to get out in front of this issue:

As White House aides said President Obama will not demand a government-run option be part of his sweeping health care overhaul bill, top Democrats refused to back down from their steadfast support of the so-called "public option" on Sunday.

The war of words underscored the intraparty rift over the necessity of the plan in the final legislation.

In an interview Sunday with NBC's "Meet the Press," senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said Obama believes the public plan is still the "best possible choice," but she said he's not demanding it be included in the final legislation. The president's top adviser, David Axelrod, also downplayed the importance of a government-run insurance option, saying Senate opposition in both parties means "we have to work through these issues."

"The president has very consistently and clearly articulated his support for a public option,"

Well durnitall, if that doesn't settle the matter I don't know what does.

After all, this is a guy who just won a big fancy prize for consistently and clearly promising to do things he hasn't done. If he fights for the public option with the same commitment , decisiveness, and moral clarity he's displayed on Afghanistan, I'd say this is a slam dunk.

Wouldn't you?

Update: When your fellow journalists notice that your bias is showing, perhaps you're not playing it down the middle:

A game-changer? Wow, did the Washington Post pump up a very minor uptick when it comes to the public option. Last month in the Post/ABC poll, 55% supported the idea (in the way they worded it); this month, that number is 57%. But today’s headline (“Public option gains support”) is all public option advocates will need. Will the poll be a turning point in the Senate/White House merger negotiations as they wrestle with whether to include some form of a public option in the bill that's offered on the floor? To be fair, this is the fourth time when majorities in the Post/ABC poll have favored the public option. Perhaps that is what the paper was trying to point out...

Or perhaps they're just clutching at straws.

Posted by Cassandra at October 20, 2009 08:35 AM

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If you ask a question that sounds like this:

"Do you support the government giving you another choice in addition to your current plan?"

...people support it. If all the government wants to do is provide another option, and my existing plan becomes neither more expensive nor goes away, why would I oppose it?

If you ask a question that sounds like any of these:

"Do you support...

"...the government replacing the market in providing health care?

"...a proposal to insure most remaining Americans, even if it means significant cost increases or major new taxes?

"...a proposal to insure most remaining Americans, even if it might cause the eventual collapse of popular programs like Medicare?

"...government creating a new plan that would compete with your current insurance, even though it might drive your current plan out of business?"

...etc., then it looks like people are opposed.

Now, the question becomes: can the government, in fact, offer another option without new taxes/costs, undermining Medicare etc., or driving existing plans out of existence?

If the answer to that is "no," than polls which suggest that people are OK with the new option are misleading. They are OK with being given something for nothing -- a new option, at no cost. They are not OK with paying for what is being offered.

Posted by: Grim at October 20, 2009 11:49 AM

That WaPo article is one of the most unintentionally hilarious bits of shilling I have ever seen.

It truly is a masterwork. Did you notice the CAPITAL LETTERS in the subtitle?


Posted by: Cassandra at October 20, 2009 12:02 PM

I hadn't, until you mentioned it.

It's an odd kind of poll, because it's really a push-poll in support of the President, but with some legitimate internals. I have a feeling they intended the internals to give the top-level questions cover, making the poll appear legitimate throughout; but what the contrast really does is undermine their top-level conclusion (and headline/subhead).

Posted by: Grim at October 20, 2009 01:42 PM

The last line's a killer too:

"Questions 18 through 35 held for future release."

Posted by: Cassandra at October 20, 2009 01:45 PM

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that support for a government-run health-care plan to compete with private insurers has rebounded from its summertime lows and wins clear majority support from the public.

Q. I would rather:

a. have a public option in national health care


b. go bobbing for French fries.

Whoa -- 97% of the public supports the public option, with 3% undecided...

Posted by: BillT at October 20, 2009 01:52 PM