Monday, September 14, 2009

Charles Atlas Where Are You?

At the back of almost every comic book I read would be an ad. The scene would

be a beach on a sunny day with a boy and girl laying out on a blanket. An over-developed,

steroid-laden figure would kick sand in the young man's face and humiliate him in front

of his girlfriend. The ad promised that if you sent money for Charles Atlas's book of

exercises, you too could become muscle-bound and never have sand kicked in your face


Now that Labor Day is over, perhaps it is time for Democrats and Progressives

to find the political equivalent of Charles Atlas's book and bulk up or at least wake up.

For most of August, Progressives looked like deer caught in the headlights. They have

been shocked, surprised, baffled, and amazed by the tactics of Regressives to derail

healthcare reform. Yes, they knew there would be a debate and they were prepared

to duke it out on the substance of the differences between the two sides.

Unfortunately, substance would never make an appearance during this summer

recess. Instead, supporters of reform found themselves on the receiving end of every

outrageous and dishonest accusation opponents could invent. Members of Congress

found that reform meant the establishment of "death panels" to force grandma to accept

being euthanized to save money. They faced apoplectic constituents (well, sometimes

they were constituents) screaming they would be forced to let the government decide

what kind of treatment they received. Health reform was called a slide down the slippery

slope to communism or it was the first step towards a new Nazi regime led by Adolph

Obama (who isn't even an American citizen). Little old ladies and angry old men

screamed for government to keep it's hands off their Medicare. Oh yes, health reform

meant the end of Medicare and seniors thrown out into the snowy night to fight off

the wolves. It was a classic example of throwing "bull's geschicte" against the wall and

running with what stuck.

Since it was August, a notoriously slow month for corporate media, the yelling

and screaming, the accusations and counter accusations, the fighting and the violence

(including one finger bitten off) were showcased front and center morning, noon, and

night. Opponents knew the mayhem and anger would lead every news cast. They also

knew any town meeting, any community gathering that didn't erupt into paroxysms of

anger would not get any coverage. It used to be the rule in news that if it bleeds it leads;

but it's August, and if it yells it sells and they were cleaning up. Washington Post

columnist Howard (I work for the corporate media) Kurtz wrote about how the "media"

tried to counter the lies with "truth squads"; and how they failed miserably to put a dent

in the bullying and the falsehoods. Since he gets paid by CNN, nowhere in his column

did he mention the frequency with which violence and lies led top of the hour newscasts.

He didn't point out the corporate media invited every bomb-throwing, falsehood-laden,

Sarah Palinesque character on their shows giving them top billing and their biased

opinions and lies the appearance of genuine news deserving of genuine discourse and

debate. They even invited paid publicists to appear and repeat the attacks. The only

pundit to take on the lies directly and show the "health emperor" had no clothes was

Jon Stewart, the host of the Daily Show.

The end result was predictable. Breathless news-Barbies and Kens expressed

the opinion the nation was seriously divided. Americans were angry. We are at each

others throats. Pundits opined about which city would go up in outraged smoke and

ashes. Healthcare reform is dead they said. Obama is a lame duck already. Members

of Congress are scared for their very future. The idea of a government healthcare option

to compete with the private health insurance companies has gone the way of the Dodo

and the Edsel. It was over. The battle was lost. All of this was proclaimed while poll

numbers showed over 60% of Americans favored a public option; a majority of Americans

favor stopping companies from dropping coverage for pre-existing conditions; over 50%

easily supported health insurance which is portable and not dependent on their jobs and

Americans wanted a system that covers the 48 million of their fellow citizens who don't

have insurance now. While President Obama's popularity had fallen, it still hovered at

or above 50%. At the same time, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

and House Minority Leader John Boehner's popularity numbers hovered between 14%

and 18%. When asked who they trusted to best deal with healthcare and the economy,

Democrats beat Republicans by over 20%. To show you how effective the corporate media

carried the Regressive's water, senior citizens were told Democrats would cut or ration

Medicare, a program Republicans have tried to destroy since it's inception; and knowing

that if no reform is passed, Medicare will go bankrupt by 2017 and seniors will be left

with nothing.

I don't know why Progressives don't know how to fight or at least anticipate

what happened in August. The same crowd which lied about weapons of mass destruction,

lied about terrorist threats and manipulated the terror color code, lied about death taxes

and tax cuts for the rich, the same P.R. companies which created babies thrown from

incubators and the Harry and Louise ads in the last healthcare debate are working on

this project too. They understand truth doesn't matter. Language matters, vocabulary

matters, pictures matter, videos matter; and they controlled much of it in August.

Progressives kept getting sand kicked in their collective faces and did little to fight back.

When will Progressives realize the only way to win in this environment is to confront,

contrast, and castigate anyone who puts their head up to utter any words of discouragement.

Democrats in Washington appear to "have gotten the message", according to

the Punditocracy; and will run away from Obama and Pelosi to protect themselves in

the upcoming midterm elections. A friend told me he thought the 2006 election and

the Democratic re-taking of Congress was the American people saying "...we want change".

The 2008 election was " didn't hear us, we want change". If Democrats do not

produce change, the electorate will throw them out again as they did in 1994. They will

rise or fall with Obama. The good news is the battle is not over. The good news is the

majority of Americans are in agreement on the most important aspects of healthcare

reform. Congress can still be forced to have some backbone and do what is right.

Progressives and Independents can make their will known and force Congress to accede

to their demands. All it takes is good old fear. Make them more afraid of you than they

are of the corporate media and their toadies. You know how to do it.

As for Charles Atlas, Progressives have to understand their opponents are not

honorable. Those who want to turn the clock back to simpler and harsher times aren't

interested in honest debate. There are no rules and the corporate media will side with

which ever side gives them the best footage, the best sound, the closest thing to professional

wrestling as possible. The corporate media likes the status quo. The owners like

healthcare the way it is. They don't want new taxes on employers; nor do these corporate

CEO's want to lose the hammer they hold over working people, making them choose

between pay raises or higher healthcare premiums. This hammer has held down labor

costs for thirty years. It's time to kick some proverbial sand of our own. Are you up

for it? What do you think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please send them


1 comment:

  1. Well, what do you think of Obama's media blitz, in light of these earlier comments Bernie. I've seen some polls that indicate he's got the momentum back.