This Gallup poll has gotten a bunch of attention, and I figure it’s worth posting here:
Yesterday, Ruth Marcus (or rather, whoever writes her subheadline) called the House debate over the health care bill a “GOP blizzard of untrue statements.” And for good reason. The Republican argument against the bill amounted to a series of incoherent tirades denouncing the health care bill as an apocalyptic threat to everything good and decent about America. Hell, I half-expected someone in the Republican caucus to describe Speaker Pelosi as the “beast from the sea” and an “abomination of desolation.”
Which is a nice way of segueing into this point: although the formal term for what happened on Saturday is “debate,” you’d be hard-pressed to describe anything that happened on Saturday as an actual debate. A debate – as far as I understand it – is supposed to involve reasoned arguments and shared facts. If I were in a debate about Darkwing Duck’s crimefighting ability, for instance, then my opponent and I would have to agree on certain basic facts; that there is indeed a superhero called Darkwing Duck and that he is St. Canard’s resident caped crusader. If my opponent dismisses those easily verifiable facts, and instead insists that Darkwing Duck is a masked beaver, then well, we can’t really get anywhere.
This is basically where the country has been since the health care “debate” began. Democrats and liberals have offered proposals and ideas, and Republicans have responded with either outlandish misrepresentations or outright lies. Contra most of the mainstream pundit world, there hasn’t actually been much of a debate, and consequently the American people really don’t know much about what’s going on. Which is why I’m skeptical about surveys like the one above; in a rational political culture, where debates were open and constructive, that poll might actually mean something. As it stands however, that Gallup poll only shows two things: Americans are still anxious about health care reform and Republican demagoguery is depressingly effective.