My new favorite pundit, Glenn Greenwald, has a pretty incisive column today. Greenwald uses the example of an obvious lie told be Charles Krauthammer - that a majority of Americans oppose same sex marriage. The lie was exposed by a Yahoo news story from August 12, 2010 (where a razor thin majority, before the margin of error favors same sex marriage).
Personally I want to point out that Republican politicians and pundits did exactly the same thing with health care reform. Back in the spring of 2009, polls showed Americans favored health care reform, that current costs were too expensive although there was concern about how it would be implemented. But as 2009 wore on, Republicans hammered on the theme that Americans opposed health care reform, and achieved some results, possibly because of the spectacle of the town hall meetings (August Quinnipiac Rasmussen). Kaiser generally stated at the time a slim percentage of Americans were in favor of HCR. Frankly it may matter who asked the poll question. To jump ahead a bit, by March 2010 a clear majority of those polled opposed HCR. It is still bouncing around, although it looks like a slim majority now oppose HCR reform. And my contention is that this was caused and achieved by a relentless Republican chant that it was so.
Back to Greenwald's column, he basically hits the high notes concerning the behavior of conservative pundits and politicians. How if a majority of Americans support or oppose something, then Democrats are supporting unpopular policies, and playing the bigot card because they have nothing else. Greenwald makes the point that conservatives are distracting people from the biggest issue in America, the recession (particularly related to jobs) mostly by finding fringe issues (New Black Panthers, ACORN, Shirley Sherrod, the Ground Zero mosque, illegal immigrants, same sex marriage, even Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech). But these wedge issues are also further polarizing Americans, playing on people's race-based fears, turning them into hatred.
Meanwhile, some Democrats, particularly those who might have won seats in majority Republican districts, are joining in the criticisms of their own party, helping to legitimate the outrageous accusations of the conservatives. And then there is the Obama administration. For all the good they may have done in some areas, they seem more interested in helping and supporting Wall Street than in helping ordinary Americans. This instead of helping the poor like Obama campaigned on.
Greenwald spares no one in his critique of American politics, which I think is a good thing. I don't know how many people read his columns (or if any of the right people do), but at least he is trying. I have wrtten before about why I think Obama has not tried to do more, but increasingly I am feeling that Obama should take the risk of playing into the hands of conservatives, to do the right thing.
Meanwhile, though, Greenwald is doing, in my opinion, the best job of focusing our attention on what is important.