In James Taranto’s Best of the Web in Today’s Wall Street Journal online (7/22/11)
Consider the two most controversial legislative initiatives of George W. Bush’s first half-term: the 2001 tax cut and the 2002 authorization to use military force against Iraq. Both had substantial bipartisan support: The former passed with “yes” votes from 28 House Democrats and 12 Senate Democrats; the latter had the backing of 81 House Democrats and 29 Senate Democrats.
By contrast, Obama’s two biggest legislative initiatives, the so-called stimulus and ObamaCare, had the support of a grand total of three Republicans in both houses combined (all senators who voted in favor of the stimulus).
Now, Obama backers might argue that these were just “practical, long-term reforms,” which theRepublicans were partisan for opposing. One’s own side, after all, is always principled where the other side is partisan. But the majority of voters did not seem to see it this way. The most modest interpretation of the 2010 election results is that Americans thought Obama had gone way too far and wished to restrain him from going further.
Which brings us to the current impasse involving the debt limit. The so-called mainstream media is engaged in a bizarre propaganda effort, aimed not so much at persuading voters to agree with Obama but at convincing politicians that voters agree with Obama. Green provides a particularly good example of this, selectively citing survey numbers to paint a picture of wide public support of the president, when in fact the polls are more ambiguous.
“A majority of Americans now say Congress should raise the [debt] ceiling,” Green writes. Perhaps so, in some surveys and subject to certain conditions. But in a Fox News poll released Wednesday, “voters were asked to imagine being a lawmaker in Congress who had to cast an up-or-down vote on raising the debt ceiling. The poll found 35 percent would vote in favor of increasing the limit, while 60 percent would vote against it.”
“Two-thirds agree with Obama that any deal should balance spending cuts with tax increases,” Green writes. “Only 21 percent favor the Republicans’ plan of cuts alone.” But according to aCNN poll, 66% favor a proposal in which “Congress would raise the debt ceiling only if a balanced budget amendment were passed by both houses of Congress and substantial spending cuts and caps on future spending were approved.” That’s the GOP “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan, which the Senate tabled this morning by a 51-46 party-line vote.
Taranto touches on the use of polls to influence rather than understand. The media is either too ignorant to understand or too biased to care. We seem to prefer a media who proselytizes with polls rather than informs us with thoughtful analysis