James Fallows has solicited suggestions on how we can have a more civil political dialog in the wake of the Tucson shootings. Fallows’ project has merit, and as a consistently civil and reasonable person, he’s the right guy to take it on. But if I had a choice between a more civil discourse and a more honest one, I’d pick honesty every time.
The reason that hundreds of angry people came to town hall meetings in my Congressional district in 2009, and the reason that police had to be present where they had never been before, wasn’t because someone was “uncivil”. It was because their media heroes and party leaders told them a pack of lies about death panels, federal funding for abortions, Medicare being taken away and free insurance for illegal immigrants. The questions that my Congressman took at those hate-filled meetings weren’t reasonable queries about limited government, deficits and healthcare outcomes. They were questions about why he wanted to kill grandma, let the government pay to abort babies, and take away Medicare.
It’s an exaggeration to say that the whole Tea Party movement is built on lies, but not by much. And the beltway media is complicit in those lies, because they were so goddam eager to have a narrative of populist anger about healthcare that they conveniently neglected to emphasize that most of that anger was based on utter bullshit. The only way that’s going to change is if the same DC media decides they can call out liars and the lies they tell during next week’s repeal debate directly in the front page stories they write, not in some goody-goody factchecking ghetto buried behind the fashion section.