Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cannibals Vs. Their Dinners

Imagine a political debate between the heads of the Cannibal Party and the party representing their dinner. The way American media would cover that debate is by stating that each side is fractious and combative and that a compromise and maturity is strongly needed.

Paul Krugman writes about a gentler and kinder version of this in American current politics:
Think about what’s happening right now. We have a crisis in which the right is making insane demands, while the president and Democrats in Congress are bending over backward to be accommodating — offering plans that are all spending cuts and no taxes, plans that are far to the right of public opinion.
So what do most news reports say? They portray it as a situation in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. And we have influential pundits calling out for a new centrist party, a new centrist president, to get us away from the evils of partisanship.
The reality, of course, is that we already have a centrist president — actually a moderate conservative president. Once again, health reform — his only major change to government — was modeled on Republican plans, indeed plans coming from the Heritage Foundation. And everything else — including the wrongheaded emphasis on austerity in the face of high unemployment — is according to the conservative playbook.
What all this means is that there is no penalty for extremism; no way for most voters, who get their information on the fly rather than doing careful study of the issues, to understand what’s really going on.
This is a feature, not a bug, of a system where the journalists are given absolution of the need to actually study a topic or to learn the relevant facts about the policies. Many of them do know the topics, but they are not required to educate us about them. That would be biased!