As a compulsive news junkie, I have spent countless hours listening to the political flacks and pundits spin events within seconds of their occurrence. No happening is too important, too serious, too elevated to be trivialized by their inane speculations and self-serving interpretations. On this Christmas Eve [big play for "eve" in the NY TIMES crossword puzzle today], I find myself wondering what the spin doctors would have made of the birth of Jesus.
"This could turn out to be a real boon for the Pharisees if they play their cards right."
"I have just received a tweet from an anonymous source who says Joseph and Mary are not married. Maybe that is why they were denied a place at the inn."
"Later today we will be airing a twelve hour marathon program devoted entirely to exploring in depth the role that the media played in the impregnation of Mary."
"Peter Hart is with us by satellite phone. Peter, you have just done a focus group with some shepherds watching their flocks. What do they have to say about the birth?" "Well, Chris, as your old mentor Tip O'Neil used to say, all politics are local. The shepherds want to know, Is it good for the Jews?"
These and other irreverent thoughts went through my head as I sat in my living room at seven a.m. this morning, delaying my morning walk long enough to see the health care reform bill pass the Senate by an historic 60-39 vote [I have not been able to find out which Republican missed the vote.] Sure enough, no sooner had Vice President Joe Biden, in his role as presiding officer, announced the vote than the MSNBC and CNN talking heads started "interpreting" it for those of us presumably unable to recognize an historic moment when we see one. Right away, the mainstream media types started predicting that the victory would cost the Democrats seats next November, that the bill would be hard to "sell" to the American people, that the defection of a deeply conservative Southern Democrat betokened hard times ahead for Obama.
A little reality check, please. Obama ran on health care reform, he made health care reform his number one priority in his first year as President, he stuck to health care reform even while attempting to pull America back from the brink of a second Great Depression, and he is now one conference report away from delivering health care reform. As he himself said, "I may not be the first President to attempt health care reform, but I will be the last."
If Bush Two or Bush One or Reagan or Ford or Nixon had delivered a legislation triumph of this magnitude, the commentators would be falling over themselves announcing The Second Coming. [They still talk about Reagan that way, despite the fact that his presidency was an unrelieved disaster for the America people.]
So let us all take a deep breath and spend tomorrow reflecting on what has just been achieved. I shall go into hibernation until the conference reconciliation is completed and Pelosi and Reid have mustered, for the last time, the votes needed to pass this huge bill. Then, barely pausing for celebration, Obama and Congress will pivot to the creation of jobs, and devoted their energies to jump-starting an economic recovery.