Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Saturday, November 16, 2002
 
Andrew Sullivan is out of the box as the first right wing pundit to attack Al Gore's 'support' of a single payer health care system, first reported on ABC's Note. Matthew Yglesias correctly notes that the single payer system used in Canada is not actually the British system that Sullivan condemns, but shows no skepticism on the underlying story. One could also note that the British system Sullivan so roundly attacks is clearly valued by the British, however much they may complain about it. After all, Maggie Thatcher, famous both for her love of privatization and her willingness to openly embrace controversial proposals, never tried to change it in any serious way.

But I'm more curious about whether this whole story isn't yet another fabrication. The ABC story claims the statement was made "in front of (as best The Note can tell) only two members of the media". The media member who presumably gave them the story isn't identified. And there is no actual quote of either what Gore was asked or what his answer was - not that Gore 'quotes' as reported in the media can be trusted anyway. The media has been making up Gore stories and Gore quotations for years now. This story fits into a traditional anti-Gore meme (ABC in the first story was already labelling it a flip-flop, which it is, if Gore really is now supporting single payer) and an emerging anti-Gore theme that matches the emerging anti-Democrat theme (moving to the extreme left). So it is suspiciously convenient and ought to be treated with skepticism until it is supported by some type of credible information.

Of course, if it is true, it also goes against some of the traditional anti-Gore characterizations - single payer is notoriously unpopular in this country, so it certainly isn't the position of someone who will 'do anything to get elected', nor is it the position of someone who is driven only by polls. But notice you didn't see those being mentioned in these stories, and you won't see much about them in the future. The pundits know better than to emphasize truths which inconveniently undermine favored cliches.

Update: Another article at the ABC site does have an actual quote. Via Liberal Oasis.



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