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Daily Howler: Kornblut doesn't care for Clinton. Her cohort doesn't like Edwards
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KORNBLUT RIDES AGAIN! Kornblut doesn’t care for Clinton. Her cohort doesn’t like Edwards: // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2007

TOMORROW: Only Dems can have character problems! Tucker and Zuckerman prove it.

WHERE DOES OUR “KNOWLEDGE” COME FROM: As an American, you’re only permitted to learn certain things. (It’s a bit like the Truman Show.) Example: On Monday night, John McCain did the full hour on Charlie Rose. Discussing health care, McCain kept insisting that the Democrats want to give us “a big-government, single-payer solution.” This produced the following exchange:
ROSE (8/20/07): But nobody is suggesting single-payer, are they?

MCCAIN: Look at what the Democrats’ proposal is. It’s a government-run, single-payer system, like they have in Canada and like they have in England.

ROSE: But I beg to differ. They will say that it is not that at all. They are talking about raising taxes, they’re not saying a single-payer.

MCCAIN: Yes, but with all due respect, what are the wealthiest, you know?

ROSE: Well, they will say people who have a net income of over $200,000, I think.

MCCAIN: Well, I just think it’s more efficient, I think it’s better, I think it’s highest quality, highest quality medical care in the world is in the United States of America. It’s making it affordable and available. And that is what this debate is going to be about.
The conversation was puzzling in various ways. Despite McCain’s statements, “the Democrats” don’t have a uniform health care proposal; various candidates have proposed different things, and only Kucinich has proposed single-payer. In other respects, McCain and Rose seemed to be discussing the Edwards proposal; it’s Edwards who has proposed raising taxes on those making over $200,000 to pay for expanded health care. But for all the confusion, we were most struck, once again, by McCain’s denigration of the health care in England and Canada, and by his assertion that the “highest quality medical care in the world is in the United States of America.”

Uh-oh! According to the World Health Organization, the highest quality health care in the world is offered by France, and by Italy, and by other nations with single-payer systems, like England and Canada—countries which pay much less on health care, per person, than we pay for our inferior outcomes. But so what? Rose just sat and stared into space when McCain made his claims about highest-quality health care. He made no attempt to challenge his guest to explain what he meant.

Even at the upper end of our discourse, viewers heard again, without any challenge that single-payer health care stinks. Why did that happen? We don’t know. But, then again, there is this:

Last Friday, Rose had sat with his friend, David Rockefeller, chatting about the evenings they’d spent with their other good friend, the late Brooke Astor. When kids who grow up over the store in North Carolina go to Gotham and hook up with the swells, conversations like Monday’s tend to follow. As an American, there are certain things you simply won’t hear, even at the top of your discourse. One example: Basic facts about the world’s health care systems are being carefully rationed.

At present, single-payer health care systems produce better results at much lower costs. But only Paul Krugman, among major press figures, is ever going to say that. When McCain does the hour on Charlie Rose, you will hear the same old song. As Michael Moore amusingly showed in Sicko, they’ve been pimping this tale a long time, and they have no plan to stop.

Update: In today’s Post, Harold Meyerson lambastes the “moral malignancy” of President Bush’s opposition to the expansion of SCHIP—the State Children's Health Insurance Program. This is “the only American presidency that takes its moral guidance from...kindred Dickensian grotesques,”Meyerson writes. His question: “How else to explain a president whose concern for the financial interests of private health insurance companies so greatly exceeds his concern for the health of his nation's children?”

Once again, we’re amazed to see a column like this omit Bush’s history with this program, dating back to his days as Texas governor (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/19/07). It sometimes seems that, for us liberals, history began in October 02.

This tendency is maddening when it comes to SCHIP. Beyond that, we’re deathly afraid that this tendency may help yield defeat in next year’s election. We were non-existent during Campaign 2000, very weak during Campaign 04. Will we know what to do this time? We’re troubled. More to come.

KORNBLUT RIDES AGAIN: Then too, Anne Kornblut never fails. Today, she’s wasting our time in an Iowa eatery, pretty much seeming to pick-and-choose young Iowans’ random comments.

Yep! Kornblut is hectoring diners at the Waveland Café, helping them show us that no one in Iowa likes John Edwards any more. Though we’ll have to admit—the first thing that struck us in her piece was the way she selected her poll:
KORNBLUT (8/22/07): By no means a scientific survey of the Democratic field in the first-in-the-nation presidential nominating contest, a casual sampling of the mainly younger clientele [in the diner] that morning reflected a trend that is apparent in the polls: Edwards, who came in a strong second in 2004 and has held a lead in Iowa for a long time since, is no longer the runaway favorite. The most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll showed the top three Democrats in a virtually even tie in the state.
Kornblut’s statement is technically accurate; the most recent Iowa poll by the Post shows the three Dems in a virtual tie. (Obama 27; Clinton 26; Edwards 26.) Of course, that poll is now about three weeks old; a more recent poll, released by Zogby this week and widely discussed, shows Clinton leading by seven. (Clinton 30; Edwards 23; Obama 19.) Last week, a poll from the University of Iowa showed Clinton leading by ten. (There were criticisms of its methodology.) But these more recent polls weren’t discussed; Kornblut stuck with the older data. Why did she do that? We don’t know. But on two separate occasions in July, Russert blatantly skipped over polls that favored Clinton, producing a vastly misleading picture. But then, the insider press doesn’t care for the Clintons and Gore, in case you haven’t yet noticed.

And they don’t much care for Edwards either, as has been widely noted. And sure enough! As she wanders through the Waveland Café, Kornblut conducts what is “by no means a scientific survey”—and as it turns out, all four people she chooses to quote tell her they won’t vote for Edwards! But we couldn’t help wondering: Did Kornblut speak to only four people? And if she spoke to more than four people, what did the other Iowans say? The brilliant reporter fails to say, once again calling to mind the work of the great Ceci Connolly.

Quick history: By the spring of 2000, Connolly was becoming a legend, famous for her creative hits against vile Candidate Gore. (Example: It was her slick work which created the claim that Naomi Wolf told Al Gore to wear earth tones. A few weeks later, she “accidentally” “misquoted” Gore about that Love Canal bullroar.) Early in May, she attended a Gore town hall meeting in Albuquerque; 250 to 300 people turned out to hear Gore speak. You’d almost think that some of those people might have been favorable to Gore, the man to whom they’d devoted an evening; indeed, other journos wrote news reports describing the positive reactions Gore got (link below). But not Connolly! The Post ace interviewed five attendees—and all of them seemed to think that Gore was a bust! But then, that’s what a skillful “reporter” can do—if she decides to pick-and-choose the “random statements” she relays to you.

Could it be true? Did everybody in that diner think turn their back on Edwards? Did everyone say that Edwards was out? But beyond that: Did Kornblut speak to only four people? Or did she speak to maybe fifteen—some of whom may have favored Edwards? (Would you go out on such an assignment and interview only four people?) There’s no way to tell from this hapless report, since Kornblut fails to address these obvious questions. But she does remember to end with this, about Clinton, “the other white meat:”
KORNBLUT: Wendy Daniel, 31, a seventh-grade teacher in Des Moines who voted for Edwards in 2004, said she finds the former senator "just as interesting" as she did in the last race but has concerns about his wife's health.

"I just think he has a lot on his plate," Daniel said. "I feel sorry for him, because I think he would have been our next president" had his wife, Elizabeth, not had a recurrence of breast cancer, she said.

Now, Daniel said she is considering Obama, or maybe even former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the current Republican front-runner in national polls. "But if Hillary gets up there, I won't vote for her," she said emphatically. "I don't like her 'stand-by-your-man kind of girl who rides on her husband's coattails just to become president' thing. Maybe if she would have gotten a divorce and done everything for herself I would have thought about it."
Oh. Our. God. But man alive, it really felt good—to end the piece with that “random comment!” Getting her rocks off—and channeling Connolly—one of our worst campaign “reporters” seemed to feed you her views once again.

VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: We strongly recommend our classic report on that New Mexico town hall meeting (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/4/00). “Reporters” can totally tilt a report—depending on which “random comments” they choose to include in their piece.

Then too, reporters can use “random remarks” from the man in the street to work false facts into their reports. To see Bill Sammon perform this trick, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/30/99. Slick work—and strongly recommended.