Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Monday, August 10, 2009

  Can right-wingers read? Pt. 3

Debra Saunders complains that leftists have forgotten that dissent is patriotic now that a Democrat occupies the White House. A shame that Republicans on the whole didn't seem to think so during the last eight years.

But what's her evidence of vast left-wing hypocrisy? A gross – and apparently deliberate - misreading of a blog post at the White House website. Saunders goes so far as to rewrite the post to transform it into the very thing she wants to decry. Her best defense, in the circumstances, would be that she cannot actually read.

Here's her account of what she insinuates is a WH plan to track dissent against the President's healthcare policy:

Imagine it's four years ago and an aide to President George W. Bush posted a blog on the Web site that bemoaned Internet criticism of the Iraq war, then continued: "These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain e-mails or through casual conversations.

Since we can't keep track of all of them here at the White House, we're asking for your help. If you get an e-mail or see something on the Web about anti-war protests that seem fishy, send it to"

Substitute the words "health insurance reform" for "anti-war protests," and you get the exact wording of a blog posted by Macon Phillips, the White House director of new media, on Tuesday.

But the WH blog post doesn't concern dissent or opinions. Phillips is quite clear that WH wants to learn what kinds of false information about health care reform are being circulated beneath public scrutiny, so that it has a chance to rebut them publicly. Pretty simple and reasonable request, I'd say, asking people to tell them what dumb lies they've been hearing.

Saunders can't be bothered to address what Phillips actually writes. So instead she transforms his "disinformation about health insurance reform" into "criticism of the Iraq war", and "health insurance reform" into "anti-war protests". In other words, she equates questions of fact with political opinions in order to insinuate that the right to express dissenting political opinions is under threat.

It appears to be calculated deception by Saunders. A more charitable explanation of course would be that she's simply illiterate.

What follows is the full text of the WH blog post in question (minus a video link):

Opponents of health insurance reform may find the truth a little inconvenient, but as our second president famously said, "facts are stubborn things."

Scary chain emails and videos are starting to percolate on the internet, breathlessly claiming, for example, to "uncover" the truth about the President’s health insurance reform positions.

In this video, Linda Douglass, the communications director for the White House's Health Reform Office, addresses one example that makes it look like the President intends to "eliminate" private coverage, when the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

[Video clip]

For the record, the President has consistently said that if you like your insurance plan, your doctor, or both, you will be able to keep them. He has even proposed eight consumer protections relating specifically to the health insurance industry.

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to

Here are the complete videos that Linda refers to. First from the AARP:

[Video clip]

And then from the President's news conference:

[Video clip]

crossposted at

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