Oh the hypocrisy of it all.
Medicare is a wedge issue... again. Only this time it's Democrats doing the wedging. They successfully hammered GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare plan to help a Democrat win the NY special House election in a traditionally Republican district. And the issue is giving them renewed confidence about the 2012 cycle.
How did this happen? According to Rep. Cliff Stearns (R., Fla.) in today's Wall Street Journal: "[The plan] obviously wasn't framed right." And Ryan himself complained: "They are shamelessly demagoguing and distorting it." According to Ryan, Republicans will have a better chance to make their case over the next 18 months.
If only they could frame it better. If only the other party didn't demagogue and distort the issue.
Wait, I've heard this before. Almost verbatim. Less than 18 months ago, when Obama's health reform plan suggested changes to Medicare, Sarah Palin started talking about "death panels" and the issue immediately became a wedge issue for Republicans. Obama complained that it was a communication problem. Democrats complained that the GOP was distorting and demagoguing the issue.
It is like two unskilled boxers in a ring. All they know how to do is try to throw a knockout punch. Don't jab. Don't defend. Don't develop a strategy. Just throw everything you can, whenever you can. Sometimes you can win that way. More often, you end up in a slugfest that leaves both sides bloodied but with no satisfactory outcome for the audience.
And we watch it as if somehow this time it will be different. We enjoy the bloodsport even though we are the people who end up dealing with the consequences.
Someone says it is time to act like "adults" but we know they're really saying: "I am in control now so I want the other side to behave." Or they say they want "bipartisanship," which means they want the other side to concede.
Our leaders routinely use language to manipulate meaning. They misuse words to confuse, obfuscate and distort. It's as if their goal in life is to help themselves politically. They'll help the country when they can find the time.
These people are pathetic on both sides. I thought President Obama was serious about bipartisanship until he quickly proved me wrong by forcing through a healthcare reform bill that deeply divided the country along purely partisan lines. I hoped Paul Ryan was serious about thoughtful dialogue, but thoughtful dialogue requires maturely addressing even your most hysterical critics. By accusing the other side of demagoguery -- even if it is true -- he only diminishes himself.
Unfortunately, the people on both sides who claim to be "principled" liberals or conservatives are no better than run-of-the-mill bomb throwers. They are not serious about solving America's problems. They are serious only about winning a political fight. Pathetic.
Where are the serious people? Where are those who understand that, in business and in life, we make compromises every day to succeed, to move forward, and to achieve our goals? Where are those who accept that wealthy people should actually pay more taxes (not just high tax rates but actual taxes)? And where are those who recognize that our current spending must change drastically if our economy and our way of life are to survive?
This nonsense that we watch daily on the news is so formulaic it isn't even fun to watch anymore. And while we sit on our sofas and talk about how bad the other party is, our country sinks into insolvency, illiteracy and incompetency.
Follow Michael Maslansky on Twitter: www.twitter.com/m_mas