Here we go again. Another day, another speech on health care.
Will this one be any different? By all indications the answer is no, at least not dramatically so-- even though the speech is to a Joint Session of Congress. So how's a reporter supposed to write something new when there's really nothing new being said?
Well, watch how the media walks its walk on health care coverage in the next couple of days. Many reporters seem just about bored to tears with the policy details. Now they are in full-throated "who's up" and "who's down" political coverage. Unfortunately, most Americans still aren't satisfied with the policy proposals and are strongly rejecting the Democrats' plans for a government takeover of the health care system that they believe will hurt them, their families and their country.
Lost in the coverage is discussion of what Republicans have been trying to get the media to pay attention to. In general, the media has not given much coverage to the their well thought-out, common sense ideas for health care reform. Yes, the solutions are a bit complex, but so are the problems. It's easier to duck the substance and instead take a shortcut by saying the Republicans have no plan of their own and that they're just a bunch of naysayers.
To give them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps one of the problems is that reporters are overstretched trying to cover too many issues without enough resources. But it's also just as possible that many in the media just don't agree with market-based reforms that don't get to a government-run health care system and therefore elegant ideas such as allowing the sale of insurance across state lines, equalizing the tax system so that individuals and entrepeneurs are on the same playing field with big businesses and unions, and addressing the pressing need for medical malpractice reform just aren't that interesting to reporters. I'm not sayin'....I'm just sayin'.
The media is itching to write a comeback story after what was, by all accounts, a rotten summer for the Democrats. They'll want to say that the president has "found his voice," "reclaimed the issue," "reenergized the debate". To do that, they need to set up the piece with a contrast, even if it isn't true.
For example, The Washington Post this morning says that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is pivoting from his "just say no" strategy on health care reform. This is elementary-- good grief! The Senator has given 30 floor speeches since June on the topic and has given countless interviews -- and in every single one of them he outlines what the Republicans support.
I've seen this before-- even when you haven't changed your strategy sometimes the media will *say* that you have just because it fits their storyline better and gives them a political angle to write about.
Republicans are the minority party and they have an obligation to oppose policies when they think those policies aren't good ones. It's the Democrats that have shifted strategies so many times that now it seems like they are all the way back to square one.
I go by this rule: good policy is good politics. At this point, the Republicans have the better policy ideas and, therefore, the better political forecast. Perhaps we'll read that in tomorrow morning's papers...right?
Dana Perino currently serves as co-host of FOX News Channel's "The Five" (weekdays 5-6PM/ET). She previously served as Press Secretary for President George W. Bush. Ms. Perino joined the network in 2009 as a contributor.