As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, May 08, 2009

Look To The Data And Frame Accordingly

So here we go with another blogosphere-level talk about framing, this time applied to the health care debate. Frank Luntz has dispatched his memo, and Celinda Lake dispatched hers, and then every winger parrots the Luntz points, and then liberals get all indignant about it, and finally George Lakoff comes in and tells everyone that Democrats are nurturant parents and Republicans monsters.

Where exactly do we get with this exercise? Luntz' talking points date from 1993 and actually much further back than that. We've been having these arguments since Harry Truman proposed national health care in the 1940s. Each side thinks they can outsmart the public into accepting their views, but I really think political insiders make too much of this. In the 40s and 50s, doctors were more plentiful and the greed baked into the current system not as obvious. Now everyone who interfaces with the health care system winds up unhappy about one aspect or another. They hate the insurance companies and like their doctors. You can try and leverage that any way you want, but masking over this essential truism will never fly. That's why I actually think that progressives have been smart to foreground the idea of a public health insurance plan over everything else, even though the cost containment and how to fund the overall plan are far greater obstacles to success. According to Lake's poll, 70% of the public supports a public option, and they are completely resistant to attacks. That's because current insurance options suck, and everybody knows it. They also generally like the President, and will support who he supports, and that (at this point) includes a public plan.

In the end, public opinion actually does strengthen with experience. It's easier to fool people about something abstract, but there's nothing abstract about health care. People understand the devil they know; it cannot possibly be worse than the devil they don't know. You can put rings around the rhetoric and make it look pretty, but in the end, people will support you if you relate to their lives.

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