Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Health Care Reform and Truthiness

"That's true, isn't it?"

"No, but it's accurate."

Sally Fields is torn apart by that difference at the end of Absence of  Malice.  She goes on to question her ability as a reporter and her perceptions of her relationships, and then she walks off the pier into the sunset.  And I am left thinking, once again, of truthiness.

Listening to The Great Health Care Reform debate is near to pushing me over the edge.  Things are accurate but not true and yet everyone is yelling at the top of their lungs.  No one is listening, because we all know our own truths and accept their veracity unquestioningly.  

Before the vote, I received robo-call after robo-call reminding me to call Gabrielle Giffords' office and tell her that re-election was in jeopardy should she support the reform bill. The buzz words were caustic and designed to intimidate and I was furious.  Nothing they were saying was accurate, because there was no bill increasing my taxes and forcing me to give up my current coverage and putting the government and President Obama in between my doctor and me.  Arguments were still being made and deals were still being cut and Rep. Giffords' voice mail system was overwhelmed and not taking calls on Saturday morning at 8am.  I sent her an email encouraging her to stick to her guns, but I think I'm going to have to do more.  A yard sign?  Phone banking?  She can't be punished for taking a difficult stand, especially when I'm glad she did it.

I was called as part of what I imagine was the US Chamber of Commerce's poll prior to the vote.  The young woman who was asking me whether I was in favor of a government take-over of the health care system and whether I was willing to pay higher taxes to support people who wouldn't buy their own insurance and if I wanted to add layers of bureaucracy between.... and at that time I could not listen for another second.  I begged her to do her own research on the issues she was raising and to listen, really really listen to the bias inherent in the questions and then I hung up.

There was no way to participate in the survey and accurately, truthfully, truly, really, honestly, actually reflect my  opinions.  The questions precluded it.  I fancy myself as being comfortable with verbiage; I'm rarely at a loss when words are involved.  Yet for the 4 or 5 minutes before I ended the call, that questioner stumped me.  "Um.... maybe" wasn't on her response card.

So, when the results of the Chamber's poll were bandied about by talking heads on tv and radio and the inter-web, I was skeptical.  Americans didn't want health care reform and they were telling the pollsters that in no uncertain terms.  Only the terms were defined by the askers and there was no way to make it come out unfavorably to their cause.  Truth?  Accurate?  Or another triumph of truthiness?

Liberty Heights' courtroom scene ends with the honest admission that no, the student could not swear to tell the truth the whole truth so help him God.  The student's father runs a strip club and a gambling enterprise and the family never talks about what dad does.  The price of honesty and truthfulness is just too high.  The family lives a life of truthiness, denying the reality but enjoying the experience.

Frighteningly close to America today, wouldn't you say?


  1. I'm sorry I missed this post yesterday, glad I caught it today. There was so much detruthifying and truthlessness and half-truth-assedness going on around that debate, I'm fried! For example, The Hyde Amendment, that prevented federal funds from financing abortion, was already in place and applicable to the HR Bill; all Mr. Obama had to do was confirm that the Healthcare Reform Bill did not change it or challenge the Hyde Amendment. Surely, both congressional parties knew that. They were posturing for the election with all their hoohah about the bill "funding abortions." Red herrings, the lot!

  2. Too true, too true, Nance.

    I'm worrying that President Obama has "lost his voice." He told the hard truths in his speech on race -- has the toxicity of the atmosphere in DC knocked him off his game? I was glad to see that David Plouffe had rejoined the team... I'm waiting to see if the President can find his way to lead us with truths instead of posturing like the rest of them.

    I do give NARAL credit, though, for recognizing that, in this instance at least, silence is golden.

    Red herrings, indeed. It's the disrespect shown to the voters that infuriates me.


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