Two of my favorite programs, Comedy Central’s Daily Show and The Colbert Report, make a living by closely observing political news, finding instances where politicians disagree with themselves in some way, and splicing together footage to demonstrate those inconsistencies to highlight how ridiculous it all is. A wonderful example would be the Romney-Ryan campaign attacking Obama for stealing $716 billion from Medicare when they themselves have embraced the exact same cuts and more.
On the surface, criticizing someone for doing precisely what you intend to do might simply appear to be a bit hypocritical, but a little more reflection reveals that it’s actually much more ironic than that. To illustrate, I am borrowing the following from my friend, Jonathan Cohn, who writes for The New Republic. Cohn, in turn, quotes Steve Benen here, and I wanted to acknowledge both sources. Here’s the excerpt:
“What is Medicare? It’s a massive, government-run system of socialized medicine. It’s wildly popular, very successful, and one of the pillars of modern Democratic governance. This government-run system of socialized medicine was created by Democrats against the opposition of conservative Republicans, and it’s Democrats who’ve fought to protect it for more than a half-century.
Or to summarize, the left loves Medicare and always has; the right hates Medicare and always has. For liberals, the system is a celebrated ideal; for conservatives it’s an unconstitutional, big-government outrage in desperate need of privatization.
In 2012, once we get past all of the talking points and attack ads, we’re left with this: Romney/Ryan wants you to believe they’re liberals. No, seriously. Think about what the Republican presidential ticket, Fox News, Krauthammer, Donald Trump, and the Republican National Committee have been saying all week: those mean, rascally Democrats cut our beloved Medicare and voters should be outraged.
In other words, the argument pushed by the most right-wing major-party ticket in a generation is that Barack Obama is a left-wing socialist who wants government-run socialized medicine and that Barack Obama is a far-right brute who wants to undermine government-run socialized medicine.”
Ironic, isn’t it? There’s one simple explanation: When it comes to Medicare, America’s senior citizens are liberals insofar as they value the program and are wary of any threats to its continued existence, but many of them are conservative in every other way, including their opposition to “socialized medicine.” Obama’s position on Medicare is clear. It’s not going anywhere. The right is just exploiting the fears of the people for political gain. If this doesn’t make you feel exploited, maybe you should check for a pulse.