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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Health Care Reform and the 24 Hour News Cycle

Ben Nelson of Nebraska was bribed for his vote. So to was Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Bernie Sanders also received special treatment for his state. Senator Lieberman received a grant for the University of Connecticut. In fact, no less than 13 Senators have asked for carve outs for their states to exempt them from parts of the health care bill.

There's many reasons why health care reform is so unpopular. At the top of the list is the fact that the bill is a monstrosity. That said, the ugly so called sausage making process of legislating this bill from one committee to another to the full vote to the backrooms has played out like a soap opera right in front of us on the 24 hour news cycle.

For days, Neil Cavuto had small screen within a screen on his show that showed the locked door. Inside that door, a small group of Representatives and the Senators met to hammer out health care reform. It was the constant visual representation of just how non transparent the process was. As Cavuto interviewed the likes of Jon Cornyn and other Republican leaders he never missed an opportunity to ask them rhetorically if they could enter the room. Cavuto would often ask

what if you had a pizza for them

to the Republican. Cavuto spent a lot of time discussing the non transparency of the process.

The twenty four hour news cycle was tailor made for health care reform. Personally, I lost interest months ago. There are plenty, however, that can't get enough of the debate. So, to them, they can't get enough of cable news and the 24 hour news cycle. The 24 hour news cycle has not analyzed, but hyper analyzed, each and every twist and turn in this debate.

I'm not sure that every legislative process is this ugly but they are all somewhat ugly. After all, horse trading isn't new. Votes have been bought before. What's new is that each and every trade is brought into our living rooms 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Each and every ugly moment is magnified for the public at large.

Cable news has spent the last few days hyperanalyzing the vote that was bribed to Senator Ben Nelson. No wonder, he's seen his popularity fall so quickly. He's not the first to trade their vote for something for their state. He's the first to face the full fury of the 24 hour news cycle when doing it.

The exhaustion I feel, and the repulsion most people feel, toward the health care bill comes from the 24 hour news cycle's hyperanalysis of it. Almost nothing could hold up under that much scrutiny. With a bill as awful as this one, it's no wonder it's lost nearly all popularity in the face of the 24 hour news cycle.

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