To listen to the White House and its supporters in and out of the media, you would think that opposition to "ObamaCare" is the hobgoblin of a few small minds on the right. Racists, fascists, Neanderthals, the whole "Star Wars" cantina of boogeymen and cranks stand opposed to much-needed reform.
Left out of this fairly naked effort to demonize many with the actions of a few is the simple fact that ObamaCare -- however defined -- has been tanking in the polls for weeks. President Obama's handling of health care is unpopular with a majority of Americans and a majority of self-proclaimed independents.
Focusing on the town halls has its merits, but if you actually wanted ObamaCare to pass, casting a majority of Americans as the stooges of racist goons may not be the best way to go.
Imagine if George W. Bush, in his effort to partially privatize Social Security, had insisted that the "time for talking is over." Picture, if you will, the Bush White House asking Americans to turn in their e-mails in the pursuit of "fishy" dissent. Conjure a scenario under which then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott derided critics as "evil-mongers" the way Harry Reid recently described town hall protesters. Or if then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert and then-Majority Whip Tom DeLay had called critics "un-American" the way Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer did last week, or if White House strategist Karl Rove had been Sir Spam-a-lot instead of David Axelrod.
Now, I'm not asking you, dear reader, to do this so that you might be able to see through the glare of Obama's halo or the outlines of the media's staggering double standard when it comes to covering this White House. Rather, it is to grasp that the Obama administration has been astoundingly incompetent.
Lashing out at the town hall protesters, playing the race card, whining about angry white men and whispering ominously about right-wing militias is almost always a sign of liberalism's weakness -- a failure of the imagination.