Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Worst Editorial Page in America

Is there a worse editorial page writer for any major city newspaper in the United States than the one responsible for editorials at The Tennessean?

Please know that I am not criticizing the Nashville based paper for being liberal. There are certainly other newspapers with editorial pages as liberal or more so than The Tennessean. While I may disagree with those others, I can still acknowledge their ability to write or think. In fact, it is actually good that the editorial page of The Tennessean is liberal. It would not really help the conservative cause to have to defend arguments made as badly as that newspaper does. Goodness knows we have enough trouble with that already.

Anyway, today's editorial begins badly with the following statement:

The moment Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton recently announced a universal health-care proposal, the entire presidential campaign world seemed to have a heart attack.

The very moment, huh? A heart attack? Of course, I know that the writer means this to be taken figuratively, but does anyone have any idea what he is talking about? Ms. Clinton's proposal has certainly generated a lot of reaction from other candidates -- as she intended for it to, as she is now driving much of the debate taking place in both parties. While the other candidates have reacted, I am not sure that any have over-reacted, much less responded in a kind of way that could be referred to as a "heart attack."

The editorial' s second sentence says, "This is odd." Well, all of these metaphorical heart attacks would have been odd if they had happened, but they seem to be figments of the editorialist's imagination, which would make his inner thought process the thing that is odd. Does the editorial writer really find it odd that the other candidates have responded with criticisms and counter proposals? What were they expected to do? Genuflect and kiss Ms. Clinton's ring?

The third and fourth sentences of the editorial:

The concept of providing health care for every American does not start and end with Hillary Clinton. Clinton did not invent the concept of universal health care, although some seem to believe she did — whether they're for universal care or against it.

Well, now, isn't that profound? Let's see. Harry Truman favored universal health care, as did Richard Nixon. The issue has been at least a part of every presidential campaign that I have followed -- going back to 1976. It has been the subject of major reforms in Massachusetts and major reform efforts in California and other states in recent years. So, you say Ms. Clinton didn't start it? Thanks for the information? As for the statement that "some seem to believe she did," one wishes that the writer had given one example. Who believes that? Perhaps some guy out in a corn field? That would be the straw man.

After dismissing debate over Ms. Clinton's proposal as "bluster," the editorial then proceeds to lecture the presidential candidates -- none of whom will be terribly likely to read it, though the writer laments that he "hates to burst [their] bubble" -- about their alleged ignorance of a Mayo Clinic study supporting universal care. Was the existence of a study supposed to cause all to bow down before Ms. Clinton's proposal?

Then, in perhaps the most unintentionally ironic statement of all, the writer laments that this bubble bursting study "barely made a blip on the radar screen of public attention." Of course, since this study was so important and deserving of public attention, I am sure that The Tennessean featured it on their front page, along with reaction from local health care providers, insurers, employers, and health care consumers. Didn't they? Perhaps they did, but when I tried to search the newspaper's website for the story, I couldn't find it.

A newspaper complaining that an important story didn't get public attention, when the newspaper failed to run the story, is just bizarre.

There's so much more, but I think that is enough. The problem really is that this is representative of the quality of the editorial page.


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