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Jul 17, 2010 1:23 am


Egads!



Anyone who's read my book must assume that I am appalled at what's transpiring at the town hall meetings. They're right. I am. But I'm hardly surprised. No one who's examined the stats involving the public misunderstanding of 9-11 and the Iraq War could be surprised by the ignorance on display at the town hall meetings being covered by CNN and other media companies this month.

This time around, however, opinion makers finally seem to have caught on that public ignorance is a poison that could ultimately kill our democracy.

These are just some of the pieces that have crossed my desk recently:

  • Charles Blow: Health Care Hullabaloo

    A Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll released last Friday found that 28 percent of Republicans don’t believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States and another 30 percent are still “not sure.” That’s nearly 6 out of 10 Republicans refusing to accept a basic truth. Then again, this shouldn’t surprise me. According to a Gallup poll released last summer, 6 in 10 Republicans also said they thought that humans were created, in their present form, 10,000 years ago.

    Let’s face it: This is no party of Einsteins. Really, it isn’t. A Pew poll last month found that only 6 percent of scientists said that they were Republicans.

  • Bill Mahr: New Rule: Smart President ≠ Smart Country
    People bitch and moan about taxes and spending, but they have no idea what their government spends money on. The average voter thinks foreign aid consumes 24% of our federal budget. It's actually less than 1%. And don't even ask about cabinet members: seven in ten think Napolitano is a kind of three-flavored ice cream. And last election, a full one-third of voters forgot why they were in the booth, handed out their pants, and asked,"Do you have these in a relaxed-fit?"

    And I haven't even brought up America's religious beliefs. But here's one fun fact you can take away: did you know only about half of Americans are aware that Judaism is an older religion than Christianity? That's right, half of America looks at books called the Old Testament and the New Testament and cannot figure out which one came first.

    And these are the idiots we want to weigh in on the minutia of health care policy? Please, this country is like a college chick after two Long Island Iced Teas: we can be talked into anything, like wars, and we can be talked out of anything, like health care. We should forget town halls, and replace them with study halls. There's a lot of populist anger directed towards Washington, but you know who concerned citizens should be most angry at? Their fellow citizens."Inside the beltway" thinking may be wrong, but at least it's thinking, which is more than you can say for what's going on outside the beltway.

I would prefer that the tone of the public critics was less rhetorical. And Charles Blow needs to read my book; he'd see that Democrats are also beholden to myths and misinformation. But finally we are having a public debate.

Why the Iraq War didn't trigger this debate I'm not sure. But the health care debate is. For that I'm grateful.

Related Links

  • White House website debunks myths about health care

  • Chicago Trib Q & A on health care myths

  • Tim Egan blog in the NYT: Palin's poison



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