Stark was voicing his outrage that President Bush can find $2 billion a week to blow up people in Iraq but thinks $7 billion a year for children’s healthcare here in America is “irresponsible.” Yes, Stark used some loaded language; he was angry. Hell, I’m angry about it. And, predictably, as night follows day, the right-wing echo chamber and then the mainstream media expressed shock, SHOCK, I tell you, that hyperbole could be found on the House floor. Say it ain’t so!
Give me a break. This is just another piece of what Digby calls the “kabuki theater” of our national discourse--just like the similar “outrage” over the MoveOn.org ad, Rush Limbaugh’s “phony soldiers” remark, Ann Coulter’s anti-semitism, Al Gore’s “controversial” Nobel Peace Prize, etc. etc. Both sides do it, but the right has turned this into an artform, perhaps because they’ve had so much more practice. It’s manufactured outrage, designed to distract us from what’s really going on, a deft way of changing the topic.
In this case, what’s been lost to the conversation is the fact that the Republican Party just killed healthcare for one million kids. Digby wrote:
Does anyone think that what Pete Stark said on the floor yesterday truly upset the Republicans? Of course not. These are the same people who spent month after month calling president Clinton a rapist and worse, for crying out loud. They are not shrinking violets who believe that there are limits to acceptable rhetoric about the president. They don't believe there are limits to any rhetoric.
Everyone knows exactly why the Republicans sent out "statement after statement" about this obscure congressman's words yesterday --- distraction. Does anyone point that out? No. In fact, the damned Democrats go right along with this nonsense and "hold meetings" and leak to the press about how they agree with the Republicans agreeing that Stark caused the distraction, and basically showing themselves to be a bunch of pathetic fumblers falling for this nonsense over and over again.
Our national discourse is pathetic. Both left and right are to blame, as is our lazy, clueless media, which gobbles up this fake news like an addict on a meth binge. All are complicit, because all are profiting.
Fake outrage makes money. There are the full-page ads in the New York Times and USA Today, there are the fundraising e-mails from both sides, heck, they’re hawking "Christmas Defense Kits” and auctioning memorabilia from this phony outrage.
We’re all being played, right and left. One of these days the American people are going to wake up and say they’ve had enough.