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The five Ws: Who, What, Why bother, What again, and, um, does CW start with a W?

Some of y’all may know that one of my two Senators (and I only have two, which seems a little sparse, doesn’t it?) is an asshole.

That’s not my point. Although, you know, it is unbelievably frustrating to know that—do you remember, Gentle Reader, back a few years ago, when YHB was talking about the potential outcomes of the 2006 election? I dismissed the idea that my Party would continue to give committee assignments to somebody who ran against their elected candidate in the general election. And I certainly didn’t imagine that my Party would continue to give committee assignments—and seniority—to someone who endorsed the other Party’s presidential candidate, campaigned for that candidate and against Our Only President, and appeared at rallies in support of the other Party’s other candidates against our Party’s other candidates. That is just ridiculous, that my Party would do that, and particularly ridiculous that they would give him lots of power considering what an asshole he is.

Well, now it seems that Sen. Asshole is seriously threatening to join the other Party in filibustering Health Care Finance Reform. Not just voting against it—we don’t have the Party discipline in this country to make a vote against a major bill like that hugely surprising (and it might be a Good Thing that we don’t have that discipline, or it might not; there are arguments either way). But filibustering? That’s just shit behavior.

But I didn’t really want to waste space in this Tohu Bohu cursing my Senator. I mean, seriously, shit behavior, but you knew that already, right? Particularly since, as everybody has been pointing out across Left Blogovia, his stated objections to the Bill are utter nonsense on the face of them.

No, what I wanted to point out was an article in the morning Times called Democrats Divided Over Reid Proposal for Public Option. To begin with that: I think divided implies that there is a fairly even division. Not necessarily 29-29, mind you, but 40-18 or so. If it’s more like 50-8, then you want something closer to Democrats Not United or even Democrats Fail to Come Together. But fine, divided technically could mean 55-3 or even 57-1, although I don’t think you really want your headline writer to just be technically not incorrect, rather than conveying accurate info. But perhaps that’s just me; I’m a blogger, and my headlines convey nonsense, as much as possible, so maybe I’ve misunderstood newspaper headline writing, which I haven’t done since twelfth grade.

And I can’t altogether blame the writers, David M. Hersenhorn and Robert Pear, for the headline, because there are headline writers, after all. But they did begin the article thusly: “Senate Democrats voiced deep disagreements on Tuesday over the idea of a government-run health insurance plan…” One might expect a story starting thusly to go on to answer certain important questions provoked therein, questions like How many Senate Democrats? (for those who are following the story, that is important) and Which Senate Democrats? and even Why? or at least How did they voice that disagreement? Shall we see?

The first Senator mentioned is Sen. Reid, of course, who is not quoted in support of his bill, but who can be presumed to support it, albeit diffidently. Then we go to Sen. Snowe, of course, who is not a Senate Democrat at all, and who opposes the bill, just for reference sake. The next up is Sen. Baucus, who is quoted as saying that he doesn’t know if enough other Senators will support the bill. The Senator from Montana did announce his support for the bill, by the way, but that was not mentioned in the story. Still, there is certainly no claim here that he “voiced deep disagreements on Tuesday over the idea of a government-run health insurance plan”. Then we are off to Sen. Dodd, who supports the bill, and Rep. Hoyer, who isn’t in the Senate but supports a similar bill in the House.

Now we’re about halfway through the article, and it starts to get interesting:

But even as Mr. Reid spoke, some members of his caucus, surrounded by reporters in the hallways outside the Senate chamber, were expressing deep skepticism, if not outright opposition, to a government-run plan.

Oho, now, this sounds like what we were talking about up at the beginning. So. Who were they, and what were they saying?

Never mind. They don’t tell us. They mention five Senators who have not yet announced their support of the bill, but they don’t say whether they were those expressing skepticism in the hallways. No, our next quote is from… oh, guess. Come on, guess. I’ll narrow it down: it’s not a Senate Democrat. No, actually, it isn’t the asshole from Connecticut, it’s Sen. McConnell, leader of the Republicans in the upper house, and it seems that he does not support the bill, right, right. Then back and around to some procedure, back to Sen. Snowe, on to the asshole aforementioned, who is not a Senate Democrat but is a member of the caucus, and so I assume was engaging in hallway expression.

And then we get to Sen. Nelson, who said that—are you ready—he could not make a commitment on the bill without reading it. Does that count as voicing “deep disagreements … over the idea of a government-run health insurance plan”? What about Sen. Bayh who the Times says welcomed the proposal? Or Senators Kerry, Rockefeller and Stabenow, who are described as enthusiastically supporting it? Or Sen. Kirk, who predicts its passage?

No. In the article there is not one single instance of a Senate Democrat voicing disagreement with the public option. There is not one single instance of a Senate Democrat stating that he will not vote for the bill. Not one. It is true that my Senator is an asshole, and it is true that he can fuck us all on this, but it is not true that he is a Democrat, and even if you count him in the caucus (which makes the lead sentence technically inaccurate and misleading, but kinda sorta truthy in a way) that is one.

I’ll add—I am willing to believe that some of the Senators did, in fact, talk about their disagreement with the whole idea of a government-run health plan. But if they did, I didn’t hear about it from this article. I mean, seriously, I would like to know: How many Democrats are opposed to this bill? Which Democrats are against this bill? Because that is important information, and I don’t have it.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,