Wednesday, March 9, 2011

@daveweigel Wins the Journalism #FAIL of the Day

Dave Weigel is a journalist I generally respect. I don't always agree with him politically, but he is generally honest and often witty. However, today, in what I'm not sure whether it was a failed attempt at wittiness or just a #fail, he attempted to compare two things that couldn't be more different. Whether or not it was an attempt at humor, many others at all levels on the right are saying this.

In a tweet today he said "Well, passing an unpopular bill over waves of protests worked for Democrats in 2010. Right? Right?" and defended the comparison in a couple further tweets. In so doing he compared a law where more than 30% of people didn't support it because it should have done more (myself included), 40% supported it and about 25% were totally against it to one where a plurality of Wisconsinites are flat out against the bill; saying it should not exist in any form.

If this were the only problem with his false equivalence, I would just hit him with a tweet or two on Twitter, but that's only the start. President Obama, Senator McCain, Secretary of State Clinton, and John Edwards (among many others) debated the health care law for almost two years before it there was ever presented to a Congressional committee. Governor Walker, on the other hand, made one mention of changing collective bargaining rights during his entire campaign.

Then there was the legislative fight itself. For health care reform, the entire debate took nearly a year between the myriad committees, several floor debates, hundreds of amendments from both sides and incessant public input. Gov. Walker would hear of no amendments, even from his own party. By his own (tricked) admission, he wouldn't negotiate or even meet with the opposition until after his bill was passed. And just today passed a completely modified bill that few, if any, legislators have had the chance to read in the TWO HOURS from when it was put forward to when it was passed (and it still hasn't been released to the public to my knowledge).

While I believe Mr. Weigel is against Gov. Walker's union busting, it is outrageous false equivalencies like this that seriously damage the ability of reasonable people to have real discussions about what's going on in our country. Some times there are no comparably wrong (or right) things done by the other side. There is no comparison to people going armed to presidential events wearing a shirt saying "The tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of patriots." There is no honest "other side" to saying we shouldn't threaten or encourage the threatening of political opponents' lives. And there is no act that any modern Democratic has done that compares in any way to what Governor Walker and those 18 Republican state senators did today.