Thursday, August 9, 2007

Rehberg, SCHIP, and the Billings Gazette editors

You'd think that by this point, even the Gazette editors would feel a little foolish trotting out the "for the sake of the children" mantra that has been so devalued in recent years because of cynical politicians using it to get things they want -- but that that don't have anything to do with children.

In their disjointed editorial earlier this week, the Gazette editors praised Montana's Democratic Sens Baucus and Tester, but scolded Wyoming's Republican Senators and House Republicans Denny Rehberg and Barbara Cubin.

OK -- we got that part.

Right in the title of the editorial, they state: "Veto-proof coalition needed for children's sake." They fall short of admitting that a more limited bill like the Senate bill could actually, with some work, become what the title of their editorial says they want -- a veto-proof bill that provides more low-income children with health insurance.

If some Republican concerns are taken into consideration during conference committee, it might perhaps be a bill that wouldn't be vetoed at all:

The Senate bill, authored by Baucus and Republicans Charles Grassley and Orrin Hatch, is strictly an SCHIP bill and it would be less costly than the House bill.

Sounds like something that should be done for the sake of the children, doesn't it? The Gazette editors even advocate for this bill:

The conference committee, which will include Baucus, needs to agree on a bill that's more like the Senate version than the House version.

So what's the problem? If it's for the sake of the children, and it is a strictly SCHIP bill, then the problem is solved, isn't it?

Well, apparently not, since the rest of the editorial appears to have been written by the evil twin alter-ego of whoever wrote the first half of the piece.

It goes into a somewhat incoherent ramble about how the House bill has things that need to be included in the final bill (interestingly, largely just those things that would fail to make the bill veto-proof and that have nothing to do with kids,) then a confused paragraph saying something about "Medicare for Kids," then throwing in the metaphorical kitchen-sink
by talking about working families without health insurance (not a problem to be discounted, but not the subject of SCHIP, either,) and ending with a long discussion of how the House SCHIP bill is better because it would supposedly "improve Medicare."

(Sound of head being scratched.) Now let's get this straight. The purpose to this opinion piece is to say that there needs to be a veto-proof bill "for the sake of the children" -- but most of the editorial (at least the evil doppelgänger half) is spent explaining why the SCHIP bill needs to address things other than children's health care (such as Medicare for senior-citizens) in such a way as to draw a veto that would likely be sustained.

One is tempted to say that the editors were cynically trying to pull a fast bait-and-switch, the murky purpose of which was to deliver a message that Republicans don't like kids but Democrats do. And one is tempted to speculate that the foggy organization of the piece was a cynical attempt to make the editorial difficult for anyone to argue against. But one doesn't want to be cynical.

As a side-note, we felt like we were experiencing a bit of déjà vu. And then we remembered the last time we commented on such a striking combination of turbid prose and raw partisanship in a Gazette editorial.

It was when we commented on the Gazette's initial shot across Denny Rehberg's bow in the wake of the first social call he paid to the editors after the 2006 elections (worth linking to just for a reprise of the photo.)

Since SCHIP has been identified by Democrats as a bat that they can use to smack Rehberg about a little, it is our good Congressman who is the implied target of this latest editorial.

It seems that someone at the Gazette has issues with Rehberg, and that is fine. But can't we see an anti-Rehberg piece from the Gazette editors that has a little snap to it for a change?

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