I spent some time yesterday talking on Canadian radio, explaining health-care reform to our neighbors to the north. They were a bit puzzled at what's been going on down here. Why, they wanted to know, was there all that talk about "socialism" when the reform left in place the private insurance system? And why were people so angry? I found it a little hard to explain without going into an hour-long history of right-wing populism in America.
At long, long last, the health-care reform fight is finally over. We have no idea how Barack Obama's presidency will turn out at the end, but we know this: He accomplished something that stubbornly eluded Democratic presidents -- and even one Republican -- for decades. The remainder of his term could be a string of defeats and disasters, yet it cannot be taken from him that he passed this nearly impossible test of skill, patience, vision, and sheer will.
There's a new poll out from the Kaiser Family Foundation on health-care reform, and it shows pretty much what you'd expect: The public is closely divided and extremely misinformed. But they aren't randomly misinformed; they're systematically misinformed. Democrats are slightly misinformed, independents are quite misinformed, and Republicans are ridiculously misinformed. Take, for instance, this question:
Marjorie Margolies' op-ed in yesterday's Washington Post, which was a salutary reminder of the meaning of votes in Congress, should also remind us of something else: When Republicans make predictions of terrible events to come, they are almost certainly wrong.
If you reside in the reality-based portions of the United States, you've probably looked on with amazement at the latest iteration of the regular battles over Texas textbooks. Briefly: because Texas is a huge market for textbooks, the standards the state's education board sets influence what books are sold across the country. And the current board is dominated not just by conservatives but by people who are, well, nuts.