If I had not provided a link in my post immediately below to the Washington Post’s biased or economically illiterate (or both) whole page headline a few days ago (“To some in GOP, ending a tax break is the same as a tax hike”), I’m sure many readers (if there are many readers) would think I made it up. “What would have been real news,” I noted, is if the Post “could produce a single Republican office holder or official who does not believe that ending tax breaks amounts to a tax hike (at least if unaccompanied by lowering tax rates).”
Today, however, another front page story, “Freshman Republican’s bind: Vote convictions or help economy by rising debt limit?” by comparison makes that headline look like competent, objective, fair and balanced reporting.
First, competence: rise is an intransitive verb. Thus no one — Democrat or Republican; Congressman, Senator, or President — can “rise” the debt limit. (Indeed, it’s not clear at the moment whether they can even raise it, but that’s a question of political, not grammatical, competence.)
The reporter, Philip Rucker, is no doubt not responsible for his story’s hed, but presumably he and his editor are responsible for the story’s content, about which the best thing that can be said is that it belongs on his paper’s opinion page, or perhaps (at the risk of being redundant) a Democratic press release. But even the hed, despite its grammatical lapse, does a good job of conveying the message of the “news” story: the conflict between Republican convictions and helping the economy.
Newly elected Arizona Republican Rep. David Schweikert, the hook for the Post’s political broadside in the form of a news story, has a “dilemma”:
He knows Congress has little choice but to raise the amount of money the government can borrow to prevent the economic havoc sure to follow if the United States defaults on its loans. He also knows doing so is deeply unpopular — not only among his conservative base, but among some moderates and liberals, too.
But this “dilemma” is his and his party’s own damn fault.
If Schweikert finds himself in a difficult political spot, it’s partly of his own making. He and the scores of other Republicans who were elected last fall ran on an unyielding pledge to cut spending, reduce the nation’s debt and generally get the country’s finances in order, a mission that has been fully embraced by party leaders in Washington.
Now, a few months after taking office, they are caught between their convictions, their constituents and their duties as congressmen.
I suppose reasonable people can disagree about how important it is to reduce government debt. There can be reasonable disagreement over using a vote on the debt ceiling to force reduced spending and even over how calamitous it would be to vote against raising the debt ceiling. But I fail to see how there can be reasonable disagreement over the gross impropriety of a purportedly major newspaper reporting, presumably as fact, in a front page news story that for Republican office holders there is an inherent conflict between their convictions and helping the economy by doing their duty.