So, driving to work the other day, I made the mistake of thinking that maybe that bastion of liberalism, NPR, might be less annoying than the mediocre music stations here in Charleston. What I got was a story about the fight over keeping the interest rate on student loans at 3.4%, rather than doubling it.
Now, let's be perfectly clear about this. What's going on here is that Democrats are trying to keep the interest rate low in a minor effort to see to it that people other than the children of the very rich can afford college. Republicans are trying to do the exact opposite, not by honestly advocating raising the interest rate, but by claiming they want to keep it low, but only if Democrats will agree to savage cuts to other programs for the not-rich. Then, when Democrats won't accede to this sort of mean-spirited punishment of the poor, Republicans claim that it is really they who were on the side of the students, while it was the Dems who sided with the rich. This sort of cynical propaganda only works, of course, courtesy of a mainstream press that plays along with Republican talking points every time.
So, now let's look at how NPR treated this issue. Here are excerpts from the Morning Edition piece I heard:
"Neither Democrats nor Republicans want to be blamed for a higher rate, but lawmakers can't agree on how to pay for keeping the rate from rising for future borrowers."
"Can't agree" meaning that Dems want to pay for it by closing a loophole in upper income tax collection; Republicans want to punish poor people by taking away preventive health care (actually, a major money saver) in return for this legislation:
"(A Republican Senator) doesn't want to pay for it the way Democrats propose they do — by closing a payroll tax loophole used by business owners. Instead, Republicans want to pay for it by eliminating a preventive health care fund.
"The student loan rate increase would effectively make college even less affordable for me next year," McCants says. "These additional costs may seem minimal compared to the fiscal budget or, frankly, the salary of a congressman, but they're a big burden to people like me who are economically disadvantaged."
Even the allegedly liberal Brookings Institution can't find any real substance here, or any sign that one party might be pursuing honorable goals, and the other one might not be:
"This small-policy issue that the president has made a big deal out of has, in many ways, been overblown," says Matthew Chingos of the Brookings Institution.
For Republicans and Democrats, Chingos says, it's just one more issue with which to attack each other."
In other words, the issue of whether anyone but the children of the rich can go to college is nothing but malicious political squabbling in which neither party holds any sort of high ground.
"Policy wonks who've been watching the political skirmish unfold also seem disappointed, especially after President Obama started pummeling Republicans with the issue."
So, the only person in this whole issue worthy of being condemned in public is not Republicans, who want to make economic life even more unfair in the United States, but President Obama, who is a bully who is "pummeling" Republicans over the issue.
In brief, here is the basic message of mainstream media coverage of our politics, as illustrated by this example:
First of all, every issue is about nothing but political power, and neither party advances positions which in any way are based on the good of the American people or any higher value (except of course, when Republicans pander to evangelical Christians.) Democrats who oppose giveaways to the rich and wars of aggression are no better in any way than Republicans who do nothing but serve the rich and use our military to act out their manhood issues, at the cost of thousands of lives.
But second, even though this is true, it is always the Democrats who are "pummeling" the Republicans, unfairly trying to batter them into behaving like civilized human beings; for which outrage, the Democrats must be constantly condemned as the morally inferior party.
This is why the polling between Obama and Romney is essentially even, instead of about 95% for Obama, which it should be. And let it be perfectly clear that the extreme dysfunction of the American press today is not an accidental occurrence; it all dates from Ronald Reagan's "deregulation" of the press, allowing it to be almost entirely bought up by huge corporations; an action taken with the participants knowing perfectly well that this is where we would end up, and regarding that as a desirable outcome.