Healthcare hyperbole...and facts

Here's the hyperbole, from Philly's own (sort of) Camille Paglia:

Why did it take so long for Democrats to realize that this year's tea party and town hall uprisings were a genuine barometer of widespread public discontent and not simply a staged scenario by kooks and conspirators?...It was on talk radio, which I have resumed monitoring around the clock because of the healthcare fiasco, that I heard the passionate voices of callers coming directly from the town hall meetings. Hence I was alerted to the depth and intensity of national sentiment long before others who were simply watching staged, manipulated TV shows. 

Here's the reality, from tomorrow's New York Times:

But even after weeks filled with seemingly ominous portents for Mr. Obama’s ambitions, there is evidence that public opinion remains basically supportive of him. Despite intense controversy over the “public option,” a government-backed insurance plan that would compete with the private sector, a CBS poll at the end of August found that 60 percent of Americans still support the idea, down from 66 percent in July. And half the respondents to the poll said Mr. Obama had better ideas on health care than Republicans, down from 55 percent.

Mr. Obama likes to say that in the 100 years since President Theodore Roosevelt began advocating universal health care, “we’ve never had such broad agreement on what needs to be done.” On Capitol Hill, it is possible to see how a compromise could come together; Mr. Nelson indicated over the weekend that he could back a provision known as a “trigger” to create a public option if private efforts to cover the uninsured failed.

Paglia's rambling essay -- which includes a dig at Republicans and an out-of-left-field kicker called for a withdrawal from Afghanistan (perhaps because everyone else is doing it) -- reads well but is completely devoid of facts. She congratulates herself for reading the tea leaves from talk radio, even though any radio show can be dominated by a handful of cranks (and retirees, who are the most scared of health reform, have the most time to call in, while a single mom working two part-time jobs with no insurance, not so much...). America's new silent majority does register in public-opinion polls, however.

As the Times article strongly implies, there will almost certainly be some kind of healthcare bill passed by Congress in 2009, and when it does, the pundits will probably call it a big victory for the president -- regardless of whether it actually is. Right now, there are some ideas floating around that would probably even improve healthcare on the margins, but there are other ideas that might pass in the name of "compromise" that could make matters worse. I'd predict the final bill will have some of both.