How the Game is Played, Part 576

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A few hours ago Felix Salmon wrote a post about the fate of financial reform in the Senate:

Are there really Republicans who would stick their neck out and filibuster a financial-reform bill aimed at reining in Wall Street? Voting against it is one thing, but killing it with a filibuster is surely not a vote-winner anywhere in the US right now.

I mentally shrugged when I read that because the answer is pretty obvious: Republicans will simply portray any Democratic bill not as something that reins in Wall Street, but as a convoluted Beltway boondoggle that puts government bureaucrats in charge of the banking system, kills off credit to Main Street, stifles economic growth, destroys jobs, and shovels money into the hands of favored interest groups. Fox and Rush and the Journal will all sing along, tea partiers will start demonstrating against it, and before long it will get to the point that not only will Republicans filibuster it, but half the Democratic caucus will join in.

In other words, just another day at the office. But no! Apparently I’m still not cynical enough. A few minutes later I was reading Jon Chait’s blog, and it turns out that the right-wing “Committee for Truth In Politics” — George Orwell would be pleased by the homage — is already running TV ads that don’t merely portray the reform bill as bad for the economy, but specifically as a bailout for Wall Street bankers. The ad has been running in ten states for the past week, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group. Factcheck.org has the dope here.

And that, boys and girls, is how the game is played.  Just portray a bill meant to rein in banks as a bill meant to bail out banks and see if the noise machine plays along. If it doesn’t, try something else. Maybe suggest that instead of protecting consumers, it will remove consumer protections. Or that instead of regulating derivatives, it will set them free. Simple. Why bother making up complicated lies when simple ones will do just fine?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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