First it was public opinion. The New York Times spent several weeks promoting the idea that among the public existed a "growing anxiety" about health care reform. Support for these dubious assertions hinged on interviews with, like, Joe Shmoe and Bob the Plumber (who spoke for the entire country) and the headlines were lent credibility by pictures of people looking haggard and worried and troubled--never mind they could have been waiting for a bus or something.
The anxiety grew ("Obama sought to convince an increasingly skeptical public"), and grew (Governors the latest "headache" for the Obama administration, fearing health reform) and grew (Mini-Mutiny at AARP Over Health Care) and grew ("Health Debate FAILS To Ignite Obama's Grass Roots") all summer long.
It kept growing (impoverished Arkansans have "deep reservations" about health reform--article asserts), like a wacky tomato plant. Just when you thought it couldn't grow ("Obama tried on Tuesday to defuse fears about his plan to overhaul the nation's health care system...") any more. It grew ("Facing worrying public opinion...") a little more.
In fact it grew ("Public opinion polls show growing doubts about some of Mr. Obama's health care proposals..." *no polls cited*) and grew ("Obama sought to push back against the gathering criticism of his efforts to revamp the nation's health care system...") and grew ("With Republicans making headway by casting the legislation as a costly government takeover...") and grew ("White House officials were tacitly acknowledging a difficult reality: they are suddenly at risk of losing control of the public debate over a signature issue for Mr. Obama and are now playing defense in a way they have not since last year's campaign.").
Suddenly? You mean, like, out of nowhere? Because, that might make sense if the summer wasn't one long trajectory of "GROWING ANXIETY" about health care reform.
In fact reading the New York Times reporting on health care is like experiencing the reverse effect of premature ejaculation. It's like the building orgasm never stops at the New York Times. It just keeps growing and growing, and just when you think it can't get anymore: "Oh, oh, oh, OHHHH!" There's a short silence, and then it goes, "OHHHH! OHHH! OHHH!" A short reprieve and then: "OHHHH! OHHHH! OHHHH! YES!" Crickets chirping. And you are sure that it's over... "OOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHH MYYYYYYYYYYY GODDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD!!! YES! YES!" and so forth.
It grew even when the poll numbers that the Times cited as evidence pointed to a different reality in America: that Americans did support the President and his ambitious health care reform proposals.
Now the New York Times is writing articles as if the public plan option is already off the table. Case in point: "Democrats Seem Set to Go Alone on Health Bill."
"With no need to negotiate with Republicans," the article reports, "Democrats might be better able to move more quickly, relying on their large majorities in both houses. Democratic senators might feel more empowered, for example, to define the authority of the nonprofit insurance cooperatives that are emerging as an alternative to a public insurance plan."
Co-ops are not emerging as an alternative to the public insurance plan, they are being blasted by the majority of Americans as a ridiculous solution to the health care crisis. The sentence should have read: "Democratic senators might feel more empowered, for example, introducing a Single Payer bill instead of dicking around with the public plan option as a way of appeasing do-nothing Republicans."
Continue to look for this new editorial trend in the New York Times: public plan as already dead.