The Nation

About 25 years ago, I asked Paul Begala, then an adviser to Bill Clinton, how the Democrats failed to pass a health care bill when they controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress. Begala identified the party’s fatal mistake as follows (I paraphrase from memory): “We were depending on the media to explain the plan to people, and they had no interest in doing that.”

The Democrats’ misplaced trust that the mainstream media would allow them to make their case to the public above the din of right-wing misinformation continues to derail their legislative and electoral success. It’s as if party leaders have bought into the lie that the media has a liberal bias and so expect at least a fair shake when they present their case to the voters. This repeated triumph of hope over experience has a pathetic quality to it, not unlike, say, Charlie Brown with Lucy and that football.

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