Friday, June 26, 2009

Case of the Mis-Representin' Representative

Two tweets came through on my Twitter feed -- both political in nature. One was the President, urging me to call my representative to ask him to support the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454).

The second was from said representative, Eric Cantor.

Now this is a massive bill -- about 1,200 pages and the issues surround it (and even the question of whether anyone voting on it has actually read it) are complex.

I'm not going to call Rep. Cantor just because the President (or rather his staffer) asked me to, even if I didn't know his stance. I need to research this a little bit and find out what this bill will do, or won't, first.

But what really cheeses me off is Rep. Cantor's tweet.

First off, it's technically not even from him! It's a retweet (the Twitter equivalent of forwarding an e-mail). So does Rep. Cantor not have an opinion about this bill? Why not talk directly to me instead of passing on what Rep. John Boehner says? Granted, Boehner's the Republican leader in the House of Representatives. Cantor's the minority whip, and as such should support the leader. But surely in his leadership role Cantor has something to say besides "me too."

Secondly, it's misrepresenting the issue. Look carefully at that tweet. It doesn't call H.R. 2454 a "bill." It calls it a "tax." And that's not a mistake. "Bill" is a neutral term; "tax" is not. And of course (to a certain segment of voters) all taxes are evil. Therefore, if this is a tax, it must be evil -- especially 1,200 pages of new taxes! 'Nuff said. No need to think anymore about it.

We've seen the same kind of misdirection with commercial radio crying about the "performance tax."

Just for fun, I called up the text to H.R. 2454 and did a word search for "tax." Almost all of hits were for "tax credit" "tax refund." When the word "tax" appeared by itself, I looked the word in context and didn't see anything about massive, unfair, and oppressive taxation.

But don't take my word for it! Here's the link: H.R. 2454 text. Do a text search for yourself. And please let me know if you see anything differently.

So here's the thing: Cantor -- or rather Boehner called H.R. 2454 a tax, instead of a bill. Of course, it was to stir the emotions and get people to call in.

But I had a different reaction. When you use misdirection to win me to your cause, it tells me that your cause is too weak to stand on its own merits. And choosing to employ that misdirection tells me that you know it, too.

- Ralph

Day 81 of the WJMA Podwatch.

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