Once again, the New York Times is setting up a false debate over healthcare policy, contrasting White House-style “pragmatism” with left-wing “ideology.” The lead of Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s piece today (12/18/09):
In the great healthcare debate of 2009, President Obama has cast himself as a cold-eyed pragmatist, willing to compromise in exchange for votes. Now ideology — an uprising on the Democratic left — is smacking the pragmatic president in the face.
In this worldview, “ideologues” are those who push for reforms–including single-payer–that they believe will lower costs and offer more comprehensive coverage. “Pragmatists,” meanwhile, are moving in the opposite direction, toward higher costs and less coverage, in order to theoretically win the political support of some conservative lawmakers.
Usinglanguage like this doesn’t tell you much about the debate in Washington, but it speaks volumes about where the New York Times is coming from.