Mrs SB7 and I were out of town for a couple of days during the resolution of this debt ceiling drama. I was out of touch with anything beyond very basic cable, which I think was a small mercy. All things considered, reading Madman Gargantua and Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years on the beach and eating Jersey corn was a better use of my time, but it's weird being out of touch for the conclusion after having followed this pretty heavily.
Anyway, the special lady friend and I were watching some Jeopardy when ABC interrupted for the breaking news that the bill had passed the house. The news team then spent three minutes talking about nothing but Gabrielle Giffords' appearance. Not a single word about the contents of the final deal, or what the vote was, or any comment from the leadership (word used loosely) of either party about it. Nothing but human interest story. Even on C-SPAN.
Not having internet access, I did something I have not done in a long time: I tuned into the television news to try and learn some details of the arrangement. The entire coverage, on three different channels, was "The crisis is averted! A debt ceiling bill passed! AND GABRIELLE GIFFORDS WAS THERE!!!!!!!!" They never returned to the deal itself. The only topic of discussion was how inspiring Giffords is. Not a single fact about what was in the bill.
Good for Giffords. I'm happy for her. It's not like I want her to be crippled in a hospital somewhere. But her appearance is the single least important thing about that vote. If it really was a crisis moment -- I think it was; the news teams' own verbiage indicate they did as well -- then talk about the actual event which affected that. Give me a few facts, maybe even a couple of numbers. Is there going to need to be another vote on this before the 2012 election? By what amount was the limit raised? What are the projected deficit reductions over the next year? Ten years? Are they composed of spending cuts ("cuts") or tax increases? Are "cuts" limited to "discretionary" spending? Is there any reform to entitlement programs? How about Pentagon spending? Not a single goddamned word about any of those questions, just a lot of back slapping about how all the congressmen were acting so pleased to see their colleague.
And in what possible world would they not behave that way? Maybe they were legitimately pleased to see her. Maybe they were putting on a show of collegiality for the cameras. Most likely some combination. But what possible motivation would any congressman have for not acting like that? What would they have to gain by ignoring her return? They're doing the only possible thing they could do. Why is anyone acting surprised by that? Why is that worth discussing on the news? You might as well tell me that when some guy throws money out of a window passers-by bend down to pick it up. It's that obvious. Giffords was a footnote to the story, and it was being treated like the story itself.