Danielle Steele’s novels are automatically superior to Leo Tolstoy’s novels, right? That must be so if you adopt the logic of a common contemporary Republican talking point: Big documents are automatically inferior to short documents.
Increasingly, it seems Republican pols and pundits love to criticize legislative proposals by citing the SIZE of the package. For instance, they are forever scoffing at the number of pages, pounds and words included in Democrats’ health reform proposals. They imply that anything that can’t be read during a bathroom break should be considered a toilet paper substitute.
While the logic of that simplistic argument is obviously silly –- for instance, the disasterous Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was much shorter than the wildly successful legislation that created the GI Bill — it’s also important to not lose sight of the breathtaking hypocrisy of the argument.
After all, opencongress.org recently pointed out that five of the ten largest bills in American history were introduced by Republicans. The No Child Left Behind bill, fathered by Republican Speaker John Boehner, was 274,559 words at birth. And the Bush tax cuts legislation was also a tome. Worse yet, some of the words in these bills were rumored to be polysyllabic.
And really folks, so what? Both Republicans’ and Democrats’ bills are large and complex because — guess what? — they are addressing large and complex issues.
Why the Republican obsession with their partners’ size? The tobacco industry’s PR wizards of yesteryear privately confided that the primary product they were selling was DOUBT rather than cigarettes. That is, they had to make medical science seem so complex that non-scientists remained in doubt. Similary, Republicans’ focus on health reform girth is all about peddling doubt about life under a reformed system. Because when doubt sells, the status quo lives on.