When the Washington Post publishes a story like this one, it's easy to understand how people might think the Washington press lives in a cocoon, inside the beltway, in a self-absorbed world unconnected to the rest of us.
The poor Republicans on the Hill are tormented and agonizing over all the cuts they have to make in Medicaid, student loans, farm price supports, and food stamps. Writer Jonathan Weisman feels their pain.
And to make matters worse, these poor Republicans are being forced to do this by their own hand -- they passed legislation earlier this year that leaves them no choice. It's all so difficult and "tough," somewhat reminiscent of Bush's favorite phrase "it's hard work."
According to the Post, "For years, the party has embraced the rhetoric of small government while overseeing legislation that has helped boost federal spending by more than a third since the GOP took control of Congress 10 years ago. Now, Republican lawmakers will be faced with the tough votes needed to slow that growth and enact the first cuts in entitlement spending since 1997."
Reading the story, one might conclude that it's all about them. They have to cut student loans. They have to cut Medicaid. They have to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling and exploration. They have to cut food stamps. They have to cut farm price supports. It's all so painful for them.
Not one word anywhere about the pain that students, and farmers, and America's elderly are feeling, but hey, aren't the Republicans doing the right thing? The Post doesn't seem to think its readers deserve to know why the Republicans are doing these painful things.
Not one word about tax cuts for the rich, and the resulting adverse effects on social spending.
Not one word about Iraq and the hundreds of billions wasted there, and how Americans are directly suffering, as a result.
Not one word about the bloated Defense Department and Homeland Security Department budgets which are sucking the American people dry.
Not one word about shrinking corporate taxes, and shrinking corporate pensions and health benefits, all of which directly hurt the working and middle classes.
The story goes into some detail about appearances and how the Republicans will be perceived, and how the Democrats will use certain GOP cuts to attack the Republicans, and how the Republicans are doing some little legislative corrections to make sure they are not perceived as hurting the poor, and how the Democrats will attack them anyway. It's all so unrelentingly pathetic and ingrown, devoid of any connection to real people's lives. It's all about them.
Uncritically, with no context or discussion of the possible relationship, the Washington Post says this: "Record high gasoline prices should ease passage of legislation to open Alaska's Arctic wilderness to oil drilling, a move that environmentalists have thwarted for decades."
In that one sentence alone, might we not have a much clearer understanding of why we are being robbed blind by higher gas prices? If nothing else, higher gas prices make for a very convenient excuse for oil companies to get their way on an issue they have been fighting environmental groups and their Congressional supporters for decades. But the Post reports this with a straight face.
Had the story been written about where the real pain will be felt, and about how the American people are continuing to be taken by these Congressional fakers, the headline would have read:
"Congress Prepares More Pain for the American People"
At least, Jonathan Weisman didn't write about his pain.