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Posted by on Jul 28, 2009 in At TMV, Health, Politics, Society | 63 comments

Covering the Really Important Stuff

How can six senators who all come from overwhelmngly rural states — Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Iowa, and Maine — come up with health care reform legislation that addresses the needs of Americans living in large metropolitan areas? You will not even see that question asked — much less answered — in this New York Times article, titled “Health Policy Is Carved Out at Table for 6,” by David M. Herszenhorn and Robert Pear. Herszenhorn and Pear have a great deal to say about the food in the conference room where the senators work:

On the agenda is the revamping of the American health care system, possibly the most complex legislation in modern history. But on the table, in a conference room where the bill is being hashed out by six senators, the snacks are anything but healthy.

Last week, there were chippers — chocolate-covered potato chips — described on a sign as “North Dakota Diet Food.” More often, there are Doritos, pretzels, Oreo cookies and beef jerky: fuel to get through hours of talks on topics like the actuarial values of private insurance plans or the cost-sharing provisions of Medicare.

the color of the walls and what’s on the walls; the six senators’ personalities and working styles:

“The talks are free-flowing,” Ms. Snowe said. “Max is very inclusive,” she said of Mr. Baucus.

Members of the group methodically work through issues. When they reach a tentative agreement, Mr. Baucus asks, “Can I put down a ‘T’?”

“It’s very businesslike,” Mr. Conrad said. “Everybody participates. One senator might carry a discussion. Others chime in. Senator Baucus, the chairman, is the leader, but he rides with a very light rein.”

Typically, they gather at 10 a.m., break around noon for meetings, lunches and votes, and then resume at 2:30. Each senator now claims the same seat — “just like kids in school,” Ms. Snowe said in an interview.

Then, there are the refreshments. The coffee, brewed in the office, is roasted in Montana, usually the Grizzly or Buffalo blends.

I know we have seen many complaints from media pundits that bloggers are dangerous because they act like they’re real journalists when actually they can write anything they want and are not subject to the ethical and professional rules and standards to which real journalists are held, and they have no one to supervise them and make sure they are representing all points of view, but hell’s bells! I for one am sure glad we have bloggers like Matthew Yglesias around to ask the questions that real, important journalists like Herszenhorn and Pear can’t be bothered to ask because they’re too busy admiring the wall hangings.