National Commentary

Editorial: Our Government’s ‘High Noon’

There is no moral equivalence in the fight in the U.S. Congress between those willing to shut down the government and those who refuse to give ground on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Too many of the major news media are willing to give credence to the idea that both sides are equally wrong and claim that, like classmates in the schoolyard spat, they should both stop fighting and work out their differences.

CNN, for example, carefully selects for airing “man on the street” subjects who hold to this fallacious and ill-informed point of view. It’s the view that Republicans, who have insisted on shutting things down as long as the Democrats don’t agree to delay or dismantle “Obamacare,” prefer the public to believe. The GOP blames Obama for not being willing to negotiate, when in fact, it is solely the Republicans who are responsible for the situation, with no indication they will relent anytime soon.

There is only one bottom line in all this for the GOP: to dismantle “Obamacare.” But it ignores the reality that “Obamacare” is the law of the land, passed by Congress, signed by a president who was elected twice, and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

It gets discouraging, indeed, to hear Republican after Republican and allegedly middle-of-the-road news commentators engage in dissembling misinformation about this. Yes, the Tea Party radicals in the House are the most zealous force behind the wider GOP intransigence on the issue, but it is all Republicans, when asked to speak, who are reduced to dissembling about the real issues. They continue to insist that Obama must be blamed for being unwilling to negotiate away the Affordable Care Act.

We blame timidity and cowardice for the major media’s failure to step back and make these issues clear, but instead to justify a “pox on both houses” perspective.

Among the greatest films of all time, the 1952 production of “High Noon” starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly and played out over the haunting voice of Tex Ritter singing Dmitri Tiomkin’s “Do Not Forsake Me, O My Darling,” is a riveting examination of how excuses for cowardice are invented and made to seem plausible.

As a gang of four crooks is about to shoot up the town and introduce a reign of terror, the sheriff can’t find anyone in the entire place willing to join him in the fight to stop them. It would not have taken a large number to completely neutralize the bad guys, but one by one, each individual citizen comes up with shameful rationalizations for why not to help, even though it is their beloved community that being confronted with ruin. The sheriff winds up having to fight alone.

There is a core relationship between truth and courage. In our culture, including among too many journalists and politicians, courage is of little value, therefore truth suffers.