Friday, August 3, 2007

Its Always Giuliani time at Fox News

Rudolph Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and current "front-runner" for the Republican presidential nomination (which, given the political trends of the present, is like having the most tickets in a lottery where the grand prize is a free trip on the Titanic)released his health care plan a few days ago. It calls for tax incentives to help uninsured people purchase their own health insurance.

The plan itself doesn't deserve to be dignified with any serious response. Systems of national health care, called socialized medicine, were established in major developed countries in the decades after the Second World War, except in the U.S, where such a system, advocated by Harry Truman in the 1948 presidential election, was never enacted, although a limited system of socialized medicine for senior citizens who reached the age of 65 and poor people who qualified under a means test was established by the Lyndon Johnson administration as part of its Great Society program in 1965. A comprehensive national health care system, call it national health insurance, socialized medicine, single payer health care, anything you wish, is today at least half a century overdue in the U.S., if not longer.

Giuliani's "plan," should insult the intelligence of anyone with a sixth grade education. Tax breaks for low income people to buy inadequate insurance coverage for health care that is a necessity may make "sense" to supply side economists who cheered on Reagan-Bush tax cuts for the corporations and the rich to achieve quality economic growth (which of course it didn't do) but to no one else, except perhaps to Roger Ailes, the long time right-wing Republican, jovial cynic (I say that from here him interviewed over the years) and Rupert
Murdoch employee. The New York Times had a lengthy story about the Giuliani Ailes connections over the decades, Giuliani's support while he was Mayor for Fox News when its major cable rival tried to keep it out of New York (or what capitalists call the New York market) and Giuliani's high profile on Fox News Network, which apparently is where right-wing Republican couch potatoes go to escape the "liberal media" (those who believe that there is such a thing as the "liberal media might be better off on a psychiatrist's couch rather than watching Fox).

Recently I wrote a piece for the PA blog on comparing Rupert Murdoch the media Robber Baron with his fellow Australian immigrant, Harry Bridges, the genuinely heroic trade union leader. I used the classic
film, Citizen Kane to structure my analysis. The Giuliani-Ailes "relationship" got me to thinking about another classic American anti-fascist film of that era, Frank Capra's Meet John Doe. In that film, a ruthless press Lord turns a failed baseball player-hobo into a national hero, the leader of a national movement, in order to use him to seize political power for himself. However the invented hero turns against his invented when he finds out what is happening and sides with the people against the sinister forces of potential fascist tyranny. "The people. Take that, Norton, the people," a newsman says to the media mogul at the film's end when his plan is in ruins.

Rudolph Giuliani was also largely invented by the media. He trampled on the civil liberties of political protesters, street vendors and minority people for eight years as he unleashed the police and "protected" the commercial and wealthy residential districts of Manhattan, being given credit for a declining crime rate that covered more than it really told about city life. He showed up on September 11, 2001 (unlike President Bush, who was not seen or heard from for a number of hours) and acted in effect as a corporate manager assessing damages. He did nothing substantive or really positive to merit the image of heroic leader that was quickly manufactured for him by mass media, but he got, if only be default, since there was no one else around.

A victory for any Republican will be a victory for the long-term interests the Murdoch media empire. A victory for Giuliani, considered the "liberal" Republican candidate because he has the sense not to proclaim his undying opposition to women's reproductive rights aka abortion, will be a special victory for immediate interests of the Murdoch media empire.

The election of a progressive President is the one thing that Murdoch and the class interests he represents can't stomach (we should remember he supported Jimmy Carter against Teddy Kennedy in 1980, Reagan
against Carter and all comers, and various other candidates in the Republican party and the Democratic party who would suit and advance his corporate and class interests).

We can't expect Giuliani or any Republican or any non-progressive Democrat to turn on Murdoch (there are accounts that he is being cozy with Hilary Clinton as he was with her Center-Right husband) but we
can and must work to elect a federal government that will begin to deal with both media monopoly and right-wing media domination, both of which are most dramatically represented by Murdoch and Fox. Who
knows? Some president may say to Rupe in the future, "the people. Take that, Murdoch. The people." That would be a "happy ending" to the sordid history of Murdoch in America.

--Norman Markowitz

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