‘Actual details’

‘ACTUAL DETAILS’…. In the new NBC News poll, people were asked, “From what you have heard about Barack Obama’s health care plan, do you think his plan is a good idea or a bad idea?” Just 36% think it’s a good idea; 42% think it’s a bad idea. The numbers are exactly the same as they were a month ago.

The problem, as we discussed this morning, is that Americans oppose the idea because they’ve bought into several right-wing lies that are demonstrably false. Chuck Todd raised an important point this morning: “According to our poll, when [Americans] hear the facts, it’s another story. After being read a statement that include actual details of the Obama health care plan, a majority — 53 percent — say they are in favor of it.”

“Actual details” may be my new favorite phrase.

The lesson here is important. The conventional wisdom keeps insisting that Americans don’t like the health care reform proposal. That’s not quite right. They don’t like the proposal as it’s been described by Republican critics, their allies, and their cable news network.

This may not matter — we’ve all heard the adage about “perception is reality” in politics — but the results suggest most of the country approves of the plan Democrats have put together.

What’s more, Michael Scherer argues, persuasively, that the poll numbers point to a landscape that isn’t changing. Reform supporters launched a big push; reform opponents did the same. Most Americans like the Democratic plan(s); most Americans dislike the caricature of the Democratic plan(s). The proverbial needle isn’t moving, suggesting, as Scherer put it, August “does not matter.” It reinforces a point I raised a week ago: “[T]here’s plenty of screaming left to do, but it seems likely that when the congressional recess ends in September, we’ll see the same political landscape that existed at the end of July.”

Postscript: Several Republicans seem encouraged by the fact that only 41% of poll respondents approve of the way President Obama is handling health care reform. But let’s not overlook the next question: “Do you generally approve or disapprove of the way that Republicans in Congress are handling the issue of health care reform?” Just 21% approve, 62% disapprove.