It’s been revealing watching the way prominent conservative Australian News Ltd opinion writers have been responding this week to the passing of the US health care legislation. On the one hand, they want to sink the boot into progressives on the issue – in the case of those with a significant audience of rightwing Americans they’d quite like to keep happy, like Daily Telegraph blogger tim Blair, they kind of need to – but, on the other hand, their Australian audience knows full well that a much more “socialist” healthcare system, like ours, did not cause us to descend into tyranny and granny-murdering “death panels”.

So, what to do? Well, you strenuously avoid stating an opinion on the substance of the legislation itself, and just mock the people your readers already hate.

Hunt, for example, through tim Blair’s two posts on the Bill for something approaching a personal opinion on the subject in question. There are personal opinions about the faults of Democrats and other journalists – nothing on the legislation itself – let alone any actual analysis.

The Herald Sun‘s Andrew Bolt, likewise confined himself to just quoting a few conservative writers without adding anything other than that Democrats/Americans will “pay the price”. The excerpts he selected were all critical of the bill, but – sadly unsurprisingly – there was nothing there outlining why he opposes a measure to bring broader health coverage to Americans.

And we all know why. Because the US rightwing debate on the subject has been deranged and completely detached from reality, and can’t be plausibly sold to Australian conservatives who live in a country which demonstrates that fact every day. Nor can it be contradicted without annoying US conservative readers who believe the campaign. The only common ground is that “progressives” suck and want to destroy their respective countries – so that’s the ground to which certain internet polemicists have to limit themselves.

But that’s alright. To some, genuine disagreements on substantive issues of government policy aren’t the point of politics – they’re just a means of attacking your enemies, the ground on which the game is played.

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