JUGULAR IN SIGHT, COLORADO DEMOCRAT GOES STRAIGHT FOR THE CAPILLARIES
This could be a real game-changer of a gaffe, but it looks as it won't be, because (as usual) the Democrats don't know how to take advantage:
Former Colorado Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, a candidate for the Republican nomination for Senate, called Social Security a "Ponzi scheme" at a recent public event.
Appearing at a Tea Party-hosted Republican candidate forum on Tuesday, Norton was asked to name federal programs that she thought were unconstitutional, under the scope of the federal government's enumerated powers, and also whether it was constitutionally permissible for the government to run the Social Security program as it exists now, with the government controlling the money.
"The federal government is fundamentally out of control," Norton answered. "They are seizing control of things like car companies, banks, insurance companies. They're encroaching in areas of education, of the EPA and its endangerment finding, circumventing the rule of law, circumventing legislative processes. They are absolutely out of control. With regard to Social Security, it has turned into a Ponzi scheme. The money that people pay into it should be there for when they are ready to retire." ...
Wow -- Social Security under attack! Surely the Democrats will pounce, and make it clear that if you want the beloved New Deal program preserved, you can't trust the party that's despised the program and wanted to gut it or eliminate it altogether for nearly 80 years!
Er no, not really. Instead of a full-throated rallying cry, we get muddled bemusement:
"I'm not sure whether she knows what a Ponzi scheme is or not, but clearly she is a candidate that is out of step with Colorado and out of step with the issues she is trying to raise as she moves around the state," said [Colorado Democratic Party chairwoman Pat] Waak....
[Norton spokesman Nate] Strauch took offense to Waak's comments over Norton's remarks concerning Social Security, firing right back at the Colorado Democratic Party chair.
"Pat Waak should know all about 'schemes.' She traffics in them everyday," said Strauch. "In a Ponzi scheme, new investors are used to pay off old investors, which is exactly how Social Security works. Ponzi schemes end when the money runs out, and that’s what’s projected to happen to Social Security."
Waak, however, believes Norton's view on Social Security is out of touch with Colorado voters, especially those who rely on it.
"To take something like Social Security that people have paid into for years and years and are getting their Social Security benefits from, and to turn around and say it’s like a Ponzi scheme -- I don't get it," she said.
No, no, no, Pat. Not "I don't get it." Try "How dare she attack Social Security!" Try "This is why Colorado seniors can't trust Jane Norton." Try "Jane Norton's remarks on Social Security make it clear that Republicans' dangerous and risky ideas threaten our seniors."
(Strauch, you'll notice, knows how to play this game. No befuddlement in his statement.)
I know what Republicans would say, obviously -- that Norton isn't attacking Social Security, she's merely describing it colorfully, and pointing out its fragile underpinnings.
Well, OK -- but you know what? I don't care anymore. It's time Democrats fought like Republicans. Put Republicans' statements in the worst possible light. Ascribe sinister motives to them. Attack, attack, attack. Coordinate language. Make Republicans stammer and qualify their words and feel a little fear. Demonize them -- just the way they demonize us.
One of the dumbest posts I ever wrote was the one in which I said that Scott Brown had made a mistake saying the seat he was running for wasn't Ted Kennedy's seat, it was "the people's seat." That was a brilliant move on Brown's part, and I was an idiot. But I'll tell you this: if the parties had been reversed and a Democrat had said that about a seat held for decades by a beloved Republican in a Republican state, the GOP would have been all over it, accusing the Dem of insulting the deceased. There would have been so much mewling and whining that eventually the conventional wisdom would have been that the candidate had insulted the dead officeholder.
Think about how Republicans respond when a Democrat attacks a Republican war: "You're dishonoring the troops!" It's nonsense, of course -- criticizing policymakers for fighting the wrong wars, or fighting them ineptly, is no insult to the front-line soldiers. But Republicans say it is, as often as possible, and the message sticks.
By the way, please notice something else about what Norton said. Notice that she's talking like a Beckhead and Tenther. Remember that this isn't Texas -- it's Colorado, allegedly a "purple" state. And yet we get Beck-style conspiratorialism (Obama is fascistically seizing capitalist enterprises, for sport!) and Tenther radicalism (the whole twentieth century was unconstitutional!). Apparently Norton thinks that doesn't pose any risk whatsoever for her in a moderate state.
Here's the key passage again:
"The federal government is fundamentally out of control," Norton answered. "They are seizing control of things like car companies, banks, insurance companies. They're encroaching in areas of education, of the EPA and its endangerment finding, circumventing the rule of law, circumventing legislative processes. They are absolutely out of control....."
Pundits think there's a big gap between teabaggers and the GOP? You'd never know it listening to Norton.