Monday, August 23, 2010


It's no surprise that Mark Halperin would be looking for the fainting couch in response to news that President Obama (a Democrat!) is actually making a partisan political attack two and a half months before midterm elections (the nerve! partisanship before an election!):

...the President devoted his radio and Internet address last week to commemorating the 75th anniversary of the signing of the law that created [Social Security]. He cautioned that "some Republican leaders in Congress don't seem to have learned any lessons" from the past and are "pushing to make privatizing Social Security a key part of their legislative agenda if they win a majority in Congress." This familiar refrain might indeed help the Democrats limit their midterm losses, but Obama's involvement shows that on this issue he is putting party before bipartisanship and that he sometimes can be tone-deaf to the human element required to change Washington's acid culture.

But here's where Halperin's true hackishness shines through:

It is clear why Democrats are raising the specter of Republican efforts to alter Social Security. This tactic has worked in the past, as older voters -- who typically turn out at the polls in higher percentages, especially in midterm years -- tend to trust Democrats more than Republicans to protect the cherished retirement program. And given the weak economy, Obama's mushy poll numbers and the lack of traction on the White House's legislative achievements, it is no surprise that Democratic leaders would turn to the tried-and-true tactic. Also, with some prominent Republicans still calling for a fundamental change to the system by adding private accounts, the GOP has opened itself up to political attack.

Don't you love that "Also"? Right, Mark, I grasp your argument -- what Obama said was a nakedly political pronouncement, born of desperation ... and oh yeah, it happened to be the literal truth. As if that's just some silly technicality that Halperin also must mention just because some silly readers are sticklers for, y'know, the truth.

Halperin goes on to say this will end badly for Obama because if Obama wants to negotiate changes to Social Security after November, he's going to have to meet Republicans partway. (As if that could possibly happen.) Right -- because remember how furious Democrats were after various Republicans attacked their patriotism during the runup to the 2002 midterms? They just used the filibuster to shut the entire GOP agenda down, didn't they? They prevented Bush from invading Iraq, blocking funding for war there and in Afghanistan, right? No, wait -- that must have been in a parallel universe where Halperin's rules on partisanship apply to both sides equally.

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