Wednesday, September 07, 2011


I was stuck on the phone for most of the GOP debate. I did catch Perry refusing to back down from calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme.

After the debate I was listening to the MSNBC crew arguing about the effect of the Perry's Ponzi talk. Lawrence O'Donnell insists that Perry destroyed his campaign by saying this -- which reminds me of how often I disagree with Lawrence O'Donnell's take on things. Rachel Maddow seems to be on O'Donnell's side, but I'm with Ed Schultz and Chris Matthews -- I think that showed GOP voters that Perry isn't going to back down for anybody, which is perfect in a party that rallies around whoever is least willing to compromise.

Yeah, yeah, I know -- a lot of GOP primary and caucus voters are old. They like Social Security and Medicare. That's O'Donnell's point, whereas Schultz says that Perry is aiming at young people (what he says is that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme for young people, because they're paying in and they'll never get anything back). O'Donnell says that young people don't vote in GOP primaries.

Here's the thing, though: I bet a lot of thirty- and forty- and fiftysomething GOP voters agree with Perry -- hell, I'm 52 and I have doubts about collecting Social Security (though that's precisely because we keep electing zealot Republicans like Bush and probably Perry, who roll over the weak-kneed, ineffectual Democrats).

So I think Perry helped himself, or at least didn't hurt himself, in the fight for the nomination. He kept it raw.
And no, I don't buy Lawrence O'Donnell's contention that Romney is going to be able to quote Reagan speeches paying lip service to Social Security as a means of attacking Perry. Worship of Reagan is like worship of Jesus: people love Jesus for what they want to believe he stood for. He didn't stand for getting rich or fighting endless wars against brown people, but don't tell that to his most fervent followers in America . Similarly, Reagan raised taxes and busted budgets, but don't say that to his followers. Tell them he believed in, or at least tolerated the existence of, big-government entitlement programs and they won't believe you. It doesn't matter what the facts are.