Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Progressives are presenting two different, opposing attitudes about the probable failure of Bush's Social Security privatization plan.
One take on it is confident and joyous. Sidney Blumenthal in Salon, (3/3/05) is so persuaded of their imminent failure that he practically pities their predicament: "For Bush and the Republicans, the problem is salesmanship. If only they hone the pitch, convince the wary customers that they really mean well,... they will clinch the deal." Their dilemma is how to do that. Frank Luntz, their chief wordsmith, wrote a memo in which he said that the public wants:
"empathy rather than statistical declarations.... Social Security is a difficult subject because there are many obscure facts and figures. Stay away from them!!!... And PLEASE remember that you are NEVER talking about privatizing Social Security, nor are you advocating INDIVIDUAL accounts. You are talking about creating PERSONAL retirement accounts.
Blumenthal assumes that Luntz and Rove can wiggle all they want, but they won't escape from the net they've put themselves into.
Bush's impending defeat on Social Security is no minor affair. He has made this the centerpiece of domestic policy of his second term.... The repudiation of Bush on Social Security will be fundamental and profound and will shake the foundations of conservative Republicanism. Bush's agony is only beginning, if the Democrats in the Senate can maintain their discipline.
The opposite of Blumenthal is the opinion that even if the Republicans fail to institute their plan, they will have succeeded if they can just convince voters under thirty that Social Security, and by extension all entitlement programs, are shaky, undependable. If young voters do not see Democrats as offering them security, they will be unlikely to vote for Democrats in the coming decades.
Both viewpoints have merit. What do you think?

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