Obama Says Hillary Ducking.....Social Security???
by Jeff Dinelli
Very strange article in Saturday's Washington Post concerning Barack Obama's new strategy of attacking Hillary that raises not only the question of which one of the two truly is more "liberal," but also points out the clumsiness of the Illinois senator's campaign.
Sen. Barack Obama yesterday slammed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for "ducking the issue" of ensuring the solvency of Social Security and signaled that he will take a more aggressive approach to the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
At an event in Des Moines, Obama characterized Clinton's approach to addressing the issues as "You should hedge, dodge and spin, but at all costs, don't answer."
Social Security? Are you kidding me? First of all, as Daily Howler points out, Clinton has not been dodging this so-called "issue," stating plainly her feelings to the Post's Anne Kornblut following the late September debate during which Obama and Edwards trotted out the decades-old right wing think tank alarm "College kids don't even think they'll ever get Social Security":
Clinton offered insights into the governing priorities she would bring to the White House, speaking cautiously about extricating the nation from Iraq and urgently about health-care reform. She also said she will take no position on how to fix Social Security and made it clear she does not regard it as a front-burner issue.
"I do not believe it is in a crisis," she said of the retirement program.
Notice of course that Kornblut opined that Hillary "will take no position," even though she quotes Clinton's position right after, that she doesn't believe there's a crisis. This is, of course, the right position on this non-issue. For over six months, the netroots has been fighting against the "crisis" position with President Bush, who was pushing for privitization. Now that Obama is essentially repeating Bush talking points, many in the netroots must be asking variables of the question, "What the hell....?"
That's what Paul Krugman was asking yesterday morning on ABC:
let's bring up the point that george raised on social security. barack Obama, taking advice that he seems to be getting from pundits and fundraisers for the last several months to be tougher on senator clinton. yesterday, he said she wasn't truthful on a number of issues. social security was his number one issue. he said that senator clinton's made a mistake to hedge and not say what she would do about social security.
conventional thinking in washington says that social security is the third rail of american politics. it says you should hedge and dodge and spin -- but at all costs, don't answer. i reject that notion.
paul, he rejects it and says that he would lift the payroll tax on all income. now it's capped at about 97 thousand dollars a year--you're shaking your head, does that mean you think he's making a mistake?
PAUL KRUGMAN (NEW YORK TIMES):
social security, if you go through the federal government, piece-by-piece, and ask which programs are seriously underfunded and which are close to being completely funded, social security is one of the best. it's even not for certain that social security has a problem. why on earth--and of course it's something that the right has always wanted to kill, not because it doesn't work but because it does. and for Obama to go after this program, at this time, you just have to wonder. all of my progressive friends are saying what on earth is going through his mind to raise this issue.
so you think basically the hillary clinton position, which we take care of it by fiscal responsibility, and basically it will take care of itself, we can look at small fixes is the right one.
yeah. she is.
CHRYSTIA FREELAND (FINANCIAL TIMES)
well, i would also just really question the politics. i think it's absolutely the case that people felt barack Obama needed to show a little bit of machismo, versus hillary, sort of as perverse as that may sound. and people wanted him to kind of show that he could take her on. so i think that calculation is the right one. but who is going to support him on social security? i struggle to see which constituency that's playing to.
and this is exactly what the hillary campaign is saying. they're saying in a democratic primary, this just isn't going to cut. on the other hand, he does need to make some distinctions.
GEORGE WILL (ABC NEWS):
65 days from now the first of 78 million baby boomers begin retire. and most Americans who collect social security, begin to collect it at age 62, which is absurd. we have the public subsidizing the increasingly long and comfortable retirement of people for a third to a half of their adult lifetimes. now, that's why one in four voters in 2004 was over 60 years old. the elderly have the biggest stake in the welfare state, which exists to transfer wealth to them. so, this is politically, a loser.
Saturday's Post described an obviously coached introduction for Obama at a recent event, which, as the Howler points out, comes right out of Bill Bradley's 2000 playbook when he was constantly attacking Al Gore's character, points Bushco used right through the general election:
To emphasize this theme, Obama, who trails Clinton (D-N.Y.) by a wide margin in national polls, was introduced at the event by Tod Bowman, a Democrat and high school teacher in Maquoketa, Iowa. He said Clinton ducked his question about Social Security at an event this month.
"It made me wonder: If a candidate won't answer a question on the campaign trail, how can we be sure she'll be honest with the American people when they're president?" Bowman said at an event at a senior citizen center in Des Moines.
This is not only disingenuous, but flat-out dangerous to anyone not thrilled about the idea of a President Giuliani, since it's this kind of phony theme that the media loves to pick up on, and like they showed in 2000, the Republicans love to borrow. Whomever is your candidate, you've gotta be concerned about this particular type of snake oil Obama's selling here, especially since he's apparently not aware of who might be buying.
Note: Apologies for the first quote from the WaPo, for the life of me I can't get the software to save it correctly. Please refer to the link I provided and read the opening two paragraphs.