David Broder, Dupe (and Dope)
From Edward Gorey: the craven pundit feigns cluelessness and conveniently forgets he helped pull the trigger!
I was appalled by David Broder's weekend editorial. Broder feels that the national interest on any topic is empirically determinable from debate - and compromise - between Republicans and Democrats. What a dope!
Some issues do not lend themselves to compromise: for example, Lincoln wavered not at all in his determination to save the Union, and most importantly, never compromised with the Secessionists.
Insisting that a compromise be reached under all circumstances is, simply, wrong: for example, imagine Jews negotiating terms with the Nazis (OK, we'll offer 3 million Jewish lives this time, and that's our final offer!) It's like negotiating between a raging conflagration and the firemen sent to help: the parties are not on equal terms. Split-the-difference only works when there is a basic agreement on means and goals.
Doesn't Broder understand that the current Republican leadership DOES NOT CARE about Social Security AT ALL and negotiations with them over the program's future will be fruitless? Republican leaders do not care about the program's approaching insolvency: instead, they only care about avoiding the tax hikes required after 2017 to cover the program's shortfall. A better response for these refractory cases comes from World War II, when General McAuliffe responded "Nuts!" upon being confronted with a German surrender ultimatum during the Battle of the Bulge. That's the spirit!
Republicans have never negotiated in good faith regarding Social Security. Time and again, the Democrats have faced surrender ultimatums: Private accounts, or ELSE! Well, "NUTS!" to that! Saving Social Security DOES NOT require private accounts! Period! Come back when you are prepared to actually negotiate!
George Bush is willing to try Robert Bennett's proposal, just to assess where Democratic weaknesses are - a Trojan Horse, if you will:
When Bennett outlined his proposal in a Republican leadership meeting with Bush last week, the president encouraged him to go forward. Bennett quoted him as saying, "I like your bill, period."Bush will certainly not adjust his own plans, whatever the merits of Bennett's proposal.
White House spokesmen quickly added that Bush was not abandoning his desire for private accounts -- despite polls showing broad public disapproval of his approach.
So, Harry Reid says "Nuts!" and Broder cries more crocodile tears:
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada was quick to dismiss the Bennett idea as a "bait-and-switch" scheme, designed to lure the Democrats into negotiations that would ultimately produce a bill with private accounts. Reid repeated his demand that Bush take those accounts off the table before the negotiations begin -- something the president plainly will not do.Bob Bennett may or may not be a straight-shooter, but he is coordinating his proposal with the White House, and they are definitely not straight-shooters.
Democrats are feeling smug about the way they have stymied Bush on Social Security. When I asked Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean last week about his party's position on the issue, he said, "We're in a great place. We have been able to block privatization."
But the program is not in a great place. The insolvency problem is real, and it needs to be fixed. No one who knows Bob Bennett believes he is a "bait-and-switch" game-player.
Broder seems to think Armageddon analogies are appropriate, as if circumstances are dire enough to demand negotiation even under adverse circumstances:
Democrats need to recall what John Kennedy did during the Cuban missile crisis. The president received two messages from Nikita Khrushchev on successive days, the first outlining easy terms for resolving the crisis -- a pledge of no U.S. invasion -- and the second adding other conditions. Kennedy decided to respond to the first and ignore the second, and the crisis was resolved.The Social Security problem is not Armageddon - it isn't even as severe as the current Medicare problem - and the Khrushchev analogy fails to hold. Broder offers foolish advice:
If they are responsible, Democrats will take Bennett at his word, come out of their defensive crouch, negotiate -- and put Bush and the Republicans on the spot. To balk at such an offer would be a sign they are putting politics above the national interest.Even having a negotiation occur at all doesn't put Bush and the Republicans on the spot: rather, under the circumstances, it would be a small Republican victory, and would simply encourage the Joe Liebermann/DLC surrender monkeys. Democrats are under no obligation whatsoever to grant them even that much. Who cares if David Broder thinks the Democrats are putting political interest above the national interest? The Democrats are stalling, and that will serve the national interest infinitely better than ANY negotiation with Republicans pushing private accounts!
The Republicans are determined to destroy Social Security, by hook or by crook. Negotiating a quick demise, through massive privatization, or a more prolonged bloodletting, through Senator Bennett's privatization-lite, leads in the same direction: the more money diverted from shoring up Social Security, the weaker Social Security gets. Negotiation will lead nowhere, at least, until Republicans give up their ideological fixation on destroying Social Security. Even if no negotiations occur until 2017, the system will still be stronger than if ANY of the current Republican suggestions on the table get implemented into law.
Yet Broder is outraged - outraged! - that the Democrats should stall on Social Security. He calls the Democrats smug. That's a false allegation: Democrats aren't smug, not by a long shot! They are finally getting smart about HOW to negotiate, however: first, it's all about not getting all wobbly and caving before the real negotiation actually starts! And there's plenty of time - another 12 years! - for that negotiation.
So, stay the course Harry Reid! Onward, to victory! Crush the Republicans and their craven, compromising Broder friends along the way!
Meanwhile, talking about crushing reporters, reporters Miller and Cooper's appeal to the Supreme Court regarding the Plame case leaks has been turned down: a good development in efforts to rein in mainstream media reporters who subvert national security in order to suck up to powerful government sources engaged on vendettas....