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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Pin the Tail on Lieberman

"Above all maintain the line of demarcation between parties, for it is only by maintaining the independence of party that you can maintain the integrity of public men, and the power and influence of Parliament itself." - Benjamin Disraeli

I generally don't trust polls. I don't know who's taking them, what their bias is, how they're phrasing the questions, etc. But the one thing I find polls to be more reliably revelatory about is trends. If consistent polling methods are used to conduct a poll from one time to the next, and public opinion seems to be steadily moving in a particular direction, that can be telling.

A newly released poll from USA Today/CNN/Gallup found that Bush's Social Security Piratization road show just isn't working -- only 35% of thoe polled approve of his Social Security plan. That's down from 43% three weeks ago, and down from 49% just after he took office in 2001.

Face it -- the Repugs are losing this one. Want more proof? They've stitched up some kid to join the traveling snake oil show. If you can't win 'em over with facts, how about that adorable face, huh? Overweening sentimentality may not be enough to win this one. And 47% of those polled say they trust Democrats more to deal with Social Security, a 10 point advantage over the Repugs.

But Bush isn't done yet. Rick Santorum (R-PE) has his marching orders -- go forth and offer a compromise. He went on "Meet the Press" this Sunday and basically said that if raising taxes (i.e., the FICA cap) was what they had to do to make the Democrats happy in order to push through a plan to divert some of the tax revenue into private retirement accounts, then damn it, that's what they'd do.

And according to Josh Marshall, somebody -- in the form of everyone's least favorite Vichy Democrat, Joe Lieberman -- is close to some kind of a deal on that front with Lindsey Graham (R-SC). As Josh notes:
You do have to wonder -- really, really wonder -- about the roots of the urge to split the difference on phase-out seeing as the public is against it and turning more against with time. The policy and the politics are both lined up on one side of the ledger on this one. This isn't about garnering lots of press as the dealmaker, invites to the chat shows or the yearned-for plaudits of an increasingly right-leaning dinner-party centrism. And it shouldn't be about angling for mentions in the Post's increasingly fatuous Social Security editorials. This is about saving Social Security and now about preserving it for a long time to come.
Moreover, let's take a hypothetical. Say over the next couple of years Bush predictably continues on his manic spree to spend every dollar he can even imagine getting his hands on, and a few that he can't. It can't go on forever without some kind of massive fallout unless he has some sort of plan to get it under control, and we all know he hasn't got one. Wall Street goes into the shitter. Corporate America uses it as an excuse -- real or imagined -- to belt-tighten, lay off workers and ship more jobs overseas, which always happens whenever economic times get dicey. You can talk about re-framing and moving to the center and taking the battle to the red states all you want, but nothing is more likely to assure a Democratic victory in 2008 than a country sick of GWB's fiscal irresponsibility.

So who provides that alternative? Why, the Democrats, of course. At least they should. That's what an opposition party does -- it opposes. It doesn't blow like so much used toilet paper with the prevailing winds. It presents an alternative to the dire policies of this administration. And what is Santorum offering Democrats when he offers to "raise taxes" to make them happy? Why, he's offering them the opportunity to wear the mantle of Tax and Spend Democrat, one of the weirdest political sleight-of-hand flourishes of the past 25 years. How can a party who has chalked up titanic piles of debt convince the country that this particular myth is true? And yet they manage to do it.

So what does Lieberman do? He sits down with Lindsey Graham and Eeyore-like, begs to have that tail tacked on him. Sells out the party, sells out Social Security, sells out old people, young people, and everyone in between. For what? So they'll love him? So he can get his mug on TV a few more times, trading sickening bon mots with Bill Frist and John Cornyn?

Wake up, Joe. They don't love you, and they ain't gonna call you in the morning.

(Photo courtesy stock.xchng)