Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Party needs a fighter
Gene Lyons
Posted on Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Back when former Gov. Howard Dean appeared likely to win the Democratic presidential nomination, I thought he’d make a terrible candidate. I admired his straightforward style, but I doubted the Vermonter could win a single Southern state. Gay marriage alone would sink him. It wouldn’t matter that Dean had brokered a compromise in Vermont favoring "civil unions." By the time Republicans got done demagoguing the issue, most "red state" voters wouldn’t notice the distinction. I also feared they’d tag Dean as unpatriotic for opposing the Iraq war, although he was right about that also.

To the surprise of Washington pundits, most Democratic primary voters turned out to be thinking tactically, too. They gave the nomination to Sen. John Kerry, a fellow New Englander who had the advantage of being a Vietnam war hero.

Alas, the Massachusetts Supreme Court hung gay marriage around his neck, he failed to defend himself effectively against the vile smears of the socalled Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and he proved incapable of explaining his position on Iraq in two short sentences. Yet he came within 65,000 votes of defeating George W. Bush in Ohio and winning the presidency. Would Dean have done better? That’s impossible to say. But win or lose, he definitely would have gone down fighting. That’s why his recent election as chair of the Democratic National Committee strikes me as good news. If nothing else, Dean’s a scrapper, and the Democrats definitely need one.

Bush’s ill-conceived Social Security "reforms," moreover, have handed them exactly the kind of issue they need. "You ever wonder why Republican campaigns are all run the same? Guns, God and gays. That’s all they do," Dean said recently. "Why is that? It’s because they never have anything constructive to say about jobs, health care and a real defense policy. They bring up those issues because they want people to vote against their economic interests.... We need to stop letting them tell America what we stand for, and we need to tell America what we stand for ourselves."

Almost on cue, a group called USA Next produced maybe the dumbest attack ad in the storied history of GOP smears. The thing is so preposterously over the top it seems like a parody. What’s the latest anti-American group to display its unreasoning hatred of Bush? Believe it or not, it’s the AARP, a. k. a. the American Association of Retired Persons. Grandma has gone subversive. The ad, which ran briefly on The American Spectator Web site, showed a camouflaged U.S. soldier under a big red X and a pair of bridegrooms kissing under a green check mark. The caption read: "The REAL AARP Agenda." By resisting Bush’s plan to borrow several trillion dollars to set up "personal accounts" and slash guaranteed Social Security benefits, the powerful geezer lobby had shown itself to be anti-defense and pro-gay marriage.

Lest anybody think such grotesque illogic was the result of an LSD flashback, USA Next majordomo Charlie Jarvis warned that AARP could run—well, toddle, anyway—but it couldn’t hide. He vowed to spend $10 million exposing its sins. "They are the boulder in the middle of the highway to personal savings accounts," he told reporters. "We will be the dynamite that removes them." Almost needless to say, the 35 million member seniors lobbying group has no position on gay marriage or the war in Iraq. What it opposes is Bush’s ideologically motivated Social Security shell game. Because its members tend to be aware that they already have tax deferred retirement options such as 401 (k) s and IRAs, they question the need for another investment plan that would yank the safety net from underneath society’s most vulnerable members—especially one like the Bush scheme that would increase the federal budget deficit, as Vice President Dick Cheney has admitted, by several trillion dollars. If the AARP wanted to fight fire with fire, it might respond with an ad showing Bush himself pledging to protect the Social Security Trust Fund during the 2000 campaign, vowing in 2001 to devote the entire $2.6 trillion budget surplus to shoring it up, then recently telling one of his captive, GOP-only "town-hall" audiences, in characteristically ungrammatical fashion, that no trust fund exists.
"The money, payroll taxes going into the Social Security, are spent," Bush said. "They’re spent on benefits and they’re spent on government programs. There is no trust."
Geezers being geezers, many also know that they’ve paid sharply increased payroll taxes since 1983 specifically to pay for the Baby Boomers’ retirement. So if the money was spent, Bush himself spent it.

Howard Dean puts it bluntly: "The truth is not one Republican president has balanced the budget in almost 40 years. You cannot trust Republicans with your money."

—Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and recipient of the National Magazine Award.


Post a Comment

<< Home