Notes on Political Venality, Pomposity and Associated Stupidity.

Friday, December 17, 2004

"Social Security is the New Abortion"

Just as orange is the new neutral, so has FDR's Social Security become the new abortion.

Consider this. The idea that Social Security is failing or is on the imminent verge of bankruptcy isn't new. It has been shouted from the right-wing rooftops for years. Ominous warnings have been intercut with faces of sad elderly people to form a pathetic pastiche, that has, over time, become to be accepted as convention wisdom. If something isn't done, and done soon, Grandma is going to be out on the street living off of roadkill!

So what's this about abortion? Let me tell you. Years of steady work went into building the anti-abortion movement from just a few nuts with guns and bombs into a driving force within the Republican Party. The GOP learned an important lesson about the modern media landscape; if you say something long enough and loud enough, it becomes "truth." Contemplate the medical procedure that came to be called "partial birth abortion." It came to be called that because the Conservatives kept calling it that - not because that's what it is. It was a completely manufactured, perjorative term that was eventually added to our lexicon and is used by nearly all newspapers and TV reporters with no caveat about its source. You can't say the term without visualizing a half-born fetus. Brilliant bit of marketing, actually.

And so it is with Social Security. The long walk down this path didn't just start in this election cycle. It has been progessing for years. Of course the GOP has always hated FDR and his programs (he was their whipping boy long before Bill Clinton) but with such a popular program they couldn't go after it directly. So they have slowly worked to dominate the discussion of the programs and its benefits...and to develop a fear that "something has to be done!" Fear being the operative term. And now, they think the time is right to strike, for two reasons. First, they are in power. No time like the present to yank that cigarette out of Franklin's mouth and burn his memory with it. Second, they have a load of baby-boomers who are facing retirement in a few years...and who are all deeply in debt. These are also people who, in many case, no longer have pensions (wasn't that a quaint concept?) who have used their 401k money to fund their kids education and who are fearful that they won't have any job in the near term. Under those circumstances, with fear at the center of the equation, no one will look too closely at the math; they'll just say, SAVE US!

And that may well happen. The Administration has their teeth into this like a Pit Bull with a side of beef, and they aren't likely to give up easily. Also, as usual, they will be more than willing to perpetrate a lie...and then just keep saying it. Hey, it worked really well with the WMDs!