As I said last night, I'm not in agreement with the president on everything. But he won me over anyway. I think his Social Security reform plan is timid, watery stuff. But what did the Democrats offer in return? They sat on their hands when Bush talked about nest eggs that belong to the people who earn them. That sends a message. Then, in their response, the Dems talked about "Social Security roulette." But Bush had already answered that critique in his speech by mentioning the federal TSP withholding option. In other words, for some reason it's okay to play roulette with the retirement funds of federal workers.
Another example. Here's Pelosi:
We must extend the hand of friendship to our neighbors in Latin America. We must work to stop the genocide in Sudan. We must reinvigorate the Middle East peace process. And we must bring health and hope to people suffering from disease, devastation and the fury of despair.Oh, it all sounds so meaningful, and you can be so sure that she goes home at night and cries over her chicken picatta that she didn't get it all done today. But look at it clearly. Extend the hand of friendship to Latin America? I thought that was the idea of Bush's hemisphere-of-free-trade vision? Oh, wait, you mean give them stuff!
Work to stop the genocide in Sudan? Say, aren't your "multilateral" buddies at the UN in the middle of another head-in-the-sand Rwanda move on that issue? Go ask them if they mind us being unilateral on this one.
How about the mid-east "peace" process? This president froze the biggest impediment to peace, Arafat, out of the process, leaving him to die in metaphoric exile, ruling his kleptocratic little non-state and making sure things got no better for "his people" so that they wouldn't suddenly catch a nasty case of middle-class values and decide that sending their sons and daughters on buses to Jerusalem to explode was a slightly worse idea than sending their sons and daughters on buses to Jerusalem to go to schools, jobs, and businesses of their own.
Bring hope to people suffering from disease and despair? As for disease, Bush ended eight years of empty-gesture politics on third-world AIDS relief. And, for despair, curing that doesn't get much better than a free election. Did you see the young Iraqi woman last night, holding up her trembling hand, making the Victory-sign (those of you who thought she was signaling "peace" need to think again) and the one-finger "I voted for the first time in my life without having to worry that the guy I voted against will arrest and torture me tomorrow" gesture? Bronx cheers to the Democrats (and isolationist Republicans) who look at that and say, "Well, yes, but . . ."
Bush makes Americans feel hopeful. Now, I don't want to see his agenda enacted. (It's full of stuff I think goes either too far or not far enough.) But I'll side with him over the lemon-sucking faces across the aisle. They had two years to sell us the idea that Iraq was a failure, and now they're stuck with a big piece of good news that the media is pretty much forced to report, since it's, er, also kinda big news: possibly the most free, fair, and democratic election the Arab mid-east has ever seen. Thus, I'll stick with the president on Social Security, too. Maybe he can get half a loaf -- better that than the status quo. Screw the "it can't be done" crowd. It can be done. Screw the "we can't cut benefits" crowd. Of course we can. And we can kick the rich old farts off the wagon and raise the retirement age at the same time. Granny deserves a nice, long retirement, but twenty-five years of taxpayer subsidized golf (indexed to wage growth rather than inflation: Granny's a growth fund; who knew?) in Sun City is a bit much. If she's so goddamn "vital" in her golden years, she can keep a part-time job.
Finally, if I may indulge in some cynicysm for a moment: If recent electoral trends are any indication, being anti-reform is the last hope for the Dems to get in on a growing market of voters: old-age pensioners. I don't think there's any other explanation for this kind of political duplicity and cowardice.