December 7, 2003

Like Babe Ruth pointing to the stands...

Michael Barone thinks Bush is going to campaign on Social Security reform:

....Bush has redefined conservatism. It is now not the process of cutting government and devolving powers; it is the process of installing choice and accountability into government even at the cost of allowing it to grow. This is an attempt to move government in the same direction as the private sector, which now offers much more in the way of choice and accountability than it did in the 1950s and 1960s, when big corporations and big unions established wage rates, when you worked for one company until age 65 and then depended on that one company and Social Security for your retirement income.

What is next on Bush's list? Social Security....

Well, I could have told you that was coming. But probably many people will feel Bush is being circuitous and deceptive. "Hey, didn't we already whack that mole? And now it pops up again...It's not fair." Actually it's what he probably learned in business school. If you want to change a big organization, have a few clear and simple goals, and keep pushing towards them.

If you want to understand this administration, you might just start with something David Frum wrote:

....Bush exacerbated these bitter doubts by his own disinclination to communicate his thoughts to the public. In his big prepared speeches, Bush exerts himself, often with tremendous success, to explain his plans and intentions to the public. Read George Bush's major speeches�and nothing else�and nothing will come as a surprise to you. Like Babe Ruth pointing to the stands before hitting his home run, Bush clearly indicates in advance exactly what he will do.

But Bush's more informal remarks can be cryptic, if not unintelligible. When Bush responded to questions about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden or the administration's plans for Iraq with "I'm a patient man," he was in his own mind reaffirming his intention to take action in a considered, deliberate way. But that sentence could easily be interpreted as a prelude to a wimp-out...

That's from Frum's book The Right Man, by the way. Good book, I recommend it.

But what's especially interesting is that this has always been an issue where Republican reformers get chopped to pieces. The program has been crying for reform for decades, but the usual scenario is that Democrats frighten older voters, telling them they will be eating dog food if those cold-hearted Republicans are allowed to tamper with Social Security.

But, if Barone's right, Bush is going to make a frontal attack on what has always seemed like an impregnable bastion! And during his re-election campaign, not after. And I predict he's going to win. He said in 2000 that he wanted to do it�he pointed to the stands�and sure as you're born it's going to happen. What could be more splendid? And what bliss to have a MAN in the White House at last. (And a businessman at that, and not a lawyer.)

Posted by John Weidner at December 7, 2003 3:58 PM
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