Skip to comments.If Not Now, When? [Fred Barnes: “ ...everybody gets it" but(the) Democrats”]
Posted on 02/05/2005 7:25:23 AM PST by johnny7
ON HIS WAY TO A special lunch on the day of his State of the Union address, President Bush asked why he was hosting this event.
t's traditional, he was told. Indeed, for years presidents have invited television news anchors to the White House to brief them on the speech that evening. This year, Bush magnanimously kept Dan Rather of CBS on the invitation list despite the newsman's attempt to derail the president's reelection. The president told one anchor that he didn't think the anchor understood "the politics of Social Security." Another guest said critics fear Bush will try to bring down every tyrant in the world. Bush replied, sarcastically, that he didn't believe that was a criticism.
The president sounded confident about his second term. He was jaunty and joking. He said there was one thing he knew for sure: "If the president doesn't set the agenda in the second term, it'll be set for him." Bush, of course, is pursuing an aggressive agenda that would change the relationship between government and the governed both abroad and in America. He told the anchors he'd rather not bother with "littleball," one of his epithets for smaller and less consequential issues.
After months of trouble--beginning with the emergence in 2003 of a strong insurgency in Iraq and abetted by the failure to find WMD--Bush is once again in a strong position, politically and otherwise. The trend line of his presidency has been jagged. The line was flat in his first eight months in the White House, then it skyrocketed after 9/11, before drifting downward until he produced a strong Republican performance in the 2002 midterm election. Then it soared again during the war in Iraq, only to plummet as postwar turmoil set in. Following his reelection, the trajectory of the Bush presidency is again upward, buoyed by successful elections in Afghanistan and Iraq, a memorable inaugural address, and an effective State of the Union.
A White House official noted recently how lucky the president is to have Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi as his chief political opponents and critics. The pair, along with Senator Edward Kennedy and possibly Howard Dean as the next Democratic national chairman, are viewed as less than formidable. But they're still capable of mounting stiff opposition to Bush's agenda, especially Social Security reform and judicial nominations. Besides, dissing a foe can be fatal. John Kerry thought Bush an unworthy rival last year and look what happened.
For now, Democrats on Capitol Hill are flummoxed. The Bush agenda is dominant across the board, as Democrats have failed to lay claim to a single issue on the table in 2005. They merely react to Bush's initiatives. Reid, the Senate minority leader, advocated a "Marshall Plan for America" in his "rebuttal" of Bush's State of the Union address. He said it would be designed to "build the infrastructure our economy needs to go and grow." It is probably more rhetorical than real. The rebuttal by Reid and Pelosi didn't actually rebut. Their speeches were written before Bush spoke.
Bush and his speechwriters labored over the Social Security section of his speech just to make the issue understandable. It was. And Bush has learned to talk about Social Security in simple terms on the stump. Long ago, he dropped the supposedly threatening word "privatization." Democrats now use it to attack Bush. The president has also abandoned the wonkish term "unfunded liability." And, instead of a "personal investment account" for younger workers, he refers to "your own personal retirement account" or "nest egg." In the national debate over Social Security, the president has positioned himself on the side of the future and reform. "I think it makes sense to put out new ideas for an old and important system to make sure it works," he told a crowd last week in Fargo, North Dakota. "That's exactly what we are doing. I want the people, as I travel around the country, to know, one, there's a problem, [two,] I'm willing to work with members of both parties to come up with a solution, and, three, I've got an innovative idea as to how to benefit the younger workers in America."
Democrats have positioned themselves as representatives of the past and advocates of inaction. They rushed to the FDR Memorial the day after the State of the Union to emphasize their commitment to preserving Social Security largely in its current form. President Roosevelt was the father of Social Security. "They're worshipping at the altar of the past," says Republican consultant Frank Luntz. "FDR died 60 years ago." Democrats argue little needs to be done, particularly now, to sustain Social Security. "Demographic and statistical factors" show otherwise, Luntz says, "and everybody gets it" but Democrats.
Democrats in Congress aren't Bush's major problem on Social Security. For one thing, no matter how persuasive he is, he won't get many Democratic votes. Nor can he expect much sympathy from TV news anchors. But what he does need is near-unanimous support from congressional Republicans. Bush wowed them at a retreat on January 29. "I haven't seen him this fired up about anything domestically ever," says Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma. Presidential adviser Karl Rove, who's schooled himself on Social Security and become an expert, was blunt. For decades, Republicans prayed for the day they'd control Congress. Having achieved that, Rove said, it's time to do something with it.
Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.
The president walked over to Rather(Wallace followed) and said... Hi Dan... you 'gonna be retiring in Austin?
I love that about him.
How true that is.
I even unknowingly started doing it a few years back. One night after verbally putting a liberal in his place I noticed I had my arms crossed in triumph, just like Fred does.
...hoping to see Rather here in the Austin area so I can let him know how we "feel" about him.
He was the designated hatchet man in his father's White House. It goes along with his blunt talk on everything else.
I would rather have a man who is honest and candid, not someone who sneaks around and talks behind your back. I bet Bill Clinton never fired anybody face-to-face in his life.
Truer words were never spoken. Bush's plan to create an ownership society is the way to go. It destroys the dependency base the Marxists have created.
Americas long, illicit affair with socialism is about to end, now that she has been revealed as a lying, promiscuous, ungrateful simpleton.
The Bush agenda is dominant across the board, as Democrats have failed to lay claim to a single issue on the table in 2005.
Memo to the Democrats:
Life is full of disappointments...this is one of them..DEAL WITH IT.
Dan Rather? Who's he?
Fred is indeed good. Mort is pretty good too and even Mara seems to be a reality-based Democrat. Juan Williams is the most out-of-touch. But the very best Fox All-Star is Charles Krauthammer.
filibuster in the Senate will become the answer to everything.
with a complicit media they can get away with it most of the time.
I second that!
'Ya 'gotta like the guy. Poor Mort, Fred treats him like his misbegotten son. I got friends like Mort who are good Americans... but need a good kick sometimes when they need 'remindin!
Krauthammer is the one who puts the whip to Juan and Mara. The guy is unmerciful with them... and for good reason. He has no patience whatsoever with spineless, waffling toadies.
I LOVE the look on Britt Humes face when Juan Williams is talking.
Something I heard Chris Wallace say to Brit Hume about this made me think the anchor in question was Peter Jennings (he definitely said it was ABC). Oh, how sweet it would have been to hear W put the ever-so-smug and arrogant PJ in his place.
But the very best Fox All-Star is Charles Krauthammer.
So true. Did anyone catch his brilliant analysis on Fox's Sunday night coverage of the Iraq election? He was shot down by Tony Snow at the speed of light. The camera was still on Charles when he laid his head back, rolled his eyes and exhaled.
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