Saturday, September 08, 2007

Some Calculating, Some Ignorant, All Pandering

Two different candidate quotes on page 14 of this morning's LA Times were the sort that made me want to retort. First, I see the headline "Clinton rejects raising age for Social Security benefits". Apparently, this is yet another Clinton gambit to position herself as "more experienced" than Obama. (Ironically, when it was the nuclear kerfuffle, Clinton chastised Obama for taking options off the table, but with Social Security, he's apparently naïve for leaving things on the table.) According to the article:
Clinton aides drew attention to a television interview Obama gave in May, where he refused to rule out raising the retirement age or boosting payroll taxes to ensure Social Security remains solvent over the next few decades.
"Everything should be on the table," Obama told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in that interview.

In her speech, Clinton took the position that certain solutions should be off-limits.

"I'll tell you, putting everything on the table is not the answer," she said. "Raising the retirement age is not the answer. Cutting benefits is not the answer."
This is just plain pandering. Clinton is a smart wonk, and she's undoubtedly aware of the dimensions of the Social Security disaster-in-waiting. There are only three ways to address the problem: have workers pay more (raise taxes), have retirees get less (reduce benefits), or change the ratio of workers to retirees (raise the retirement age). While it's unpopular to talk about cutting benefits or raising the retirement age, that's frankly what needs to be done. I'm much more impressed with Obama, who is willing to tell us what we need to hear, than Clinton, who, like most politicians, is just saying what she thinks we want to hear. (Sure, Clinton was addressing the AARP. But Obama isn't afraid to address hot topics, regardless of the context of his speech, as he showed earlier in the year when he spoke about merit pay in addressing the NEA.)

Then in the next story, I read about Fred Thompson's ignorant comments about same-sex marriage:
Denouncing judges in Iowa, Massachusetts and other states for decisions opening the way to same-sex marriage, Thompson called for constitutional amendments to curb judges' power to do so.

"What we're seeing here is a totally judicially created problem," he told a crowd in Sioux City.

"You know how many states have affirmatively approved gay marriage? State legislatures? Zero."
Um, better check your facts, Fred. Although it's been vetoed by the governor, the California Legislature has approved same-sex marriage not just once, but twice, as of yesterday. (Of course, Thompson might be excused for not knowing about yesterday's news, if other newspapers buried it as the LA Times did.) In Massachusetts, although gay marriage was ushered in by their high court, it has been effectively ratified by the legislature in voting down a proposed amendment to override the court decision.

Two examples of pandering. Clinton knows better. Thompson is just ignorant. Either way, these illustrate why Obama looks so refreshing.

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