The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Monday, February 07, 2005

Bush talks to Potemkin Villagers

While reading the following, please keep in mind that all of it comes from the official website of the White House. Bush appeared in Tampa plugging his privatization plan in front of a crowd of pre-screened zealots, and had a thing or two to say about how (here come the ironic quotation marks) his plan for "personal accounts" (formerly "privatization") would "solve" the "problems" (formerly "crisis") facing Social Security.

To start things off, how about a warm-up? This is what your typical scripted bit of propaganda looks like in print: If you're on script so far, we've got some chummy first name-basis camaraderie here. Then they toss in the whole love-of-the-swarthy ploy (aka Routine 16)-- kiss some minority butt so that you'll be able to screw them later... Then some daring multi-cultural chumminess-- strictly for the professionals, folks. Like Bush calls this guy up to play cards on weekends. "How's the family?" What a bastard.

So thanks for coming, Dwight.

MR. DILLARD: Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: You did a heck of a job. (Applause.)

Carlos -- Carlos Huertas. Bienvenidos.

MR. HUERTAS: Gracias.

THE PRESIDENT: Why were you interested in joining us? First of all, let's talk about your family.

Anyway, let's move on to the relevant piece. You know, where Bush lays out some specifics on his plan...

Q -- really understand how is it the new plan is going to fix that problem?

THE PRESIDENT: Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised.

Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

Okay, better? I'll keep working on it. (Laughter.)

Yes, sir.

Q How do you like these hard questions?

THE PRESIDENT: You know. You watch my press conferences? (Laughter.) Please don't encourage him. (Laughter.)

Errr, wha..? Uhmmm.... He's obviously got the faux-chummy patter down flat (or maybe that's just the scripted laughs), but when it comes to... All right, when asked a scripted question about the policy that he has made the centerpiece of his next administration, he can't give an answer that makes any sense at all. Scripted. Pre-planned. And this is what the public gets.

I'm guessing the key phrase is "solve the red." Maybe it's code that equates Social Security with communism. You know, because helping the elderly stay above the poverty line is something only Stalin would dream up.