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December 20, 2004

Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Idiots? (No, I Don't Have a Social Security Plan Department)

So not only does Bush not have a Social Security proposal, he has now committed himself to never having a Social Security proposal:

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: December 19, 2004 - December 25, 2004 Archives: Sam Rosenfeld on today's press conference:

The president got a tad petulant when fielding questions on Social Security. His emphatic response to any and all queries about his position on the subject was an indignant, righteous refusal to answer: “You’re not going to get me to negotiate with myself,” he repeatedly told the perplexed reporters. “I know what you’re trying to get me to do. You’re trying to get me to answer ‘Why this,’ ‘why that,’ to take positions -- don’t bother to ask me.” Rather than merely dodge the questions, Bush seemed intent on staking out an explicit, principled position in favor of dodging the question. There may have been a method to this madness above and beyond Bush’s stated explanation that “Congress writes legislation” and therefore he, as the president, shouldn’t be setting specific guidelines for a Social Security reform proposal...

Gee. I guess nobody has told Bush of his Constitutional duty to "recommend to [the Congress's] Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." Anybody want to clue him in?


Posted by DeLong at December 20, 2004 05:35 PM

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Tracked on December 21, 2004 08:26 AM


It is amazing to watch the excruciatingly inarticulate idiot who occupies the White House, brazenly and blatantly dodging the question, hanging onto that dumbshit line about negotiating with himself like a lifeline when he can't think of anything to say.

And worst of all, the good puppy press just sits there and plays along. Why doesn't somebody challenge that moron to actually answer the question?

What started as a tactic of avoiding answering questions has gone way too far so that now there is effectively no public discourse, just people talking past each other, reciting barely memorized biolerplate. Its fucking pathetic.

Leave it to Bush to sit there and act like there is some virtue in not having a position and not answering questions about policies. Just like the little wannabe dictator that he is.

God did this country ever fuck up badly when it elected Bush to office. We will live to rue these days.

Posted by: The Fool at December 20, 2004 05:57 PM

What the heck does it mean, "negotiating with myself?" I feel stupid everytime I hear the phrase and I can't figure out a coherent meaning that would make the surrounding paragraph actually make logical sense...

Posted by: Peatey at December 20, 2004 06:19 PM

I still say the WH reporters should gang up and
keep asking variations of the same question
until aWol finally either blows a fuse or
answers the question.

Posted by: Self-Negotiator at December 20, 2004 07:03 PM

This is a good sign. If Bush thought he had a
detailed proposal that would be popular, he'd
be hammering on about it. Instead it sounds as
though his strategy is to make only the vaguest
comments about "we have to do something", and
then stick Congress with the blame for the
(probably appalling) details. I really don't
know whether Republicans in the Senate will
take the fall for killing Social Security,
if their lame-duck President doesn't have the
cojones to talk about it. Maybe even the
House might put up a fight.

Posted by: Richard Cownie at December 20, 2004 07:10 PM

I don't know the absurd in an academic sense, but I imagine that in classes studying it, this would be a good example.

Let's review. He knows the system is in dire trouble. He knows that making slight modifications isn't an option. He knows, above all, that privatization is the key.

Who the hell is he kidding? This isn't some sort of general concept, like free trade, which can be proven in a number of ways. It's a specific debate about a specific program - a big, big program - and yet he shows no signs of acknoledging that. Hell, does he even realize it?

He doesn't know exactly what he's going to do, but damn, he knows the general solution. My friends, this is the faith-based presidency in action.

Posted by: Brian at December 20, 2004 09:12 PM

Well, he used this term "negotiating with myself" years ago when he was proposing his tax cuts. As near as I can tell, what he really meant then was:

"I'm going to propose the biggest tax cut possible for my rich buddies. Anybody claiming to represent anybody else has to come up with enough votes in Congress to stop my proposal. Only then will I have someone to negotiate with."

In terms of SS, I guess it means he has decided on personal accounts, and he will do everything to make that happen, without having to explain why it is in the public interest. The later his detailed proposal comes out, the less likely that anybody will be able to muster 51 votes in the Senate behind an alternate proposal. So screw you guys.

For him to actually discuss the pros and cons of different alternative reform plans would be to "negotiate with himself" - possibly changing his plan WITHOUT being FORCED to change by somebody with 51 votes in their pocket.

The concept that the President serves the public seems far, far beyond his understanding.

Posted by: raygunnot at December 20, 2004 10:56 PM

You’re not going to get me to negotiate with myself,” he repeatedly told the perplexed reporters.

Of course he won't. IF he were to actually stake out a position or make reccomendations even he would see that they are silly, as soon as they escape his mouth, and thus start the self negotiations. If you are going to do something willful and stupid, I guess it's best not to detail it.

Posted by: Jim A. Sherman at December 21, 2004 08:32 AM

Let's review. He knows the system is in dire trouble. He knows that making slight modifications isn't an option. He knows, above all, that privatization is the key

Let's review again.
The commenters here are of the opinion that Social security is not in that much trouble and that this is a mad conservative gambit to kill a program that they irrationaly dislike, That seems to be that case. They just want to kill it.
Bush admin. slogan:
You're on your own !

Posted by: Jim A. Sherman at December 21, 2004 08:36 AM

I think that what Josh Marshall pretend not too understand is the purpose of press conferences -- as Busheviks see it. Thus the principle is that a press confence is a tool for The President to Convey His Point to The American People.

If The President has no point to convey, journalists should not bother to ask.

In the quoted exchange, The President conveyed quite admirably several points. One is that Social Security is in some as yet unspecified crisis. The second is that we cannot wait with some unspecified actions. The third is that The President is perspicacious (shrewd, as Noonan puts it) and thus he can spot what the journalist want even as he speaks with them, without hour long explanations after the conference. Most probably, The President is endowed with passsingly good memory and He remembers the explanations he got last time.

Posted by: piotr at December 21, 2004 03:06 PM