We knew we'd
have an election. We knew there might be war
in Iraq. But who knew the Republican party would go to war against the English
Just to recap: Republicans long called their Social Security reform plan
'privatization' or 'partial privatization.' This Spring their polls and focus groups showed it
was killing them with voters. So they decided the 'privatization' label was
dreadfully unfair and that nobody should be allowed to use it anymore. The
National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) sent out a memo instructing
House candidates to demand that reporters never use the word 'privatization'
because doing so would mean using "the power of the press to promote inaccurate
Democrat spin and taking sides in the midterm elections ..."
(According to a May
11th article in the Washington Post, Republicans have even considered
suing Democrats who accuse their candidates of supporting
Now an actual Republican House candidate is demanding that her opponent stop using the term
'privatization' once and for all. First-term Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito
(R-WV) -- locked in a tough rematch with Democrat Jim
Humphreys -- has demanded
that the Democratic
Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) stop airing a campaign commercial
which claims that she supports 'privatization'.
The actual ad says "When Capito had a chance to help protect Social Security
from privatization, she voted no..."
Capito calls the ad "false and negative" and claims that she had "never voted
on the privatization of Social Security because no such vote has ever taken
place." (Italics added)
The issue here isn't whether there was a vote or who voted which way. (The
vote took place on July 25th, 2001 when California Democratic Congressman Bob Filner
had the House vote on an amendment designed to put everyone on record for or
against privatization). The issue is merely over the word 'privatization',
Republicans' own once-preferred word.
At the time of the vote took place 'privatization' was still the word
Republicans used: A week before the vote, conservative Washington Times
columnist Donald Lambro called the policy 'Social Security privatization.' The
whole issue is that the NRCC has now decreed that the 'privatization' label is
beyond the pale. So it follows that no vote on 'privatization' ever took place.
Now, clearly this whole exercise can quickly degenerate into ridiculous word
games. But that's precisely the point. House Republicans are afraid to
discuss their Social Security policies. (As one of the NRCC's recent internal
polling reports put it, "Successful implementation of inoculation and
response strategy [on Social Security] serves only to limit erosion --
not going to get any sort of clear 'win'.") So they're resorting to a weird mix
of game-playing and lies to muddy
the waters and stop anyone from taking them to task over their support of an
reporter knows this is true. This same trick is going to be pulled in race
after race. Will anyone call them on it?