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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX), March 18th 2005: "It is more than just Terri Schiavo. This is a critical issue for people in this position, and it is also a critical issue to fight that fight for life, whether it be euthanasia or abortion. I tell you, ladies and gentlemen, one thing God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo to elevate the visibility of what's going on in America. That Americans would be so barbaric as to pull a feeding tube out of a person that is lucid and starve them to death for two weeks. I mean, in America that's going to happen if we don't win this fight.

"And so it's bigger than any one of us, and we have to do everything that is in our power to save Terri Schiavo and anybody else that may be in this kind of position, and let me just finish with this:

"This is exactly the kind of issue that's going on in America, that attacks against the conservative moment, against me and against many others. The point is, the other side has figured out how to win and to defeat the conservative movement, and that is to go after people personally, charge them with frivolous charges, link up with all these do-gooder organizations funded by George Soros, and then get the national media on their side. That whole syndicate that they have going on right now is for one purpose and one purpose only, and that is to destroy the conservative movement. It is to destroy conservative leaders, and not just in elected office, but leading. I mean, Ed Feulner, of the Heritage Foundation today was under attack in the National Journal. This is a huge nationwide concerted effort to destroy everything we believe in. And you need to look at this, and what's going on and participate in fighting back."

I must say, I hope the supporters of Social Security aren't resting on their collective laurels just because the president's jihad against the program got off to such an abysmal start.

Today, in newspapers and on websites across the country, headlines used words like 'broke', 'bankrupt' and 'bust' to describe what happens to Social Security when it starts running a deficit at some time in the middle of this century. Only weeks ago, President Bush was being forced to back off such misleading and deceptive language. And many Republicans were openly criticizing him for it. Now these are the words of choice in supposedly straight news reportage.

Supporters of Social Security really don't have the luxury of letting one lie or distortion go unchallenged or unanswered.

More great moments in media whoredom...

MSNBC's front page Soc Sec headline: "Social Security outlook: Broke in ’41"

MSNBC's article page Soc Sec headline: "New date for Social Security to go bust: 2041"

Note to MSNBC press liaison: queue the line about the low-level website staffer, etc.

Langevin out of Rhode Island senate race.

Good news for Chafee, certainly. But good enough?

There's an interesting article today in the Post which fronts the president's new threat that Democrats "will suffer political consequences if they continue to oppose his proposal without providing one of their own."

You'll notice that the article is datelined Albuquerque, where the president just held his most recent Bamboozlepalooza event.

What caught my attention is that while the Post piece made such prominent mention of the president's 'threat', it neglected to mention the name Heather Wilson, who has been obstinately refusing to take any position on Social Security for months.

Wilson, the representative from Albuequerque and the clear target of the president's visit, was afraid to be seen at the president's event today.

Through a spokesman, she begged off with a claim that she was "on a long-planned trip with her husband and two children." But in the context of her earlier flimflammery on this issue, that's simply not credible.

Bottom-line: While President Bush is seeding the media with bogus threats, his own Republicans are afraid to appear in public with him on his Social Security tours. Most press reports either don't mention that or, like CNN, they accept Wilson's bogus denials at face value.

Try picking apart the egregiously tendentious assumptions in this AP report on the Social Security Trustees Report.

Reader mail...

Josh--

Everything you say about the Schiavo fiasco is true except your conclusion. The Democrats, for once, did exactly the right thing. By letting the Republicans do what they wanted, they have give the American public, at a very crucial time, the opportunity to see the Republicans in all their sleazy glory. The unspoken backdrop of political debate in the country will now be "Look what you get when the Republicans get to do what they want." No one will point to the Democrats to say they were in it too, but if they'd have kept the vote from taking place, some would have pointed to them as against life and none would have seen the courts' utter rejection of Republican over-reaching. Republican pronouncements from authority will e crippled by the obviously manipulative and mistaken pronouncements by Republican doctors in congress on Schiavo's condition. Even conservative Republicans are upset with Delay now. With outcomes so good, why Monday morning quarterback the Democratic leadership? What better result could you hope for?

PJ


I actually don't think I necessarily disagree with this. It's not an issue for Dems to whip votes on. <$NoAd$>And the Republicans are in the majority. They can do what they want. But any Democrat should feel entirely comfortable saying they respect the legal process and don't believe Congress should intervene in family matters of life and death (notwithstanding the anguished decisions involved) to score political points.

Simple and honest.

Surprise. Surprise.

For years, every Social Security Trustees report has put the insolvency numbers further out than they were the year before.

Until this year.

Late Update: Atrios, an economist, has and, I suspect, will continue to have the best details on the precise methods of cookery involved.

I haven't had my eye as closely on developments as I had been. But it seems now that the Senate's Fainthearted Faction may have to go out of business entirely or at least nearly so. Once I've read all the tea leaves, I'll be updating as appropriate.

There's another lesson for Democrats in this whole sad and sometimes ugly Schiavo affair. It has nothing to do with the politics of end-of-life care or the particulars of this tragic case. It concerns how Democrats present their views to the nation, how they act politically.

The recent national political phase of this case began with Republicans seeing a political opportunity to mobilize the electorate against Democrats -- an especially inviting opportunity given the turn of other political news of late. Most of the national press bought into this storyline. And most Democrats seem to have done so as well.

That doesn't mean they agreed with the underlying viewpoint advanced by Republicans. But they did buy into the political storyline. And that set into motion the standard drama, with cowering Democrats put to flight and fear by grinning Republicans, with national reporters occasionally aghast but mainly enthralled, as our baser natures might be by a gloveless boxing match.

(From childhood, most of us remember that there is a certain bully character type. But it is seldom an accident just who gets bullied. Bullies, in their very nature, perhaps their deepest nature, know how to sense and seek out people who are afraid to defend themselves. That's an instructive lesson here too.)

Yet now we see, quite in contrast to the conventional wisdom, that what the Washington Republicans have done here is quite unpopular with the public. Narrow majorities think the court decision is the right one; and overwhelming majorities believe Congress shouldn't be getting involved in this at all.

But those polls shouldn't have been necessary for Democrats to know how to act in this case. Anybody watching this could see what the Republican majority was doing was a cheap political stunt. We have laws in this country and courts enforce them. This is a case where there is not even a credible argument that there is any question of legitimate interpretation. That's all another way of saying that the Democrats should have been more confident that the majority of the public would have been more supportive of living under the law of the land in this case, or put another way, of their being the grown-up party.

I consider myself very much a political pragmatist -- what's right has to contend with what's doable, and all that. There are also a number of us who've been saying for years that the Democrats have a problem on national security and that much of it is not so much a question of policy as an ingrained habit of approaching defense policy issues through a prism of politics rather than policy. But this last year has brought home to me the belief that this basic problem extends far beyond national security policy.

I think the record now shows that Democrats have reaped ample political rewards by beginning the Social Security debate with a clear and emphatic statement of their support for the Social Security system as it now exists in advance of the public's reaction. And this is one example among many.

For my part at least, this doesn't mean I'm ditching pragmatism in favor of a come-what-will idealism. Not at all. Far from it. I simply think that we are now operating in a political context in which clarity and candor about where Democrats stand makes for good politics -- much better certainly than the tacking back and forth that has become second nature after such a long time sailing against an adverse wind.

Just as is the case with Republicans, there are things that Democrats believe that a majority of the public does not. That's life. And I'm not naive enough not to recognize that there are some issues of such controversy that they may still require delicate handling. But these two examples above show that Democrats are often inclined to move immediately to the defensive in instances where the public actually supports their viewpoint. And even where that is not the case, I think the Democrats will end up, on balance, in better standing with the public that knows just where they stand and that they're willing to stand for it.

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