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MOYNIHAN PLAYED THE GAME TOO! Republicans hate the word “privatization.” But Daniel Pat played this game too: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, JANUARY 24, 2005

A CASE OF THE FLUZIES: Medical maladies brought low THE HOWLER—first our technical staff last week, then our very brigade of analysts. We expect to resume normal posting tomorrow. And we expect to bring shocking news of changes in THE HOWLER itself.

Yes, we’re tired of our loud-mouthed ways, and it’s time to admit that we’ve outlasted our mission. On the other hand, there’s always so much that ought to be noted. We offer a quick post below.

MOYNIHAN PLAYED THE GAME TOO: Josh Marshall has written instructively, in recent weeks, about the GOP’s fatuous drive to ban the troubling word “privatization.” This drive has been underway for years. For an earlier post on this topic, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/6/02.

But readers should know that this fatuous effort involved a Great Revered Democrat too. Right smack in the middle of Campaign 2000, the long-revered Daniel Patrick Moynihan also played this stupid card, even using it against his party’s candidate for president, Al Gore. In May 2000, the RNC and the national press were on Phase 307 of their War Against Gore; during this phase, they were attacking Gore for being too nasty-and-negative (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/2/04). In a ludicrous page-one piece in the New York Times, James Dao quoted Moynihan complaining about the naughty way Gore had criticized Bush’s proposal for Social Security:

DAO (5/5/00): Even some Democrats seem to think that Mr. Gore's attacks [on Bush] occasionally go over the top. On Wednesday, Mr. Gore accused Mr. Bush of devising a "secret" Social Security "privatization" plan that would bankrupt the system. Today Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a New York Democrat who supports investing some of the Social Security trust fund in private markets, took issue with the word "privatization."

"That's a scare word," said Mr. Moynihan, who supported Mr. Bradley in the primaries but has since endorsed the vice president.

May God have spared Gore such “endorsements!” Indeed, a few weeks later, Moynihan penned an op-ed piece in the Times, described the plan for partial privatization which he and Senator Bob Kerrey had authored. Once again, he made his fatuous claim about what such plans should be called:
MOYNIHAN (5/30/00): It would be unforgivable to label this "privatization." But it has already begun. These savings accounts are being referred to in New York Times reporting as "partial privatization."
But duh! Such plans were being referred to as “partial privatization" because proponents of such plans had used the term “privatization” for years! (See link below.) But by the time of Campaign 2000, political hacks had learned from focus groups that such plans fared better with the public if more pleasing terms were used. In recent weeks, Marshall has instructively described the way Republicans have played the fatuous “change-the-name” game. You also should know that one cranky old Democrat played this stupid game as well—and that he even played the game against his party’s candidate.

For the record, we discussed all these matters several years back. For a fuller treatment of this nonsense—a treatment which backgrounds Marshall’s reports—we strongly suggest that you read every word in THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/20/02. As you do so, marvel at Moynihan’s perfidious folly—and marvel again at the way the press corps was willing to go after Candidate Gore. (As you’ll see, Dao’s front-page Times reports were true classics.) For whatever reason, this remarkable story still hasn’t been told, not even among liberal bloggers.

VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: All Major Pundits agreed to pretend that Gore was being weirdly negative. How faithfully did they recite their group’s scripts? See THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/2/04.