PINNING DOWN SENATOR FLIM-FLAM: Say what you will, your press corps does provide endless amusement. Consider Judy Woodruffs comical interview with Senator Flim-Flam, Chuck Hagel.
This Tuesday, Flim-Flam appeared on Inside Politics to explain his Social Security plan. As weve seen, there are two basic questions that need to be asked. How much would Hagels plan cut future benefits? And how many trillions must the government borrow to set up Hagels private accounts? Woodruff actually asked both questions. Then she stared blankly off into air as Flim-Flam gave answers that made no sense to anyone alive on this Earth.
So settle back and enjoy live burlesque! First, Woodruff asked about benefit cuts. We include Flim-Flams full reply:
WOODRUFF (3/8/05): Senator, how much of a reduction in benefits would your plan mean?I index life expectancy at the time the base amount of the retiree Social Security figure is determined, Senator Flim-Flam candidly said. No one on Planet Earth knew what this meant. But Woodruff moved straight to the next question. How much would this add to the deficit?
HAGEL: Well, first of all, as I said, I keep the early retirement age at 62, but I reduce the benefits there, if you take early retirement, which are now 70 percent of full benefits, down to 63. The second thing I do, as I said, is I index life expectancy at the time the base amount of the retiree Social Security figure is determined. Obviously, the reason I do that, not only are we living longer and better, but the longer you live the more Social Security money you're going to take out. Most Americans today get more out of the Social Security system than they ever put in it. So the longer you live, you're going to get more out of it.
WOODRUFF (continuing directly): Very, very quickly, Senator. Senator Edward Kennedy said over the weekend your plan doesn't work in his mind because he said it would add so much to the deficit. What do you say to him?Thats great. But how much would this add to the deficit? Flim-Flam had somehow forgotten to say. But so what? Woodruff—deciding to leave it there—moved to the closing etiquette:
HAGEL: That's just not true. Let's start again. Actuarial, factual, we're now $3.7 trillion in debt over the next 75 years. That's real, that's not my number, that's Social Security Administration's number. I can—with my plan—these are Social Security Administration numbers, they ran my numbers—get us to full solvency within 75 years and beyond for less than the $3.7 trillion debt that we're already in.
WOODRUFF (continuing directly): Senator Chuck Hagel, we're going to leave it there. Has his own Social Security plan out.Has his own Social Security plan out, Woodruff said, emitting one of the half-formed sentences that are now the clear mark of her breed.
Senator, thank you very much.
HAGEL: Thank you very much, Judy.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.
For the record, this makes three major shows on which Flim-Flam has appeared to lay out his Social Security plan. And after reading all three transcripts, we dont have the slightest idea how much his plan would cut future benefits. Nor do we have the slightest idea how many trillions would have to be borrowed. Flim-Flam has appeared with Schieffer and Matthews, and he has appeared with Woodruff. And none of the three made the slightest attempt to flesh out these key, vital facts.
Flim-Flam sounded like someone from Neptune, but then, his host sounded like a near neighbor. Has his own Social Security plan out, she said. For those who live on Planet Earth, its pretty much guesswork from there.
VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: Dont miss any of Flim-Flams interviews! For his session on Face the Nation, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/7/05. To see the brave solon playing some Hardball, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/9/05. Note: As Hagel makes these comic turns, press liberals praise his great candor.
TRYING TO LIGHT FLIM-FLAMS FIRE: Hagel has been frank about the fact that he raises the retirement age one year. We couldnt help chuckling at the way Woodruff tried to help him get higher:
WOODRUFF: Senator, a lot of focus on the raising of the retirement age. Now, granted this is for people who are under 45 now, but why raise from 67 to 68. Where did you get the number one-more-year? Where did that come from?Note to Woodruff—if we raise the age to, lets say, 85, the system will be fully solvent for centuries! Woodruff wasted time on these ghoulish thoughts, then ignored Flim-Flams later obfuscations.
HAGEL: Well, I looked at many, many plans and ideas, Judy. I talked to Alan Greenspan. I talked to literally tens and tens of people and organizations over the months. I have been at this, by the way, for 10 years and when I first ran for the Senate in Nebraska 10 years ago, I was talking about this issue, Social Security reform. How did I arrive at 68? We're living longer, Judy. The life expectancy, dynamic today—
WOODRUFF: But why not 69 or 70?
HAGEL: Well, I think you don't need to do it beyond 68. I think one year add-on is enough to help make the program solvent. There are people who would like to retire early. And now it's going to be 67. So, 68 fits. It works as well as the other pieces.
BUNGLING RATHER (PART 3): Yep! Flavia Colgan got it right when she debated the Rathergate flap with the Earth-crawling mutants of Scarborough Country (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/8/05). And Gene Lyons got it right in his universally-ignored newspaper column (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/9/05). Are CBS and the rest of the press driven by that dread liberal bias? Colgan and Lyons offered an array of points which are roughly the most obvious points in the world for anyone debating this seminal topic. This same press corps trashed Clinton and Gore, Colgan noted; and oh yes, it was that same liberal program, 60 Minutes, which trashed Bob Kerrey, then a Dem White House hopeful, reinventing him as a war criminal. Lyons? He recalled a previous time when 60 Minutes put its faith in a shaky, single source and proceeded to get itself massively burned—the time they threw Kathleen Willey on the air to tell lurid tales about Clinton! As noted, these are the most obvious points in the world—the starting points for any rational discussion of that ballyhooed bogey-man, liberal bias. Indeed, just how easy did Colgan make it for any other liberal spokesman? She even sketched the obvious procedural point in her short-lived discussion with Scarborough. Thats what Republicans do, she said. You talk about the issues you want. In case any liberal spokesman is reading, lets speak more slowly and explain what she meant: She meant that pseudo-con pundits pick and choose from a wide range of press corps bungles, citing only those that cut against Bush. They feign wild outrage when CBS bungles a story that hurts the commander. And they simply ignore a decade of cases in which the press corps trashed Clinton, then Gore.
Yes, that point is easy to state, and the information has all been developed. As a matter of fact, our own incomparable site, THE DAILY HOWLER, has developed the information in endless detail over the course of the past seven years! But lets just say it—current liberal spokesmen are simply too stupid to know what to do with such prime information. Indeed, when it comes to the topic of press corps bias, theres a word for these spokesmen— ineducable. It doesnt matter how easy you make it; it doesnt matter how much info you hand them. Do pseudo-conservative pundits and hacks ignore the trashing of Clinton, then Gore? Well so what—liberal spokesmen do too! Lazy, inept and defiantly clueless, your liberal spokesmen go on the air and quickly get themselves eaten for lunch whenever this topic is discussed. To adapt the great old joke by Bill Maher, developing information for our current liberal spokesmen is like designing bidets for gorillas. Theyre simply too stupid to know how to use it. Many libs deride Bush as dumb, but lets face it—Bush and his agents are much, much smarter than the parade of born losers we throw on the air. They eat our liberal spokesmen for lunch, then laugh at them driving home in the limo. And lets face it—if you ever got to debate such born losers, youd laugh at them driving home too.
How inept are our liberal spokesmen? Consider what happened last evening in Scarborough Country when a panel discussed Rathergate for roughly the ten millionth time. An array of panelists had been assembled to discuss the Bad Thing Rather Did. Eventually—and predictably—Brent Bozell keened and wailed. CBS could have changed a White House election, the Mother of All Press Spinners said.
Had Colgan been there, she might have noted one of the most obvious points in the world. She might have said that one recent election almost surely was changed by the press corps trashing of a candidate; she might have said that the press corps trashing of Candidate Gore almost surely changed Campaign 2000. Yes, this might have seemed strange to most cable viewers; inept liberal spokesmen simply never say this, so most Scarborough viewers have never heard this obvious point expressed. But in one way, Scarborough Country is the perfect place for a liberal spokesmen to voice such a view. After all, the trashing of Gore was so extreme that even a leading pseudo-con spinner described it once on cable TV. And yes, thats right, it was Scarborough himself! As Gore re-emerged on the scene in late 2002, he described the brutal way the press had trashed the 2000 Dem White House hopeful:
SCARBOROUGH (11/18/02): I think, in the 2000 election, I think [the media] were fairly brutal to Al Gore If they had done that to a Republican candidate, Id be going on your show saying, you know, that they were being biased.And yes, thats exactly what Joe (and every Republican) would have done, if the press corps had done that to a Republican. But you never hear Democrats make this complaint. Sorry, readers. The liberal spokesmen we throw on the air are just too g*d-damned stupid.
For the record, that was Scarborough on the cable show Hardball, speaking in November 2002 (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/31/02). That was Scarborough, stating the obvious—in the 2000 White House campaign, the press corps was brutal to the Democrat! And that was Scarborough handing a useful text to any liberal smart enough to use it. But uh-oh! Last night, on Scarboroughs current program, we saw a gang of liberal spokesmen too f*cking stupid to repeat what he said! There they sat, starting off into air, refusing to make the most obvious points. Indeed, there was a played-out old dinosaur, Gothams Kurt Anderson, wasting the worlds time saying this:
ANDERSON (3/9/05): Even in the relatively modern age, in the Henry Luce age, during the 1940s and 50s, when Time magazine and Life magazine together had incredible power, Henry Luce had a very ideological Republican point-of-view he was pushing. So before the right could complain about the Great Liberal Media, the single most powerful, arguably, media entity in America, that is to say, the Luce Time magazines, were strictly Republican, well into the 1960s.Snore! Struggle to keep yourselves awake as you read Andersons disquisitions. Uh-oh! Andersons knowledge seems to stop somewhere around 1965—which makes him perfect for Scarborough Country, of course. The hapless savant discussed Time in the 50's; by contrast, a capable spokesmen would have discussed the New York Times during Campaign 2000! But thats like asking beasts to sit down on that bidet. In the real world, it aint gonna happen.
So go ahead—read the discussion from Scarborough Country, and see if any liberal on the show expressed the worlds most obvious points. After that, well make a request of two liberal spokesmen, Anderson and Salons Joan Walsh. Comrades: The next time youre asked to discuss liberal bias, will you be honest with the shows booker? Will you say: I dont have the first f*cking clue about this—dont make me go on your program?
TOMORROW—PART 4: Why do liberals avoid the most obvious points? Many are deep in the bag.
AND: A highly instructive Nexis search—the kind liberal spokesmen never make.