A Swift Boat smear for Social Security

By Tim Grieve

Published February 22, 2005 1:12PM (EST)

We keep hearing that, while the Bush administration's Social Security privatization scheme may seem all but dead on Capitol Hill, the campaign has only just begun. George W. Bush has the power of the presidency behind him, and it has a funny way of being persuasive  especially when you've got a whole host of allies willing to do anything to beat down the opposition.

George Bush has certainly got that. As the New York Times reported over the weekend, the conservative lobbying group USA Next is fixing to Swift Boat the AARP for standing in the way of Bush's privatization plan. USA Next has hired Chris LaCivita, a former Marine who helped the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth develop a media campaign to smear John Kerry, as well as Creative Response Concepts, the Virginia-based PR firm that represented the Swift Boat Veterans and the publisher of John ONeill's "Unfit for Command."

We don't know if the SBVs' advisors are responsible for USA Next's new anti-AARP internet ad, but they can certainly be proud if they are. Anyone who thinks of the AARP as some sort of AAA for the senior set will be surprised to learn that "The Real AARP Agenda" seems to have something to do with opposing U.S. soldiers in uniform and supporting men in tuxedos who happen to be carrying flowers and kissing one another.

The ad doesnt have anything to do with the privatization of Social Security  we're betting that it doesn't have much to do with the AARP, either  but that's not really the point. The point, USA Nexts Charlie Jarvis told the Times, is that the AARP is "the boulder in the middle of the highway to personal savings accounts." Jarvis vows that USA Next will be "the dynamite" that clears the way.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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