Privatize Social Security? Hell no!

Cocky Republicans are beginning to spell out their real agenda, and that's great news for Democrats

Published September 23, 2010 4:23AM (EDT)

I'm excited now that Republicans are starting to reveal their agenda for the midterm elections in November. I enjoy the whole Club for Growth push: "Privatize Social Security? Hell, yeah." I love it when right-wingers semi-swear, it seems so manly.

Tonight MSNBC's Rachel Maddow pointed out that Wall Street charges five times as much as the federal government does to manage retirement funds. Besides, President Bush went on a road show to push privatization in 2005 and, well, nobody really showed up at his shows. He went away. I remain stunned by the willingness of mainstream Republicans to tamper with Social Security and Medicare,  as the Tea Party gathers strength around just those issues.

But is the Tea Party really gathering strength? A Quinnipiac poll Wednesday found that Tea Party candidate Carl Paladino is only 6 points behind Democrat Andrew Cuomo, but I don't see that as a harbinger of a Tea Party surge or Democratic weakness. First, the poll may have oversampled Republican voters, and it didn't include former GOP candidate Rick Lazio, now running on the Conservative Party line, who could take votes from Paladino if he continues to run. I'm also sure Paladino got a bump from upsetting Lazio; everybody loves an underdog, and nobody was excited about a guy last seen on the national political stage losing decisively to Hillary Clinton 10 years ago. Besides, Paladino's a great story: Can a guy who's sent racist and pornographic email really become New York governor? Is this a great country, or what? I'm excited to learn the answer to that, even though I'm pretty sure that it's "Hell, no!"

Then there's Christine O'Donnell. I was on vacation last week when she won her primary, which was such a riveting story. But I don't think I can justify talking about her much, because she's so certain to lose in Delaware. I just want to say that I personally don't regret the '80s, except I did have a bad perm at one point and wore shoulder pads I didn't need. It's fun to mock O'Donnell's witchcraft and various crazy statements, but a much more serious issue is that she has been living off her shtick as permanent Republican Senate candidate, so baldly that it will either end with some kind of legal charges, or voter rejection, or both. She's such a grifter it's hard to use that term to describe Sarah Palin any more, who has at least held a few jobs in the last few years.

O'Donnell's taking the Sharron Angle/Rand Paul/Tea Party tack of ignoring national media and pretending to talk to local folks – except most Tea Partiers really don't do either. I was pretty excited to see that Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul threw his father under the bus with AIPAC today, reassuring a key neocon lobby that he's not down with Dad's anti-interventionism. This is not your father's ultra right wing libertarian tea party, son!

I discussed all of this on MSNBC's "Hardball" today.

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By Joan Walsh

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2010 Elections Christine O'donnell Tea Parties