It's time to think the unthinkable: The leader of the Democratic Party is about to submit a budget which cuts Social Security benefits. Party officials are reportedly promoting candidates with no track record on key issues and no apparent interest in politics.
And Republicans are planning another double-cross, an undertaking for which they have demonstrated both talent and enthusiasm.
Meanwhile, a petition with more than two million signatures will be presented to the White House tomorrow at a rally in Lafayette Square. And yet, despite this massive outpouring of public sentiment, and despite widespread public support for Social Security, the Democrats may be setting themselves up for a 2014 Congressional race in which they're portrayed as the "anti-Social Security party."
Impossible? No. Remember when Republicans re-took the House in 2010 after their losses in 2006 and 2008? Now that was impossible.
Democrats have long considered Social Security their signature program. They've repeatedly defended it from Republican attempts to gut or privatize it. Democratic activists have told me privately that, no matter what happens this year, it "wouldn't be fair" to characterize Democrats as Social Security cutters or the relentlessly hostile Republicans as its defenders.
Fair? Excuse me, I thought we were talking about politics. And if we're being completely fair, it's not altogether unreasonable to think of someone who voted to cut Social Security benefits as ... well, as someone who voted to cut Social Security benefits.
There's been extensive coverage of the President's planned chained-CPI cuts. Now comes this story in the Washington Post, about the party's plan to brand its candidates as blank slates:
"The best way to defeat the conservative, ideologically driven GOP, Democrats say, is to field non-ideological 'problem solvers' who can profit from the fed-up-with-partisanship mood of some suburban areas. These districts will offer some of the few competitive House campaigns in the country."
We're told that party leaders want to play into what they see as the "fed-up-with-partisanship mood of some suburban areas."
The Post article features Kevin Strouse, hand-picked by party leaders to contest a Congressional seat in Pennsylvania. We're told that party officials think Strouse is "exactly the kind of candidate who can help them retake the House next year."
"He's a smart, young former Army Ranger," writes the Post, "good qualities for any aspiring politician. But what party leaders really like is that Strouse doesn't have particularly strong views on the country's hottest issues."
Strouse told the Post that Democratic officials asked him very little about politics or policy and said they focused on his background instead. "They've just liked the bio," said Strouse. Politics may be the only profession in the world where a lack of experience, coupled with what seems to be complete disinterest in the job, is considered an asset.