Adventures in inaudible audio with Senator Barack Obama
by David S. Lewis, National Affairs Editor
February 27, 2008
CINCINNATI, OH Senator Barack Obama attended a round-table discussion today at the Museum Center, a dialogue on the future of retirement in America. Five females joined him, all between the ages of 50 and 60, the concerned guard of the Baby Boomers. Like many of that generation, they are concerned that rising costs and a deflating Social Security fund will rob them of the foundation they have paid into for so many years.
Obama, however, was not too concerned about Social Security, which was fine until 2042, according to Obama.
I must admit something here, for the sake of accuracy. Something was terribly wrong with the audio set-up, and most of the dialogue sounded like the alarmed lowing of discontented cattle, every word bouncing off the marble walls of the conference room. As I could barely understand any of what was said, I took notes where I could and the rest...well, consider it made up, some. Don't worry, I got the gist of it...and so will you. That is the important thing, here. You must understand the Big Picture, and by God I would never let a technological difficulty stop me from delivering unto you at very least the Gist...
That said, I am pretty sure the year declared was 2042; he said it was going to be the biggest problem for folks currently in their forties, so that could very well be the correct year.
Why isn't Obama concerned with Social Security? One may speculate that it is overconfidence in his ability to repeal the caps on Social Security taxation for higher-income Americans; this has been part of his tax reform plan for some time. Conservatives traditionally argue that this is unfair, as Social Security is intended as an 'insurance' program for citizens who are unable to work, through injury or elderliness; this is an insurance that they say they don't need. Unfortunately, the program has been sabotaged by earmarks and politicians have had their hands in the pot for quite a while now...and the well may well run dry. Obama, who vaunts his ability to elicit bi-partisan cooperation, must have some spectacular leverage he has not yet disclosed if he thinks he will be able to convince Congress to repeal the caps.
Deigning to talk of trivial Social Security, Obama revealed his real concerns:
"I'm less worried about your Social Security and more worried about your pensions." He cited his desire for retirement funds to be set up for all Americans, with employers direct depositing a small portion of an individual's earnings into special accounts. These accounts would be voluntary and workers could opt out if they so chose, or increase the amount of the deposit...and the Federal government would match a portion, enabling the accounts to start earning significant interest more quickly.
He also talked about increasing retirement security through preventive maintenance, pointing out that the best-prepared earners often need nothing more than an accident or a sick child to cause the bottom to drop out from under their security. With his health care plan, families would have to worry less about suddenly finding themselves busted in case of an emergency.
He also declared probes with bankruptcy laws that protect special interests and not citizens and small business. He began to delineate his plans to rectify bankruptcy legislation, but to my horror, he was communicating in Arabic. This would simply not do; enough people have been led by the mainstream media to doubt whether he is even a Real Christian...with a middle name like "Hussein' and his not-so-secret fondness for turbans (prior to his Jack Kennedy "phase", anyway.) Leaping a whirling like a damned Dervish. I shot a questioning glance to Pesky Peckerhead Press Pansy Peter, Obama's Ohio media lead. His jaw had dropped in abject terror. I hate Peter; he is a young and arrogant shithead, like so many of the Democratic campaign staffers, but I still felt awful for him. It would be a terrible thing to see you boss disintegrate in such an un-Patriotic fashion, before one's very eyes...
Christ. Oh, God, why do I do that? Why do I indulge myself in these insipid fantasies? Enough is enough; we have to draw the line somewhere, dammit.
I couldn't understand him. Not a damn word. Peter said the cameras were getting a direct audio feed, and the speakers were sh*t. I took a few more shots and went out to talk to one of the Secret Service agents I had befriended before the event started. I couldn't sleep the night before, so I had left early and, as I drive quickly and efficiently, I arrived ahead of the rest of the press.
Earlier that weekend I had gone to an Obama press event in Columbus, Ohio for the Post. I had taken a quantity of that blue devil, Adderol to keep myself up the night before, and sucked down a pot of coffee that morning. My bladder could give me twenty minutes or so at a time, and the restrooms were outside the security checkpoint. This meant that the two SS guys on "magic wand detail" had come to know me pretty well, patting me down dozens of times, to the point where we all wondered whether it had become too intimate. I am a responsible journalist and I take such ethical considerations very seriously...dammit. I digress again.
In Cincinnati, we talked about the life of a Secret Service Agent on the campaign trail. I agreed to confidentiality for near everything, but when they told me that starting salary for an agent was around $46 large the first year, I became furious. We go to the trouble to elect a President (sometimes) and the government can't pay these f*ckers a little better to protect our investment? Infuriating. Academy graduates have to get places together, like highly-trained frat boys, because none of them are able to afford their own places inside the Beltway. Every year they appeal to Congress for a raise, and every year it is denied...as a result, many of their finest leave the Service to pursue careers in the private sector with companies like Khaki, the corporate intelligence company. Top-Secret clearances are very attractive to the Rent-A-Spy companies, apparently. Although their jobs are salaried, many of them opt to work overtime, which helps them keep the bills paid.
Disheartening bullshit; damn our godless elected officials. $500 billion dollar war. I wandered back into the conference room in time to get a few more photos as the event wound down. The candidate damn near jogged out of the room, such was his hurry to avoid my questioning. The traveling press were hustled off to their bus, so I bid my new friends farewell and tried to beat them to the rally.
sh*t...the coffee shop in which I am writing is closing and I have overstayed my welcome by half and hour. I will continue this tomorrow, but with luck my editor will post this in the morning, keeping it somewhat relevant. I guess "relevant" is a stretch; shall we say timely? In any case, to be continued...I shall head into Cleveland and prepare for tomorrow's MSNBC debate between Senator Obama and Senator Clinton, in what may be her last chance to slow Obama's juggernaut momentum before the March 4 primary.