President Bush has repeatedly said in the last two weeks that he wants to push his plan for privatizing Social Security again after the election. This presumably means that it will be back on the table if the Republicans keep control of Congress. This means that Social Security should be a major issue in every Congressional and Senate race. The media should asking candidates where they stand and telling the voters.
BUSINESS FOR SPITZER. Speaking of business, this endorsement of Elliot Spitzer, on the Wall Street Journaleditorial page, by a former executive vice president of Morgan Stanley, is interesting stuff. The argument, which others have made from the outside but Donald Kempf makes from experience, is that Spitzer's style of anti-corporate populism is a boon, rather than a threat, to capitalism in general and business in particular:
I know everyone wants to find something to celebrate these days, but record stock market highs really should not be on the list. While the Dow has passed its 2000 bubble peaks, as everyone should be aware, it's still well below its 2000 level after adjusting for inflation. That is the only serious basis for a comparison. Furthermore, the Dow index is comprised of 30 large companies, the S&P 500 index is far more representative of the larger stock market, consisting of companies that account for close to half of the market's capitalization. The S&P 500 is still almost 10 percent below its 2000 peak in nominal terms. It is down more than 25 percent after adjusting for inflation.
BUT HE STARTED IT. I've long been of the opinion, in all seriousness, that Republicans have it in for the disabled. First there is their positioning regarding discrimination against people with disabiilties in the workplace (President Bush, for instance, has repeatedly appointed judges who are extraordinarily hostile to discrimination claims). Then there is their desire to eviscerate social insurance programs that support people with disabilities, like Social Security, and recently there has been their opposition to funding for potentially life-improving stem cell research.
END OF DENIAL? A curious headline popped up on the New York Times homepage today: "Bush Offers Gloomy Assessment of Iraq." In an Associated Press story on remarks by the president delivered this morning from the East Room of the White House, Bush, against precedent, actually spoke of the number of deaths suffered by American troops this month -- 93 so far. The AP described the occasion of the president's foray into the reality-based community as "a speech and question and answer session at the White House 13 days before midterm elections." A last-gasp attempt, apparently, to close that credibility gap.
PILING ON KAPLAN. As Spencer notes below, Larry Kaplan apparently fears that Americans will not want to invade other countries in order to install democracy after recoiling in horror from what's happening in Iraq. Kaplan writes as if there isn't a robust democratization literature that, although it hasn't definitively settled every question, has at least achieved consensus on some big-bucket factors that make a country a good candidate for democracy.
THE SPECIAL INTERESTS GO MARCHING ON AND ON, HURRAH, HURRAH...The Wall Street Journal has an excellent article chronicling the desperate attempts of various rapacious and over-indulged industries to spend the Republican majority into safety. The piece starts with the drug industry, whose sweetheart deal preventing Medicare from centrally bargaining drug prices will, according to Nancy Pelosi, be overturned within the first 100 hours of Democrats taking control. Hoping to head that off, the industry has donated almost $14 million, 70% of it to Republicans.
THE STEM WEDGE. Apropos of my earlier post, Jim Talent can probably consider himself lucky that Claire McCaskill's only throwing Michael J. Fox at him. If you want to see some real chin music, take a look at this ad on a similar theme, which is being run against Josh Marshall's old pal, Count (Chris) Chocola, and in a number of other races across the country. (Thanks to the redoubtable Mr. TBogg for the original tip).
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: PAST IMPERFECT. Historian Jason SokolassessesDeval Patrick's historic gubernatorial bid in Massachusetts (a race that gets more brutal by the week) in the context of the Bay State's checkered racial past.
KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE, HOLD ON. My buddy Lawrence Kaplan tries to salvage the Bush Doctrine from the Iraq war. His argument is that critics of the war risk learning too much from the failure in Iraq: the antidote to tyranny is democracy, even if it didn't turn out so well in Baghdad, and dangerous dudes will still need to be preempted.