Thursday, February 24, 2005

Instead of trying to destroy AARP…

Swifties Slime Again
By MAUREEN DOWD
“Instead of trying to destroy AARP, Republicans should be signing up the seniors' lobby to find Osama.

AARP's super-relentless intelligence network is certainly better than that doddering C.I.A's. Osama has to have turned 50, and AARP somehow knows where everyone who has turned 50 lives.”

But no. The same Republicans who used to love AARP when it helped them pass the president's prescription drug plan now hate AARP because it is against the president's plan to privatize Social Security.

"They are the boulder in the middle of the highway to personal savings accounts," said Charlie Jarvis, the president of USA Next, a conservative lobbying group. "We will be the dynamite that removes them." He sounded more like Wile E. Coyote than a former interior official in the Reagan and Bush I administrations. "They can run, but they can't hide," he said. But the walker-and-cane set is hard to picture in the Road Runner role.

The Washington Monthly called USA Next's United Seniors Association, a self-styled AARP rival, "a soft-money slush fund for a single G.O.P.-friendly industry: pharmaceuticals."

Certainly, AARP, the gigantic special interest flush with money, probably does wield undue influence and certainly can be an obstacle to public policy, sticking up too much for what their critics call "greedy geezers."

But AARP doesn't deserve this treatment from the "Swift Boat" political demolition team. As Glen Justice reported in The Times, USA Next, which has spent millions on Republican policy fights, has pledged to spend as much as $10 million on ads and other tactics to "dynamite" AARP and get Americans to rip up Social Security. It's hiring some of the same consultants who helped the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who dynamited John Kerry, a war hero, by sliming him as a war criminal.

Once again, just as W. runs into political trouble, he floats above the fray while the help takes out his opponents. Just as John McCain was smeared by Bush supporters in 2000, Swift Boat assassins can rid the president of any meddlesome adversaries now.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/24/opinion/24dowd.html
con·cept: Instead of trying to destroy AARP…