You have to hand it to President Obama. He has taken the fine art of political demagoguery to new levels.
Here is what he recently told CBS News: “I cannot guarantee that those [Social Security] checks go out on August 3rd if we haven’t resolved this [debt limit] issue, because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.”
The reason he said this? He’s a world-class political manipulator.
Those of us in the business of helping people get elected know full well the persuasive power of a thoughtfully penned direct mail letter. A letter with a check in it is even more persuasive. The master campaigner-in-chief knows this as well.
So when Social Security checks do go out — as they will regardless of whether the debt limit is raised — and the government makes good on its commitment, consider it a taxpayer-funded campaign mailing for the president’s 2012 campaign.
It’s tactically brilliant: Obama has convinced millions of seniors to worry about a situation that he knows won’t happen, so that when it doesn’t, he can take credit for preventing it from happening. Seniors get the Social Security checks they deserve while Obama uses the people’s treasury for his own political gain.
From Obama’s perspective, the proverbial electoral elephant in the room isn’t any of the GOP candidates for president. It’s the specter of a primary from the left. Don’t think for one minute that isn’t on the minds of the president’s political brain trust. A president with his low approval numbers is ripe for the picking. Imagine the message Independent voters in New Hampshire could send to the president and America by voting for a viable alternative.
Thus, the Social Security scare play. It’s the oldest trick in the Democrats’ playbook. And believe me, we Republicans respect it.
Of course, Obama will probably avoid a primary while deftly pointing fingers at anyone with the audacity to show some leadership — all because of a brilliantly cynical political maneuver made at the expense of our senior citizens and our country.
So congratulations, Mr. President, you have reached a new level of political demagoguery.
Michael J. Hudome is a Republican media consultant whose clients have included John McCain for President, all four national committees and several current and former members of the House and Senate.