True confession: my wife and I like the film Ishtar. Really like it, think it’s hilarious. Yes, that Ishtar, the universally-panned, some-say-most-awful-film-ever. We crack up at it. If you have two minutes, watch the trailer, and note the irony in Dustin Hoffman’s words at the end:
The signature song of the two aspiring songwriters (Hoffman and Beatty) was “Telling the Truth Can Be Dangerous Business”. Boy, can it ever. Fast-forward to the 2012 presidential race, and focus on Rick Perry. Full disclosure: Rick Perry is my guy. Is he a perfect candidate? Of course not; don’t bother telling me how awful his HPAV vaccination executive order was (it was horrible), and I don’t care that he endorsed Al Gore in 1988 (I used to wear a puka shell necklace, so can’t we all be forgiven an indiscretion here or there?).
A Brief Aside on How to Choose a Candidate to Support in the Primaries
Step 1: Determine who is, and who is not, an acceptable candidate; i.e., “can I vote for this guy (even holding my breath, if need be), or can I not? Going back to 2008, Rudy Giuliani, for instance, failed that test; under no circumstances would I have chosen him over the Libertarian candidate (I assume my readers realize that pulling the “D” lever is never an option). John McCain was, though I held my nose. This time around, practically every candidate on the Republican side is someone for whom I’d vote against The Anointed One, though I’m honestly not sure yet on Flip Flopney. He stretches my tolerance quite a bit.
Step 2: Support the most-electable acceptable candidate. That candidate, in 2012, is Rick Perry. In fact, despite Smokin’ Barry’s terrible approval numbers, I’m not convinced any Republicans could beat him except for Perry and Flopney (and I’m not totally convinced on the latter). The goal isn’t to score ideological purity points; it does no good to nominate a Ron Paul or a Michelle Bachmann who cannot win the presidency (and they cannot). Rick Perry, on the other hand, is eminently electable, one or two gaffes aside.
Now, back to our story. Americans,understandably, hold Congress in contempt. We are tired of politicians, we say, who cannot get things done that need to get done. We want ’em to work together to solve the problems of this country, we say. Fine.
So Rick Perry has the courage to bring up one of our significant problems: Socialist Security. He (rightly) calls it a Ponzi Scheme (don’t like that characterization? Look up the definition. Socialist Security is textbook, at least as currently configured). He even questions its constitutionality (and that is a discussion worth having as well). He is adamant that those to whom promises have been made (read: seniors and near-seniors) must receive what they’ve been promised (that is only moral and fair). But he rightly says that we have a huge problem that needs fixing.
But remember our title: Telling the Truth Can Be Dangerous Business. Along comes politician Flip Flopney in the recent Republican debate, and he accuses Perry of “scaring seniors” (well, perhaps those unable to read or understand simple English, one would suppose). And a new poll suggests that Republicans aren’t sure what to make of Perry because he’s telling the truth about Socialist Security. We’ve known Socialist Security was a looming problem for at least a couple of decades now, but politicians fiddle, Rome burns, and we get nearer and nearer to Socialist Security insolvency. Look, maybe you don’t like what Rick Perry has to say about the subject; maybe his choice of words isn’t your cup of tea. I get it. But we had better find some leaders who are willing to “touch the third rail” pretty soon, instead of politicians who keep punting this particular football down the field every chance they get.
Look, I understand that Socialist Security is a program that is well-loved, and that despite its dubious constitutionality, it isn’t going anywhere. Libertarian Byron, meet Reality Byron. Fine. But for goodness’ sake, let’s at least fix it so that other concerns aside, it can function as one of the better government programs rather than as just one more that is going south. In order to do that, we have to make it a real part of our national conversation. And instead of criticizing leaders like Rick Perry who are plain-talking about it, let’s work together to get it fixed. Yesterday.