This month, Republican leaders say they are chucking the open town-hall format. They plan to visit newspaper editorial boards and talk to constituents at Rotary Club lunches, senior citizen centers, chambers of commerce meetings and local businesses. In those settings, "there isn't an opportunity for it to disintegrate into something that's less desirable," says Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.
Republican leaders are urging their party's lawmakers to take the spotlight off themselves by convening panels of experts from the Social Security Administration, conservative think tanks, local colleges and like-minded interest groups to answer questions about the federal retirement program.
The shift in venues and formats, Santorum says, is aimed at producing "more of an erudite discussion" about Social Security's problems and possible solutions.
Real Americans and real opinions are evidently "undesirable" to Santorum. That isn't surprising. But it IS surprising the knows how to use the word "erudite."
One thing we know, he and his fellow Republicans seeking to destroy Social Security are going to get some cover from Progress for America, whose stated goal is to "Our efforts are designed to enhance the general public’s knowledge about issues of importance to the country." How is supporting Republicans in their propaganda plans an act of enhancing the public's general knowledge? Whatever. It doesn't take much to discover the hypocrisy of these Republican organizations.
What's interesting here is that Progress for America, which has been running advertisements across the land in support of Bush's proposals or nonproposals, or whatever he's calling them these days, is now going to provide cover for the Republicans by focussing the advertisement in the Republican districts. Yeah, they're not aimed at swaying Democrats anymore, because that failed. Just as the Republican legislators are headed out to preach to the choir, Progress for America is softening up the choir for them.
I think they're all running scared. And that's a good thing.