An interesting pair of items that got sorted into the same part of my mental filing system:
First, Paul Krugman’s latest column, in which he points out the interesting parallel between how Alan Greenspan is arguing for Social Security privatization, and how the Bush team argued for the invasion of Iraq as an appropriate response to al Qaeda terror: Three-card maestro.
The way privatizers link the long-run financing of Social Security with the case for private accounts parallels the three-card-monte technique the Bush administration used to link terrorism to the Iraq war. Speeches about Iraq invariably included references to 9/11, leading much of the public to believe that invading Iraq somehow meant taking the war to the terrorists. When pressed, war supporters would admit they lacked evidence of any significant links between Iraq and Al Qaeda, let alone any Iraqi role in 9/11 – yet in their next sentence it would be 9/11 and Saddam, together again.
Similarly, calls for privatization invariably begin with ominous warnings about Social Security’s financial future. When pressed, administration officials admit that private accounts would do nothing to improve that financial future. Yet in the next sentence, they once again link privatization to the problem posed by an aging population.
Second, Matthew Yglesias points out that the White House’s assertions about Syrian involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri might well be true, but even so, it’s awfully hard to take the Bush people at face value, given their track record: The trouble with lying…
It’s certainly a plausible account. The White House also believes that Syria must be punished for its complicity. If Syria is, indeed, complicit, that’s surely right. And as the White House moves toward trying to build support for some sort of retaliation against Syria, I can’t help but think that I would be 100 percent behind the president in this were I not 100 percent sure that this administration is being run by people who would think nothing of trying to manipulate the country into a military conflict with a middle eastern nation based on flawed, overblown intelligence and misleading presentation of that evidence. There’s actually a reason that most presidents have chosen not to make dishonesty their main tool of policy advocacy, and the reason isn’t that most administrations have been run by intrinsically honest people.