Atrios has a good example of political elites being just plain incompetent: here’s Alan Simpson on not caring about whether his proposal gets any votes.
SIMPSON: Wolf, I guess you don’t understand. We didn’t care if we got two votes.
I suppose this is the bluster of a failed fool, but the purpose of the commission, however misguided, wasn’t to release an unpopular report entitled “How Alan Simpson Wants to Destroy America,” it was to…come up with something that could attract broad support.
I’ve read a few things in favor of the Bowles-Simpson, most of it is just “sacrifice is good” blah blah, but David Broder claims that the recommendations could close a trillion dollars in tax loopholes. I don’t know if that is true or not, but if David Broder is writing it, then Simpson himself could have been saying it all along (and getting Villagers to nod along), instead of screaming about tits and cows.
But instead of framing the debate on the commission around “reform” and “closing loopholes” and other stuff the public might like, Simpson decided to frame it around abolishing a wildly popular government program. He decided to keep his hand solidly on the third rail of American politics when he could have just spun a lot of happy talk about “reform”.
That is not good business, my friend.
Now I understand that Simpson really does want to kill Social Security, but he’s an idiot if he thinks that making crazy faux-folksy public pronouncements is the right way to do it. I also understand that many believe that the proposal itself sucks (I tend to agree). Regardless, he did a horrendous job of selling it because he is an incompetent boob who is not good at his job.
(As an aside, my point in the post where I mentioned Nate Silver is that Silver was smart to move into political statistical analysis because it truly is/was more of a backwater than sports statistics — and thus a ripe area for groundbreaking work — because in the past it didn’t attract a lot of talented people to study it.)