February 28, 2005


Attack on AARP, Like 'Religious War,' Built on Either/Or Fallacy (Ronald Brownstein, February 28, 2005, LA Times)

As synonyms for the word "vile," my thesaurus offers some of the following: offensive, objectionable, odious, repulsive, repellent, repugnant, revolting, disgusting, sickening, loathsome, foul, nasty, contemptible, despicable and noxious.

Any of those words would aptly describe the advertising attack launched last week against AARP, the largest advocacy group for seniors, by the conservative interest group USA Next. But there's one word that unfortunately can't be applied: surprising.

The salvo against AARP crystallizes trends developing both in the debate over Social Security and more broadly in the competition between the parties in Washington. On both fronts, the news isn't good.

USA Next, which envisions itself as the conservative alternative to AARP, previously made its biggest splash by using drug company money to help fund an ad blitz promoting the Medicare prescription drug plan backed by President Bush and the pharmaceutical industry. That led critics to accuse the organization of operating as a front group for the drug makers.

Last week, USA Next announced it would spend $10 million on an ad campaign attacking AARP over its opposition to Bush's proposal to create private investment accounts funded by the Social Security payroll tax. USA Next opened the campaign with an Internet-only ad that uses logic so contorted it verges on parody to accuse AARP of opposing the military and supporting gay marriage.

Charlie Jarvis, USA Next's chairman and a former aide to President Reagan and religious conservative powerhouse James Dobson, promised that was just the start for AARP. "They are the boulder in the middle of the highway to personal savings accounts," Jarvis told the New York Times. "We will be the dynamite that removes them."

In 50 years, historians may study that quote to understand why Washington now feels so much like Beirut.

Imagine for a moment that you are Lebanese and live in Beirut--how infuriating would a statement that stupid be to you? Now imagine you live in Lebanon, NH and Washiongton is beinggoverned by your party--how stupid must it seem? Okay, now imagine you're a liberal Democrat in Los Angeles and it may seem fair.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 28, 2005 12:13 PM

The most devastating thing that can be said about AARP is the truth: It is an insurance company masquerading as a non-profit.

Posted by: David Cohen at February 28, 2005 12:47 PM

I know LA has a high crime rate even with Bratton as Commissioner, but they're not firing Stinger missiles into the Holiday Inn there are they?

Let me see if I have this right. Criticizing a liberal institution makes one equivalent to a Hezbollah terrorist. Brownstein is breaking into Richard Scheer's stash.

Posted by: Bart at February 28, 2005 1:45 PM