Seth Masket has a nice post up today knocking Mark Halperin for promoting inane Beltway fantasies of bipartisanship. Good catch! The part I'm most interested in, however, is that Seth hits Halperin for accusing the Democrats of "using Social Security scare tactics," which is somehow dirty pool even though some GOP candidates are explicitly running against traditional Social Security (not to mention that the only time the GOP had unified control of government for more than two years since Hoover they attempted to end traditional Social Security, so it's not as if it's completely unprecedented for them to attempt to act on that rhetoric). I've commented on this before: Republicans act as if it's some sort of ultimate slur to accuse them of wanting to cut Social Security, even thought they claim that they want to cut Social Security. And, for whatever reason, a lot of reporters buy the spin.
To be a bit more evenhanded about it, I think there's another side to this: if Republicans come too close to actually saying that they are against Social Security, they are written off by the press as freaks and weirdos. You're allowed (almost required!) to say that Social Security cannot be sustained in the long run (even though that's not really true), and that Something Must Be Done, and that All Parties Must Come Together to implement a solution, and that Everything Should Be On The Table, and even that Democrats Are Refusing to Consider Necessary Adjustments...but if you actually say that you are for cutting Social Security, and certainly if you don't say you support it, you're a kook. So there's some sort of rough, if incredibly foolish, justice. In a way. Sort of. Still, I'd love to hear a justification for why it's unfair for Democrats to accuse Republicans of wanting to cut Social Security.
(I think there might be a similar dynamic the other way around with defense spending, although I'm not sure whether it's close enough to really count. Anyone have thoughts on that?)