Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Alan Simpson And Barack Obama, Bonded

The saga of Alan Simpson and of the Administration's reaction continues:

February 22, 2010: In an interview conducted by Maria Bartiromo of CNBC, former Wyoming Alan Simpason, co-chairman of the President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, says "We're going to stick with the entitlements, Medicare and Social Security. If we get off on the other stuff, well, you know life's too short. This is the big three." Simpson, not trained as a mathematician (Medicare and Social Security are "the big three"), warns "You've got scrub out the equation, the AARP, the committee for the preservation of Social Security and Medicare, the gray panthers, the pink panthers."

April 27, 2010: In a post on The Huffington Post, executive director Ashley B. Carson of the Older Women's League (trivia: Ms. Carson is certainly not an "older women"- except as compared to your daughter in college) responds "there is no group called the Pink Panthers working to protect Social Security. Is this some disgusting attempt at ageism and sexism in one cutesy alliterative quip?" She notes the average Social Security beneficiary receives $13,900 annually.

June 27, 2010 (or thereabouts: the date is unclear): Emerging from a committee meeting, Simpson is interviewed by Alex Lawson of Social Security Works (video, from Firedoglake, below) and, with great generosity of spirit, assures him "We’re trying to take care of the lesser people in society" and tells him "Well you can go through all the sophistry of babbling that you want to."

August 23, 2010: In a letter to Carson responding to her responding to him, the classy ex-Senator criticizes "people like you babble into the vapors about “disgusting attempts at ageism and sexism” and all the rest of that crap." Aparently disappointed that his image of patronizing women and older people had not completely taken hold, he accuses her "of just babbling into the vapors" and concludes "We’ve reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits! Call when you get honest work!"

August 25, 2010: Simpson sends an e-mail to Carson, telling her in part "I apologize for what I wrote. I see that my remarks have caused you anguish."

August 25, 2010: Two Democratic members of Congress, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Representative Peter DeFazio of Oregon, call on President Obama to replace Simpson.

August 25, 2010: Deputy Communications Director Jennifer Psaki, conveniently confusing a letter from Alan Simpson to Ashley Carson with an apology to the White House, says "Alan Simpson has apologized and while we regret and do not condone his comments, we accept his apology and he will continue to serve."

August 26, 2010: In separate actions,, representatives of social security advocates representing approximately 50 million individuals, Congressional Progressive Caucus chairman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and Democratic Senatorial candidate Elaine Marshall of North Carolina (and the next day, Democratic Senatorial candidate Jack Conway of Kentucky) ask the President to terminate Simpson.

August 26, 2010: The Older Women's League writes the President, assuring him that Simpson's apology was appreciated but recognizing "choosing to keep Mr. Simpson as your co-chair sends a message that your Administration does not take sexism seriously and also that you are not concerned about Mr. Simpson's views regarding Social Security."

August 30, 2010: At his daily White House briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reiterates the Administration's support for the sexually crude former Senator with contempt for women, the elderly, and Social Security, remarking "Senator Simpson sent an email that he's now apologized for. We regret that he sent that email. We don't condone those comments. But Senator Simpson has and will continue to serve on the commission."

August 31, 2010: Simpson attempts to disabuse us of the notion that he believes only elderly people are leeches, as The Boston Globe reports

The system that automatically awards disability benefits to some veterans because of concerns about Agent Orange seems contrary to efforts to control federal spending, the Republican co-chairman of President Barack Obama's deficit commission said Tuesday.

The Associated Press reported that diabetes has become the most frequently compensated ailment among Vietnam veterans, even though decades of research has failed to find more than a possible link between the defoliant Agent Orange and diabetes.

"The irony (is) that the veterans who saved this country are now, in a way, not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess," said Simpson, an Army veteran who was once chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.

Simpson concluded

It's the kind of thing that's just driving us to this $1 trillion, $400 billion deficit this year.

That would not be the worst recession since the Great Depression that is driving the deficit. Nor would it be the George W. Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Nor would it be the national policy to conduct two wars simultaneously, fought by the men and women Alan Simpson believes are selfishly "not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess."

The pressure on President Obama to fire will grow, as it should. His refusal thus far to do so, it might appear, is because Barack Obama is very forgiving, a trait he has proven in his relationships with Republicans, Glenn Beck, and all manner of political opponents. (Dawn Johnsen, Van Jones, and Shirley Sherrod need not apply.)

Maybe. Or perhaps Simpson has one thing right. When he told Bartiromo "We're going to stick with the entitlements, Medicare and Social Security. If we get off on the other stuff, well, you know life's too short. This is the big three," he added

This is what the president has suggested.

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