Robin Lumb Answers Senator Menendez’s Questions
Sen. Bob Menendez and his “Wedge” Questions for Republicans: Asked and Answered
New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, who heads the Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee and is tasked with preserving the Democrat’s hegemony in the upper chamber, has two important challenges in 2010.
First, to protect Democrats, he must successfully defend those seats currently held by his party, many of which are now seen as likely Republican pick ups;
Second, to protect himself, he must successfully invent strategies that will allow him to deflect the blame when he fails.
Toward this end, the sage of Hoboken has issued a memo to Democrats advising them to frame their opponents in ways he believes are likely to drive important constituencies away from Republicans. It’s the kind of strategy that, if ignored, will allow Senator Menendez the I-told-you-so moment he’ll need when his candidates fail to connect with voters.
Menendez, operating from the predicate assumption that the right is largely populated with extremists and that any Republican who aligns with conservatives would be anathema to swing voters, advises Democrats to frame their opponents with a series of damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t “wedge” questions designed to create a divide between Republican voting blocks. If a Republican candidate answers ‘no’ to any of the questions drafted by Menendez, campaign officials are instructed “to make [the Republican’s] primary opponent or conservative activists know it.”
The comic book narrative of conservatism that informs Democrat thinking, and that is the basis for the wedge-question strategy, is so perfectly consistent with the left’s misreading of the electorate that I hope Democrats fixate on every bit of wisdom that emanates from the oracle of East Orange.
My advice to Republicans is to play rope-a-dope with their Democrat opponents by answering the questions the only way that makes sense: With truth, candor and a dose of good humor.
With that in mind, the following are the five “wedge” questions offered up Bob Menendez, the Garden State guru, along with how I think Republicans should answer when asked:
Q: Do you believe that Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen?
A: Of course President Obama is a US citizen! He’s as American as apple pie, provided the apple pie comes with a US birth certificate. If he weren’t a US citizen – naturally born – he couldn’t serve as President. Haven’t you read the Constitution, Bob? Frankly, I don’t get this one. What’s with the Democrat’s obsession with President Obama’s citizenship? If you ask me, you people are starting to sound a bit weird.
By the way, Bob, here’s a question for you: Do you agree with the 35% of Democrats who according to one recent poll believe that George Bush knew about 9/11 before it happened?
Q: Do you think the 10th Amendment bars Congress from issuing regulations like minimum health care coverage standards?
A: This question is deliberately vague. What do you mean by “minimum health coverage standards”?
Do you mean does the 10th Amendment prohibit the Federal Government from enacting an “individual mandate” whereby every American would be forced to buy health insurance even if they don’t want it? If that’s what you mean then the answer is no, I don’t think the 10th Amendment prohibits it. I THINK THE WHOLE CONSTITUION AND EVERYTHING WE’VE EVER STOOD FOR AS A COUNTRY PROHIBITS IT. If the Federal Government can order me to buy health insurance, it can order me to eat tofu, paint my house yellow and buy the first season of Jersey Shore on DVD. When conservatives talk about government overstepping its bounds, this is precisely the kind of thing they have in mind.
If by “minimum health coverage standards” you mean using your Health Choices Czar to dictate what kind of health insurance coverage constitutes a minimum acceptable level of benefits, then you would need to create a class of federally chartered health insurance carriers who would have to dance to your tune. Even if you did, you would still be obliged to allow the individual states to regulate health insurance within their own borders and, if you were smart, would allow those companies operating under state supervision to sell insurance across state lines if they chose to.
Q: Do you think programs like Social Security and Medicare represent socialism and should never have been created in the first place?
A: Bob, Bob, Bob. Were you absent the day they taught the New Deal back in high school? Did you sleep through the Johnson administration?
Social Security and Medicare were sold to the American people as actuarially sound insurance programs. The pitch was that premiums, collected over a lifetime, would pay for benefits upon retirement. But in case haven’t heard, Bob, Social Security and Medicare are not actuarially sound. They’re giant Ponzi schemes, the kind Bernie Madoff could only dream of. Social Security and Medicare are what highly paid accounting types would call – and I swear I’m not making this up – BANKRUPT. Between them they’re sporting over $80 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Medicare will have exhausted its trust fund accounts by 2017.
Question for Bob: Don’t you think it would be wise to fix Medicare a before you “fix” health care, or is your plan for helping Medicare beneficiaries to just kick the can down the road for a few more years?
Q: Do you think President Obama is a socialist?
A: I thought he was a Democrat? You mean there’s a difference? Just kidding, Bob.
President Obama has never worked in the private sector, has never met a payroll, created a job or provided a fringe benefit. He’s is an acolyte of Saul Alinsky and in his book, Dreams of My Father, confessed that he gravitated toward the Marxist professors when he was in college. He’s friends with Bill Ayers, sat in church for 20 years listening to liberation theologist Jeremiah Wright and would rather spread the wealth than create it. He bought himself two car companies, wants to re-order one sixth of the American economy (health care) so that government makes all the key decisions and he thinks you cure recessions by growing government and raising taxes. But to answer your question, no, I don’t think he’s a socialist.
Q: Do you think America should return to a gold standard?
A: Good grief. I had no idea there was enough gold anywhere in the world to back all the dollars we’ve been printing! What America should return to is sound economic policy capable of supporting a strong dollar. Frankly, I don’t care what we back the dollar with: licorice, lima beans or Taco Bell coupons. For all I care we could back the dollar with used radiator parts. What I care about at this point in time isn’t a golden dollar, it’s a strong dollar; a dollar that holds its value because it’s issued by a government committed to strict budget discipline and common sense economics.
There’s an axiom in politics that says you never interrupt an opponent when he’s in the process of destroying himself.
I think I’ll heed that advise and close with this:
Great strategy, Bob! Keep up the good work!