Read Remarks by the President in a Conversation on Strengthening Social Security, February 4, 2005:
Mary is with us. Mary Mornin. How are you, Mary?
MS. MORNIN: I'm fine.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. Okay, Mary, tell us about yourself.
MS. MORNIN: Okay, I'm a divorced, single mother with three grown, adult children. I have one child, Robbie, who is mentally challenged, and I have two daughters.
THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic. First of all, you've got the hardest job in America, being a single mom.
MS. MORNIN: Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: You and I are baby boomers.
MS. MORNIN: Yes, and I am concerned about -- that the system stays the same for me.
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
MS. MORNIN: But I do want to see change and reform for my children because I realize that we will be in trouble down the road.
THE PRESIDENT: It's an interesting point, and I hear this a lot -- will the system be the same for me? And the answer is, absolutely. One of the things we have to continue to clarify to people who have retired or near retirement -- you fall in the near retirement.
MS. MORNIN: Yes, unfortunately, yes. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don't know. I'm not going to tell your age, but you're one year younger than me, and I'm just getting started. (Laughter.)
MS. MORNIN: Okay, okay.
THE PRESIDENT: I feel great, don't you?
MS. MORNIN: Yes, I do. (J: It is unkown if this was in earnest or ironic -- but in my admittedly already anti-Bush opinion -- this was a pretty patronizing exchange on the President's part.)
THE PRESIDENT: I remember when I turned 50, I used to think 50 was really old. Now I think it's young, and getting ready to turn 60 here in a couple of years, and I still feel young. I mean, we are living longer, and people are working longer, and the truth of the matter is, elderly baby boomers have got a lot to offer to our society, and we shouldn't think about giving up our responsibilities in society. (Applause.) Isn't that right?
MS. MORNIN: That's right.
(J: Again, we don't know how much sardonic distance Ms. Mornin was feeling, but surely she realizes what the President is saying here is "Aww, come on now, if things get really bad, you all can just keep working, right?" He's possibly right -- that longer lifespan implies people should have longer working lives -- but it is a poor response in this context and to someone who is clearly already working her heart out.)
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but nevertheless, there's a certain comfort to know that the promises made will be kept by the government.
MS. MORNIN: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: And so thank you for asking that. You don't have to worry.
MS. MORNIN: That's good, because I work three jobs and I feel like I contribute.
(J: is this possibly a response to the Prez saying "we shouldn't think about giving up our responsbilities to society"? Guess she did pick up on the implications.)
THE PRESIDENT: You work three jobs?
MS. MORNIN: Three jobs, yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that. (Applause.) Get any sleep? (Laughter.)
MS. MORNIN: Not much. Not much.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, hopefully, this will help you get you sleep to know that when we talk about Social Security, nothing changes.
MS. MORNIN: Okay, thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: That's great.
(all emphasis and superemphasis and super super emphasis mine)
Ah. AHHHHHHH. (Long-time friends of J know his propensity to scream in futile rage at stupidity -- apologies.)
Now, it is possible that Bush was simply on auto-pilot and didn't realize he was, in effect, saying "Good job -- you're working enough for 3 people, raising a family, and have a child with a disability, which by the way we haven't really supported Special Education much but that's besides the point, good for you! Your suffering and just scraping by and worrying makes you: Uniquely American!" (Dah dah!) But I think it's equally possible, if not more likely, that he believed what he was saying. That's right! Pay your dues! The American Way! I'm sure that as part of my ownership society, a single, divorced mother of 3 with 3 jobs and a child with a disability has JUST as much opportunity to reach the heights of American democracy and capitalism as, say, I did! Yessir! And if you can't, you can always keep working!"
This horrible exchange should almost stand alone (on the blog, if not in the annals of history), but Explanada also has a bit on this, and of course AAR covered it as well.
Other (bad) news:
From Slate's TP:
The WP fronts a former White House official saying in a published piece that there was "minimal senior White House commitment" to support faith-based programs for the poor. "From tax cuts to Medicare, the White House gets what the White House really wants," he wrote. "It never really wanted the 'poor people stuff.' "
Lastly, also at Explanada, really good examinations of evolutionary biology/evolutionary psychology, in part in response to things written by Mark Kleiman on Harvard Prez Larry Summer's comments on the "possiblity" that differences in science achievement in the sexes are biological in origin. See Explanada posts here, here, and here; see Will Saletan's (incorrect) take on this here, see my indignant response here.
More Slate reposts to come -- there's some of my stuff on there that I think turned out well, so might as well repost here -- working on a thesis doesn't lend much time for duplication of effort (let alone posting in the first place, doh.)