Thursday, March 10, 2005

Social Security Road Show - Preaching to the Converted

The Associated Press, at least, has stopped pretending that Bush's Social Security "town meetings" are anything but feel-good rallies for the faithful.

Thousands of supporters to be bused to Bush Shreveport stop

The Associated Press
3/9/2005, 3:37 p.m. CT

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — Some 3,000 invited supporters will be bused to Centenary College's Gold Dome here Friday to hear President Bush talk about his plans for Social Security.
It turns out the seating capacity of the venue is... 3000!

So, the administration is manufacturing from scratch a sold-out event for the president to "pitch" his privatization scheme to people who already believe in it or, at least, will accept uncritically anything he tells them.

What on earth could be the purpose of such an exercise, except to make uninformed people think the idea enjoys more popular support than it does?

When Bush makes public appearances, the Secret Service keeps protesters miles away from his location. Unless local TV stations are really motivated to get both sides of the story, viewers usually end up seeing a clip of the president on stage with an attractive 25-year old woman who is convinced that Social Security will not be there for her when she retires. Add to that a cutaway shot of 3000 people cheering and waving signs, and you have some pretty powerful pro-privatization imagery.

But all that aside, surely it will be nice for the students of Centenary College to get a chance to see the president, yes? According to Lynn Stewart, Centenary's P.R. director, the answer is... maybe.

The White House has promised, she said, that at least some of the people in the audience will be Centenary students.

"We're looking at how, once we're notified how many tickets are available, how to have a sort of lottery, an equitable way to let anyone (on campus) who wants to go have at least a chance to go."