The Corner

Last Night

I think the president did well. A bit lackluster delivering his opening statement, the president came alive during questioning. He was relaxed, confident, thoughtful, in control. Most important, the president wasn’t just delivering talking points. His big picture argument is convincing–politically and substantively. Reforming social security is a lot like bringing democracy to Iraq. It takes patience and courage–a willingness to endure intense opposition and dips in the polls, in the conviction that big problems demand bold solutions. As Iraq has taken a turn for the better, domestic issues have come into the foreground. But I think the whole Iraq experience–the president’s boldness, his willingness to hold fast when the going got tough, and eventual results–has earned him tremendous political capital. Poll fluctuations may not show this, but I think the public recognizes that this president thinks and acts on the big picture and for the long term. That’s why I think the president’s social security plan is still very much alive. He’s made good adjustments to his plan. These will make it even harder for the Democrats to refuse to offer a plan of their own. They’ll also take away some of the key arguments against the president’s plan. Over time, I think the president is going to win the social security issue. Either he will get reform, or he will be forced to bow out without paying a political price. The public understands that there’s a serious long-term problem with social security. It’s the Democrats who are going to pay a price if this problem doesn’t get solved.

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