New RNC ad: Medicare forever, baby

Via HuffPo’s Jason Linkins, who’s averaging around one ironic exclamation point per paragraph these days. I’m haunted by the Ghost of Medicare Future every time Steele talks about this, but The One’s numbers are so low among seniors and his promises not to cut Medicare benefits so transparently bogus that the GOP really has no choice. Think of this as an attempt to set up a little “death panel” for the Democrats’ reelection chances, with grandma and grandpa seated on the other side of the table.

Can people raised on the New Deal really be counted on to oppose the mother of utopian statist programs? Maybe — considering that many seniors today actually weren’t raised on it:

We are inclined to imagine our oldest citizens as products of the New Deal, voters whose earliest memories engendered a lasting faith in the goodness of government. But conservative theorists like Karl Rove used to say that time was on the side of Republicans where the elderly were concerned, because Depression-era memories would someday give way to a more complicated historical legacy — and perhaps, in this narrow respect, their grand predictions had some validity. If Obama has little of Bill Clinton’s appeal to old folks, it’s probably because old folks now aren’t the same ones who rode volunteer-driven vans to the polls in 1992.

After all, a 70-year-old American today, born in 1939, probably has no personal memory of F.D.R., but he would have lived through the pain of disappearing manufacturing jobs and family farms, and the rapid deterioration of urban neighborhoods and schools, conditions unabated by government experiments in welfare and public housing. Wooed by Ronald Reagan during their prime earning years, these voters may not be nearly as sympathetic to Obama’s vision of activist government as Democrats might have assumed. For these new senior citizens, even the Social Security and Medicare on which they often rely may be viewed less as instruments of beneficent government than as a partial repayment for decades of taxes.

Indeed, which is just one reason why this ad will sting a few years from now when we have to have a chat with granny about Medicare’s insolvency. In the meantime, carpe diem. Incidentally, given the conventional wisdom that one of the reasons Obama did badly with seniors last November was old-school racism, it’s interesting that Steele chose to pitch this himself instead of farming it out to some white underling. I’m glad he did.