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Democrats are crying foul because Republicans have finally wised up
and adopted some of their successful marketing techniques.

They are nervously reacting to a month-long, $445,000 National
Republican Congressional Committee ad campaign portraying them as
raiding the Social Security surplus and various Republican news releases
suggesting that the Clinton administration has treated the retirement
system like a credit card.

House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt is particularly exercised that
the congressional majority has purloined the Social Security issue in
its ongoing PR battle with President Clinton over the budget.

The exasperated Gephardt said, “It’s kind of ironic that they have
picked this issue to try to demagogue on, because this is the party that
fought the creation of Social Security and Medicare.”

Texas Democrat Martin Frost added, “The concern is if you repeat a
big lie often enough, people may begin to believe it.” Indeed.

I feel your pain, gentlemen, on two counts. First, Democrats,
yourselves prominently included, have been demagoging issues and
demonizing Republicans for years. Second, they have misappropriated many
traditional Republican issues. In fact, there’s overlap in these two
because some of the Democrats’ most effective demonization of
Republicans has centered on issues they have stolen from them.

By now, everyone is surely familiar with the Mediscare episodes where
Clinton, Gephardt and their cronies deliberately mischaracterized the
Republican plan to reduce the rate of increase in Medicare spending as
Draconian cuts that would ruthlessly deprive the elderly of their health
care benefits.

And how can anyone forget the similar depiction of congressional
Republicans as starving schoolchildren because they refused to increase
spending on the federal school lunch program as well?

Just wait until the next election cycle to see how the Democrats
picture Republicans as reckless champions of nuclear proliferation for
failing to ratify the nuclear test ban treaty.

Perhaps the most offensive, though, is the repeated Democratic charge
that Republicans, because they are beholden to the evil NRA, are causing
violence and death in schools and society in general by opposing
unreasonable and unconstitutional gun control legislation.

The list goes on an on, but suffice it to say that Democrats have
mentored the Republicans quite well in the art of political warfare. But
this isn’t about revenge — it isn’t even primarily about demonizing
Democrats.

It is, first and foremost, about budget negotiations with the
president. It is a preemptive strike against Democrats to keep them from
browbeating Republicans into capitulating again to Clinton’s budget
demands.

The Republicans, after turning their other cheek at Democratic abuse
one too many times, have finally decided to become proactive and launch
a PR offensive before Democrats have a chance to poison the public
against them again. It’s unfortunate that it’s necessary for Republicans
to resort to this tactic, but it is necessary.

It is also very difficult to sympathize with Democrats in their
charge that Republicans are stealing their sacred Social Security issue.
This brings to mind the adolescent rejoinder “it takes one to know one.”

President Clinton and congressional Democrats are the quintessential
issue thieves. A brief rundown will illustrate the point.

  • For years, Democrats proudly accepted the “tax and spend”
    mantle and even advocated deficit spending to prime the economy’s pump.
    They still try to spend like drunken sailors in the name of compassion.
    Though the Republican Congress finally curbed spending enough to balance
    the budget, Democrats now claim to be the fiscally responsible party.

  • The Democratic Party became the home for pacifists and
    quasi-isolationists during the Cold War and particularly the Vietnam
    War. Many of them even did their best to prevent U.S. involvement in the
    Persian Gulf War. Yet, today, they are painting mainstream Republicans
    as isolationists.

  • Bill Clinton, after deceitfully promising to end welfare as we
    know it, twice vetoed welfare reform legislation before signing it under
    duress the third time. But now that the program has worked so well, he
    claims to have originated the concept.

  • The Democrats even had the audacity to try to steal the “family
    values” issue after castigating Dan Quayle and other Republicans for
    promoting it.

In closing, a few additional and fitting puerile barbs come to
mind: “What goes around comes around” and “turnabout is fair play.”

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