Friday, August 05, 2005

What's the unifying theme?

What do a tap dancer, Elmer Gantry, and Ayn Rand have in common? Spot's not sure, but Jim Ramstad channeled all three in his appearance at the town hall meeting in Edina on Wednesday night.

The Congressman fielded several questions about his support for private accounts for Social Security. He dodged them all, sometimes even adroitly, resolutely refusing to commit himself on the desirability of one thing or another as a solution or even part of a solution. He wouldn't even engage with the crowd in a discussion of the merits of different proposals. Ramstad said we have a problem, and that's it.

Speaking of the crowd, most of the people in attendance were well, older. In fact, Ramstad commented that most of the people in the audience didn't need to worry about Social Security privitization. Some one called out yes we do, we have children and grandchildren.

That's the tap dancer.

There was one moment while Ramstad was discussing improvements in the unemployment rate that one man said that he had been laid off several months before and that he was in danger of being laid off at his temporary job. He demanded to know what Ramstad was going to do about it. Ramstad strode from the podium, shook the man's hand, and promised to help him. Ramstad then said that the economy was doing well, but that so long as one of his constituents who wanted a job didn't have one, he would continue to work.

He also played to the crowd on mental health insurance parity and renewal energy sources.

That was Elmer Gantry.

Ramstad also spent some time defending "the president's tax cuts" and their role in growing the economy. As Spotty mentioned earlier, several members of the audience castigated Ramstad for the role of the tax cuts in the current budget deficit. And they didn't buy Ramstad's line that it was 9/11's fault.

Ayn Rand wrote the feel-good conservative cult classic Atlas Shrugged. It's sort of like the Left Behind series for economic conservatives. The book is Rand's defense of unbridled capitalism, hyper-individualism, and minimal taxation of the wealthy. Here's a Cliff's Note article on the book. Spotty will write more on Ayn Rand sometime.

This was, of course, the Ayn Rand moment.

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