By STEPHEN GALE and PAUL COHEN
With the possible exception of L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction novelist who founded Scientology, it’s not often that a writer gets the opportunity to test their own theories in the real world. But Norman Solomon seems intent on creating that opportunity for himself.
In his mass-market paperback, “Power of Babble: The Politician’s Dictionary of Buzzwords and Doubletalk for Every Occasion,” published in 1992, Solomon advised, “Don’t shy away from timeworn doubletalk, any more than you would avoid bullets in a gun because others just like them have been used before. It’s true that the wrong cliché, ill-chosen and poorly aimed, can shoot you in the foot. But the right one will find its mark: the voter.”
In March, Solomon began a campaign apparently intended to scare seniors, create division in the Democratic Party and discredit Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, for not signing a pledge which only 25 of the 535 members of the 113th Congress chose to lend their name. He claimed that Huffman was throwing seniors under the bus.
The truth is that Huffman, who defeated Solomon in the June primary election last year, was one of the first members of Congress to make clear his strong support for protecting Social Security and his opposition to the chained CPI that is included in President Barack Obama’s budget proposal. In fact, Huffman had already signed a letter along with a majority of the House Democratic Caucus — more than 100 signers — stating their unequivocal and specific opposition to any cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits, including chained CPI.
Solomon’s “pledge” is a ruse. During his campaign, Huffman made a promise to voters that he would not engage in politics based on any “Norquist-style” pledges. But Solomon knows that. That’s why he continues to babble even though his original approach has been proven false by Huffman’s steadfast leadership to maintain the integrity of earned benefits such as Social Security.
Perhaps that is why, in a recent opinion piece (“Promise not to cut is nothing like tax pledge,” Close to Home, April 10) Soloman resorts to “double speak.” He appears to be taking credit for the fact that Huffman is opposing the cuts proposed by the president; even though he never signed a pledge to do what he was already doing.
Confused? That’s the point of “double speak.” It is a technique intended to confuse and to frighten.
Claiming someone wants to cut Social Security is a “hot button” issue. When the claim is untrue, it’s a lie.
Claiming credit for pressuring a member of Congress to take a stand that he or she had already taken in public and numerous times is doubletalk of the worst kind.
At some point, enough is enough. As chairmen for the Marin and Sonoma County Democratic parties, we feel it is necessary to call this kind of destructive babble what it is and to make clear that this type of rhetoric, designed to divide Democrats and to scare senior citizens, has no place in local politics.
Stephen Gale is chairman of the Sonoma County Democratic Party. Paul Cohen is chairman of the Marin County Democratic Party.