It's one or the other.
OR, he was a Republican mole the whole time and it's all just kabuki.
Because unless we are all being misled somehow, it's very likely that in his upcoming State of the Union address, the President Of All Wall Street is going to talk about "tough choices" and "having an adult conversation" and "belt tightening" -- all in the context of cutting Social Security.
President Barack Obama's apparent willingness to consider cuts in Social Security benefits may be winning him points with Washington elites, but it's killing him with voters, who see the program as inviolate and may start to wonder what the Democratic Party stands for, if not for Social Security.
That's the conclusion of three top progressive pollsters who spoke to reporters Wednesday at a briefing sponsored by the Economic Policy Institute, the Century Foundation and Demos.
"For the public, cutting benefits is the problem, not the solution," said Guy Molyneux, a partner at Hart Research Associates.
As a result, the pollsters said that any Democrat seeking elected office in 2012 should be begging Obama not to say anything about Social Security cuts in his State of the Union address later this month.
A post-election poll by Celinda Lake's Lake Research Partners found that, by a margin of 3 percentage points, Americans now trust Republicans in Congress more than Democrats when it comes to Social Security -- surely the first time since the program became a signature issue for the Democratic Party in the 1930s.
The poll found confidence in Democrats on the issue dropping 14 points just since January 2007, accompanied by a 13-point increase for Republicans.
The public favors congressional Republicans over Obama on Social Security by an even larger 6-point margin. Obama's 26-percent rating is not only less than half Bill Clinton's (53 percent), it's even lower than that of George W. Bush (37 percent), whose proposal to privatize the program went down in flames.
Imagine that. The very people who would have signed on to George W. Bush's privatization plan to hand over Social Security to Lloyd Blankfein now poll better than Obama does on Social Security.
I'm starting to long for the good old days when Bill Clinton wanted EVERYONE to love him. This guy only wants REPUBLICANS and Wall Street investment bankers to love him.
It was one thing when he threw the progressives under the bus. But alienate everyone who is over the age of 30 (and yes, young people are also concerned about their own future benefits) and it's a sure one-way ticket back to Cubs games. As Blue Girl noted on Tuesday, the entire concept of the Social Security Trust Fund was designed to get the elephant that is the baby boom generation through the snake, and then with a better balance of workers to retirees, it can go back to the pay-as-you-go system it was before WWII veterans were told to Be Fruitful And Multiply after returning home. But since most people think of Social Security as a bank account anyway, it's far easier for people to envision a passbook with only fifty cents in it than the complexities of how a system that's worked for over a half a decade will work once everyone who's over 45 today meets all their old pets at the Rainbow Bridge.
So in his effort to be Nixon in China, and therefore perhaps part of his quest to become a throwaway line uttered by Zachary Quinto in a future Star Trek movie, Barack Obama seems not content to try to suck up to politicians who want to "repeal" him by returning to the Golden Bushian Age of Deregulation and ensuring that old people who lose their retirement savings to his good friends at investment banks and brokerage firms have NO money to live on in their old age.
So which is it?