"What I want to tell people about Social Security is to not be afraid of the new plan. It may be a change, but it's a good change." -- Noah McCullough, a fourth-grader from Katy, Texas.
I don't shock easily where politics is concerned, but trotting this kid around the country to explicitly endorse policy -- an idea hatched by a former aide to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay -- manages the feat of being cynical, exploitive, and transparently desperate at the same time.
The effort comes as many Republican Congress members, especially here in retiree-packed Florida, are ducking town meetings. They can't face withering public scrutiny of the Bush plan, but they'll send a child of nine to front for it.
McCullough has made several TV appearances by virtue of a precocious and obsessive interest in presidential trivia, which began at age 5 and has led to his accumulation of a 3,000-book library on the topic.
One Daily Kos participant suggests that he may have Asperger's syndrome, and his level of interest is certainly reminiscent of Darius McCollum, the New Yorker fixated since age 11 on the city's transit system.
I try to view politics with an eye towards how I would feel if the other party did it, since the real divide in this country isn't between Democrats and Republicans or liberals and conservatives, but between real people and shrill partisan tools.
This child abuse would be revolting even if McCullough was being taught to parrot Nancy Pelosi. Flying him around the country to shill privatization reminds me of nothing so much as The Children's Story by James Clavell:
Because the New Teacher was disappointed, the children were very disappointed. Then she said, "perhaps we're using the wrong name."
She thought a moment and then said, "instead of saying 'God,' let's say 'Our Leader.' Let's pray to Our Leader for candy. Let's pray very hard and don't open your eyes till I say."
So the children shut their eyes tightly and prayed very hard, and as they prayed, the New Teacher took out some candy from her pocket and quietly put a piece on each child's desk.