When I saw the headline at WashingtonPost.com "Closing the Whopper Gap" with columnist Ruth Marcus's name next to it, I naturally assumed this had to be another hit piece on John McCain akin to what my colleague Mark Finkelstein reported last week.
Yet, upon closer examination, it turned out Marcus's target of disaffection this time was -- wait for it! -- Barack Obama.
And, she even defended Rush Limbaugh.
I'm not kidding.
In fact, Marcus went after the junior senator from Illinois in such an aggressive fashion that she not only will likely be eviscerated by her typically adoring fans in the liberal blogosphere, but also could end up being named Keith Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World" next week (emphasis added throughout):
On immigration, Obama is running a Spanish-language ad that unfairly lumps McCain together with Rush Limbaugh -- and quotes Limbaugh out of context. On health care, Obama misleadingly accuses McCain of wanting to impose a $3.6 trillion tax hike on employer-provided insurance.
Obama has been furthest out of line, however, on Social Security, stooping to the kind of scare tactics he once derided.
"If my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would have had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week," Obama said Saturday as he campaigned in that retiree-heavy state. "Millions of families would've been scrambling to figure out how to give their mothers and fathers, their grandmothers and grandfathers, the secure retirement that every American deserves."
This is simply false -- even leaving aside the incendiary language about "privatizing" Social Security. As the invaluable FactCheck.org noted, the private account plan suggested by President Bush and backed by McCain would not have applied to anyone born before 1950. It would not have changed benefits by a single penny for current retirees like the nice Florida folks that Obama was trying to rile up.
Checking that link to make sure this really was Ruth Marcus? I understand. I checked it thrice, especially after the following:
Obama's ads on Social Security are equally misleading. "Cutting benefits in half, risking Social Security on the stock market," it warns. "The Bush-McCain privatization plan. Can you really afford more of the same?"
Cutting benefits in half? As FactCheck notes, "this is a rank misrepresentation." No one at or near retirement age would have been affected. Those retiring in the future would not have received benefits as big as what they have been promised under current law -- but those promises cannot be paid for under the current system or even through the payroll tax increase on the wealthy that Obama has proposed.
The Bush plan would have limited benefits for some workers to growing at the rate of inflation rather than at the generally faster pace of wages. In other words, these workers would be getting benefits equal in real dollar value to those received by current retirees. But under the "progressive price indexing" approach endorsed by the president, lower-income workers would continue to receive all their promised benefits; medium-income workers would have their benefits reduced somewhat; and high-income workers would take the biggest hit.
The Obama campaign stretches the truth beyond recognition when it says that this would cut benefits in half.
Wow. Ruth Marcus actually fact-checked the Messiah...and defended Rush Limbaugh? In the same article?
Somebody pinch me.