Here at Nyhan HQ, the inane and bizarre discussion of Social Security on "Meet the Press" caused a lot of yelling at the TV. But the worst moment by far came from Joe Klein, who offered what can only be described as a primer in idiotic inside-the-Beltway punditry.
Here's how to be the next Joe Klein in just two easy steps. First, make up some vague imperative to justify the policy that you favor. It should preferably sound forward-looking and insightful, yet make absolutely no logical sense. For example, we must have private accounts because it's the information age! (Don't bother to explain why.) Then demand compromise from both sides because compromise is always Good.
Watch the master at work:
KLEIN: I agree with Paul [Krugman] in that private accounts have nothing to do with solvency and solvency is the issue. I disagree with Paul because I think private accounts [are] a terrific policy and that in the information age, you're going to need different kinds of structures in the entitlement area than you had in the industrial age. But it is very hard to do that kind of change under these political circumstances where you have the parties at such loggerheads.
The Democrats have for the last 10 or 15 years blatantly, shamelessly demagogued this issue. They've offered nothing positive on Social Security or on Medicare or on Medicaid, and it's time for them to compromise here. It's also time for the Republicans to compromise here. One area where you might see, you know, some--one possibility is the old Washington standby, the demonstration project. We might try privatization for some younger, you know, Social Security recipients--not recipients but, you know, contributors, or we might try it in a city or a couple of places. We haven't--we don't know how it's going to work.
Update 3/7: Josh Marshall has more on this.