Maybe Simpson shouldn’t count as a ‘serious person’

MAYBE SIMPSON SHOULDN’T COUNT AS A ‘SERIOUS PERSON’…. Ashley Carson, executive director of the National Older Women’s League, recently wrote an item for the Huffington Post, criticizing former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) for his approach to Social Security. As the co-chair of the White House’s bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform — a deficit commission considering changes to Social Security — Simpson’s perspective is of particular relevance right now.

Four months later, the Republican responded to Carson’s piece in a frank email to its author. That appears to have been a very bad idea.

His email is peppered with exclamation points and condescension. At one point he urged Carson to read a certain graph, “which I hope you are able to discern if you are any good at reading graphs.”

Simpson concludes by implying that leading a major organization dedicated to the interests of middle-aged and elderly women is not “honest work.”

“If you have some better suggestions about how to stabilize Social Security instead of just babbling into the vapors, let me know,” he writes. “And yes, I’ve made some plenty smart cracks about people on Social Security who milk it to the last degree. You know ’em too. It’s the same with any system in America. We’ve reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow
with 310 million tits! Call when you get honest work!”

As a substantive matter, this is ridiculous. As a political matter, it’s hard to imagine what Simpson was thinking. And as a matter of basic decency and respect, Simpson’s email is a reminder that the former Republican senator probably should have stayed in retirement.

This isn’t the first time Simpson’s approach to Social Security policy has come into question, but it is the most offensive time. “310 million tits”? Really?

I can appreciate the White House’s difficulties when shaping the deficit commission’s membership. The goal was to find credible, knowledgeable, sincere officials — “elder statesman” types, I suppose — who’d be willing to work in good faith on a bipartisan compromise. It was deemed important for President Obama to choose two co-chairs, one from each party, and all things being equal, Simpson probably seemed like a reasonable choice.

It’s unfortunate, but the “bench” of serious Republicans available for a role like this one is depressingly thin.

Six months later, though, it seems increasingly clear that Simpson lacks the judgment and temperament for the job.