The PJ Tatler

Santelli vs Friedman: 'You're Idiotic! No, You're Idiotic!!' (Updated)

Did Rick Perry say anything materially wrong about Social Security in the Reagan Library debate?

No.

Did he say anything that Americans haven’t heard a thousand times before?

No.

But who is getting all the press out of last night’s debate?

Rick Perry.

And his comments have managed to get lefties like Tom Friedman, last seen slobbering over a photo of Hu Jintao that Friedman keeps on his nightstand, to go apoplectic while drawing Tea Party and conservative heroes like Rick Santelli to Perry’s defense. This is from CNBC earlier today.

FRIEDMAN: No, I don’t think it’s a Ponzi scheme.
SANTELLI: Earlier in the show you said that we’re putting a burden on our kids that’s unsustainable. What’s the definition of a Ponzi scheme?
FRIEDMAN: It’s a program that made promises that it cannot keep in full and it needs to be fixed and reformed.
SANTELLI: Isn’t that exactly what a Ponzi pyramid is?
FRIEDMAN: I don’t think it is a Ponzi scheme as a criminal endeavor.
SANTELLI: No, no — forget the criminal side. You need more people to perpetuate a myth because if the people stop the myth is known to all. That’s my definition of a Ponzi scheme. Let’s call at it chain letter, a pyramid scheme. Isn’t that by definition what Social Security is? Take the legalities and fraud out.
STEVE LIESMAN: Why is it a Ponzi scheme, Rick?
FRIEDMAN: It is pay as we go. Ronald Reagan fixed it. Why can’t we fix it?
SANTELLI: What does Ronald Reagan have to do with my question?
FRIEDMAN: What does your question have to do with reality?
MICHELLE CARUSO CABRERA: We brought it up.
SANTELLI: You can’t decide that more people is the only thing made Social Security work. We have a real issue because many people in government seem to like to read your work.
FRIEDMAN: What makes Social Security work is fixing Social Security in terms of the population demands.
SANTELLI: I didn’t ask if we should fix it or not. I asked if it’s a pyramid scheme.
FRIEDMAN: Your question is idiotic. That’s what you asked.
SANTELLI: You’re idiotic. I’m done. I feel good.
FRIEDMAN: So do I.

And so does Rick Perry.

This is vintage Perry campaigning. He has a knack for getting the press to go hog wild, spilling lots of pixels and unintentionally (on the part of the media) focusing all the attention on him because they think they have him cornered. Meanwhile, where’s Romney today? Where Kay Bailey Hutchison was circa February 2010 — off to the left, chasing Rick Perry’s shadow in a Republican primary. We all know how that worked out for her.

Update: Jim Geraghty notes that Ron Johnson used the P-word to describe Social Security when he ran for Senate last year, in Wisconsin. Johnson won.