Rich Tucker

Seven years later, the pain lingers for some.

“Since ‘Seinfeld’ ended its first run, no new network sitcom has come along that even compares with it in terms of intelligence and wittiness -- especially not at NBC, which each fall stands for New Bad Comedies,” Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales wrote in July 2003, after watching Jerry Seinfeld perform his standup routine.

It’s cute that he slips the words “first run” in there, as if there may eventually be a “second run.” There won’t be. The actors have plenty of cash, and aren’t likely to tarnish their franchise with a weak re-make.

Luckily, here in Washington we can still enjoy a “show about nothing,” starring your favorite liberal politicians. The show revolves around the latest buzz word, “framing.”

Reporter Matt Bai documented the trend in the New York Times magazine. “Exactly what it means to ‘frame’ issues seems to depend on which Democrat you are talking to, but everyone agrees that it has to do with choosing the language to define a debate and, more important, with fitting individual issues into the contexts of broader story lines,” he wrote on July 17.

Bai notes that “framing” has already been successful twice. Democrats, he says, have used it to derail President Bush’s plans for Social Security reform and to legitimize the use of the filibuster to block the president’s judicial nominees. “These victories weren’t easy to account for,” Bai writes. Indeed. Especially since they aren’t victories at all.

Consider Social Security.

The one thing that everyone acknowledges is that the venerable program is going broke. As long ago as 1998, President Bill Clinton pointed out that, “By 2030, there will be twice as many elderly as there are today, with only two people working for every person drawing Social Security.” Clinton urged swift action “to avert a crisis in the Social Security system.”

Ah, but these days it’s a Republican president urging action on Social Security. So instead of action, liberals denounced the president’s plan as privatization and claimed it would lead to benefit cuts. “We see Social Security as a faith-based program,” Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., told U.S. News & World Report. “It’s about taking care of widows and orphans.” Great framing, but not exactly accurate.

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for