Friday, October 05, 2012
Thursday, October 04, 2012
Was it the natural tendency of old campaigners to play it safe in the opening quarter? Or the tendency of longtime adversaries to score points off each other rather than illuminate their differences?
Or was it that the issues on which the presidential campaign will turn are so complicated — the economy, taxation, healthcare — that it’s a challenge for anyone to make them accessible for average listeners?
Now, I consider myself to be a little wonky, but even I glazed over (and ultimately fell asleep) in the firs thalf hour.
That could be a good thing for the President or not, and vice versa for Romney. I'm betting most people felt the same way I did and tuned out quickly, missing first hand the President's lackluster, almost disinterested performance. That could be good.
Or bad, since that means most people are catching up to it the way I did: watching a replay after catching some of the "analysis" or worse, watching just the Monday morning quarterbacking.
Romney was surprisingly good in my book, altho to be fair to me, I didn't see a single primary debate so I have no basis to judge. Too, when you have five months to absorb and memorize talking points, it's easy to come off as well-prepared and informed.
Even when you lie like a cheap rug, as Romney did so often.
Many liberals chided Obama for not being more forceful, like mentioning the 47% or bringing up Bain Capital. He did contrast what Governor Romney's definition of "small business" was, however.
I think this was a deliberate tactic. He knew Romney was going to try to get in some zingers and it was more likely those zingers would be tossed when he was on the defensive. There's plenty of time to talk about "presidenting half the nation."
Besides, the economic performance of the country is clearly weighing heavily on Obama's mind, as was evidenced by his body posture. If anything, he was the stronger for being patient, not defensive. He made Romney look like an adolescent on stage, voice rising, arms flailing, fingers pointing.
Obama stood and took notes, much like a trial judge would do while the prosecution levelled charges and brought evidence. He reacted even while he took notes (here's a tip for the next debate: do not watch the speaker. Instead, watch the other guy) and showed he was taking Romney seriously, even if Romney and his party were not.
I mean, really, when a network puts Larry The Cable Guy out as a morning after pundit, how seriously can we take them?
Obama may have overplayed this, to be sure, but letting Romney win the first debate could also end up being masterful stroke. Remember 2004? Kerry pretty much mopped the floor with Bush ("He forgot Poland!" he whined) and won that debate handily.
Didn't help him much, did it?
Romney will get a bump out of this, maybe five points nationally and possibly place himself in a statistical tie with the President.
And that's the last hurrah.
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
On the eve of the first presidential debate, conservative media outlets seized on footage of a five-year-old speech by then-candidate Barack Obama, who argued at the time that the federal government discriminated against Hurricane Katrina victims.
The June 2007 speech at Hampton University in Virginia was widely covered, as Obama was already well into his presidential campaign. However, the conservative news outlets that pushed the video Tuesday night argued the media skipped over portions of the speech.
Speaking to a largely black audience, Obama in the video made the case that race relations still had a long way to go in the United States, claiming the divide most severely has an impact on impoverished parts of the country.
The 2007 event was not a closed, secret gathering. It was open to the press, and CNN affiliate WAVY filmed the full speech. The crux of his speech was reported by CNN at the time.
This same opening was mirrored in nearly every news organization and on every television news program last night and this morning.
Put it this way: this speech was so pedestrian that even FOX News didn't raise a stink about it when it occured. It's not like Barack Obama wasn't already on the radar, as this is three years after his "there are no red states" speech at the 2004 convention, which catapulted him into the limelight for 2008.
The point he raised at the time, the point conservatives jumped on, was an obscure fact of policy known as the Stafford Act, which says the local and state governments must kick in at least 25% against any Federal monies. This was waived after the 9/11 attacks, as well as Hurricane Andrew, but curiously, not for New Orleans and Louisiana after Katrina.
Nutbag conservatives jumped on this observation as an example of Barack Obama's overt racism. Funny thing about the speech, tho...
Obama described this rejection of New Orleans as "colorblind", a point neither Hannity nor Drudge, nor even Daily Caller's Tucker Carlson made in the release of the tape. Daily Caller was the organization that apparently re-edited the speech to suit conservative purposes.
Here's the thing: if you want to defend the Bush administration handling of Katrina, that's a debate I bet President Obama would re-visit in a heartbeat, as there have been any number of global-warming induced natural disasters on his watch that were handled professionally and promptly. Indeed, I bet he'd make almost the exact same speech today if asked to.
As a side note to Tucker: how racist is it to point out Barack Obama's patois? Is it anymore ridiculous than pointing out that Romney suddenly developed a love of grits when he campaigned in the south?
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
A National Journal analysis of recent polling results across 11 states considered battlegrounds shows that in most of them, Obama is running considerably better than he is nationally among white women without a college education. Obama's gains with these so-called "waitress moms" are especially pronounced in Heartland battlegrounds like Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa.
Combined with his continued support among other elements of his "coalition of the ascendant," including young people, minorities, and college-educated women, these advances among blue-collar women have been enough to propel Obama to the lead over Republican Mitt Romney in the most recent public surveys in all 11 states (albeit in some cases within the polls' margins of error).
Democrats say blue-collar women have been the principal, and most receptive, target for their extended ad barrage portraying Romney as a plutocrat who is blind, if not indifferent, to the struggles of average families.
These "waitress moms" have voted Republican in every election since 1980. Except 1996.
Mitt Romney is the ideal candidate to alienate them completely, if you think about it, and nearly every substantive misstep he's made has alienated them further.
For instance, choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate. Now, normally blue-collar workers believe in balancing the budget. Indeed, it is to them that the whole "sitting at your kitchen table, trying to balance your checkbook" trope is directed ("If you can do it, so should the government," conveniently ignoring the fact that the wife/husband/single parent doesn't have to support corn farmers and oil companies and two wars.)
These are the values voters, the people who believe in Jesus and the Bible and who overlap with people who believe them even more than an addict believes in his next fix.
But Ryan has full-throated talked about cutting Social Security and Medicare: these are the very programs that waitress-moms have been paying into for decades because they have to and because they don't earn enough to sock away in an offshore account for retirement.
Faux pas number two -- if you're running for President for a total of 7 years, you might want to think about cleaning up your ledger a bit. That includes the dancing horse, which oddly does not appear on the 2011 Romney return: Faux pas #3.
But I digress...
When you threaten a person's planning, you can expect blowback. It doesn't matter if you buy the car off the lot they were eyeing (in which case the blowback is as mild as a muttered curse) or take away the tens of thousands of dollars they sock away for 50 years hoping to live off at retirement, there's going to be some reaction.
Many of these waitress moms, most of them actually, make less than the median $50,000 a year for a family of four. That means they struggle, sometimes they need help, or they at least know someone who occasionally needs a hot meal and help paying the heating bill.
You know, the 47%? So that tape did Romney no good with this group, either. It may have been red meat to his constituency, but his other supporters heard that, and I'm thinking a goodly number cemented their opinion of Romney.
Monday, October 01, 2012