And the Winner is …

One might be perplexed that given all the ways the President’s campaign has painted Romney as a bogeyman, Mr. Obama didn’t do much of that in the debate. Of course he didn’t have to, with his nasty ads flooding swing state airwaves; why sound nasty personally? And yet, by leaving all that stuff out of the debate, Obama may convey that it’s just garbage voters should ignore. Which it is. And what can you say of a candidate willing to fling lots of mud — except when the target is standing right there.

For example, the President’s only mention of “shipping jobs overseas” referred to a supposed tax break, which Romney quite effectively refuted. But not a word calling Romney himself an “outsourcing pioneer,” which might have been uncomfortable for the challenger, if only because it takes more than one simple sentence to answer. I’m almost sorry Romney wasn’t thusly forced to defend economic reality.

 The one attack the President did insist on pursuing, repeatedly, was the “$5 trillion tax cut” canard. Democrats seem so in love with the “tax cuts for the rich” accusation that they just can’t let go of it, even though Romney did have a simple one sentence answer: I’m not proposing that. (He isn’t.) Not only might that good clear answer have been foreseen, but for the President to invite it again, giving Romney further opportunities to call him, well, “inaccurate,” was to me the dumbest thing in the debate.

On that point, I was glad Romney followed the script I gave him. There was another one too: saying that wealthier people (like me) will have to see their Medicare benefits reduced. Though he didn’t stress it, and nobody seems to have picked up on it, I think that was both new and important as a first step toward the highly necessary concept of means-testing such programs. With Democrats allergic to the word “cut” regarding any entitlement spending, it’s interesting to hear the party they accuse of coddling the rich proposing to cut benefits for the rich.

Maybe this is still a horse race after all.

UPDATE 10:20 PM: The President’s been going around the country today saying the Romney in the debate wasn’t the real Romney. As if he’d hired some impersonator. And Obama still insists the real Romney does want a $5 trillion tax cut (for the rich). Oh, please. Give it up already.

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6 Responses to “And the Winner is …”

  1. Lee Says:

    The President adopted the Robinson plan of $3.00 of spending cuts for each $1.00 in increased revenue. Well, the President said $2.50 instead of $3.00, but perhaps that is close enough? Speaking sense like that is, as you say, a gaffe. The Governor avoided going there.

    [FSR comment: Actually, according to fact checkers the spending cuts which the President claims for his 2-1/2-to-1 plan ($4 trillion supposedly) are mostly phony, i.e., counting as "cuts" monies that were never going to be spent anyway. The claimed $4 trillion melts away to just a few hundred billion. But the real point is that whatever Obama claims to propose is immaterial because he has a snowball's chance in Hell of getting it enacted. We need a new president.]

  2. Lee Says:

    Unless the Republicans also win 60 seats in the Senate, I see no reason to believe that Romney will be any more effective than Obama. There are too many people who are willing to blame the president when the opposition party brings governance to a halt, and the Democrats can see this as well as the Republicans have.

    [FSR comment: Re-electing Obama is guaranteed to consign us to a cul-de-sac for four years. In those circumstances, this rational optimist would find little reason to be hopeful about America's economic future. I'd rather take our chances with something else.]

  3. Lee Says:

    Republican governance left us with the 2008 economy, and it has been very hard to slow that decline to a stop. Sure we could blame Obama for not doing it better and faster, but to put things back in the hands of the folks who put us in that tail spin in the first place….

    [FSR comment: Quintessential Democratic talking points. Too simplistic by far. "Back in the hands of the folks"? -- I don't think so. "Put us in that tail spin"? I don't think so either. I don't believe there was actually anything the Bush administration reasonably could have -- or should have -- done differently -- with the possible exception of the refusal to save Lehman Brothers, which was a very tough decision to take at the time, and which proved disastrous in hindsight. But of course we don't know what bad consequences would have ensued had the decision gone the other way. In any case, it's completely irrelevant to where we are now and the presidential election. We need to change horses; the one we're riding now is clapped out.]

  4. Lee Says:

    Have you tried the Project Vote Smart tool for discovering which candidate’s positions are most similar to yours? It is: http://votesmart.org/voteeasy?utm_campaign=voteeasy&utm_source=votesmart&utm_medium=homepagead

    You successively click on the tabs hanging from the top of the picture to answer questions and to rate their importance, and the page shows how each candidate measures up against your accumulating responses.

    (Perhaps you will argue that where the candidates say they stand is not as important as whether they will be able to accomplish those stands, yet I am curious to know how well the candidates rank against your responses.)

    [FSR comment: Nice try. No, sir, I haven't done that. I think after half a century of observing, thinking about, reading about, and writing about political affairs, I can figure out how to vote, for best advancing the nation's interests, without such an aid. In a nutshell, re-electing Obama will be the road to Greece. Does that come up on that nifty "votesmart" thingy?]

  5. Lee Says:

    Of course you can figure out how to vote without such an aid; I didn’t mean to imply otherwise.

    Yes, there is a section about economy and stimulus, though not exactly the words you give.

    If you visit the site and find it substandard, I would like to hear your ideas for improving it.

  6. rationaloptimist Says:

    OK, Lee, to humor you, I tried it. By a sizeable margin, the winner was . . . Gary Johnson. Not a great surprise, he’s the Libertarian candidate. Romney came in second. Obama way down. But frankly I did find the questions poorly structured, and in general they failed to capture my actual views, especially on the matters I consider most important. It is a nice idea in concept, but I cannot recommend anyone actually using it.

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