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Obama Strikes Back with a Left to the Chin: The Second Debate as Political Slugfest

October 19, 2012

I miss the days when heavyweight boxing loomed large over the American cultural landscape. The great champs were men of mythic stature — Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano and (most mythic of all) Muhammad Ali. Then the sport deteriorated like a jack o’ lantern two weeks after Halloween.

The hulking, ear-biting Mike Tyson is the last heavyweight champ whose face I can remember. An upstart named Evander Holyfield followed him, and I couldn’t name you a single one of Holyfield’s heirs. The sport has trailed off into insignificance, replaced by video games, reality TV and presidential debates.

Yes, our presidential debates are the next-best thing to the heavyweight bouts of yore. Especially the town hall debates, which allow the candidates to get up from their seats, move around and invade each other’s private space.

The defending champ and his Republican challenger met this past Tuesday for the second in a best-of-three contest. Both men entered the ring in fighting trim: tall, lean and energized… not an ounce of flab around the waist or skull, boyish hairlines intact. Romney at 65 was looking more unnaturally youthful than his 51-year-old rival, whose arduous three-plus years in the White House have taken a visible toll.

Obama, recovering from his lethargic TKO loss in the first debate, needed to show the world that he could still catch fire and pack a well-aimed punch. The Republican challenger, who had the momentum along with a paper-thin edge in the polls, simply needed to look like a champ while successfully dodging and weaving in the ring.

Romney came out of his corner in response to a college student who wondered aloud if he’d ever find a job. The Marauding Mormon conveyed friendly concern and instantly promised him gainful employment. Romney was being Romney: the smooth, upbeat, ideologically elusive plutocrat who’s gallantly forcing himself to sympathize with ordinary middle-class Americans.

Now it was Obama’s turn: the president surprised the doubters with a show of renewed moxie. Energized, intense and combative, he quickly brandished his own credentials as a Certified Friend of the Middle Class and repeatedly put his opponent on the defensive. Obama jabbed Romney again and again, knocking his opponent’s faith in “top-down economics”… his mysterious promise to roll back the deficit while cutting taxes (“the math doesn’t add up”)… his flip-flopping on illegal immigrants and Obamacare… his haste to make political hay out of the Libya consulate attack… his fealty to the GOP’s right-wing fringe in general and the National Rifle Association in particular.

But despite his adroit maneuvers, Obama never put his opponent away with a decisive knockout punch. Romney countered with jabs of his own: Obama’s broken promises, lingering recession, billowing deficit, sluggishness in drilling for oil, mishandling of Libya, prohibitive taxes on American companies. But again, nothing fatal. Each attempted to paint himself as a moderate while his opponent quickly defaced the self-portrait.

Both men, masters of self-control under less stressful circumstances, began to frazzle visibly midway through the bout. Romney grew prickly and impatient; the president quietly fumed and sulked. But neither man collapsed. Each danced defiantly onto the other’s turf. Both abused their allotted time slots; both wrangled with the referee, CNN’s Candy Crowley, she of the feisty humor and tanklike physique –and no pushover in the ring.

All the while,  often nervous and fumbling, the hand-picked inquisitors — a gathering of undecided, mostly white Long Island voters — tried to extract straightforward answers from the two combatants. Not much luck there. In the end, nobody asked the most important question of all: What will you do to stop lobbyists and big-money interests from buying our elected representatives? If I had been in the audience, that’s the question I would have asked… though it might not have made it past the censors.

The most decisive action came late in the match. In response to an audience member’s challenge for Romney to differentiate himself from the unfortunate George W. Bush, the Mittster appropriately cited his faith in small business (as opposed to big corporations) as the engine of growth and progress. Obama also drew a contrast between the two Republicans — and scored a minor coup by providing evidence that Bush the Younger was actually more liberal than the current GOP nominee! Then, in his closing statement, the president finally pulled Romney’s infamous “47%” remark out of his hat.

The victor: Obama on points — not a knockout — not even a TKO — but still an encouraging turnaround for the embattled chief executive.

It strikes me as odd and unseemly that our presidential elections increasingly hinge on the combatants’ skill in the debating ring. Debates favor quickness, glibness, style and maneuverability over substance and character. Not exactly the kind of screening process we need to recognize a great leader… but one that’s suited to a nation in thrall to pop culture and its mandatory slickness.

George Washington, perhaps the single most magnificent character to emerge from the entire 400-year American pageant, wouldn’t have stood a chance in a televised debate. A reluctant speaker, starchy and slow of wit, he would have sputtered and mumbled through his grotesque false teeth while a Romney or an Obama shredded him alive. But after all, folks, that’s show business.

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77 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2012 8:21 am

    Rick, You continue to disappoint me. You liked Biden’s performance and now Barry’s. So, you given points for interruptions, rudeness, and bluster. Wow, debating at its finest.

    Again, you liberal hemline is showing.

    • October 19, 2012 8:35 am

      Whoa there, Rich… I didn’t like Biden’s performance. I thought he debated effectively, but I went out of my way to criticize his asinine behavior.

      As for the town hall debate, I think both men can take equal credit for “interruptions, rudeness and bluster.” (Good summary.) Both scored solid debating points, exploited the other’s weaknesses and made a good case for themselves. Obama rebounded nicely from his first debate, went on the offensive (he had no choice, did he?) and punched some holes in Romney’s arguments — as well as Romney’s penchant for portraying himself as a champion of the middle class. Romney was smooth… too smooth. His promise of a job to that college kid struck me as phony right at the outset.

      • October 20, 2012 10:03 am

        Effective debating requires actually being accurate – unless you see debate as a WWF contest.

        I personally could care less about the debates. Being better at misrepresenting your opponent, or more verbally aggresive, are not traits I care about in presidents.

        Actually questions of the merit of different policies are better examined more closely than can be done in a debate.

        Though clearly these debates are impacting voters

      • Kent permalink
        October 20, 2012 9:24 pm

        These debates are for those particularly not sure who to vote for. The obvious ones who do know either already subscribe to the political parties or believe in the agenda against the other.

        To me it is show and tell. Some quick jabs to keep its followers happy and its fundraisers.

        Logic dictates that thoughts are more clear when emotion is put aside. All I saw was more emotion with little logic.

        All this…. “he said, she said” crap is a waste of time. We can do the research ourselves as intelligent people. Then again….how many are intelligent…I wonder???

      • kawarimi permalink
        October 22, 2012 8:39 am

        Rick – you didn’t like Romney’s response to the college kid, but you thought Obama’s answer of *manufacturing* jobs for a college degree as……?

        I agree, Romney should have been more specific (although I think he’s spelled out his plan more in other instances) but I don’t doubt his sincerity like you after finding out about all the charitable work he has done (and doesn’t brag about so I guess most people don’t know about it then?). But Obama’s answer didn’t even make sense. I thought a lot of his answers tended to just be talking points that didn’t actually fit the question asked. Romney did it too, but Obama seemed to do it a lot more. So while Obama definitely came out better on style than before, on substance he didn’t win me over at all.

        Also, I went back and watched parts of the debate on CNN’s website to see how the talking times panned out, and Obama was given a large lead early by Candy when she didn’t give Romney the same chance to counter at the end even though she had for Obama. That’s how he ended up with an extra 4.5 minutes or so (that’s an extra two responses). And even though people complained about Romney being too aggressive and “controlling” in the first debate, if he really was “taking more than his fair share” of the debate, then how did Obama end up with more time in that debate, too. (I wont even go into Joe Biden’s rudeness in the VP debate…..my guess is he was charged with the task to try to get Ryan to lose his temper or something.)

  2. October 19, 2012 8:31 am

    Peggy Noonan says it all about Barry and his “debating skills.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444734804578065023315500416.html

  3. Anonymous permalink
    October 19, 2012 9:13 am

    Great analysis but I don’t think you took it far enough. I looked at Romney and saw the bully he was as a kid. I could imagine him hacking off that poor boy’s hair in prep school. He still says he doesn’t remember that instance and if he doesn’t, well, it’s probably because he behaved like a bully so frequently he forgot his faceless victims. What an ugly side to present to the world. Obama fought back but both looked less Presidential by the end. Obama’s remarks about Libya elevated his Presidential creed. But….what must the world think of our politics to see adults behaving so badly? And…at the end of the day what will it matter? Romney will prepare a plan to “sell” to his largest base (right wing) no matter how moderate he was in the past and Obama will stay the course. He has taken us further then expected in such a historical world wide recession/depression while trying to protect those hit hardest. We are in better shape then most foreign countries but the Right Wing will never give him credit for that.

    • October 19, 2012 10:27 pm

      You have summarized the President’s arguments very well.

    • October 20, 2012 10:12 am

      Yes, and Obama ate dog, hung around with communists, and terrorists, and radicals,

      And wasn’t “Stay the course” Bush’s line ? I guess we are now channeling Bush I instead of Bush II.

      As to the recession please check out the emerging scholarship.

      This is not the worst recession since the great depression, but it is proving to be the longest. There is no special “financial crisis” multiplier. The norm (like ALWAYS) is the deeper the recession the stronger and quicker the recovery.

      We were well into a weak recovery in 2010. It has withered. Obama owns this.

      Further this recession will provide new data further bolstering the argument that government efforts to mitigate economic problems end up exacerbating them.

      • Kent permalink
        October 20, 2012 9:31 pm

        asmith, I agree that it is the longest recession in terms of mental agony in quite a while.

        If Obama does win, he can only be blamed for and also given credit to those things that happen in his second term.

        I just hope that he focuses on real issues that effect the majority of Americans rather than the 23-40 million that don’t have healthcare.

    • October 21, 2012 11:35 pm

      Anonymous: There’s an uptightness about Romney that comes through even when he tries to act casual. It has nothing to do with his potential governing ability, but it might reflect the insecurity of a man who shifts his positions to please whichever audience he’s addressing. He doesn’t seem like a cruel man… probably more a matter of insensitivity or lack of empathy combined with a touch of alpha-male arrogance.

  4. October 19, 2012 9:54 am

    I actually liked the debate. Certainly, at many points, it was something of an alpha-male contest, but that was foreshadowed, and almost necessitated by the constant assurances of Democrats beforehand, that Obama would be “more aggressive” this time out. Those comments, preceded, of course, by crazy Uncle Joe’s performance last week, set the stage for a more confrontational debate.

    I also think that Candy Crowley allowed the situation to get out of hand several times,and frustrated both participants with her constant interference. For all of the criticisms of Jim Lehrer in the first debate, he did what a moderator is supposed to do – ask questions and keep time. Ms. Crowley clearly wanted to be part of the action, more like Martha Radditz, and she interrupted and cut both men off far too often, and finally, tried to fact-check the debate at the end, ruining our chance to hear the President defend himself on an important point.

    I disagree that Obama won on points – unless we’re talking presentation/style points, and I would call that a draw. One year, when I was a HS teacher, I was advisor to the debate club. I had never been a debater myself, but I did learn something about scoring a debate, and there was not enough substance in Obama’s arguments to award him high points, plus his rebuttals of Romney too often consisted basically of saying “he’s a lying liar who lies,” without substantial proof of untruths.

    Overall, I agree with you Rick, that both men began to fracture a bit toward the end of the debate. Obama became sullen and Romney became prickly – perfect word for it, btw. That “stare-down contest” over the Libya issue at the very end was classic, and somewhat nerve-rattling. I wish Crowley had let it play out, instead of making it all about her.

    • Kent permalink
      October 20, 2012 9:35 pm

      pearows, Yes, they both looked a little tired after the first hour or so. After their big walk around shuffle they both looked like they just wanted to get out of their after making their points.

    • October 21, 2012 11:52 pm

      PR: I didn’t mind Candy Crowley butting in with a spontaneous fact-check. A lot of pundits complained about it, but from what I remember, she essentially set both men straight on the administration’s response to the attack in Libya while showing that neither man was lying. Maybe she overstepped, but I was impressed.

      Kent: I don’t know how these guys can take the tension of a crucial televised debate without having a stroke on the spot. My brain would probably be fried after ten minutes.

  5. Ron P permalink
    October 19, 2012 11:18 am

    Rick, I must admit a tried to watch, told myself I needed to see what everyone would be talking about the next day. Watched until the first energy question and then when the argueing started about who was or was not telling the truth, it was like watching Hardball or Hannity with two guest with opposing views.

    I had something much more interesting to watch. The ALCS. Much more relaxing. And talking to my two grown daughters in their late 20′s, they too switched the channel when all the bickering started. They related it to kids fighting over game rules in the back yard.

    These are not debates. They are meetings where two people can tell the public anything they want to tell them, no matter if it is true or not and most people will beleive what they hear. “It has to be true, its on TV”.

    • October 19, 2012 3:48 pm

      Clearly, Ron, you are not a Yankees fan like me, if you found the ALCS relaxing…;)

      • Ron P permalink
        October 19, 2012 11:22 pm

        Sorry pearows, I stopped pulling for the Yankees as the American League Champ when Stenbrenner began buying the pennant. I will be pulling for Detroit since I want to see hell freeze over. Friend of mine from the U.P. is a Detroit fan and I always told him hell would freeze over before Detroit ever won the W.S.

        But any baseball is better than two grown men argueing instead of presenting their positions and defending those positions. That can be done without getting into the others face. That’s what turned off my daughters on both of them and whoever wants to win the womens vote might just want to be the bigger person and let the other act like an ass.

        Men go for the in-your-face action; women, or many of them, do not.

    • October 22, 2012 12:04 am

      Ron: Too true. Whenever marketing people want to validate a new product, they use the line “As seen on TV!” As for fall baseball, I’m still traumatized by my Phillies’ collapse ths year. I might recover by the time the World Series gets underway, but I haven’t watched a single postseason game yet.

  6. October 19, 2012 6:57 pm

    Proclaiming a debate that was at best a draw for him, a victory for Obama just because, is pretty lame. I don’t recall a single point he made that wasn’t a misrepresentation or an evasion of reality. The arguments are always about the relative merits of Romney’s plans for dealing with a myriad of problems, such as Medicare, social security, flight of American capital and jobs to foreign shores, and the threats of China and global jihad on a number of levels. Obama and the dems haven’t proposed solutions to any of these issues. Obama presents as if he hasn’t been in charge for four years–as if he and Romney are both candidates for the same empty chair. Actually, that is close to the truth.

    • Kent permalink
      October 20, 2012 9:41 pm

      My point to this RP is that Obama had four years to get things into Congress for a vote irregardless if it passed. Obama could of at least said he tried.

      This is failure as a President nothing more or less.

      If you have an Agenda you push it through foremost, thus healthcare. Success!!! Then what???nothing??? What about everything else??

      He had a guaranteed four years to do his “make or break” pledges. Now it is time to see someone else take a swing.

      They should of put another Democrat up to run for President instead of Obama. Obama isn’t the only Democrat with ideas.

      • October 20, 2012 10:08 pm

        You’re exactly right, Kent. Whether or not you like him, or agree with his ideology or his politics, the stone cold truth is that Obama has been a failure as the leader of our government.

        His only hope is convincing enough people to fear Romney’s success more than than they fear his continued failure.

        I was out to dinner last night with a film group that I get together with every month or so (we saw “Argo,” which I heartily reccommend)…all of the women in the group, except for me, live and work in Princeton, NJ, and are thoroughly immersed in the liberal politics of that elite college town. None of them have any idea of my political views, and I am careful to keep it that way.

        But, the conversation turned to the debates at some point, and the fear and hatred that they expressed toward Romney was intense…and entirely personal and emotional- that is, not based on any of his stated positions. “I couldn’t even watch- that man is so despicable!” “This election is so important – I refuse to have a man dictate what I can do with my own body!” and, of course, “The man did not know a single qualified woman to hire? He needed BINDERS?”

        This is what this election has come to. It’s sad.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 20, 2012 11:36 pm

        pearows, how interesting how the comments you heard at your social gathering is much like the comments I hear from my young daughters (27 and 29), along with friends when I happen to be at a social gathering they might have with fmaily and friends. My daughters are extremely conservative when it comes to money and government spending, but they are extremely liberal when it comes to abortion, gay rights, immigration rights for kids brought into the country at a very youngs age and other social issues. Many of these younger folk that believe in these positions have stated that they are voting for Obama because they beleive it more important to keep the government out of their personal lives and values than the fiscal problems that may develop from a continued Obama administration.

        I believe Romney would be an overwhelming favorite and a landslide victor if it were not for the positions taken on social issues by the republican party in many elections prior to this presidential election.

    • October 22, 2012 12:23 am

      Obama is still an enigma to me. A smart, decent man who fought his own lefty instincts and governed from the middle… but just not seasoned enough (or extroverted enough) for the job. And for a man accused of socialist tendencies, he seems to have a curious affinity for Wall Street and its top players. Still, at least he has a moral compass while Romney is a mere pragmatist who will say anything to win votes.

      • October 22, 2012 8:49 am

        Rick, you must have Obamanesia, lol. How many times did this “smart, decent” man tell us that he would be a unifying president, he would cut the deficit, he would change our standing in the world by the force of his personal background and charm , he would have unemployment back down to pre-crisis levels, he would propose a solution to the immigration issue,etc. etc. etc…….

        “Unseasoned” is a nice way of putting it. “Incompetent” would be the word I would choose.

        We could use some pragmatic competence. I’m not sure why you believe that a pragmatist can not have a “moral compass,” but the two are not mutually exclusive.

  7. Pat Riot permalink
    October 20, 2012 8:49 am

    Rick!
    “…deteriorated like a jack-o-lantern two weeks after Halloween” –nice timely image of “collapsing in upon itself” for what used to be Heavy Weight Boxing in the USA. I can’t muster much sadness for that spectacle petering out, but I do remember the buzz the bouts would create—they were the kind of event that Americans would gather around the TV for, and talk about the next day. So, therefore, on a couple levels, a very fitting backdrop for discussion of the current reality of our Presidential debates: a contest of poise, appearance, glibness, and, if not “grace under pressure” then perhaps “Presidentialness” under pressure.

    You deliver a solid right cross to the face in your last paragraph: “not exactly the kind of screening process we need to recognize a great leader.” Agreed. Agreed.

    And then the knock-out punch is bringing George Washington onto the scene. That snaps some of us out of the hype, the manufactured buzz, the insanity of our day, and back to the reality we’re supposed to be in, like in a TV drama when the good guy picks up the gun and is about to go on a rampage, but then the little daughter pokes her head into the room and the good guy snaps out of it and puts the gun down.

    Romney, Obama; Obama, Romney. Wow, we American people sure can be persuaded to gather around a ring to watch all kinds of “gladiators”. At least there is some discussion. Hurray for the Internet, blogs, newspapers, and kitchen tables. We’re not all dead yet. Good thing we are also out there working as butchers, bakers, and iPod makers (ok, iPod consumers) or the American Pageant would have caved in already like a rotten jack-o-lantern.

    Good analysis, Rick!
    Stay awake out there America! We got a country to keep alive!

    • October 22, 2012 12:35 am

      Pat: Thanks, buddy… I had a feeling you’d appreciate the pumpkin analogy and my reference to George Washington. Too bad, isn’t it, that character and integrity don’t cut it in a presidential debate.

      There’s probably more political discussion in America than ever before in our history… yet 90% of what I see in the social media and in the comments section of blogs (this one excepted, of course) is just preaching to the choir. What’s especially dangerous is that all this insider preaching reinforces extremist prejudices and distorts the polarization that has already divided our country.

      • Pat Riot permalink
        October 22, 2012 1:57 pm

        I believe you are correct that much of today’s political discussion in the social media realm unfortunately sorts itself into camps–reinforcing how each camp already sees things (rather than open discussion which we do get to an extent here at TNM.)

  8. Pat Riot permalink
    October 20, 2012 9:16 am

    Afterthought: …and… similar to Professional Boxing…could Obama have been instructed to take a dive or lay low in the first debate in order to tighten things up, add to the buzz, further empower the distraction, increase the flickering on the walls of Plato’s Cave??? Could that help explain Obama’s smirks and restraint in the first debate??? What, they aren’t instructed, coached, propped, arranged, and groomed???

    • October 20, 2012 2:21 pm

      Are we seeking the right answers or the best verbal boxer ?

      And how is it that out of the entire panoply of presidential contenders we ended up with the two worst on free trade ?

      Watching the two of them blather like idiotic children over which would beat up china the most was pure lunacy.

      • October 20, 2012 3:29 pm

        Dave, 80% of Americans, on both sides of the aisle consider the US debt to China a major problem. Almost as many consider potential job losses from trade with China a huge issue. Niether presidential candidate would remain viable – nor would he win Ohio, where it has been made hot button issue by the unions supporting Obama – if he tried to campaign on trade liberalization.

        It may be economic lunacy, but it would be political lunacy not to invoke some anti-Chinese rhetoric with the all-powerful Ohio union voters literally demanding it.

    • Kent permalink
      October 20, 2012 9:46 pm

      Pat, I sensed the same thing after watching the first debate.

      I felt Obama was tired and yet was enacting some plan to let Romney get his first debate and then come back in the last debates and whack his ideas out.

      Let us be clear, Obama might of using the first debate as a “feel” for where to go in the next debate.

      I know I would.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 20, 2012 11:22 pm

        Dont try to tell anyone over 45 Obama is as smart as Ali and his rope-a-dope routine. Anyone with 1/2 a synapse knows that is not possible.

    • October 22, 2012 12:36 am

      Pat: I think there’s too much at stake for Obama to have “thrown” the first debate. It really did cost him in the polls.

      • Pat Riot permalink
        October 22, 2012 2:02 pm

        I believe you are focusing too much on the boxers and not on the “promoters.” If Romney had continued to slide downward after his diasstrous 47% comment, and that downward spiral picked up momentum, then it wouldn’t have been much of a contest. We couldn’t have the American People suddenly realize they don’t have much of a choice. Better let Romney seem like he’s making a fourth quarter comeback…OK now it’s a contest, let them have at eachother, that’ll be great SOMA for the populace!

  9. Pat Riot permalink
    October 20, 2012 3:53 pm

    Ah yes, the “tough on China” rhetoric. That made me cringe too the way it came out. Ugh. They are indeed skilled at “verbal boxing” while at the same time pandering to the voiters across all those many issues. Not an easy trick.

    How do we get to the right answers for the country? How does the American Public become less superficial and more educated on the issues?

    I’m hoping that in the near future the political process evolves away from clever sound bytes and one-liners and into more in-depth presentations–not only the details of HOW, but also WHY it will work. These would be presentations like consultants give to CEOs and managers, with diagrams and stats. Quantitative “proofs” displayed in front of us, not safespeak and posing. There would be disagreement about some things because of differing philosphies and approaches, but at least people could choose what sounded most plausible to them for solving our problems, improving, moving forward…

    We could get there. . We’ve made some progress…We could do it…We have to do it!

    • October 20, 2012 5:51 pm

      If only, Pat…..

    • October 22, 2012 6:43 pm

      I think the public will do better when politicians quit treating them like idiots.

      I think people are smarter than we give them credit for.

      Romney/Ryan did have the courage to confront the third rail of american politics – Social Security and Medicare. So far they have not been electrocuted.

      Honestly I do not think Romney could get elected without confronting the issue. Otherwise he really is just Obama-Lite.

      regardless, my point is that in atleast one politicallly difficult subject Romney has ignored what polls best and offered voters some approximation of the truth, and it was not the end of the world.

      Voters are not stupid. An election is like a free market. It is messy and there are lots of stupid things, but somehow the outcome works. Not perfectly but usually pretty well.

  10. Pat Riot permalink
    October 20, 2012 7:44 pm

    I know…it probably sounds unrealistic, a pipe dream, but it’s just not here yet, like how fanciful it would have seemed in 1923 or 1950 to send personal videos to friends and family via cell phone…

    I’m thnking by 2016 or 2020 we should have full-day presentations by each candidate and the candidate’s team of specialists, (economists, accountants, and other advisors) live in front of a room of citizens chosen by lottery, videotaped by Spielberg or equivalent so it could be digested and evaluated in chunks as desired by an increasingly enlightened populace! The what, how, and why, in a written proposal to the American People for the term elected, a contract like reliable construction contractors typically provide: this is the complete list of what we are going to do, this is how much it’s going to cost, and this is how long it’s going to take…Running a country is of course more complex than building a housing development or a stretch of road, but still…

    Hard to believe in 2012 in the USA we have such an archaic system based on vague promises by individual men …hard to believe we accept being kept in the dark about specifics (afterall it’s only about our future and our children’s futures) while we go back to our football, baseball, Dancing with the Stars, individual ventures, and what-not.

    On the other hand, we aren’t doing so badly in many ways, as Dave Asmith occasionally points out, and correctly I think, for the most part, about advances in our standard of living, et cetera., so at least some things are getting done!

    • October 22, 2012 12:50 am

      You’re right, Pat… it’s a pretty archaic system. The problem is that it also makes for a vastly entertaining spectacle… how would we live without it?

      • Pat Riot permalink
        October 22, 2012 2:06 pm

        In some ways our political system hasn’t evolved much from top hats, promising a chicken in every pot, kissing babies, and all of that. I realize you’re being partly sarcastic about the spectacle, and you’re right, but spectacle-schmectacle ( ! ) we gotta grow up as a people. Oh vey.

    • October 22, 2012 7:14 pm

      In 2012, there are bazillions of blogs and internet sites. If you really want details on either candidates proposals they are available, as it practically every breath they have taken since infancy. There are competing and independent economics sites that have examined each of their economic proposals in painstaking detail. I would recomend John B. Taylor (as in the Taylor rule that Greenspan’s fed violated that probably caused a large part of the housing bubble) http://johnbtaylorsblog.blogspot.com/

      You can find left leaning analysis, right leaning libertarian, media……

      What you can’t find and I doubt technology will ever solve is a way to with absolute certainty get the unvarnished truth from any candidate without doing alot of work on your own.

  11. Kent permalink
    October 20, 2012 10:02 pm

    Rick, I like your take statement on both the candidates trying to act like “moderates” because that is what a “moderate” is….a person who stays in the center till they decide to take sides.

    I found these debates to be entertaining. They make jabs like boxing. they sound like professional salesmen, they make promises like dictators, and they promote agendas based on their party and the people who fund their campaigns.

    The reality is that it caters to it’s base and promotes growth to its base by demagoguery.

    I find it unrealistic and uncouth.

    What I have noticed in this election is the Libertarian Party has pushed Ron Paul and his anarchists to the side to take a more “Centrist” view. Especially after watching Jim Gray’s video. Jim is running as the VP on the Libertarian ticket.

    As a Centrist, I do not lean on what the Government expects me to do or believe, but what I expect from my Government.

    I am therefore inclined to vote Libertarian as Pres, and VP, Democrat as Senate, and Republican as House of Representatives.

    In short everyone has the option to make a difference. It is well balanced.

    Gook Luck to the winners!!

    • Kent permalink
      October 20, 2012 10:03 pm

      This is also Virginia. Obama will have to do without me this time.

    • October 22, 2012 12:58 am

      Kent: This business of candidates appealing to their “base” is a symptom of our political polarization. The scary part is that a candidate can’t win his party’s nomination these days unless he satisfies the extreme elements of the base. That’s what undid the late Sen. Arlen Specter — a good man who could no longer fit the mold in either of the two major parties.

      • Pat Riot permalink
        October 22, 2012 2:09 pm

        Two major parties in 2012 in the USA!!!
        Thousands of TV channels to choose from, hundreds of car models to choose from, including hybrids and all-electrics emerging, whole aisles of breakfast cereals at the supermarkets,
        but only two political parties. Talk about a stranglehold!

      • October 22, 2012 7:23 pm

        For most of his career Arlen Spector was a good man. But he failed to read himself, his state and the nation in 2009 and 2010. That left him unable to find a home in either party. He would have lost the Republican Primary after his controversial Senate votes – because Pennsylvania voters were upset, and he lost the Democratic primary because he appeared more an opportunist. He is now dead, and we will try to remember him for his good years – when he carried a copy of the constitution in his coat pocket, rather than the last few when he lost touch with it.

      • October 23, 2012 12:07 am

        Pat: God help us if we had as many political parties as brands of breakfast cereal! But you’re right that we need to break away from the current two-party stranglehold. Most parliamentary democracies have four or five parties to choose from. We could probably use separate parties for social democrats like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, traditional liberals like the Kennedys, centrists like us, traditional Republicans like Bob Dole or Pearows, and tea party/libertarians who insist on minimal government. (I don’t think we need to enshrine communists or white supremacists with their own parties.)

        Dave: I’m glad you respect Specter at his best, but I don’t think his failure to adapt in 2009-10 was his shortcoming. The Republican party had shifted to the right, and he would have been dishonest with himself and the people if he changed his views to reflect that shift.

  12. October 22, 2012 11:35 am

    Interesting article in Politico by Joe Scarborough (every liberal’s favorite conservative):

    “Let’s simply review how terrible the Tea Party has been for the GOP.

    — They energized a conservative movement battered by eight years of bloated Republicanism,

    — they shocked the political world by taking Ted Kennedy’s seat,

    — they put Obama Democrats in a constant defensive crouch,

    — they led the resistance against Obamacare,

    — they helped bring about the largest legislative landslide in U.S. history in 2010,

    — they grabbed six seats in the U.S. Senate that year,

    — they helped elect six governors,

    — they helped win 700 seats in state legislatures, and

    — helped elect a Republican majority that included the largest number of Republicans elected since 1946.”

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1012/82677.html

    • Mole permalink
      October 22, 2012 1:53 pm

      Dana Milbank

      Washington Post

      There are those who say that the tea party is fading in influence, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the movement is on the cusp of achieving what once seemed nearly impossible: keeping the Senate Democratic.

      A year ago, famed political handicapper Charlie Cook gave Republicans a 60 percent to 70 percent likelihood of capturing control of the Senate; now, he tells me the likelihood of it remaining Democratic is 60 percent.

      The switch in fortunes can be attributed to many causes — a slate of lackluster Republican candidates high among them — but one thing is beyond serious dispute: If not for a series of tea party upsets in Republican primaries, the Republicans would be taking over the Senate majority in January.

      In the 2010 cycle, tea party candidates caused the Republicans to lose three Senate seats easily within their grasp: Sharron Angle allowed Democratic leader Harry Reid to keep his seat in Nevada, Christine O’Donnell handed Joe Biden’s former seat right back to the Democrats in Delaware, and a tea party favorite in Colorado, Ken Buck, lost a seat that was his to lose.

      Now, tea party picks are in jeopardy of losing two more races that heavily favored Republicans: Richard Mourdock, who beat longtime Sen. Richard Lugar in the Indiana Republican primary, is struggling against Democrat Joe Donnelly; and Todd Akin, who bested the Republican establishment’s favorite in the Missouri Senate primary, is expected to lose to the onetime underdog, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, because of Akin’s infamous comments on “legitimate rape.”

      Democrats and affiliated independents now have 53 seats to the Republicans’ 47. The way things look now, they seem likely to end up with 51 or 52 after the election; if President Obama is reelected, they would keep control of the chamber with 50 seats because Vice President Biden would have the tiebreaker vote. This would mean that the seats the tea party cost the Republicans — between three and five, depending on the outcomes in Indiana and Missouri — will have kept the Democrats in charge.

      For the tea party cause, the consequences should be fairly obvious. If Obama wins reelection, this would deny Republicans unified control of Congress (GOP control of the House is virtually certain) and diminish their leverage in negotiations with the White House. If Romney wins, it would give Democrats the ability to thwart his agenda and to launch probes of the administration.

      But there’s a case to be made that the outcome is bad for everybody because it could continue the paralysis for another two years. Divided government can be quite effective when one party controls the White House and the other controls Congress, as was the case in the mid-1990s when Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress balanced the budget. This outcome, however, would perpetuate a split between a Democratic Senate and a Republican House, which has produced mostly finger-pointing over the past two years.

      There is a deep irony here: The tea party faithful, who claimed they wanted to shake up Washington, have wound up perpetuating the old system. In fighting for ideological purity in primaries regardless of the consequences, they have set back their own cause of limited government and expanded freedom.

      High among those putting Republican Senate control in jeopardy is Mourdock, who eviscerated Lugar, the longtime chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, by running to his right in the primary. Now realizing they are in danger of losing a seat that Lugar kept Republican for 36 years, Indiana Republicans used a super PAC to send out a direct-mail piece quoting favorable remarks Lugar made about Mourdock. But Lugar’s Senate office let it be known that it did not authorize the mailing and that Lugar would not campaign for Mourdock.

      While Mourdock still has a shot at the Senate, Missouri’s Akin appears to be squandering an easy win for Republicans because of his remarks about rape. Akin beat the preferred candidate of the GOP establishment, businessman John Brunner, in the primary, but his candidacy floundered after he voiced his bizarre thoughts about a woman’s body being able to reject the sperm of a rapist.

      In a situation even worse than Mourdock’s, the party establishment abandoned Akin. “I’m convinced now they don’t want Akin to win,” Akin adviser Rick Tyler complained this week to the Daily Caller, a conservative Web site.

      Of course they want him to win. But they know that in Missouri, as in Indiana, Delaware, Colorado and Nevada, the tea party has done serious damage to Republicans’ hopes of being the majority.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 22, 2012 2:11 pm

        Mole..I have said the same to many of my right wing friends and they will not accept the fact that independant voters want the government out of their personal lives. It is not the fiscal positions of Tea Party members they reject, it is the far right conservative social values they reject. And the younger the voter, the more likely they are to put greater significance to the social positions than the fiscal positions

      • October 22, 2012 7:46 pm

        Ron P.
        Please check out the actual Tea Party Web sites.
        Like liberals, conservatives and libertarians. The Tea Party is a big tent. I personally find “Sherrif Joe” to be one of the most repugnant politicians on the planet and an embarassment to any organization his is part of.
        But the Tea Party is not “Sherrif Joe”

        I would check out the “What We Believe” series of video’s on YouTube for a more accurate view of the Tea Party.

        Though i disagree on some issues – They are just wrong on Immigration, this is NOT a social conservative revolution.

        It is a pretty strong movement to negatively prioritize social conservative messages in the GOP and reprioritize in a more libertarian and MODERATE friendly fashion.

        In fact I would suggest that if Romney more strongly adopted the Tea Party he would be more successful.

      • October 23, 2012 12:22 am

        Everyone has made valid points here. There’s no denying that the Tea Party was a dominant force within the Republican party two years ago; in fact, I was hoping that they might split from the GOP and let the old-school Republicans just be themselves. Alas, it was not to be.

        I think certain candidates — Christine O’Donnell comes first to mind — were so extreme, unprepared and even kooky (though I thought she was awfully cute) that they undermined the gains that the Tea Party had made up to that point. The succession of right-wing presidential candidates leading up to the primaries didn’t help, either. There was so much ignorance on display that it felt safer for the GOP to throw its support behind a more conventional (and competent) Republican.

  13. Rabbit permalink
    October 22, 2012 11:57 am

    A great piece of writing Rick, one of your very best. There ought to be a paying gig in that level of commentary. In truth, I did not watch the debate but read about it afterwards.

    For my one post on this topic I choose to post this piece from the Washington Post by Bob Dole, who I have always greatly admired, and never more than after reading this essay. It describes the world I grew up in and the world I still wistfully believe in in which the vast majority of people considered that the US government was by and large a necessary force for good. I think the passing of that era (which was certainly not as pretty as my nostalgia makes it) has much to do with the passing of the WWII “greatest generation” as leaders. Perish the thought, but do we need to survive WWIII before we can remember that we are all in this together and that any society has its common organ, government, at its center, which can be disagreed with, questioned, fought with bitterly at times but not demonized in its very essence?

    “George McGovern, the man who never gave up

    By Bob Dole, Published: October 21

    Bob Dole, a Republican from Kansas, was the Senate majority leader from 1985 to 1987 and 1995 to 1996 and the Republican nominee for president in 1996.

    When I learned that George McGovern was nearing the end of his remarkable life, I couldn’t help but think back to the day in June 1993 when both of us attended the funeral of former first lady Pat Nixon, in Yorba Linda, Calif. After the service, George was asked by a reporter why he should honor the wife of the man whose alleged dirty tricks had kept him out of the White House. He replied, “You can’t keep on campaigning forever.”

    That classy remark was typical of George, a true gentleman who was one of the finest public servants I had the privilege to know.

    George McGovern (1922-2012): Former U.S. senator George McGovern, remembered for his staunch opposition to the Vietnam War and his lopsided loss to Richard M. Nixon in the 1972 presidential election but also for his impact on the Democratic Party, died Sunday, according to his family. He was 90.

    I am sure there are some who were surprised by the long friendship that George and I shared. After all, before his death this weekend at age 90, he was a proud and unapologetic liberal Democrat and I am a lifelong Republican. As chairman of the Republican Party, I did what I could to ensure the defeat of his 1972 run for the White House. When the election was over, however, George and I knew that we couldn’t keep on campaigning forever. We also knew that what we had in common was far more important than our different political philosophies.

    Both of us were guided by the values we learned growing up in the plains of the Midwest — he in Mitchell, S.D., and me in Russell, Kan. Our lives were also transformed by the experience of wearing the uniform of our country during World War II.

    We would both come to understand that our most important commonality — the one that would unite us during and after our service on Capitol Hill — was our shared desire to eliminate hunger in this country and around the world. As colleagues in the 1970s on the Senate Hunger and Human Needs Committee, we worked together to reform the Food Stamp Program, expand the domestic school lunch program and establish the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

    More than a quarter-century later, with political ambitions long behind us, we joined together again. Soon after President Bill Clinton named George ambassador to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in 1998, he called to ask for my help in strengthening global school feeding, nutrition and education programs. We jointly proposed a program to provide poor children with meals at schools in countries throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. In 2000, President Clinton authorized a two-year pilot program based on our proposal, and in 2002, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed into law the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program. Since its inception, the program has provided meals to 22 million children in 41 countries.

    In recent years, George and I had several occasions to get together and reflect on our lives, our political careers and our respective presidential campaigns. No matter how many times we replayed it, he never did defeat President Nixon and I never did defeat Bill Clinton. We agreed, however, that the greatest of life’s blessings cannot be counted in electoral votes.

    In 2008, George and I were humbled to be named the co-recipients of the World Food Prize. As we were called on stage to accept the award, we once again reached across the aisle, walking to the podium literally arm-in-arm. I began my acceptance remarks by saying that “The good news is that we finally won something. It proves that you should never give up.”

    There can be no doubt that throughout his half-century career in the public arena, George McGovern never gave up on his principles or in his determination to call our nation to a higher plain. America and the world are for the better because of him.

    • October 22, 2012 1:04 pm

      George McGovern was a man of honesty and integrity, an old-school anti-war guy, who nevertheless served honorably in the military, no doubt due to his great love of country. He was the first presidential candidate that I ever voted for (beginning my string of voting for the losing candidate until I voted for Bush in 2004 – I have often thought that I should offer to consult with oddsmakers, who could predict the winner of a presidential election, based on the opposite of my vote…good news for Obama this year, if that be the case :) )

      But, Ian, if you are making some sort of link between McGovern and the second debate, I missed it. Maybe you can explain it next time you stop by…..

      • October 23, 2012 12:55 am

        PR: Believe it or not, I was for Nixon back in ’72. (I think I’ve always been a little out of sync with our generation.)

    • October 22, 2012 7:52 pm

      George McGovern deserves a great deal of respect. He was openly honest about who he was. Though certainly far left of center, he was not actually a proponent of
      big government, and he became far less so as he grew older.

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203406404578070543545022704.html

    • October 23, 2012 12:40 am

      Thanks, Rabbit. Ah, if only I were writing in a country the size of Estonia or Slovenia… I’d be a thriving media celebrity by now. But there are just too damn many first-rate writers in this country — at a time when nobody is willing to pay for “content.” So I’ve resigned myself to doing my thing and hoping that readers like you respond to my effforts.

      That was an exceptionally touching piece by Bob Dole, whom I’ve always liked. A classic, good-natured, old-fashioned Republican of sterling character, kindness and ever-ready wit. McGovern was a good guy, too — a man of genuine integrity and compassion. The unintended downside of McGovern’s candidacy, though, was the transformation of the Democrats into a “boutique” party catering to an assortment of favored minorities, feminists and self-pampering NPR listeners while abandoning the traditional base of white working-class voters. After McGovern, for better or worse, it was no longer Hubert Humphrey’s Democratic party.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 23, 2012 11:41 am

        Rick “After McGovern, for better ow worse, it was not longer Hubert Humphrey’s Democrat party. One could say the same about the Republican party, dominated by the Tea Party in the house no longer being Ronald Reagan’s Republican Party. RR did compromise to achive much of what he wanted. He did not give up all of what he wanted when he could not get 100%.

  14. Vole permalink
    October 22, 2012 2:01 pm

    Rabbit may have been pointing out that Bob Dole, the old-school GOP stalwart, sounds positively progressive compared to the present incarnation of the GOP, Mitt Romney possibly excepted. The connection to the second debate could be that eternal question, is Romney a Dole-Lugar- Simpson type of Republican, i.e., a progressive according to Libertarian mythology.

    • Priscilla permalink
      October 22, 2012 6:29 pm

      Gotcha. It’s a valid point, Rab/Vole/Mole . But interesting how there is so little handwringing over Obama’s total refusal to be a Clinton-type Democrat and propose solutions that might actually have a chance of getting passed. It’s always the Repubs who are supposed to compromise………I think that might have something to do with tea party intransigence.

      • October 22, 2012 7:53 pm

        If Obama had governed like Clinton there would be no Tea Party, we would be enjoying 7% growth, and democrats would control the entirety of government for the foreseable future.

      • October 23, 2012 12:51 am

        I really don’t see much (if any) of an ideological difference between Clinton and Obama. Both men are Democrats of liberal leanings who smartly decided to govern from the center.

        Clinton was more of an instinctive politician and persuader, but remember that he also had to contend with a successful Republican insurgency two years into his administration. But only Obama had to deal with Republican adversaries who acted as if they’d rather see him fail than help the country emerge from its financial crisis. That was unforgivable, and I’m not surprised that Obama essentially stopped reaching across the aisle.

      • Ron P permalink
        October 23, 2012 11:46 am

        Rick, there is one huge difference between Clinton and Obama. How many times did Clinton meet or talk with Gingrich and republican leadership to achieve some of his agenda, compared to Obama talking with Boehner and Republican leadership. Dang. Obama doesn’t even meet with the Democratic leadership in congress for many reports I read.

        Thjat is the difference between being a leader and just someone filling the leather chair in the oval office.

      • October 23, 2012 8:41 am

        Rick, I that you really miss the big picture in this comment. Are you saying that it’s ok for a president to stop reaching across the aisle when the opposition is, er…..OPPOSING him? Would you have said this is Bush had gone into Iraq, despite the unanimous oppostion of Democrats (of course, a majority of Dems supported that action, so it’s a hypothetical)? Of course you would not have.

        How many times did we hear about Bush being an “imperial president,” because of his use of EO’s to bypass Congress (answer: many)? And now, Obama has surpassed W in his use of EO’s, using them to address all kinds of issues that should be debated and legislated by our representatives.

        No president has the right to govern unchecked – that is the basis of our Constitution. Obama blaming his failures on a minority in Congress may be typical, but it is no excuse for abdicating his constitutional role.

  15. October 22, 2012 6:36 pm

    Pearows;

    I do not know what the american people would do confronted with a rational discussion of trade and China.

    Here is GMU Economist Don Boudreaux

    http://cafehayek.com/2012/10/another-open-letter-to-peter-morici-3.html

    I think he makes an excellent case.

    Regardless who ever is elected is stuck with the rhetoric they used to do so.
    Both Romney and Obama have commited us to future policies with respect to China that are 180 degrees wrong. That will harm us and Harm them.

    One of Boudreaux’s better points that politicians ignore and the general population never hears, is that A trade deficit AUTOMATICALY means an approximately equal increase in foreign investment.

    We went through all this Trade crap with Japan Inc. two decades ago. Where are Toyota’s and Honda’s made today ? How well is Japan doing ?
    If Japan was engaged in the purportedly evil trade practices that Trade lunatics claimed – then what we see today is the consequence. A damaged Japanese economy, with massive Japanese investment in the US that has created jobs and wealth here.

    If that is the consequences of unfair trade practices (and it is) – then please let china victimize us even fiurther.

    Worse still NONE of this is new. NONE is some secret.
    Adam Smith tapped into it in The Wealth of Nations, and Bastiat settled it a generation later. Free trade is always a win-win. Unfree trade shifts the balance away from the party seeking advantage.

    You may be right that Romney can not successfully politically make that argument. But I think I have more confidence in people than you do.

    On Issues – Gary Johnson still kills Romney/Obama in polls.
    Through most of the GOP Primary Ron Paul faired as well or better than Romney against Obama, and was often ahead. Paul has enormous negatives. His main positive is a willingness to tell the truth as he sees it regardless of the political consequenses – and people did respond to that.

    • October 22, 2012 7:30 pm

      I’m sure you do have more confidence in people than I do, Dave. But I have more confidence that neither Romney nor Obama will actually be nearly as hard on China as their rhetoric…and, contrary to what you say, they have not really committed us to anything. Well, Obama may have, since at the start of campaign season, he pursued a successful suit against China in the WTO, regarding steel exports. Funny how he never cared about that stuff for 3.5 years, and what a coincidence that two battleground states (PA and OH) have been clamoring for restrictions……of course, nothing will come of it, due to the byzantine WTO appeal process which will last well beyond the election.

      • October 22, 2012 7:57 pm

        I will agree that they will back down from their rhetoric.

        So that is what we want – politicians that lie to us and we know are lying ?

        Again Ron Paul’s broad respect – going far beyond Republicans is not because he is such a slick politician, but because you know exactly what he beleives.

        Romney and Obama could learn alot from that.
        voters can deal with and respect the truth – even when it does not make them happy.

      • October 23, 2012 12:59 am

        Dave: I thought Ron Paul’s candor was refreshing in a politician… maybe the fact that he was a doctor rather than a lawyer made the difference in his approach.

  16. October 22, 2012 8:01 pm

    Asmith-I disagree with your equating our trade deficit with China to the previous one with Japan. Although a trade deficit CAN create an approximately equal increase in foreign investment, that doesn’t mean their investment will be in the US. Though many prefer to keep their heads buried in the sand and hope for the best, China’s Communist government remains hostile to us. Much of the influx of capital has been spent on tying up natural resources around the globe, and extensive expansion of their capabilities in cyber warfare, modern submarines, and carrier-killer cruise missiles. In case the implications of these strategies are lost upon you, they will make a projection of force (offensive or defensive) by US carrier task forces into the far Pacific next to impossible in the near future. Defending our interests and those of our allies against the predations of an economically robust and bullying China is becoming increasingly problematic, and bears little resemblance to the dynamics of our trade over the years with Japan. How can you expect Chinese companies to start employing US workers, like Japan did, when a billion Chinese workers are willing to work for virtual slave wages?

  17. Pat Riot permalink
    October 22, 2012 8:25 pm

    Asmith, do you know if the followng is true: if Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party receive 5% or more of the vote, then the Libertarian Party will be eligible for Matching Federal Funds (about 90 million dollars) from our Federal Gov’t for our 2016 election, thus essentially ending the 2-party stranglehold?

  18. Pat Riot permalink
    October 23, 2012 11:42 pm

    Anyway, if above is true (i.e. 5% of vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson would catapult a third party into contention for the 2016 election by requiring Federal funding???) it would be a tough choice for those wanting Romney over Obama, as it would pull votes away from Romney, like voting for Nader pulled votes away from Gore. Apparently the Republican party had sued vigorously to keep Gary Johnson off the ballots in state after state, of course for just this reason. So, take a stand for the future of American politics by helping to break the 2-party stranglehold, subsequently helping to put Obama back into office, or choose Romney now for a hopefully more fiscally responsible next four years and hope our political system evolves through other means?

    • Ron P permalink
      October 24, 2012 11:46 am

      Pat. I hate to go negative since you make some good points, but it really does not matter who is elected President for the most part given the makeup of congress. Romney is not going to get his or Ryan’s entitlement changes through a Democrat senate and Obama is not going to get his socialist programs through a Republican house. That is the beauty of our political system (or downfall for some). The president can only make foreign policy with little oversight. All domestic programs start and stop in congress. Reid and Pelosi are responsible for the mess we have today. The President can offer suggestions, but congress has to act. And right now they act to insure reelection, not what is good for the country in the short term or long term.

      That is why I am seriously considering voting for Johnson. Maybe some short term pain would be worth it to get some long term gain when a third party becomes viable and goes toe-to-toe with the two parties bought and paid for by special interest. And remember, neither one is supported by special interest with your interest in mind.

      • Pat Riot permalink
        October 24, 2012 10:52 pm

        Ron, I do not think you are being negative; you are being realistic. Certainly there will be some different consequences depending on whether Romney or Obama is the next POTUS, but I agree that with the log jam that is our political system it is doubtful our country will move fast and furiously in any direction. That is frightening and sad. The Founding Framers of the U.S. wanted change to be a difficult, laborious process, but they didn’t want endless gridlock and ineptitude, especially when a bunch of problems are enormous and growing exponentially and threatening the sovereignty and existence of the country.

  19. October 24, 2012 9:31 am

    Pat, I have a couple of thoughts on your comment….I am a proponent of the two-party system, with reservations. Political systems that rely on multi-party coalitions often afford fringe groups the opportunity to play king-maker for the more moderate mainstream candidates, who need to make concessions to the extremists in order to get their support.

    Rick and others have frequently accused the tea party movement of just this type of role within the GOP, and, while I disagree that the tea party is an extremist group, the truth is, that multi-party systems do not favor moderates, so much as they favor compromisers and deal makers.

    I do think that third parties in a two-party system can be effective and, in some cases, supplant one of the major parties. But, third parties have to develop from powerful grass roots movements like the tea party and, most importantly, they must have effective leaders. Ron Paul is one of those types of leaders, but he has chosen to stay within the GOP – Gary Johnson, in my opinion, is not an effective 3rd party leader. Anyone who votes for Johnson is knowingly exercising their right to vote in protest, which is fine….but it will not further the objectives of libertaranism in the way that Paul has.

    Certainly, had Ron Paul decided to run 3rd party, he would easily garner 5%, and in the process, would guarantee the reelection of Obama and almost certainly the fury of the GOP. Instead of making libertarianism more powerful (which he has), he would actually weaken it.

  20. Pat Riot permalink
    October 24, 2012 11:27 pm

    Pearows, you make good points about multiple parties–fringe groups helping to make a King Party, et cetera. I can easily see varieties of that occurring.

    I certanly am not hoping for a 3rd party operating in a 2-party system. I hope for a viable 3rd party to make way for a viable 4th party and a 5th party, primarily to dislodge and disconnect the top-down influences that have the elephant and donkey on short leashes. Then it would be more about choosing platforms and approaches and teams, and less about party politics. Geo Washington warned about political parties in his farewell address (which I enjoy reading about once a year) :

    “…to put in place of the delegated will of the nation the will of the party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill concerted and incongruous projects of faction…

    “…and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

    “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension…in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged.” –Geo Washington

    I would like to see the terms “Republican” and “Democrat” retired from usage in Amerian politics.

    • October 26, 2012 11:40 pm

      Just read this (long after the discussion has moved to another thread). Remarkable how George and the 18th century guys had it all figured out. Never fails to astonish me…..

  21. January 14, 2013 1:37 pm

    Thanks a lot for utilizing time to post “Obama Strikes Back with a
    Left to the Chin: The Second Debate as Political Slugfest THE NEW MODERATE”.
    Thanks a ton once again ,Selena

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