Category Archives: the debate

Losing, But Winning

I can’t pretend that I wasn’t bummed out by last night’s debate between Obama and Romney. The debate bothered me right from the beginning because it did not conform to the usual structure for a debate. The loosey-goosey format was disconcerting to me. On the surface, of course, Governor Romney seemed a clear winner. President Obama let him get away with an awful lot. He did not spend a lot of time attacking but seemed to be spending a lot of time on defense. However, all that said, this debate did not make me want to run out and vote for Mitt Romney for President. Although he seemed to have revised some of his approaches, they are not as different as they would need to be to win my vote. He did concede that free enterprise must be reined in a bit with some regulation, but he was not happy with the Dodd-Frank restrictions (as is true of many people, although I don’t know if it is a majority). He was very clear about what parts of Dodd-Frank he would do away with. This is a departure from the Republican base and I had never heard him say this before. He has described his tax plan but in such a vague way that it is impossible to crunch the numbers to see whether this tax plan would increase the deficit or not; we are not even sure whose taxes would increase, whose would decrease, or whose would remain the same.
Romney’s health care plan and his plan for education are the same. Both of these programs would become the domains of the states. I shudder to picture an America with 50 different health care systems and 50 different educational constructs. What is also completely unclear to me is why we would pay our tax dollars to the federal government which would then dole them out to us as vouchers to pay for health care and education. If the states have control of these two areas of our lives but they are not given tax dollars because those tax dollars have been given back to the residents of the state, how will the state afford to fund education or health care? What he is really describing is a totally private system for both health care and education. It would certainly be different, astronomically different; but would it be better? The restructuring alone would be a chaotic mess over a long period of time. I don’t get it and I don’t want it.
Yes Governor Romney seemed strong and he seemed to walk all over President Obama, but I think Obama was so stunned by the things Romney was saying that he didn’t think it worth the bother to argue with him. I believe he felt, as I do, that Romney was hanging himself. This debate was staged as a “night at the fights”. Everyone was sitting around waiting for blood. It was the gladiators and the lions. It was disgusting.
Someone, I think it was David Axelrod, said that you could wrap something up as beautifully as possible but if you didn’t like what was inside, the wrappings would soon found useless, except he didn’t get to finish his thought because Candy Crowley interrupted him, so I finished it for him. I think we also have to consider the things that Governor Romney said about energy as a terrible setback of the progress we have made with the environment. I guess we miss things like acid rain and smog and we want them back. However, a small planet revolving around a warm yellow sun but with no clean water is not a future I want to contemplate. We do need jobs, but jobs won’t matter if we don’t safeguard our planet. There will be 9 billion people on our little earth by 2050. We have to be very careful about what we do to our environment. We have to think it through and study it. The days of wildcat drilling are over. And when Governor Romney talks about drilling on public land exactly what public land is he talking about?
Even the expressions on Governor Romney’s face were weird. He either looked blank or he had this soft look of phony compassion that says “I am hearing your pain”, or “I’m showing how caring I can be”, or “I have to pee”. And yet when Governor Romney discussed the fate of seniors and the disabled he never actually volunteered any help from the government. He actually sounded like they would take care of each other somehow. It was not very reassuring. I definitely preferred President Obama’s facial expressions which were far more normal and actually less condescending. He gave his little smirk that he gives when someone is spewing nonsense and he had to swallow his anger or impatience a few times, but, being a veteran of many meetings, these expressions, although they are “tells”, do not really affect the overall flow of progress in a discussion.
Actually, the Republicans have behaved so badly over the past four years that they should have been benched and not allowed to put a candidate in the 2012 race at all. We should not even have to listen to them repeating over and over again what Obama didn’t do and what they don’t like about what he did do. With the help of the American people who lost their nerve, the Republicans were able to block Obama and the Democrats and they have pouted at our expense because Obama found a way to pass the Affordable Care Act without them. They used tactics that were unfair, that were basically a sort of technical coup d’état and that were probably racist. To expect Obama suddenly to be a good ole boy when he was probably never admitted to the “club” is racist. So I say the American people should bench the Republicans for unsportsmanlike behavior and for really bad policy. I haven’t changed my mind. If Obama still wants to be our President, (although we don’t deserve it) then he’s my man. I still believe that he has the most realistic goals for America.