Monday, October 29, 2012

Too much rain

Sending love and light and healing energy to our neighbors on the east coast. Too much rain.  Oh my.  Now is a good time for a well run government to step in and help when needed.  Thank goodness we have one.  For now, anyhow.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Obama finds his confidence and his voice

Obama looked like he actually knew exactly what he was talking about in the final debate tonight.  He finally seemed to be comfortable in himself and was a master of the topic.  Maybe it was because it was the third debate and it took him some time to get good.  Maybe it was because he feels much more comfortable when discussing foreign policy because he is better at foreign policy than domestic.  At any rate, he seemed to me to be himself and did a good job.

Romney seemed to be playing a conservative, don't make any gaffes type of game tonight.  He seemed to be debating as if he was convinced that he had a big lead in the race and only had to keep from making mistakes.  He wasn't as bad as Obama in the first debate, but he let Obama carry the night.

So, I expect that Obama will make liberals feel reassured that their man can cross the finish line, and I expect that Obama will pick up a couple of points in the polls, which could well be all that he needs.  

The surprise of a Romney who seemed like a reasonable, thoughtful guy rather than a hard core right wing extremist has probably pretty well worn off.  And, in the end, America is faced with a choice.  I think the incumbent will win.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The everyone else vs the angry white guy election

I am begining to think that Democrats need to focus their pitch to women and minorities from this point out. 

I understand that Obama and the Dems feel that they are best suited to run the economy, but as long as they focus on the economy, they are playing in the Reps home field.  No matter how much the Dems trash the Reps approach to taxes and the economy, the underlying truth is that the economy sucks and people are not feeling confident of the economic future of the country.  People are open to the notion that a change of leadership might be a good change for the economy.

For the Dems, the blame game is necessary only as it is in response to an attack by the Reps, but it should be a quick two-step:  the economy is bad because of what the Reps gave us and how the Reps are saying no to everything we want to do, but, by the way, what about the Social Issues? what about Roe v Wade, women’s empowerment, reproductive freedoms, education, immigration, civil rights, censorship, capital punishment, bigotry of all forms, poverty programs, inner city schools, child abuse, etc?  The Dems target voters are all the groups other than angry white males who seem to be dedicated to being tough guys in the world. 

Plus, Dems need to push hard for a diplomatic, negotiation oriented foreign policy.  Forget about looking tough.  The Rep white male seems to care a lot  with looking tough, and is convinced that looking and being tough is what stabilizes the world.  But it doesn’t.  It destabilizes the world.  And the country is sick of war in the Middle East with religious fanatics.  Talking tough will appeal to the Rep white male, but I believe it is a turnoff to women and non-whites in America.  John Wayne is long dead, and the Rigid Right haven’t figured that out yet. 

So, I hope Obama does everything he can to quickly rebut the tough-guy-you're-on-your-own-war-loving talk of the Reps, and ignore the low-tax free-the-economy mantras of Romney and make a quick shuffle off into the social issues and the need for a diplomatic approach to foreign policy. 

He needs to turn it into the everyone-else against the angry-white-guy election.  Or so I think.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Focus on the economy probably helps the Republicans

Joe Biden did fine.  Paul Ryan did fine.  Both made their points and presented their cases.  Each side thought their man won. Biden probably accomplished his primary objective of stopping the freefall in the polls that had resulted from Obama’s disastrous debate performance last week.  Ryan did fine on the big stage and established himself as a significant player in the Republican Party.

So, who won?  I think the Reps probably won because they are keeping the discussion on the economy.  What is not on the table is the Culture Wars.  I have been writing for some time that the Reps want to have the economy be the issue for this election, and the Dems want the Culture Wars be the issue.  The economy sucks, the Radical Right want to enact an evangelical puritanical culture in America.  If people think the economy is the most important issue, advantage Reps.  If people think the Culture Wars are the most important issue, advantage Dems.

So far, it looks to me like it is advantage Reps because the field of play in the debates is the economy. 

Foreign policy was also hit pretty hard last night, and I think that gives the Dems an advantage because the Reps are sounding too much like George W and the neocons.  I think the country is pretty sick of sending its children off to die in the Middle East, and bellicosity is probably not playing real well today.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Romney, the Rockefeller Republican, emerges at last?

As usual, David Brooks of the New York Times clarifies something for me: why Romney did do so well in the debate Wednesday, and why Obama did so poorly.

Obama seemed unprepared for the debate, whereas Romney seemed to be remarkably prepared?  Why?  Was Obama just too busy to get ready sufficiently?  Was John Kerry a bad choice to play Romney in the practice debates with Obama?  Or was it something else.  I think it was something else.

Obama had prepared to debate the Tea Party version of Mitt Romney, that is, the version of Romney that had been campaigning all year in order to get the Republican nomination.  He was prepared to go up against the Libertarian/Evangelical wing of the Republican Party.  But he ran into a Rockefeller Republican Romney instead in the debate.  

He was ready to go after the Tea Party/Paul Ryan/Libertarian extremist that Romney had campaigned as.  He got a remarkably reasonable and persuasive man on the stage with him instead.  He just didn't know what to do.  Not because he failed in some way to react intelligently, but because the things that Romney was saying, with such reasonable and persuasive language, were actually the things that any reasonable non-ideological person would say as well, including Obama himself.  He couldn't counter Romney's words because they were words that made sense to Obama himself. 

This Romney believes in regulation as a necessary part of free markets (an obvious truth denied by the Ayn Rand Libertarian extremists).  This Romney says the rich will not have their taxes reduced (an obvious need denied by Ayn Rand Libertarian extremists).  This Romney says the government needs to help the elderly and disabled with their challenges in life (an obvious and necessary government function denied by the Ayn Rand Libertarian extremists).  This Romney praised government job training programs and support for education (an obvious and necessary government function denied by Ayn Rand Libertarian extremists).  This Romney pledges to work across the isle with Democrats looking for common ground (a total repudiation of the last four years of Tea Party/Libertarian/Evangelical Republican orthodoxy).  

This Romney is a center-right Republican, a Rockefeller moderate, a conservative who believes in the necessary functions of the government and one who believes that conservative approaches can make the government work better, one who looks to rein in the excessive spending enthusiasms of liberals while keeping and improving the needed functions of government.

The etch-a-sketch Romney has emerged.  He shook up his message and came up with what is needed to get elected to the presidency.  Just like he tailored his message to the extremist Republicans while he was running for the nomination.  

I don't know who the real Romney is.  David Brooks thinks we are finally seeing the real Romney, the Romney he has been writing about for the last year.  It could be that this Romney is just fooling us, that he is truly an Ayn Rand social Darwinist after all.  But I don't think so.  

So, even though this Romney is exactly who I want the Republican nominee to be, I have grave doubts that he will be able to deliver as promised.  

He could just be doing what he always does - exhaustively examining the evidence and coming up with a course of action that responds to the data and still give him what he wants - the presidency.  That is, it could be that he doesn't believe any of what he said last night, he is just saying what he has to say to close the deal.  So it could be that he is a man without a center, only ambition.  Could be.

Or, he could really want to run the country like a sensible center-right conservative president, but won't be able to pull it off because all of the supporting Republican cabinet and staff and Senators and Congresspeople that come along with the Republican Party are the same people that brought us over-deregulation, over-militarization, over-Puritanical hits from Republican administrations of the past.  So, this could be a man who won't be able to change his party's stripes even if he tries.  Could be.

Or, he could lead his Republican Party from the wilderness of extremism back into the mainstream and save not only his party but the country from plunging headfirst over the cliff into extremist oblivion. Could he?

Romney has a big task ahead of him, to my mind, and that is to prove to me that he is not just playing word games and keeping the extremist right wing policies he has been campaigning on all year.  Where is the real Romney?

Obama has a big task as well.  It is up to Obama to adjust and run against this new Romney.  Just calling him a liar or a hypocrite won't get the job done.  He has changed his stripes, at least at the rhetorical level.  As David Brooks so clearly pointed out in his excellent article:

"He'll have to develop a positive passion for something he actually wants to do.  I gave Obama better reviews than most pundits Wednesday night, but his closing statement was as bad as any I've heard.  If he can't come up with a two-minute argument for why he should be president again, the former Mr. Audacity might still lose to the former Mr. Right Winger."

It's time for President Obama to give us his vision for America, to inspire us all, to create his vision and to show us that he is our leader into that future.  So far, he's just been the Other Guy, the Not-a-Tea-Party-Nut-Case guy. That might not cut it anymore.  Where is Obama the leader?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Does Romney win the intangibles?

I thought both Romney and Obama gave it their all tonight, and both of them did a good job of articulating their opinions.  I enjoyed the new format where each had time to develop what they were saying and could respond to each other.

On the issues, I would give it to Obama. I think he made good points against the challenger.  Romney made good points against the president as well, however.  So, on the issues, conservatives will think that Romney won and liberals will think that Obama won.

Who won the intangibles?  Romney did, I believe. He had the advantage of being the challenger, so just standing on the same stage as the sitting president and looking like he belonged there is always a win for the challenger.  Romney passed that test.  With flying colors.

I think that Obama did fine in the intangibles arena, but he is by nature a more cautious, hesitant, reflective man than Romney is.  He made his points quite well and with force.  But he didn't have the presence of a leader compared to Romney, or so it seemed to me.  That is a pretty big thing when when trying to be elected president.

Romney was amazingly well prepared for this debate.  There was never a time when he didn't speak with confidence, precision, and force.  He seemed eminently reasonable.  He did not appear to be a heartless plutocrat out to destroy the lower classes.  He seemed to have a clear idea of who he was and what he stood for.  He looked like more of a leader than the president.

However, I think that Romney's intangibles are likely to strike men and women quite differently.  

Romney also came across as bullying at times when he butted in and over-rode the moderator.  I am not remembering if he ever seemed to be bullying Obama, I think not.  So, I think many of women may have seen his presence as being too forceful, not respectful, or perhaps not thoughtful or nuanced.

However, I think that Romney's eagerness and decisiveness probably played pretty well with many men, who saw him as having a larger and more decisive presence.  

I think Romney had no problem looking directly at Obama and challenging him, but it looked to me like Obama had difficulty holding eye contact and had to look away to get out of the glare of Romney's forthrightness, and withdraw into himself.  

But, is there any real benefit for a president to be a challenging presence?  Or is there any real drawback for a president to need to go within and gather himself before responding?  I am not sure that it really matters.  But I think Romney was a good representative of the Republican brand - strength as represented by direct action; and I think Obama was a good representative of the Democratic brand - thoughtful evaluation in preparation for action.

The convicted will remain convicted.  The undecided will respond more to the intangibles than the policies, I would guess.  I think more undecided men will be attracted to Romney, and more undecided women will be attracted to Obama.  

Edge to Romney in round one, or so I think.