Tag Archives: debates

Obama’s Opening Remarks in the Second Debate: Rope-A-Dope!

On October 16th at 9:00 PM Eastern Time, President Obama and challenger Mitt “Etch-A-Sketch” Romney will tee off their second Presidential debate.

For this second round in the Obama vs. Romney heavyweight contest, the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates has planned a “town meeting” format in which “undecided voters” chosen by the Gallup Organization will ask questions on topics critical to our nation, including foreign and domestic policy.

After the poorly moderated, constipated and confused “six 15-minute pods” framework of the first debate, Presidential Cage Match Round Two – driven by questions from “real people” — may be more enlightening, exciting and decisive.

Just maybe.

As a progressive Democrat, I must honestly admit that I came away from yesterday’s first debate full of anger and frustration that President Obama didn’t immediately counter Mitt Romney’s shocking shape shifting, evasiveness and outright dishonesty with force, passion and prosecutorial specificity.

Damn. I really, really, really wanted Obama to take Romney’s head off in that first debate. PBS’ grand venerable gentleman Jim Lehrer certainly wasn’t going to do it. But there’s an argument to be made that Obama was playing “Rope-a-Dope”. There’s an old axiom in war and politics that if your opponent is hurting himself — don’t get in the way.

In one of the most celebrated heavyweight bouts in boxing history, beastly strong, aggressive and overconfident George Foreman wore himself out throwing punch after punch at the cagey veteran, Muhammad Ali, who settled into the ropes in a defensive crouch. When Foreman’s bulging, muscled arms finally tired, Ali put his exhausted foe away with canny, savage, and well-timed counter-punching.

If we equate whole new policy positions, bald-faced lies, equivocations, mischaracterizations and a chronic lack of specifics with lunging punches thrown without a knockout – then President Obama has set Mighty Mitt up for a ferocious counterattack.

With that in mind, here’s what I’d like to hear President Barack Obama say in his opening statement in the second debate.

“Thank you, Candy Crowley, for moderating this debate, thanks to Hofstra University for hosting us – and thanks to everyone watching for taking the next 90 minutes out of your very busy lives to listen to what Governor Romney and I have to say about our drastically different visions for the direction we want to take our beloved country.

I know you just got home from work and that you need to get up and go back to work tomorrow morning — so I won’t waste your valuable time by saying a bunch of things that sound good tonight – but that the fact-checkers will easily prove are a lot of crap tomorrow morning. I’ll leave that game to Governor Romney: whichever Governor Romney shows up tonight.

Tonight’s debate is supposed to be a town hall meeting — in which citizens ask the questions, and Governor Romney and I have agreed to answer your questions. I promise to answer your questions honestly and candidly, consistent with everything I’ve said from the time I sought the Presidency in 2008 until tonight. Tonight, I challenge Governor Romney to answer your questions in a manner consistent with what he’s been saying in the past year, in the last few months, and in our last debate.

Governor Romney’s not an easy guy to pin down on policy. It’s impossible to know what his plans for our nation are. In fact, Mitt Romney is the biggest flip-flopper in American political history.

Mitt was for Obamacare before he was against it. He was for a 5 trillion dollar tax cut before he was against it. He was for lowering taxes on millionaires and billionaires before he was against it. He was for voucherizing Medicare before he was against it. And he was for his VP pick Paul Ryan’s Medicare and Social Security-killing budget before he was against it.

And Governor Romney did all that flip-flopping in our last debate less than two weeks ago. I wonder where Mitt Romney stands now?

I wonder which Mitt Romney will show up tonight? And what new tales will he tell?

Maybe tonight we’ll get the real story of Mitt Ronmey’s plan for the American middle class? Like a “CSI” or “Law & Order” mystery – it’s worth staying up for the next hour or so just to find out.

Since Governor Romney and I faced off in our last debate, there have been a lot of independent analysts who have been confounded about two things:

Why did Governor Romney run away from so many of his previously held positions? And why won’t he say what upper-income tax loopholes and middle-class tax deductions he plans to eliminate to pay for his huge tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires?

My fellow Americans, I look forward to your questions this evening. And I look forward to seeing which Mitt Romney will be with us tonight – and how that version of Mitt Romney will answer the questions that are so vital to the health, growth, safety and success of our blessed nation.”

Post Script: The first national poll after the first Presidential debate from Ipsos/Reuters shows that President Barack Obama didn’t lose much ground.

Before the debate: Obama 48 Romney 39

After the debate: Obama 48 Romney 43

On the face of it, that’s a four-point jump for Romney – but let’s look at the numbers among independent voters. (Rope-A-Dope may be working.)

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Election 2012: The Stakes

With the Presidential Election less than 3 months away, the airwaves (especially in the “swing states”) are jammed with campaign ads and questionable, secretly funded Super Pac attacks. Until the party conventions are over and the debates begin, media coverage of the election will continue to focus on the horserace, breathlessly trumpeting every incremental rise and fall in the polls.

Before President Obama and his GOP challenger Mitt Romney – and their ticket mates Biden and Ryan — are finally able to square off face to face over the issues, the current phase of the election season is mostly about hot air, hot buttons, gaffes and guesswork.

Sometimes I think it would be better just to turn on AM sports radio until the debates get underway. News coverage of the recent NBA blockbuster trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers exhibited more frank and clear-eyed analysis than you’ll hear on Meet The Press or from George Stephanopoulos and his roundtable of pompous political hacks.

Everybody’s got an opinion, no matter how ill informed, and opinions trump facts. Politicians make claims and accusations — and the media debates the effect of those assertions on a gullible public rather than doing the hard work of establishing what’s true and what’s total bullshit.

Covering the Obama and Romney campaigns, the mainstream media tends to adopt a “plague on both their houses” standard of false equivalency. The GOP openly and repeatedly questions the President’s U.S. citizenship, his Christianity, and his love of country, while blowing racist dog whistles that are heard loudly by the angry white low information voters in their base.

But when Vice President Joe Biden responds to Romney and Ryan’s self-confessed intention to “unshackle” the big Wall Street Banks — and (somewhat clumsily) turns their own metaphor around by saying, “They’re going to put y’all back in chains!” – Romney has the gall to say Obama is running a campaign of hate. And few of the self-satisfied, pampered and intellectually lazy fools that pass for our political pundit class point out Romney’s blatant hypocrisy.

It’s enough to make you want to kick in your television set, tear your car radio out, and toss your newspaper in the trash unread. Rachel Maddow, Ed Shultz and Lawrence O’Donnell notwithstanding.

But as frustrated as we might get with this crass, corrupt and confounding electoral process (especially in a post Citizens United world) we must not forget that there’s truly a lot at stake in this election.

There are big differences between Obama and Romney.

And there are big differences between the Democrats and Republicans.

When I was a small child, I asked my father what was the difference between Democrats and Republicans. My father, born in 1927 and raised in New Orleans, was a child of the Depression and a product of Huey Long’s populism and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. “Republicans,” my father told me, “are for the rich man. Democrats are for the working man.” And as corrupt and pro-corporate as some Democrats may be (Max Baucus, I’m talking to you) – my dad’s dictum still rings true.

Any working person who votes for a Republican is voting against his or her own economic interest.

That’s not something you’ll hear from Wolf Blitzer on CNN.

So, now that I’ve made it clear where I stand in this election – here are ten reasons why you should vote a straight Democratic ticket on Election Day.

1. When President Obama wins re-election, he’ll need majorities in the House and Senate in order to get anything done that moves this country forward.

2. Romney loves trickle-down economics. Problem is, as we’ve seen for the past three decades starting with Reagan, nothing trickles down but misery for working people.

3. President Obama believes in tax fairness. He’s campaigning on the idea that the investor class and those with inherited wealth should pay the same tax rates as working men and women. Romney won’t release his tax returns because, clearly, he’s on the other side of this issue.

4. Romney says he’ll put an end to Planned Parenthood (as though he could) and Paul Ryan is a big fan of personhood for fertilized eggs. Unlike a lot of GOP hacks who simply give lip service to ending women’s reproductive rights in America – these guys just might try to do it.

5. Liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is going to be 80 years old in March of next year. Stephen Breyer is 74. Do you want Romney to replace them?

6. Picture two more years with John Boehner as Speaker of the House.

7. Imagine Yertle the Turtle, AKA Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader.

8. Romney thinks that saber rattling against Iran and Russia is a strong foreign policy. Which should come as no surprise since his advisors include nasty neoconservative nut jobs like Frank Gaffney and soulless fascist operatives like Dan Senor.

9. The Republicans give aid and comfort to climate change skeptics and won’t do anything to promote clean, renewable energy sources until their Big Oil masters have pumped every ounce of planet-killing poison out of the ground and burned it up.

10. Republican governors and state legislatures appear to have three main items on their agendas:

— Make it harder for poor people and minorities to vote.

— Vilify and break the unions.

— Restrict contraception and reproductive rights.

There are lots of other reasons to vote for Democrats and oppose Republicans – but these ten are more than enough.

I’m voting to re-elect President Obama – and I’m voting to put Democrats in the House and Senate in Sacramento and in Washington D.C.

Now, can we get those debates underway soon?


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