Tag Archives: presidential election 2012

The VP Debate: How Joe Biden can take Paul Ryan to the Woodshed.

The Vice Presidential debate is coming up this Thursday evening, October 11th, from 8 to 9:30 p.m. EST. The debate will be held at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky where ABC news chief Martha Raddatz will attempt to moderate a discussion on both foreign and domestic policy issues. (Ms. Raddatz should be enlightened by Jim Lehrer’s feckless performance in the moderator’s seat.)

On Thursday night, Joe Biden will have an excellent opportunity to confront Paul Ryan about his chameleon running mate’s latest policy flip-flops. Keeping “Ryan on the defensive by challenging him to answer for Mitt Romney’s whopper of an Etch-A-Sketch performance in the first Presidential debate is the key to a Biden victory that can move the polls back in President Obama’s direction.

After Paul Ryan’s disastrous, fact-checker’s delight of a convention speech, he’s got his own image problem as a politician of dubious honesty.  And Ryan has yet to reconcile his own consistently uber-conservative policy positions, including his infamous Medicare-killing budget plan, with Romney’s shifting stances — which careen from the far right to the center depending upon Mitt’s audience.

With that in mind, here are some things that Fighting Joe from Scranton can say to take the fight to Pipsqueak Paul from Janesville.

How many years of tax returns did you give Mitt Romney when he vetted you as his running mate?

(Answer: 12 years)

So, if Romney felt he needed 12 years of your tax returns to decide on you as his running mate – why should the American people accept just two years of Mr. Romney’s tax returns?

Is it true that Mitt Romney has proposed a 20% across-the-board tax cut and a reduction in the corporate rate?

(Inescapable answer: Yes.)

Okay, we all heard you tell Chris Wallace on Fox News that it would take too long to explain the Romney-Ryan tax plan – but I’ll be happy to give you all the time you need to tell us the specific deductions and loopholes you’ll eliminate in order to close the 5 trillion dollar gap left by Mitt’s 20% tax cut and his cuts in the corporate rate?

Just days after you were announced as his running mate, Romney distanced himself from the budget you famously proposed in Congress. What parts of your budget does Romney agree with? For instance, does he agree with turning Medicare into a voucher system?

(Answer: Fumble, mumble, blather, obfuscate…)

How will cancer patients pay for all their needed care with a $6,400 dollar insurance voucher? And how will you stop insurance companies from simply raising their rates to swallow up that $6,400 voucher and grab even higher premiums?

In his debate with the President, Romney kept saying that your plans to end Medicare as we know it would not affect today’s seniors. Listen, Congressman Ryan, I’m a senior citizen. Do you think I’m willing to sell out my children as long as my benefits don’t change? If you think so, you don’t know the way America’s seniors – the folks we call “The Greatest Generation” – feel about the safety net that Franklin Delano Roosevelt created with the help of a Democratic Congress. You Republicans fought Medicare and Social Security all along the way – and you’re still trying to kill the New Deal, aren’t you?

In his recent foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute, Romney said that President Obama hasn’t passed a single new free trade agreement. But the fact is that President Obama signed three free trade agreements a year ago — with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Was your running mate unaware of the truth, or was he lying?

The Republican majority in the House of Representatives came into office two years ago chanting a mantra of “jobs, jobs, jobs” – so why have you, Speaker Boehner and the Tea Party majority in the House passed far more bills restricting women’s reproductive rights than bills that would’ve helped create jobs?

Just before the last Congressional session ended a month ago, Senate Republicans filibustered a bill that would have provided much-needed funds to help our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans find a job. Was that a good thing to do? Should Mitch McConnell have let that veteran’s jobs bill come to vote? Don’t we owe that to our nation’s warriors?

Do you agree with Senate Majority Mitch McConnell that, quote, “my number one priority is making sure president Obama’s a one-term president”? Did Senator McConnell kill the veteran’s jobs bill – and hurt our troops — just to deny President Obama a popular legislative victory in an election year?

That should be enough to keep the whelp Ryan back on his heels.

I don’t think older voters in the swing states – especially Ohio and Florida – will cotton to a young, untested punk like Ryan getting testy with an accomplished elder statesmen like Joe Biden.

Like I said, Joe doesn’t need to be polite or deferential with Ryan. Not like he had to be with an untested, overmatched woman like Sarah Palin. Ryan needs to show respect for his elder. And that means Joe can take the fight to Ryan without fear of being too aggressive.

America may not yet tolerate an angry black man (even if he’s the President) – but a righteously angry old white dude can be quite loveable.

C’mon, old Joe. Put up your dukes! And knock that pretentious, puffed-up, overconfident, Ayn Rand-worshipping pup out of the ring!

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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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Republican National Convention Day One: One Little Lie & Two Big Lies…

“We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”

Ashley O’Connor, Romney TV Advertising Strategist

Ohio Governor John Kasich’s Little Lie

In his address to the Republican National Convention tonight, John Kasich stretched the truth like well-chewed taffy by claiming that President Obama’s policies haven’t helped Ohio’s economy rebound in the past two years. But, by ignoring the positive boost that Obama gave Ohio by bailing out the auto industry and providing much-needed transportation funding and dollars for teachers, firefighters, and cops, etc. through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (AKA “The Stimulus”), Kasich was telling a lie of omission. It was a big lie, but a subtle one.

But there was another lie that Kasich told toward the end of his speech – a little lie, an unnecessary lie, an easily debunked lie – that shows how little he regards the truth when he’s looking to score a point or belittle an opponent.

After having made his case for what he’s done to fix Ohio’s economy, and therefore what the GOP can do for the nation, Kasich took on Vice President Joe Biden. “Folks, let me tell you this,” he said, “Joe Biden disputes a lot of those facts, but Joe Biden told me that he was a good golfer. And I’ve played golf with Joe Biden, I can tell you that’s not true, as well as all of the other things that he says.”

But how good a golfer is Joe Biden really? In a recent Golf Digest ranking of 150 prominent Washington golfers, House Speaker John Boehner was ranked 43rd, President Obama was 108th – and Joe Biden was ranked 29th. Kasich, who doesn’t live in Washington, didn’t make the list. But, as a golfer, Kasich is no Joe Biden. And as an honest politician, he’s even worse.

So what about the facts? Republicans just say what they want to say – the facts be damned — even when it comes to little things.

Former GOP Candidate Rick Santorum’s Big Lie

In his speech, Rick Santorum built upon the Romney campaign’s Big Lie about Obama gutting the welfare work rules. In a loud dog whistle to low information white working class voters, Santorum continued to peddle the nonsense that Obama has unilaterally waived work rules to make it easier for (we presume the shiftless minority poor folk) to collect welfare money for nothing.

By waiving the work requirement, Santorum accused Obama of “acting as if he’s above the law.” But the fact is that President Obama HAS NOT done what Santorum and the Romney campaign have charged. What the President DID DO is, at the request of a bipartisan group of state governors, give those state more flexibility in interpreting the work requirements so that they can get people placed in jobs faster and more efficiently: the very opposite of the GOP Big Lie.

But don’t take my word for it. The fact-checking website PolitiFact says Romney’s claims are “pants on fire” bogus and The Washington Post’s fact checker awarded the Romney campaigns welfare attack on Obama  four Pinocchios, its highest rating. And Annenberg Public Policy Center’s FactCheck.org agreed that the claims are false.

FactCheck.org explains:

“A Mitt Romney TV ad claims the Obama administration has adopted ‘a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements.’ The plan does neither of those things.”

“Work requirements are not simply being ‘dropped.’ States may now change the requirements — revising, adding or eliminating them — as part of a federally approved state-specific plan to increase job placement.”

“And it won’t ‘gut’ the 1996 law to ease the requirement. Benefits still won’t be paid beyond an allotted time, whether the recipient is working or not.”

Even a Republican architect of the law, Ron Haskins, told NPR: “There’s no plausible scenario under which it really constitutes a serious attack on welfare reform.”

But the GOP’s Big Lie beat goes on…

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s Big Lie

The “you didn’t build that” canard is alive and well – and bigger than ever. In her convention speech, Nikki Haley amplified the utterly bogus assertion that President Obama said that American business people didn’t build their own businesses.

Let’s make this perfectly clear. Here’s what President Obama really said:

“There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.”

 (Applause.)

 “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

The Romney campaign pulled one line out of context – “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that” – and ignores the context to create a Big Lie. No matter that Obama’s whole speech is on video, no matter that I was able to Google it for this article in a matter of seconds. Say a lie loud enough and long enough – with all that billionaire super pac money to broasdcast that lie – and the truth no longer matters.

But, here again, don’t take my word for it. Here’s the word from the Romney campaign itself:

“Our most effective ad is our welfare ad,” Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said at a forum hosted by ABC News and Yahoo! News. “Fact checkers come to this with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs, and we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”

Caveat emptor my fellow Americans.

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Give ‘Em Hell, Obama!

During the 1948 Presidential campaign, President Harry S. Truman delivered a speech in Illinois  attacking the Republicans in blunt terms. During his speech a supporter called out, “Give ’em Hell, Harry!”. Truman shot back — “I don’t give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it’s Hell.”

Here’s a snippet of the kind of hell “Give ‘Em Hell Harry” was giving the GOP in those days. (You can read the whole speech here.) I’d like to hear President Obama channel a little more Harry Truman from now until election day.

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