Monday, October 22, 2012

Foreign Policy Should NOT Be Foreign To Our President

If you watched the final debate, you may have just watched Obama lose the presidency.  I know, if you listen to the CNN people, the MSNBC people, you're hearing people like James Carville say "There's no question Obama won this debate, but did it help him in the election, that we don't know."

Well, Jimmy, there IS a pretty big question about who won the debate. In the first place, the incumbent President typically has the advantage on the topic of foreign policy as a result of having been practicing daily (or not, as the case may be) for four years. Obama's problem is that his results have been horrible.  When people resort to ad hominem attacks, it a sign of a losing argument. They'd rather assault the person rather than the issue, because they cannot win on the issue; and so it was with Obama tonight. If we're counting ad hominem attacks, Obama had more of them so I guess he 'wins' in that category.  The tradeoff is he looks petty and condescending, neither of which are traits I like in a President of the United States.  He got some good jabs in, no question, but he has been proven wrong about the status of the bayonet in our military.  Critically though, in trying to belittle Romney on matters military, Obama exposed himself as the one who can deliver a good line, but has no clue about reality. 

Romney was gracious in the debate, giving Obama credit for quite a few things he's done well, but twisting the knife in the process.  He gives him credit for taking GM through managed bankruptcy, which is Romney had suggested should happen much earlier. He gave him credit for sanctions on Iran, but said he would have put them in place sooner. He played offense and defense simultaneously, which is really required when facing an incumbent, even one as weak as Obama. Romney was calm and controlled throughout, even when he gave Obama the "just a minute" treatment one of the many times he tried to interrupt Romney and bully the conversation. Romney wasn't having it, but he was respectful about how he shut him down.

Rather than go on about what I thought about the debate, look at the picture at right. I participated in a beta test of a Frank-Lunz-like rating system of the debate (disregard the misspelling of 'Republican' - like I said, it's a beta test) that The Daily has been using for these debates. Since The Daily is a Newscorp publication, I expect a certain conservative bias, but the results were surprising to me, and I hope are indicative of the direction the election is heading. This image is a snapshot taken while Romney was giving his closing statement.  It shows MASSIVE agreement that Romney was resonating with ALL voters - Republicans, Democrats and Others.  I have about 40 snaps I took during the debate.  On almost all issues, the Democrats were at most split when either candidate was talking. They loved Romney's response on China; they were lukewarm on Obama's. They loved Romney's response on Afgahnistan; they did not like Obama's.  And on it went.

MY impressions: Obama wants to hire teachers to fix every problem we have. When asked about gun control, he wants to hire teachers. When talking foreign policy, he pivots to hiring more teachers. Romney had a great line that hiring teachers is not going to dig us out of the mess in the Middle East. Obama went all 2008 on us and brought up the 1 trillion dollar deficit he inherited during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression (The Daily Focus group unilaterally hated that bit, by the way). For a guy who's slogan is 'forward', he sure does a lot of looking back. (He also chastened Romney for wanting the foreign policy of the '80s, but then invoked JFK when talking about his handling of Egypt. Romney had a great parry for all of that - he said that he, too, wanted to move forward - because we can't afford to go back to the policies of the last four years.  In the end, that is all Obama offered; what he's done, how things SHOULD be (not how they are) and promises to continue down that path.

The other theme Obama hit several times was that 'we're doing all we can' - on Iran, on Syria, on Egypt, on Libya, on the seemed every time Romney challenged him he replied with "we're doing all we can." All I can say is that if where we are is the result of Obama doing all he can, we need someone who can do more, as this ain't getting the job done.

So with all due deference to James Carville and the whole gang at the Ministry Of Truth (aka MSNBC), I think Obama's performance in this debate is VERY MUCH in question, and the election is even more so. With 15 days left, 70% of some states using mail-in balloting, and early voting starting in earnest this week, Romney picked a great time to look Presidential. Now, get out and VOTE!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Big F'ing Deal, Joe

Oh, there you go again Joe. Biden came out in last night's debate doing exactly what I thought he would do. No, I didn't expect the creepy Cheshire grin, but I expected him to be angry, over the top, rude and combative, and boy, did he deliver.  The strategy on Ryan's side seemed to be to step back and let Biden make an ass of himself. One of my rules in debate is if my opponent is going to make himself look foolish, step out of the way and let them do it. I just hope it worked in this case; I would have liked to have seen Ryan be a little more forceful. It would also be good to have someone actually moderate a debate and not participate in it or allow one person to interrupt the other one some 82 times in 90 minutes.

Overall, I was disappointed by the debate. Biden got away with too much antagonism and has re-energized the Democrat base. He also got away with lying his ass off while accusing Ryan of doing the same. Right from the outset when he said "not a single thing he just said is true" he was on shaky ground, as is anyone who speaks in absolutes as an absolute is easily disprovable - but then again, someone has to go back and disprove it and the MSM will not do that.  His lies are cataloged here, here and I'm sure elsewhere as well, but I'll wager you won't see them on NBC (though you probably will see a thorough breakdown of everything Ryan said).  Paul Ryan made the comment last night that the Obama campaign has adopted a strategy of "attack, blame and defame" and that is the truth.  The Obama/Biden/DNC strategy is "a lie makes it halfway around the world before the truth catches up." They also know that the lie gets printed on page one, the correction on page 30.  On TV the correction never gets aired unless it's become so well known that the network has to mention it to given themselves a semblance of credibility.

I would have liked Ryan to say something to this effect last night: "Joe, you can keep interrupting me and throwing out numbers and statistics all you want, but it won't change the fact that you've failed as a leader, your policies have failed, and Americans are smart enough to see through your smokescreen of noise and funny faces."  Beyond his grimaces, that's all Biden did - he was able to denigrate Ryan for not providing specifics on the Romney plan to cut taxes, while avoiding providing any specifics himself by dumping a truckload of numbers on the public, and the 'moderator' let him get away with it. Despite all the talking Biden did, all the throwing out of numbers, all the bluster, he did not provide anything that amounted to a policy or a plan to accelerate the recovery.  No one in the media is going to call him on it, either, and Ryan missed his chance.

For the debate next week, Romney needs to shut Obama down. We've seen the DNC blueprint last night. Obama is going to be more animated and he'll be on the attack. But he's not good at extemporaneous speaking. I would like Romney to focus on the Obama failures and lies, and when confronted with a new lie to call it out and refute it on the spot. He has the ability to do so without looking like a deranged mental patient like Biden.

In the end, I think people who watched the debate saw Biden either laughing at Americans being killed in Libya, or mocking his opponent - these are the only two options available, and neither of which is a good thing for a sitting vice president to be doing. On that alone, I think Biden lost this debate, but it wasn't because Ryan performed overwhelmingly better than Biden.  Still, while the Democrat base is energized by last night, everyone else, notably women and independents, were turned off by Biden's antics, and that is a big f'ing deal.