Sunday, September 09, 2012

We need a third set of debates

Next month, we're going to have two presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate, and by the end--remember how many debates there were during the Republican primaries--most Americans will be debated out.  Still, I suggest that we need one more set.

I refer, you will have guessed, to debates between Mitt Romney.

The latest example of why:   Having talked for months about how he would repeal Obamacare on hi first day in office, Romney now says that he'd keep the good parts of the ACA.  

As you can see if you check out the link, even the MSM is beginning to comment on Mitt's serial self-contradictions.  Interesting to see how the President treats the issue during the debates that are scheduled.

You heard it here first

We predicted that Rob Portman would win his debates with Mitt Romney.  Apparently, we were right.  

Friday, September 07, 2012

The tell

I've always felt that, as the Kitty Kallen song has it, little things mean a lot.  In his speech last night, Joe Biden referred to the President at least twice as "Barack."  Not "President Obama," or "Barack Obama," just Barack.  He didn't do so with any self-consciousness, nor was he showing off.  He was just talking about his boss,  his colleague and his friend.

The casual use of the President's first name tells us something.  Not that the Vice-President lacks the proper respect.  Admiration and awe, rather than mere respect, were apparent though out Biden's speech.  But more than that, we could see that the two have a partnership, that the Vice-President is the President's top aide.  Where many vice-presidents have been shunted aside, this one is right there, offering advice on a wide range of issues.  I think that's a good thing.  Indeed, a very good thing, and not just if the unthinkable happens and Joe Biden succeeds to the presidency in the next four years.   

And it's clear that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan do not--could not--have that kind of partnership.  Would they ever develop something like that, if given the chance?  We can't know.  (And if I have my way, we'll never get the chance to find out.)

You can see Joe Biden's speech here, if you missed it, and it's well worth watching.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Better off?

In a post this morning, we addressed the issue of whether the nation is better off than it was four years ago.  Some interesting light is shined on that question by a Bureau of Labor Statistics study that concludes--surprisingly in my view--that
From January 2009 through December 2011, 6.1 million workers were displaced from jobs they had held for at least 3 years, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This was down from 6.9 million for the survey period covering January 2007 to December 2009. In January 2012, 56 percent of workers displaced from 2009-11 were reemployed, up by 7 percentage points from the prior survey in January 2010.  
In particular, I was surprised that markedly fewer workers lost long-term jobs in 2009 through 2011 than had done so from 2007 to the end of 2009.  And that a significantly higher percentage of those who lost one job found another, which seems to contradict, to some extent, the .

Now, the BLS also concludes that more than half of those who were re-employed (itself only 56 percent of the people who lost jobs) were earning less than they had been in their previous employment.   That's certainly not good news.    But, all in all, some progress.

Four years

Are you better off than you were four years ago?  That's the question Republicans are asking.  

In response to an article on Yahoo, I posted the following comment:

Are we better off than we were four years ago? You bet! Four years ago, George W. Bush was still in the White House. Four years ago, there was a chance that John McCain would be our next President--and that Sarah Palin would be a heartbeat (an OLD heartbeat) away from the presidency. Four years ago, the workforce was hemorrhaging jobs. Four years ago, the financial industry was virtually devoid of regulation. Four years ago, it looked like the US auto industry was going bust. Four years ago, insurance companies could impose lifetime limits on health benefits. Four years ago, older Americans were paying thousands of dollars for their prescriptions. Four years ago, families could not keep children up to the age on 26 on their health insurance. Four years ago there were tens of thousands of American troops in Iraq, and tens of thousands more in Afghanistan than there are today. In all these ways, we are all better off than we were four years ago.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Bill Clinton's advice

According to Ryan Lizza, writing in The New Yorker, last fall Bill Clinton advised the President that his campaign should characterize Mitt Romney as a right-wing ideologue rather than concentrate on his flip-flopping.  And it seems that the campaign has taken that advice.

I'm not sure that the two are exclusive.  In the debates, I'd like to see the President go after Romney on his multiple positions.  With his mastery of detail, I'd love to watch as Mr. Obama says, "But Governor, in 2002 you said that you would support a woman's right to choose."   "Governor, in 1996, you said that we had to assure equal rights for gays and lesbians."  "In 2008, you said that you didn't think that hunting down one man--you meant Osama bin Laden--was all that important."  "In 2008, Governor, you wrote an op-ed piece in The New York Times that was titled, 'Let Detroit go bankrupt.'"   "Governor, given all of your changes of position--some of them several times on the same issue--how can the American people trust what you are saying now?"

The conventional wisdom is that the President should take the high road, that he should let his aides and surrogates (and the Vice-President) attack the other candidate.  That's exactly why Mr. Obama should look for chances to expose Mitt Romney in the debates for what he is:  a thoroughly unprincipled man, consumed by the quest to be elected President, but with no principles to guide him should that happen.  For one thing, that approach would be unexpected and likely to through Romney off balance.  For another, it would give voters the clearest opportunity to see the difference between the two men's characters.   And, Democrats could still brand Romney as an apostle of the right by suggesting that his (many) other positions are simply cover.

Yes, such an approach would be less focused than Clinton's advice, but above all, Americans need to feel that they can trust their President.

Just thinking...

Is there any significant issue on which Mitt Romney has not changed his position since he entered politics?

Debate Prep

Mitt Romney is taking most of this week off from public campaign events, while he prepares for the Presidential debates.  Sen. Rob Portman (R.OH) is playing President Obama.  

I predict that Portman will win.