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Author Topic: Why Obama lost the debate (Doug Henwood)  (Read 812 times)
Tetro Kornbluth
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« on: October 06, 2012, 08:04:52 pm »
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This thread is really about me using the opportunity to post a Doug Henwood article (well, summary of something he did for radio) on this forum, as I didn't watch (and didn't really care) about the debate. But I think he sums up everything quite nicely.

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This is a lightly edited version of my radio commentary from today’s show.

First, I should say that while I am not a Democrat, and never had much hope invested in 2008’s candidate of hope, I do think we’d be marginally better off if Obama won. One reason we’d be better off is that when a Democrat is in power, it’s easier to see that the problems with our politics—the dominance of money and state violence—are systemic issues, and not a matter of individuals or parties. That’s not to say there are no differences between the two major parties. The Republicans are a gang of terrifying reactionaries, which flatters the gaggle of wobbly centrists that make up the other party. But the Dems have some serious foundational problems that help explain what is almost universally regarded as Obama’s dismal performance in the first debate.

First, Obama’s personality. In an earlier life, I spent a lot of time studying the psychoanalytic literature on narcissism. It was all part of a study of canonical American poetry, where I thought that the imperial grandiosity of the American imaginary could be illuminated by examining its underlying narcissism. But all that is by way of saying I’m not using this term recklessly. I think there’s a lot of the narcissist about Obama. There’s something chilly and empty about him. Unlike Bill Clinton, he doesn’t revel in human company. It makes him uncomfortable. He wants the rich and powerful to love him, but doesn’t care about the masses (unless they’re a remote but adoring crowd). Many people seem to bore him. It shows.

And the charms of the narcissist wear badly over time. All the marvelous things his fans projected on him in 2008 have faded. He’s no longer the man of their fantasies. And that shows too.

Which is not unrelated to a more political problem. Unlike Franklin Roosevelt, who famously said that he welcomed the hatred of the rich, Obama wants to flatter them. He made the mistake of calling them “fatcats” once, so his former fans on Wall Street turned on him. That has something to do with why he didn’t mention the 47% thing, or tar Romney as the candidate of the 0.1%. That would be divisive and offend the people whose admiration he craves. FDR came out of the aristocracy, and had the confidence to step on the fancy toes of the rich now and then. Obama came out of nowhere, was groomed for success by elite institutions throughout his impressive rise, and no doubt wants some of those nice shoes for himself.

More broadly, the political problem of the Democrats is that they’re a party of capital that has to pretend for electoral reasons sometimes that it’s not. All the complaints that liberals have about them—their weakness, tendency to compromise, the constantly lamented lack of a spine—emerge from this central contradiction. The Republicans have a coherent philosophy and use it to fire up a rabid base. The Dems are afraid of their base because it might cause them trouble with their funders.

What do liberals stand for these days? Damned if I know. It’s not a philosophy you can express in aphorisms. (Yeah, politics are complex, and slogans are simple, but if you’ve got a passionately held set of beliefs you can manage that contradiction.) Too many qualifications and contradictions. They can’t just say less war and more equality, because they like some wars and want to bore you with just war theory to explain the morality of drone attacks, and worry about optimal tax rates and incentives. Join an empty philosophy to an empty personality and you get a very flat and meandering performance in debate.

Romney believes in money. Obama believes in nothing.

Most liberals want to write off Obama’s bad performance as a bad night. It’s not just that. It’s a structural problem.

http://lbo-news.com/
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Keith R Laws ‏@Keith_Laws  Feb 4
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« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2012, 08:51:07 pm »
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In the context of American politics, I generally fall into the cynical end of the spectrum. But even then, I think he's being excessively cynical here. There is some deal of truth in what he says, but that's significantly exaggerated.

For starters, there are plenty of democrats (and I think Obama is among them) who genuinely want to make things better, put an end to plutocracy and put forward a different philosophy than the consensus. It is just that they too often are afraid to speak honestly, because they think the country is fundamentally right-wing and that the only way to win is to pander to the centre-right. It is a major strategic mistake, of course, but that doesn't mean these people don't believe in what they say.
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« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2012, 11:58:37 pm »
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While he makes good points, it's much simpler:

1) Romney did his homework; Obama did not.

2) Obama and his campaign have spent months building up an image of Romney that is simply a figment of their imaginations. Romney destroyed the myth that he is a monster with the type of precision and rhetorical flair that one would expect from a Reagan or a Clinton, not the Mitt Romney that Democrats have been shouting about for months. The bottom-line effect is three-fold: Independents have lost their trust in Obama, rank-and-file Democrats are increasingly losing faith in Obama, and Republicans are fired up like never before. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out what is going to happen if this keeps up for four more weeks...

Who wants four more years of the last four years? Not many people, which is why Obama and Co. looked at their political calculus a year ago and determined that their only chance of winning re-election would be by convincing a majority that Romney is a monster, a risky gambit. They appeared close to closing the deal prior to the debate. They were THIS close, and I barely got any sleep in September because of it (the same holds true for everybody involved with the Romney campaign). However, Obama and Co. failed to close the deal, failed to convince a majority that Romney is a monster, which is why they will lose in November.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2012, 12:50:03 am by Politico »Logged

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« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2012, 12:09:48 am »
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While he makes good points, it's much simpler:

1) Romney did his homework; Obama did not.

2) Obama and his campaign have spent months building up an image of Romney that is simply a figment of their imaginations. Romney destroyed the myth that he is a monster with the type of precision and rhetorical flair that one would expect from a Reagan or a Clinton, not the Mitt Romney that Democrats have been shouting about for months. The bottom-line effect is three-fold: Independents have lost their trust in Obama, rank-and-file Democrats are increasingly losing faith in Obama, and Republicans are fired up like never before.

Who wants four more years of the last four years? Not many people, which is why Obama and Co. looked at their political calculus a year ago and determined that their only chance of winning re-election would be by convincing a majority that Romney is a monster, a risky gambit. They appeared close to closing the deal prior to the debate. They were THIS close, and I barely got any sleep in September because of it (the same holds true for everybody involved with the Romney campaign). However, Obama and Co. failed to close the deal, failed to convince a majority that Romney is a monster, which is why they will lose in November.
You are forgetting that Romney has flip flopped on being a monster, see his performance in GOP primaries. Obama needs to change the narrative about Romney flip flopping and or evolving, and the election will be +5 to +7 for Democrats again.
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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2012, 12:49:01 am »
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While he makes good points, it's much simpler:

1) Romney did his homework; Obama did not.

2) Obama and his campaign have spent months building up an image of Romney that is simply a figment of their imaginations. Romney destroyed the myth that he is a monster with the type of precision and rhetorical flair that one would expect from a Reagan or a Clinton, not the Mitt Romney that Democrats have been shouting about for months. The bottom-line effect is three-fold: Independents have lost their trust in Obama, rank-and-file Democrats are increasingly losing faith in Obama, and Republicans are fired up like never before.

Who wants four more years of the last four years? Not many people, which is why Obama and Co. looked at their political calculus a year ago and determined that their only chance of winning re-election would be by convincing a majority that Romney is a monster, a risky gambit. They appeared close to closing the deal prior to the debate. They were THIS close, and I barely got any sleep in September because of it (the same holds true for everybody involved with the Romney campaign). However, Obama and Co. failed to close the deal, failed to convince a majority that Romney is a monster, which is why they will lose in November.
You are forgetting that Romney has flip flopped on being a monster, see his performance in GOP primaries. Obama needs to change the narrative about Romney flip flopping and or evolving, and the election will be +5 to +7 for Democrats again.

Go ask George H.W. Bush how that worked out for him when he tried doing it to Bill Clinton in the wake of the 1992 debates...

The Obama camp now has ZERO credibility with Independents (these folks are now muting all Obama ads or changing the channel, and certainly not answering doors/phones), and a lot of lost faith among many, many Democrats (trust me, a lot of Democrats who voted in 2008 are going to sit this one out). Furthermore, Team Obama has obviously failed to depress turnout among Republicans, and there is absolutely nothing that can be done in the next month to tame the hearts on fire among the Republican faithful (If you thought they were fired up in 2004/2010, you ain't seen nothing yet!).

In a word, Obama is finished if Romney and Co. march forward for just four more weeks. Unfortunately for Obama, Romney is not going to fall into a "prevent defense."The next four weeks have been planned out in ways you cannot even begin to imagine. It would make anybody's head spin. It was risky basically throwing away September like they did, but there was a method to the madness. You take on calculated high risks to achieve high returns. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not, but it worked BIG TIME this time. All I can say is that God must be on our side because even I was beginning to doubt it would work prior to the debate. Now Romney and his team are going to keep pushing forward relentlessly until all of the polls on the west coast close on Election Day.

« Last Edit: October 07, 2012, 01:16:20 am by Politico »Logged

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« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2012, 01:10:34 am »
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You are forgetting that Romney has flip flopped on being a monster, see his performance in GOP primaries. Obama needs to change the narrative about Romney flip flopping and or evolving, and the election will be +5 to +7 for Democrats again.

Any remotely informed voter knows the process and realizes that a primary is not equivalent and therefore treats the rhetoric coming from a primary contest differently than say what was heard at the debates. And furthermore a serious shift in narrative from Obama might further erode faith in his reelection campaign. How many narrative changes must you hope for before you realize it's the entirety of the narrative that is wrong?

Team Obama has obviously failed to depress turnout among Republicans, and there is absolutely nothing that can be done in the next month to tame the hearts on fire among the Republican faithful (If you thought they were fired up in 2010, you ain't seen nothing yet!).

In a word, Obama is finished if Romney and Co. march forward for just four more weeks.

These lines nailed it. With Obama flailing in the wind it won't take much, especially given his collapse with independents.
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« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2012, 01:30:10 am »
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Gully, this commentary is pish.  Oh boy let's cherry pick some pop psychology and project my displeasure with the Democrats through it. The very same arguments he makes about voting base and donor base can equally and even more so be said about the GOP. i.e. theocrats v. corporate interests.
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« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2012, 02:22:59 am »
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No teleprompter.
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« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2012, 02:35:05 am »
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No teleprompter.

This is the best way of explaining it in two words.

Obama can certainly read the teleprompter like nobody else, with the exception of Bill Clinton, but America is burning while Obama fiddles around with his teleprompter. If only the rest of his administration, not to mention his ideology, were as good as his speechwriters...
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« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2012, 06:30:34 am »
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Gully, this commentary is pish.  Oh boy let's cherry pick some pop psychology and project my displeasure with the Democrats through it. The very same arguments he makes about voting base and donor base can equally and even more so be said about the GOP. i.e. theocrats v. corporate interests.

While I agree with you on the psychoanalytical stuff (he really needs to lay off that sometimes),  I do think there is something important here to remember in these two paragraphs (and while I think you could apply that the GOP, I don't think it is anything to the same extent):

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More broadly, the political problem of the Democrats is that they’re a party of capital that has to pretend for electoral reasons sometimes that it’s not. All the complaints that liberals have about them—their weakness, tendency to compromise, the constantly lamented lack of a spine—emerge from this central contradiction. The Republicans have a coherent philosophy and use it to fire up a rabid base. The Dems are afraid of their base because it might cause them trouble with their funders.

What do liberals stand for these days? Damned if I know. It’s not a philosophy you can express in aphorisms. (Yeah, politics are complex, and slogans are simple, but if you’ve got a passionately held set of beliefs you can manage that contradiction.) Too many qualifications and contradictions. They can’t just say less war and more equality, because they like some wars and want to bore you with just war theory to explain the morality of drone attacks, and worry about optimal tax rates and incentives. Join an empty philosophy to an empty personality and you get a very flat and meandering performance in debate.

Nothing new of course. But well stated.

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« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2012, 07:28:57 am »
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The psychobabble is a little dispiriting. Still, the bit about the Democrats being a party of capital who sort-of have to pretend not to be is basically true, and yes that issue probably does explain some of the problems with communication that party figures sometimes have. Not sure if it really explains Obama's battery powered corpse act though.
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« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2012, 07:59:25 am »
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While I agree with you on the psychoanalytical stuff (he really needs to lay off that sometimes),  I do think there is something important here to remember in these two paragraphs (and while I think you could apply that the GOP, I don't think it is anything to the same extent):

More broadly, the political problem of the Democrats is that they’re a party of capital that has to pretend for electoral reasons sometimes that it’s not. All the complaints that liberals have about them—their weakness, tendency to compromise, the constantly lamented lack of a spine—emerge from this central contradiction...

Nothing new of course. But well stated.

The problem with this narrative is it's too liberal-centered. 47% of the country is GOP. When I talk to these people, they're convinced that the Democrats are 'socialists' who want to 'redistribute the wealth' and that's 'un-American'. So it appears that America is not so different from most of the world after all: the party of the left simply cannot win. With those that they would want to think A, think B; whereas with those who would want to think B, think A.

Myself, am a good example. I'm a liberal, and think a big part of the Democrats' problem is that they're too captured by the interests of capital, but alas, I can't say most voters agree with me.
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« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2012, 09:11:49 am »
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The psychobabble is a little dispiriting. Still, the bit about the Democrats being a party of capital who sort-of have to pretend not to be is basically true, and yes that issue probably does explain some of the problems with communication that party figures sometimes have. Not sure if it really explains Obama's battery powered corpse act though.

One of the most annoying things that I found about the psychobabble is that it doesn't even seem to come from a good place. He is basically saying Obama is some noveau riche, Jay Gatsby figure who desperately wants to be accepted by the old money types.  Who knows, maybe this is what helped his Yale cohorts boost their self esteem back in the day. 'They want to be us'.  It implies further that the  people who really can make a difference to 'fight the power' come from this class, in this case FDR.  Similar, unmerited, themes are used for civil rights too; i.e., that it took a Southern racist like Johnson to get passed etc. etc.

I agree with his analysis about the party. And I think you can find plenty of cases of massive contradictions and hypocrisy. Alas, this is the fundamental flaw of our cherished two party system.
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« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2012, 11:11:33 am »
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I don't think the Republicans have a more  coherent philosophy than the Democrats. Just a simpler one, with no sense of shame, embarrassment, or qualifications.

But yes, the Democrats have a lot of internal contradictions that are easily perceived as weakness by not just the Republicans, but also, the many "swing" voters who vote based on the strength of the economy, the charisma/gravitas of the Presidential candidates, and the perceived "toughness" of the Commander-In-Chief.

Bottom line is: the American political process is based on wealth, power, confidence (manufactured, more often than not), and the corporate sponsorship and ownership of the media that promotes democracy-by-sound-byte. In this context, the better your party is at generating simple, memorable sound-bites on a regular basis, the more of an advantage your party has throughout the election season.

Politics is a business in the US; that much is clear. The Republicans figured that out quite some time ago. The Democrats haven't fully gotten the message yet.



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« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2012, 01:05:59 pm »
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I know that I'm in the minority on this, but I disagree with the widely-held premise that has developed post-debate that President Obama "lost" the debate. I know that this narrative has so taken hold that 40 years from now, it will probably be written about in history books as "Obama's horrible debate performance", but I have to interject here and say that I, for one, did not perceive the debate this way at all. I'm someone who is not "plugged in" to social media or the 24-7 cable news nonsense. I don't use social media. I don't even watch television. So that's where I'm coming from on this.

I watched the debate online, without any pre-debate or post-debate analysis from the talking heads who shape our opinions on these things. I watched the debate and thought that neither candidate won. I didn't think that it was a good or bad debate for either candidate, for the most part. To me, both candidates were fairly respectful of one another and the debate was largely uneventful. President Obama said the same things that he has been saying for the past four years. He didn't change his message. Mitt Romney promised a bunch of things that he will not deliver on, and is good at delivering canned, rehearsed lines in a way that appears to not be rehearsed (I don't consider that to be a good thing, by the way, I'm essentially saying that he's good at manipulating people).

I watched the debate without any influence from the talking heads, without seeing the candidates on high-definition TV, and came away thinking that neither candidate won. I honestly thought that, just based on appearances, that Mitt Romney looked kind of sickly and tired. While watching the debate, I thought that the media angle in the post-debate analysis would be about how sickly and tired Mitt Romney looked. Then I go online the next morning to check some news sites, and the whole thing is about how horrible President Obama did in the debate. It's just bizarre to me. I think it has to do with the media feedback loop and how the candidates looked on high-definition TV screens.

People are really very stupid when you get down to it. We are very influenced by appearances and superficialities, plus we follow the herd mentality. I saw a photo of the debate scene and noticed that Romney appeared to be slightly taller than Obama (this wasn't really apparent while watching online, but it might have been more apparent on TV). Romney projected "confidence" to the viewing audience by being slightly taller than Obama and by "looking at Obama more often than Obama looked at him" (I got that from a news "analysis" where it was remarked about how much Obama "looked down" during the debate, as if this is a valid reason to choose a candidate).

By superficially appearing to be more "confident" (kind of like a "confidence man" or "con man"?), Romney activated that part in the viewing audience's primitive brains that desires to be led by the "alpha male". Up until this point, Romney, in spite of his massive wealth and (somewhat) handsome appearance, had not been able to establish his "alpha status". I suspect that this came across much stronger on high-definition TVs than it did on grainy internet feeds like the one that I used to watch the debate.

But the bottom line is that based on what the candidates said, and not how they APPEARED, President Obama reaffirmed what he has been saying all along and did not change his message, and for that, I respect his position and his consistency. Romney, on the other hand, promised a bunch of things that he will not follow through on, and said things that are not logical or believable, like saying that he will cut the deficit without raising taxes and without cutting Medicare, but how? By cutting PBS. Yeah, right.
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« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2012, 01:52:53 pm »
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IMO Obama looked tired and all of his responses seemed canned and rehearsed rather than spontaneous.  Rather than responding directly to Lehrers questions, he regurgitated a laundry list of his accomplishments or Romneys previous policy shortcomings.  I say "previous", because everything seemed to change at this debate for Romney.  He definitely moved more to the center, magically now supporting the bulk of Dodd-Frank, Obama-Care and other legislation that he previously wanted to eliminate.  Rather than debunking the untruths that Romney said immediately, Obama kept coming back to the 5 trillion and giving the rich tax breaks etc..  He should have focused on Romney being a flip-flopper and debunked the untruths.  He should havegone into mre detail on the "math" of Romneys tax reform that doesn't make sense.  For instance, ask:  "how do the revenues stay flat in your tax plan if the rich pay the same, the middle-class pay the same and the small and large business pay less taxes?  Who makes up the difference?"

I think Obama, because of his rehearsed canned responses and preconceived ideas about Romneys stance on the issues, was taken by surprise by Romneys move to the center.  He was not expecting this and could not think on his feet, for whatever reason.  He may have just had a bad nights rest the night before, or maybe he is just not capable of thinking on his feet, or maybe he was a bit intimidated, who knows?  Seems to me that he did a pretty good job in debates of the last election.  Maybe the energy levels are just too low after being beaten-up for 4 years....

Having worked in large corporate America for 30 years, I can tell you that the CEO personality is what Romney has.  He can appear to be a nice guy, but leaves dead bodies in his path.  Its lonely at the top for a reason.  Romney claims to be a problem solver, but at the same time wants to delegate everything, including the vision and ideas.  At least Obama has his own crisp vision and sticks to it.  Unlike Romney, Obama is a true problem solver.  It think he may have a little engineer blood in him.  Engineers often have trouble thinking on their feet.  They need think time.  This is why they often resort to email rather than talking on the phone.  Maybe this is why Obama speeches are so good.  Lots of think time.

Okay, lets get back to the untruths that Romney said.  I got this from another forum so I cannot take credit.  I am new, so I cannot post the link, but here is some of the content from Democracyforums.com:

1. An ‘Unelected Board’ Controlling Your Health Care

Despite President Obama trying to push back on this lie, Romney made this claim a few times last night. Obamacare, according to Romney, “puts in place an unelected board that's going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have.” In reality, as the Associated Press points out, the board that is tasked with bringing down Medicare costs is prohibited from “rationing care, shifting costs to retirees, restricting benefits or raising the Medicare eligibility age. So the board doesn't have the power to dictate to doctors what treatments they can prescribe.” This Romney claim also hearkened back to Sarah Palin’s lie that Obamacare created “death panels,” which was a straight up lie.

2. A Bipartisan Record

Romney referred to his alleged “bipartisan” record in Massachusetts as governor during the debate. But what’s the real story on this? ABC News calls the claim “not quite factual.” Indeed: Romney’s health care plan was enacted with the help of a Democratic legislature. But in general, the body was “frustrated” with Romney “because he wanted to govern like a ‘CEO’ and ‘didn’t pay heed to the legislature and they resented that,’” according to the Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation’s Michael Widmer.

3. Dodd-Frank Labels Banks as ‘Too Big to Fail’

One contrast between the candidates that emerged during the debate was over Dodd-Frank, the weak Wall Street reforms and regulations passed after the 2008 financial collapse. Romney wants to repeal Dodd-Frank, and part of the reason why is his claim that the bill designates banks as “too big to fail” and therefore gives them “a blank check.” But as ThinkProgress notes, this is far from the truth: “the law merely says that the biggest, systemically risky banks need to abide by more stringent regulations. If those banks fail, they will be unwound by a new process in the Dodd-Frank law that protects taxpayers from having to pony up for a bailout.”

4. Obamacare Leads to Loss of Healthcare

Governor Romney claimed that the passage of the Affordable Care Act will lead to 20 million people losing health insurance. He based this claim on a Congressional Budget Office report. But according to PolitiFact, Romney “cherry picked” the CBO report and mislead viewers on why people would “lose” coverage.

PolitiFact’s final verdict on the claim is: “That number is cherry-picked, and he’s wrong to describe it as only including people who ‘like’ their coverage, since many of those 20 million will be leaving employer coverage voluntarily for better options. Romney also ignores that under the status quo, many more people today ‘lose’ coverage than even the highest, cherry-picked CBO estimate. We rate his statement False.”

5. The Failure of the Obama Economy

Romney hammered Obama on the economy’s performance over the past four years. One claim Romney made was this: “[We have] 23 million people out of work...The proof of that is that 50 percent of college graduates this year can't find work.”

But here’s the AP breakdown of the facts on this claim: “The number of unemployed is 12.5 million, not 23 million. Romney was also counting 8 million people who are working part time but would like a full-time job and 2.6 million who have stopped looking for work, either because they are discouraged or because they are going back to school or for other reasons.”

And on the college graduate claim, Romney was also wrong. Back to the AP: “A Northeastern University analysis for The Associated Press found that a quarter of graduates were probably unemployed and another quarter were underemployed, which means working in jobs that didn't make full use of their skills or experience.”

6. Obamacare Cuts Billions From Medicare

This was one of Romney’s favorite attack lines last night: the notion that the Affordable Care Act is siphoning off funds from Medicare. The specific claim is that $716 billion was cut from Medicare because of the Affordable Care Act. In reality, this claim is highly misleading. What the number refers to is money that is saved “primarily through reducing over-payments to insurance companies under Medicare Advantage, not payments to beneficiaries. Paul Ryan’s budget plan keeps those same cuts, but directs them toward tax cuts for the rich and deficit reduction,” ThinkProgress notes.

7. Gas Prices Increase

Romney said that “gasoline prices have doubled under the president. Electric rates are up.” This is true--but to blame it on the president is highly misleading. Gasoline prices have little to do with individual policies carried out by a president. Instead, as the Associated Press states, “Gasoline prices are set on financial exchanges around the world and are based on a host of factors, most importantly the price of crude oil used to make gasoline, the amount of finished gasoline ready to be shipped and the capacity of refiners to make enough to meet market demand.”

The AP also skewers Romney’s claim on electric rates going up: “Retail electricity prices have risen since Obama took office — barely. They've grown by an average of less than 1 percent per year, less than the rate of inflation and slower than the historical growth in electricity prices. The unexpectedly modest rise in electricity prices is because of the plummeting cost of natural gas, which is used to generate electricity.”
8. Health Care Costs Rising Under Obama

Romney’s made this statement on the campaign trail--and if it was wrong then, it’s wrong now. Last night, Romney claimed that “health care costs have gone up by $2500 a family.”

But FactCheck.org was on this false claim back when Romney used it on the campaign trail in September. Their take: “Romney says health insurance premiums have gone up $2,500 under Obama. The actual increase has been $1,700, most of which was absorbed by employers and only a small part of which is attributable to the health care law.”

9. Oil and Gas Production Increases Only on Private Land

The former Massachusetts governor said last night that “all of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land...Your Administration has cut the numbers of permit and licenses in half.”

But ABC News says Romney is playing loose with the facts. Data from the Bureau of Land Management shows that “the number of drilling permits on federal lands approved during the fiscal years President Obama has been in office has decreased somewhere between 20 and 37 percent compared to the years before he became president - not the 50 percent Romney claimed.”

10. No Tax Cuts for the Rich

To fend off the perception that he’s only concerned about the wealthy, Romney made sure to emphasize that his economic plan would not lower tax rates on rich people.

Think Progress has the details on that claim: “If Romney were to actually implement his plan to reduce tax rates by 20 percent while eliminating tax deductions in order to pay for it, taxpayers with more than $200,000 would certainly see a tax cut. But everyone else — 95 percent of Americans —will see their taxes increase.”

I am dissappointed in Obamas performance in the debate to say the least.  I had come-backs for most all of Romneys statements, but Obama missed all of them.....
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« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2012, 02:15:10 pm »
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This is garbage.  Nobody really thinks like this.   If you're reading into his performance like this, you're just proving yourself to be as susceptible to magic tricks as the most uneducated swing voter.  You probably also read too many bad old novels about the evil rich Lords of the state.

Obama lost because he spoke in longer sentences than one would like on national television. I doubt there was any psychotic disdain going on. I doubt under the pressure of formulating responses either candidate had time to think or feel anything.
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« Reply #17 on: October 07, 2012, 02:24:21 pm »
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So the OP article essentially boils down to: Obama lost because he is an a-hole. Cogent!

Its more likely a combination of:
- challengers always do well standing up to a president
- Romney was far better prepared and practiced
- Obama team strategy of prevent defense was not smart
- Obama team prepped to debate the "severe conservative" Romney and not the new moderate Romney (although they should have known Etchasketch was coming)
- Obama just not used to taking tough questions/challenges due to presidential bubble effect
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« Reply #18 on: October 07, 2012, 03:27:07 pm »
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I don't think the Republicans have a more  coherent philosophy than the Democrats. Just a simpler one, with no sense of shame, embarrassment, or qualifications.

But yes, the Democrats have a lot of internal contradictions that are easily perceived as weakness by not just the Republicans, but also, the many "swing" voters who vote based on the strength of the economy, the charisma/gravitas of the Presidential candidates, and the perceived "toughness" of the Commander-In-Chief.

Bottom line is: the American political process is based on wealth, power, confidence (manufactured, more often than not), and the corporate sponsorship and ownership of the media that promotes democracy-by-sound-byte. In this context, the better your party is at generating simple, memorable sound-bites on a regular basis, the more of an advantage your party has throughout the election season.

Politics is a business in the US; that much is clear. The Republicans figured that out quite some time ago. The Democrats haven't fully gotten the message yet.


This post is a text-book example of what often plagues the Democrats electorally.

The success of any campaign hinges on the grassroots. It's the grassroots that spreads and personifies the party's message; they are representative of the nature of the ideologies the omnipotent party leaders in Washington are asking voters to believe in. When your most articulate followers are out in their community saying things like "Liberalism is the superior ideology, most people just aren't smart enough to know it" and "Republicans win because voters are sound-bite craving automatons". - people will eventually grow bored of your superiority complex and cease to take you seriously.

Simply put: In politics, s**t rolls uphill.

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« Reply #19 on: October 07, 2012, 03:59:42 pm »
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The psychobabble is a little dispiriting. Still, the bit about the Democrats being a party of capital who sort-of have to pretend not to be is basically true, and yes that issue probably does explain some of the problems with communication that party figures sometimes have. Not sure if it really explains Obama's battery powered corpse act though.

One of the most annoying things that I found about the psychobabble is that it doesn't even seem to come from a good place. He is basically saying Obama is some noveau riche, Jay Gatsby figure who desperately wants to be accepted by the old money types.  Who knows, maybe this is what helped his Yale cohorts boost their self esteem back in the day. 'They want to be us'.  It implies further that the  people who really can make a difference to 'fight the power' come from this class, in this case FDR.  Similar, unmerited, themes are used for civil rights too; i.e., that it took a Southern racist like Johnson to get passed etc. etc.

I agree with his analysis about the party. And I think you can find plenty of cases of massive contradictions and hypocrisy. Alas, this is the fundamental flaw of our cherished two party system.

The first paragraph is fair enough (But I have to agree on the comment that Obama often seems bored around many people) though I can't agree that the contradictions and hypocrisy of contemporary American politics have as much to do with the two-party system as they have to do with money.

So the OP article essentially boils down to: Obama lost because he is an a-hole. Cogent!

Its more likely a combination of:
- challengers always do well standing up to a president
- Romney was far better prepared and practiced
- Obama team strategy of prevent defense was not smart
- Obama team prepped to debate the "severe conservative" Romney and not the new moderate Romney (although they should have known Etchasketch was coming)
- Obama just not used to taking tough questions/challenges due to presidential bubble effect

You need to improve your reading comprehension skills.

I don't think the Republicans have a more  coherent philosophy than the Democrats. Just a simpler one, with no sense of shame, embarrassment, or qualifications.

But yes, the Democrats have a lot of internal contradictions that are easily perceived as weakness by not just the Republicans, but also, the many "swing" voters who vote based on the strength of the economy, the charisma/gravitas of the Presidential candidates, and the perceived "toughness" of the Commander-In-Chief.

Bottom line is: the American political process is based on wealth, power, confidence (manufactured, more often than not), and the corporate sponsorship and ownership of the media that promotes democracy-by-sound-byte. In this context, the better your party is at generating simple, memorable sound-bites on a regular basis, the more of an advantage your party has throughout the election season.

Politics is a business in the US; that much is clear. The Republicans figured that out quite some time ago. The Democrats haven't fully gotten the message yet.


Nonsense. The whole point of the article is to say (and I agree with it) that the Democrats understand very, very well that US politics is a business but for political reasons they can't show that they do. One only has to think of the vast chasm between liberal rhetoric and Democratic performance once in government to see this (Education reform, anyone?)
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« Reply #20 on: October 07, 2012, 04:16:21 pm »
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This is garbage.  Nobody really thinks like this.   If you're reading into his performance like this, you're just proving yourself to be as susceptible to magic tricks as the most uneducated swing voter.  You probably also read too many bad old novels about the evil rich Lords of the state.

Obama lost because he spoke in longer sentences than one would like on national television. I doubt there was any psychotic disdain going on. I doubt under the pressure of formulating responses either candidate had time to think or feel anything.

If you are so cynical, why vote at all?
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« Reply #21 on: October 07, 2012, 04:34:33 pm »
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Obama lost because he spoke in longer sentences than one would like on national television.

When you chip away until you reach the foundation, Obama lost because even Cicerco could not defend this record, let alone convince most people they need, let alone want, four more years of it.

Could he have done a better job? Absolutely. But it's almost impossible to win four more years when your record stinks and your opponent is not considered a risky monster. Obama's team has known this for well over a year, which is why they have poured so many resources into trying to convince people that Romney is a risky monster. Unfortunately for them, Romney destroyed all of that hard work in the span of 90 minutes. And they probably cannot change it with merely four weeks to go, especially when you consider how fed up Independents are.
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« Reply #22 on: October 07, 2012, 04:35:42 pm »
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Obama lost because he spoke in longer sentences than one would like on national television.

When you chip away until you reach the foundation, Obama lost because even Cicerco could not defend this record, let alone convince people for four more years of it.

I hope you realize that Cicero would not stand a chance in a modern televised debate.
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« Reply #23 on: October 07, 2012, 04:38:49 pm »
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People are really very stupid when you get down to it. We are very influenced by appearances and superficialities, plus we follow the herd mentality. ....

By superficially appearing to be more "confident" (kind of like a "confidence man" or "con man"?), Romney activated that part in the viewing audience's primitive brains that desires to be led by the "alpha male". Up until this point, Romney, in spite of his massive wealth and (somewhat) handsome appearance, had not been able to establish his "alpha status". I suspect that this came across much stronger on high-definition TVs than it did on grainy internet feeds like the one that I used to watch the debate.

I agree.  Even though I'm an educated and informed voter, even I was impressed by the agressiveness of Romney.  This is like a boxing match and the TKO went to Romney.  It really does not matter what he said, it is how he said it.

The unfortunate thing is that the masses of the electorate, according to what I have witnessed in news interviews, make their decision based on whether they "like" the candidate or whether he looks "presidential", or whether they believe the candidate can get their job back for them.  They dont watch the news, at least unbiased news.  They dont give a rip about the rest of the country or the infrastructure decaying or whether we all perish under the weight of Global Warming.  They mostly think local and only care about their own situation.

This is why big government is important.  It holds the fabric of our society together and accomplishes things that no free market would ever consider, such as the cure for 90% of childhood Leukemia, or the best higher education system in the world.  No free market at work there.  If any Republicans out there have a child that is cured from childhood Leukemia, you can thank big government.

The last few studies of the happiest place on earth reveal that Denmark and Sweden are at the top, and not because of the freedom to do anything they want anytime.  It's because all of the stressors and concerns are removed by big government.  You dont have to worry about starving, crime or losing your job.  You can enjoy a beautiful, clean environment with safe food and water.  People behave.

Lets not forget about the pursuit of happiness in our quest for the American Dream.  It IS the dream after all.

But I digress...
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« Reply #24 on: October 07, 2012, 04:39:51 pm »
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IMO Obama looked tired and all of his responses seemed canned and rehearsed rather than spontaneous.  Rather than responding directly to Lehrers questions, he regurgitated a laundry list of his accomplishments or Romneys previous policy shortcomings.  I say "previous", because everything seemed to change at this debate for Romney.  He definitely moved more to the center, magically now supporting the bulk of Dodd-Frank, Obama-Care and other legislation that he previously wanted to eliminate.  Rather than debunking the untruths that Romney said immediately, Obama kept coming back to the 5 trillion and giving the rich tax breaks etc..  He should have focused on Romney being a flip-flopper and debunked the untruths.  He should havegone into mre detail on the "math" of Romneys tax reform that doesn't make sense.  For instance, ask:  "how do the revenues stay flat in your tax plan if the rich pay the same, the middle-class pay the same and the small and large business pay less taxes?  Who makes up the difference?"

I think Obama, because of his rehearsed canned responses and preconceived ideas about Romneys stance on the issues, was taken by surprise by Romneys move to the center.  He was not expecting this and could not think on his feet, for whatever reason.  He may have just had a bad nights rest the night before, or maybe he is just not capable of thinking on his feet, or maybe he was a bit intimidated, who knows?  Seems to me that he did a pretty good job in debates of the last election.  Maybe the energy levels are just too low after being beaten-up for 4 years....

Having worked in large corporate America for 30 years, I can tell you that the CEO personality is what Romney has.  He can appear to be a nice guy, but leaves dead bodies in his path.  Its lonely at the top for a reason.  Romney claims to be a problem solver, but at the same time wants to delegate everything, including the vision and ideas.  At least Obama has his own crisp vision and sticks to it.  Unlike Romney, Obama is a true problem solver.  It think he may have a little engineer blood in him.  Engineers often have trouble thinking on their feet.  They need think time.  This is why they often resort to email rather than talking on the phone.  Maybe this is why Obama speeches are so good.  Lots of think time.

Okay, lets get back to the untruths that Romney said.  I got this from another forum so I cannot take credit.  I am new, so I cannot post the link, but here is some of the content from Democracyforums.com:

1. An ‘Unelected Board’ Controlling Your Health Care

Despite President Obama trying to push back on this lie, Romney made this claim a few times last night. Obamacare, according to Romney, “puts in place an unelected board that's going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have.” In reality, as the Associated Press points out, the board that is tasked with bringing down Medicare costs is prohibited from “rationing care, shifting costs to retirees, restricting benefits or raising the Medicare eligibility age. So the board doesn't have the power to dictate to doctors what treatments they can prescribe.” This Romney claim also hearkened back to Sarah Palin’s lie that Obamacare created “death panels,” which was a straight up lie.

2. A Bipartisan Record

Romney referred to his alleged “bipartisan” record in Massachusetts as governor during the debate. But what’s the real story on this? ABC News calls the claim “not quite factual.” Indeed: Romney’s health care plan was enacted with the help of a Democratic legislature. But in general, the body was “frustrated” with Romney “because he wanted to govern like a ‘CEO’ and ‘didn’t pay heed to the legislature and they resented that,’” according to the Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation’s Michael Widmer.

3. Dodd-Frank Labels Banks as ‘Too Big to Fail’

One contrast between the candidates that emerged during the debate was over Dodd-Frank, the weak Wall Street reforms and regulations passed after the 2008 financial collapse. Romney wants to repeal Dodd-Frank, and part of the reason why is his claim that the bill designates banks as “too big to fail” and therefore gives them “a blank check.” But as ThinkProgress notes, this is far from the truth: “the law merely says that the biggest, systemically risky banks need to abide by more stringent regulations. If those banks fail, they will be unwound by a new process in the Dodd-Frank law that protects taxpayers from having to pony up for a bailout.”

4. Obamacare Leads to Loss of Healthcare

Governor Romney claimed that the passage of the Affordable Care Act will lead to 20 million people losing health insurance. He based this claim on a Congressional Budget Office report. But according to PolitiFact, Romney “cherry picked” the CBO report and mislead viewers on why people would “lose” coverage.

PolitiFact’s final verdict on the claim is: “That number is cherry-picked, and he’s wrong to describe it as only including people who ‘like’ their coverage, since many of those 20 million will be leaving employer coverage voluntarily for better options. Romney also ignores that under the status quo, many more people today ‘lose’ coverage than even the highest, cherry-picked CBO estimate. We rate his statement False.”

5. The Failure of the Obama Economy

Romney hammered Obama on the economy’s performance over the past four years. One claim Romney made was this: “[We have] 23 million people out of work...The proof of that is that 50 percent of college graduates this year can't find work.”

But here’s the AP breakdown of the facts on this claim: “The number of unemployed is 12.5 million, not 23 million. Romney was also counting 8 million people who are working part time but would like a full-time job and 2.6 million who have stopped looking for work, either because they are discouraged or because they are going back to school or for other reasons.”

And on the college graduate claim, Romney was also wrong. Back to the AP: “A Northeastern University analysis for The Associated Press found that a quarter of graduates were probably unemployed and another quarter were underemployed, which means working in jobs that didn't make full use of their skills or experience.”

6. Obamacare Cuts Billions From Medicare

This was one of Romney’s favorite attack lines last night: the notion that the Affordable Care Act is siphoning off funds from Medicare. The specific claim is that $716 billion was cut from Medicare because of the Affordable Care Act. In reality, this claim is highly misleading. What the number refers to is money that is saved “primarily through reducing over-payments to insurance companies under Medicare Advantage, not payments to beneficiaries. Paul Ryan’s budget plan keeps those same cuts, but directs them toward tax cuts for the rich and deficit reduction,” ThinkProgress notes.

7. Gas Prices Increase

Romney said that “gasoline prices have doubled under the president. Electric rates are up.” This is true--but to blame it on the president is highly misleading. Gasoline prices have little to do with individual policies carried out by a president. Instead, as the Associated Press states, “Gasoline prices are set on financial exchanges around the world and are based on a host of factors, most importantly the price of crude oil used to make gasoline, the amount of finished gasoline ready to be shipped and the capacity of refiners to make enough to meet market demand.”

The AP also skewers Romney’s claim on electric rates going up: “Retail electricity prices have risen since Obama took office — barely. They've grown by an average of less than 1 percent per year, less than the rate of inflation and slower than the historical growth in electricity prices. The unexpectedly modest rise in electricity prices is because of the plummeting cost of natural gas, which is used to generate electricity.”
8. Health Care Costs Rising Under Obama

Romney’s made this statement on the campaign trail--and if it was wrong then, it’s wrong now. Last night, Romney claimed that “health care costs have gone up by $2500 a family.”

But FactCheck.org was on this false claim back when Romney used it on the campaign trail in September. Their take: “Romney says health insurance premiums have gone up $2,500 under Obama. The actual increase has been $1,700, most of which was absorbed by employers and only a small part of which is attributable to the health care law.”

9. Oil and Gas Production Increases Only on Private Land

The former Massachusetts governor said last night that “all of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land...Your Administration has cut the numbers of permit and licenses in half.”

But ABC News says Romney is playing loose with the facts. Data from the Bureau of Land Management shows that “the number of drilling permits on federal lands approved during the fiscal years President Obama has been in office has decreased somewhere between 20 and 37 percent compared to the years before he became president - not the 50 percent Romney claimed.”

10. No Tax Cuts for the Rich

To fend off the perception that he’s only concerned about the wealthy, Romney made sure to emphasize that his economic plan would not lower tax rates on rich people.

Think Progress has the details on that claim: “If Romney were to actually implement his plan to reduce tax rates by 20 percent while eliminating tax deductions in order to pay for it, taxpayers with more than $200,000 would certainly see a tax cut. But everyone else — 95 percent of Americans —will see their taxes increase.”

I am dissappointed in Obamas performance in the debate to say the least.  I had come-backs for most all of Romneys statements, but Obama missed all of them.....

Obama is a great orator, especially when he has a teleprompter in front of him, but he simply cannot compete with facts/figures on the fly like Romney is capable of doing. This will not change because Obama is just not a numbers guy whereas Romney is.  Some people are naturals at math, and some people are not good at it no matter how hard they try. Obama has a lot of strengths, but numbers/math is his Achilles's heel.

I've known for well over a year that Romney's ability to deal convincingly with numerical figures would be the best way to make Obama look in over his head. I was also laughed at a few weeks ago for pointing out the stylistic importance of Romney's physical stature relative to Obama (anybody who has met the two in person can tell you that Romney exudes "alpha male" status to a much larger degree than Obama, and this matters because of the way our brains are hardwired as a result of millions of years of evolution).
« Last Edit: October 07, 2012, 04:51:58 pm by Politico »Logged

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