Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Second Debate Play-by-Play

photo found here
My son Political Sphere phoned right after the debate last night, before I’d heard much media response, “because that’s my job,” he said. So I got his take first, as I did following the VP debate. He made a good point I thought I’d use to structure this post today, which I’m pretty sure is different from takes you’ll read elsewhere.

PS said (paraphrased by me, since I don’t record phone conversations), “Obama is to Romney what anti-Mormon preachers are to Mormonism. They claim some wild beliefs, and when you say, ‘No, I don’t believe that,’ they in-your-face say, ‘Yes you do; you believe what I say you do.’”
That is a good way to explain what I saw in the debate (also in the first presidential debate). Obama tells the audience what Romney’s plan is; Romney tells clearly what his plan really is; Obama reiterates what he says Romney’s plan is. Then, afterward, the media claims this was a different Romney than they’d seen before, even though he has been surprisingly consistent to anyone actually paying attention.
From Facebook page
If you really want to know what Mormons believe, go ask a Mormon. Online, is a wealth of information. There’s an amazing amount of detail as well in the Newsroom, particularly under Topics and Background. Mormons send out more than 50,000 missionaries worldwide to tell anyone who will listen what Mormons believe. Sunday meetings are always open to visitors. Why would you go to someone who is not only not Mormon, but someone who has a stake in denigrating Mormonism to give you an accurate account of Mormon beliefs?
Likewise, there’s an official Romney campaign site out there. He’s had his full 57-point plan out there since early in the primary season. He has summarized that into the more succinct but less detailed 5-point plan since well before the debate season. His speech transcripts and videos are all over the internet. Now there are the debates, recorded and transcribed.
Yet Obama, who has a stake in denigrating Romney, wants you to believe Romney’s plan is what he tells you it is and uses his debate time to that end. I guess if you have a really bad record you need to deflect attention from, this approach might make sense.
Here are a few examples.
The first audience question is about what can be done for college graduates facing the prospect of no jobs. Romney answers first, with two points: we need to work on getting costs down for college [which I and others are predicting will be the next economic bubble to pop], and we need to get the economy working so there are jobs.
Obama then answers, out of touch with the questioner’s fears, “And what I want to do, is build on the five million jobs that we've created over the last 30 months in the private sector alone.” And then, with not much of a segue, attacks Romney’s position on the auto industry bailout four years ago: “Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt.”
Romney of course clarified that:
And one thing that the president said, which I want to make sure that we understand, he said that I said we should take Detroit bankrupt. And that's right. My plan was to have the company go through bankruptcy like 7-Eleven did and Macy's and Continental Airlines and come out stronger.
And I know he keeps saying, you want to take Detroit bankrupt. Well, the president took Detroit bankrupt. You took General Motors bankrupt. You took Chrysler bankrupt. So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did.
And I think it's important to know that that was a process that was necessary to get those companies back on their feet, so they could start hiring more people. That was precisely what I recommended and ultimately what happened.
Obama came back with: “What Governor Romney said just isn't true. He wanted to take them into bankruptcy without providing them any way to stay open. And we would have lost a million jobs.” Who do you want to believe: someone who has a long record of bringing troubled businesses and organizations through a process of recovery, or someone with an abysmal record over the last four years and not much else in his life to show economic knowledge?
Then Obama goes on with the attempt to caricature Romney:
Governor Romney doesn't have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules. That's been his philosophy in the private sector, that's been his philosophy as governor, that's been his philosophy as a presidential candidate.
Except that we keep hearing Romney enumerate his five-point plan, and plutocracy has never been part of it. With the moderator’s aid, Obama didn’t have to suffer a full Romney rebuttal at this point. Romney, over the chaos of being talked over, was able to say, “That Detroit answer, and the rest of the answer—way off the mark.”
The next question is energy related:
QUESTION: Your energy secretary, Steven Chu, has now been on record three times stating it's not policy of his department to help lower gas prices. Do you agree with Secretary Chu that this is not the job of the Energy Department?
Obama answers first, not actually answering the question, except by implication saying it is government’s duty to control energy. He claims credit for increased oil production, coal production and coal employment, and natural gas, and insists that investing in “green” energy is the answer to energy and employment. All of this is provably false.
Then he tells us what Romney’s plan for energy is: “Now, Governor Romney will say he's got an all-of-the-above plan, but basically his plan is to let the oil companies write the energy policies.”
This may have worked in stump speeches, where the president gets cheers for offering up sneers and derision toward his opponent. But this is in person with the real Romney there. And he knows the facts:
·         Oil production is up, but none of it on public lands.
o   Oil production on public lands down by 14%
o   Natural gas production on public lands down 9%
o   Permits for drilling cut in half
·         Increases have come from private lands, much from the Bakken Range in North Dakota.
o   The administration has brought lawsuits against drillers there based on reports of the deaths of a few birds.
·         The EPA has made building a coal plant virtually impossible, because of regulations.
·         The administration blocked the building of the pipeline from Canada.
·         The Romney plan is: “I'll get America and North America energy independent. I'll do it by more drilling, more permits and licenses.”
The moderator tries to direct the rebuttal toward answering the question about the cost of a gallon of gasoline. Obama doesn’t actually answer that; he just doubles down on lying (and we must know the fact checkers will follow up, so this is only going to sway someone not paying attention—probably someone not watching).
After this comes one of the most spark-producing moments of the debate. Romney takes on the lies, spells out the facts, again. And Obama essentially says, “Nuh uh.” I’m including the entire chunk of this exchange, because, even without seeing Obama clench his fist, turn his back, and walk away, Romney is in such control of the argument:
ROMNEY: And production on private -- on government land --
OBAMA: Production is up.
ROMNEY: -- is down.
OBAMA: No, it isn't.
ROMNEY: Production on government land of oil is down 14 percent.
OBAMA: Governor --
ROMNEY: And production on gas --
OBAMA: It's just not true.
ROMNEY: It's absolutely true. Look, there's no question but the people recognize that we have not produced more (inaudible) on federal lands and in federal waters. And coal, coal production is not up; coal jobs are not up.
I was just at a coal facility, where some 1,200 people lost their jobs. The right course for America is to have a true all-of-the-above policy. I don't think anyone really believes that you're a person who's going to be pushing for oil and gas and coal. You'll get your chance in a moment. I'm still speaking.
OBAMA: Well --
ROMNEY: And the answer is I don't believe people think that's the case --
OBAMA: -- (inaudible).
ROMNEY: That wasn't the question.
ROMNEY: That was a statement. I don't think the American people believe that. I will fight for oil, coal and natural gas. And the proof, the proof of whether a strategy is working or not is what the price is that you're paying at the pump. If you're paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then, the strategy is working. But you're paying more. When the president took office, the price of gasoline here in Nassau County was about $1.86 a gallon. Now, it's $4.00 a gallon. The price of electricity is up.
If the president's energy policies are working, you're going to see the cost of energy come down. I will fight to create more energy in this country, to get America energy secure. And part of that is bringing in a pipeline of oil from Canada, taking advantage of the oil and coal we have here, drilling offshore in Alaska, drilling offshore in Virginia where the people want it. Those things will get us the energy we need.
Obama then insists that low prices were a symptom of an economy on the verge of collapse. That would only be true if they were suddenly and singularly low, only at that point during Bush’s eight years. Since that’s not true, there’s some other cost. Some based on worldwide oil prices, but a significant amount from the inability of the dollar to buy as much as it used to—because of printing money to deal with debt.
Back to Obama’s effort to define Romney. On the next question, related to taxes, he says,
Now, Governor Romney has a different philosophy. He was on 60 Minutes just two weeks ago and he was asked: Is it fair for somebody like you, making $20 million a year, to pay a lower tax rate than a nurse or a bus driver, somebody making $50,000 year? And he said, "Yes, I think that's fair." Not only that, he said, "I think that's what grows the economy."
Romney responds with the classic backward-step-pivot-forward move, and it’s one of the most devastating, unanswerable blows of the night:
You heard what I said about my tax plan. The top 5 percent will continue to pay 60 percent, as they do today. I'm not looking to cut taxes for wealthy people. I am looking to cut taxes for middle-income people.
And why do I want to bring rates down, and at the same time lower exemptions and deductions, particularly for people at the high end? Because if you bring rates down, it makes it easier for small business to keep more of their capital and hire people.
And for me, this is about jobs. I want to get America's economy going again. Fifty-four percent of America's workers work in businesses that are taxed as individuals. So when you bring those rates down, those small businesses are able to keep more money and hire more people.
For me, I look at what's happened in the last four years and say this has been a disappointment. We can do better than this. We don't have to settle for, how many months, 43 months with unemployment above 8 percent, 23 million Americans struggling to find a good job right now.
There are 3.5 million more women living in poverty today than when the president took office.
We don't have to live like this. We can get this economy going again. My five-point plan does it. Energy independence for North America in five years. Opening up more trade, particularly in Latin America. Cracking down on China when they cheat. Getting us to a balanced budget. Fixing our training programs for our workers. And finally, championing small business.
I want to make small businesses grow and thrive. I know how to make that happen. I spent my life in the private sector. I know why jobs come and why they go. And they're going now because of the policies of this administration.
We’re already long on this post, having included so much of the transcript. We haven’t covered women’s issues, or Libya (worth a post by itself); those will have to come up another day. And I want to mention how amused I am that the president thinks the answer to the gun question is hiring more teachers. But I want to end with the final question.
QUESTION: Hi, Governor. I think this is a tough question. To each of you. What do you believe is the biggest misperception that the American people have about you as a man and a candidate? Using specific examples, can you take this opportunity to debunk that misperception and set us straight?
This is indeed an opportunity for Romney, who has been so distorted by the Obama campaign. He is able to portray himself as caring, understanding the plight of the regular Americans. I like this part of the answer:
I understand that I can get this country on track again. We don't have to settle for what we're going through. We don't have to settle for gasoline at four bucks. We don't have to settle for unemployment at a chronically high level. We don't have to settle for 47 million people on food stamps. We don't have to settle for 50 percent of kids coming out of college not able to get work. We don't have to settle for 23 million people struggling to find a good job.
If I become president, I'll get America working again.
Obama doesn’t answer the question of what about him has been a misperception. He couldn’t very well say, “I guess the biggest misperception is that I’m a great orator.” So he took a last swipe at Romney, adding to the very problem the questioner has pointed out and asked them to rectify.
I believe Governor Romney is a good man. Loves his family, cares about his faith. But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about.
The liberal side had insisted the president use the “47%” thing this debate, knowing it was the strongest attack they had. But Romney had already pointed out that he wants to help all 100% of Americans, and has the capacity to act on that promise. The issue is a non-issue for anyone who actually listened to the secret recording. Romney was talking to donors at a campaign event. They wanted to know how their money was being spent. He said that the campaign’s message of lower taxes wasn’t resonating with the 47% who pay no taxes, so they weren’t going to keep pressing that message on them. Hardly scandalous or shocking.
This is at a point in the debate where there will be no rebuttal allowed. It’s like a playground taunter going “neener neener neener” before running off to safety.
So, once again, the debate has done what we needed it to: reveal who each candidate really is, so we have a clear choice.



No comments:

Post a Comment