Theater of the Absurd

It’s been a minute since I wrote up my thoughts on the presidential campaign. I thought I’d post about it now to let you know that this? This nonsense that’s been going on? This is why I think it’s important to pay attention to the primaries.

The primaries are where the real substance of the campaigns happen, regardless of which party is holding them. After the primaries, when the field is narrowed to one candidate from each side, that’s when all the meaningless, stupid, petty, shallow, dumb-ass mudslinging starts. And that’s the only thing most people see. No wonder they hate presidential elections.

I suppose one could argue that it’s a flaw in the system, that the real substance of the debates should continue when everyone is forced to pay attention. But by then, really, the candidates are just trying to get the majority of Americans to know their names and a few catch phrases that are easy to remember in a voting booth. Sure, it’s insulting, but it’s also effective because they’re appealing to the lowest common denominator who don’t really care about the substance as much as they say they do. If they did, they would have paid attention to the primaries.

Or at least read my blog about them. (Check out the Political Snark category for more stuff with which you can enthusiastically agree or disdainfully disagree. Or, if you stumbled drunkenly into this post, there are other categories you might hate less.)

Yet and still, it seems that this time around, the candidates have really missed the mark on each other.

What Pres. Obama is doing wrong
President Obama’s camp keeps doubling down about Romney’s taxes and his wealth while never striking at the heart of the matter. Nobody cares that Mitt Romney is rich. Good for him. What people care about is whether Mitt Romney has any idea what it’s like not to be rich. And he seems to have demonstrated several times that, in fact, he does not. The president doesn’t have to replay Romney’s gaffes; he only has to make it clear to voters that Romney doesn’t know what it is to be middle-class or poor, so how could they trust him to make sure they don’t suffer under his economic policies, should he ever care to share them? That’s what the Obama campaign should be pushing. Instead they’re wandering around in these woods of “did he pay taxes?” and Sen. Harry Reid is going off half-cocked on the floor. It’s silly.

The president needs to stop blaming Pres. Bush for everything. He was right to do it from 2007 until maybe 2010 or so. After that, it’s time to own it. The people who were upset with Pres. Bush and his policies, who blame him for the situation Pres. Obama inherited, still remember that. The president need not remind them of that. The president needs to start appearing to take responsibility and carry a mantle.

They need to get Vice-President Biden to stop saying stupid stuff. You can’t tell voters in Southern Virginia that Mitt Romney would put them “back in chains.” Full stop.

They need to talk more about what they’ve done right. Fine, a lot of people hated part of the women’s care provision in the Affordable Care Act. (I didn’t happen to love that part, either.) But there is a lot in the Affordable Care Act (that’s its actual name) that is good, and not just the coverage for adult children or the end of exclusion for pre-existing conditions. Beat those drums. Beat the drum of national security. Beat the drum of education improvement. Beat the drum of a better image around the world. They’re getting all of that wrong.

What they’re getting right is beating the drum of 28 consecutive months of economic growth. But they aren’t really following through. They need to drive home the factual question mark about what happens if the country changes horses now. The factual question mark, not the emotional one. Emotional appeals, while hugely popular in campaigns, are hollow and see-through to those who have been paying attention.

What Mitt Romney is doing wrong
Well, for starters, he’s making an ass out of himself all over the place. I don’t mean that disrespectfully. But he managed to piss off Israel and the Palestinians at the same time. It may have demonstrated the first time those two sides have agreed on anything, which is phenomenal, but it’s not good. He got off the plane in London and immediately said they weren’t ready for the Olympics, which was just stupid on a lot of levels – and also, turned out, incorrect. In Poland, his aide swore at a reporter and in the same breath called the place where they were standing a holy site. This was Romney on the world stage, and it wasn’t pretty.

It is still, all these months later, difficult to know what Mitt Romney stands for. Those who will vote for him seem more interested in voting against Pres. Obama, or in voting for the theoretical principles of the Republican Party, than in voting for Mitt Romney. While I get that, it’s not enough to sway those who feel something less than hatred at having Obama as president. Romney has been too vague. In comparison, Rick Santorum in the primaries made a lot of his ideas very clear: specifics on how to change corporate taxation to bring about more manufacturing, leading to a better business environment, more exports and more jobs, for example. Romney just says “we need more jobs.” He somehow manages to cross messages, shouting that government doesn’t create jobs, and then arguing that if he were president, he’d create more jobs. Wha…?

He doesn’t take a firm stand on anything, ever. Maybe that’s because he’s seen it burn President Obama (see: unemployment). But, for example, when he talks about energy, he says in the same sentence that we’re using too much oil and we should drill for more here. Those points seem contradictory. When a radio host called a college grad student a slut for advocating for birth control availability, Romney moused that “those weren’t the words” he would use. If you can’t take a hard line about whether it’s appropriate to call that woman a slut several times on national radio, what can you take a hard line about?

He still comes off as stiff at worst, forcing it at best. He seems insincere. He seems uncomfortable. He seems only to know that which he’s heard anecdotally about the world of the unwealthy. He’s still Thurston Howell the Third to everyone else’s NASCAR Nation. And if this makes him better for the job, he’s not demonstrating that. Yes, Mitt Romney can stump for years on how President Obama hasn’t delivered on promises about unemployment or the economy, and that’s true. He was a fool for having made those promises to begin with. But Mr. Romney has run on words that gloss over issues and make it sound like he’s articulating an idea. Romney has run his entire race on the theory that the election is just a referendum on President Obama, and he need not do anything else.

Until he realized he needed to do something else. That’s when he picked Paul Ryan to run as vice-president.

Ryan doesn’t help make up any undecided voters’ minds. So what’s the point? I think the GOP is worried that people will stay home on November 6th. Ryan will galvanize Tea Partiers who were lukewarm about Romney and maybe independents who didn’t think either candidate was firm enough on anything; he lends numbers and solid plans to a candidate who lacks both on the economy. And Ryan helps with states like Florida, which could mean more electoral votes for Romney. From now until the convention, the two men will not appear together. They’re dividing to conquer, which allows Ryan to go places where Romney alienates people. (The interesting thing about Ryan helping in Florida is that his budget plan calls for a $700 billion reduction in Medicare. Coincidentally, so does Obama’s.)

Make no mistake: the selection of Paul Ryan was a move to the far-right. The less flashy, more moderate picks would have been Rob Portman or Tim Pawlenty. But, like the campaign of 2008, the GOP needs energy. Like the campaign of 2008, they have disregarded the qualifier of whether the VP could actually be president and gone with the person who’d be sexier for the campaign. All that remains to be seen – besides endless attack ads – is who Americans can stomach the best.

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73 thoughts on “Theater of the Absurd

  1. You’re right….Romney doesn’t know what it’s like to be poor, but that has absolutely nothing to do with his ability to deal effectively as an advocate for the poor. I’m still undecided on whether he can, but it’s not because he’s rich. Can you name one President in even semi-recent memory who ran for office poor? We should be asking ourselves where programs for the poor rank in our hierarchy of priorities for the country, understanding that everything can’t be priority #1 and then determine if Romney’s priorities fall somewhere close and whether he has the management skills to successfully deliver a successful program.

    • That is true; it is a matter of priority and a matter of understanding. (Romney did say he “is not concerned about” the poor because he feels the safety net is strong enough – I think most advocates for the poor would disagree.) And absolutely, most of our presidents have had some degree of wealth (except maybe Truman – I don’t remember). I would venture, though, that Mr. Romney has more than most of those presidents. George W. Bush was one of the wealthiest in decades, worth about $20M in 2000; Romney made more than that last year. I personally think that most candidates who were raised without money have demonstrated more empathy and wisdom of governance for the economically disdavantaged.

      • I think you’re falling into the class warfare trap Obama has so cleverly planted in this country’s subconscious. Been around for a while and the two Presidents most sensitive to the needs of the disadvantaged were Kennedy and Roosevelt, both incredibly wealthy. Wealth, or lack thereof, has ZERO to do with a leader’s ability to do what’s right for the country or for any particular segment of the country….including the poor.

      • It’s funny you say that! In the original reply I’d written (that got eaten by WordPress) I made exactly that point: That FDR was very wealthy and very empathetic toward the poor. As for the “class warfare” thing: I’ve always found that GOP shout to be interesting. Apparently it’s only “class warfare” if the rich are being skewered. If the poor are being kept down, it’s no great sin. What a hypocritical position, eh? But obviously the point about wealth and its affect on how one views the needs of others is not the only point I make in the post; I stand by my opinion but I don’t feel I need to sway yours. Thanks!

  2. Picking Ryan will probably also galvanize the voters to the left of Obama who also planned to sit out the election because they were unhappy with him, so the Ryan-energizing-the-Tea-Party move will probably be a draw. In the end the election will be decided by those people who wait until they get to the front of a very long line before looking at the ballot, then have to call someone to help them choose.

    • Hi there! You are, of course, correct about what the Ryan choice will do for “other” voters who lean away from his brand of Republicanism. Thanks for making that point. And yes, this is a nation of relatively unaware voters. That’s why I spent so much time watching and blogging about the primaries. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. That sounds about right to me. Great analysis.

    I have to wonder whether Romney will actually follow through on the Paul Ryan thing, though. His only option now is taking his stance as far right as possible, but he also wants to say whatever it takes to get him elected. I’m guessing he’ll keep contradicting his own statements (and Ryan’s) up until the last day of the race.

    • Thanks! I think, like a lot of races, the person on the top of the ballot always runs as, to be quite obvious, the person on top of the ballot. It gives him the luxury of embracing what he wants and rejecting (or modifying) what he doesn’t. What Ryan does do, though, ensures more likelihood of Congressional Tea Partiers being cooperative. That should be interesting. Interesting how? I don’t know.

  4. Good points. More than anything else, Ryan seems to be getting the adults back in the room for serious debate. I believe Obama, on the other hand, is in more of a divide and conquer mode: appeal to the gays, the women, the Latinos, the blacks, and hopefully it will add up to a win. After eight years of Bush and almost four years of Obama, I want someone to bring us all together as a nation, not break us down into voting blocks.

    • Hi, and thanks for commenting! I just had a whole reply worked out and WordPress ate it. Grr. You’re right, though – the president campaigned the first time on ideas. This time it’s much more cynical, and he’s looking for votes. I think everyone does that, but perhaps because he was so smooth in 2008, it feels rougher now. Or perhaps because nothing in his presidency has gone smoothly, he’s been roughened.

      Ironically, Romney was the most moderate candidate in the primary race, which was why I thought he would be the most electabIle. But he never garnered more than 25% of any poll, until things came down to three or four candidates. I thought it showed that people didn’t want the more extreme rhetoric… but they also didn’t particularly like him. So, though he was the only candidate who could be less caustic to those who didn’t agree with him… he’s still not strong enough on his own. Interesting. Thanks for your point!

  5. Nice post. I am an Obama supporter myself but even I cringe when the seemingly endless stream of commercials come on. I hope I live to see the day when the two major political parties of this great country of ours can engage each other in a way that doesn’t alienate so many of the electorate. On my own blog I am decidely pro- Obama but try to stay on the issues and not take the cheap shot at those who think differently from me politically. Keep up the good work I will be following your blog and reposting some of your stuff from time to time if you don’t mind.

    • Hi John! Sigh… it would be so nice if we got back to that, wouldn’t it? Or have we ever really been there? Maybe elections are only “easy” when people don’t feel like there’s so much at stake – though I can’t remember the last time that was. Maybe 1988. But then G.H.W. Bush only lasted one term. I’m happy to have you as a follower and hope you don’t mind how much of my blog is non-political. Do check out the Political Snark category if you enjoy it. And I don’t mind reblogging so long as proper credit is given. Thanks so much!

  6. Excuse me for being so blunt, but this is just so much mushy, centrist political cowardice. All you’ve done is mixed up talking points from both sides with some stories you saw on the Daily Show. There’s no original thought here, no analysis of any description, and certainly no facts. Congratulations.

    • You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, Andrew. I wasn’t trying to break any ground here. I think both sides are doing something wrong. Isn’t that refreshing, considering so many people are so aggressively, vitriolically and often blindly aligned with one side or the other? Thanks for reading!

    • To the contrary: I though it was nicely balanced and did a great job encapsulating the frustrations voters have when choosing from two candidates who aren’t really nailing it.

      • Thank you. Maybe I should have spelled out more clearly that this post was about methods of campaigning more than anything else. That might have cleared up expectations a litte – but you know my writing, Pithy, so you know how I usually roll!

  7. Good article! I just wanted to say the $716 billion from Medicare is actually reductions in planned increases in payments to hospitals and doctors over a ten year period. It’s not a $716 billion cut to the program all at once – and is predicted to extend the life of the program. Since Ryan’s plan is identical, I wish the Romney campaign would stop portraying Obama’s plan as a death blow to Medicare and find a real issue.

    • Thank you! And yes – I didn’t want to get into breaking down the details of what the Medicare “cut” would be, but thank you for pointing it out. And I agree – it’s a silly arrow to sling when both plans do the same thing.

  8. The one thing I think we, as voters, need to do, is stop complaining that we are tired of people who are just all words and charisma (cults of personality) and then complain about the person who is not good with words, but full of positive actions and has no cult of personality because he’s just not charming the public enough. It’s like we’re completely scitzo.

  9. President Obama has been very successful in transforming this country into a socialist state. Mitt Romney no matter how stiff will lead the country back to the Constitution and a rule of law. So far O has trampled the Constitution, trashed the rule of law, and bowed to foreign leaders. Oh yes, he has done more than all before him to destroy the economy too.
    Thanks for your insightful post.

    • It’s certainly a fair point to say that stiffness does not determine one’s ability to govern. I meant to demonstrate that it may determine one’s electability. Without testifying as to who has violated what, I think, down through history, there are many examples of presidents and congresses that have, arguably, violated the rule of law and the Constitution. The Patriot Act does so. Ours is a very delicate Constitution; one’s perspective determines how inviolate it can be. I so welcome your readership and your comments; I only must ask that you please demonstrate respect for the Office of the President, should you not care for the president himself, by referring to him by his office and name. Thanks so much.

      • Thanks for correcting me for referring to the president as O. This is the first president of thirteen that I have lived under that I have no respect for. Maybe it is my age, but President Obama has made me lose respect for the office. Using O when I refer to him is a symbol of what I believe he has brought to the office, i.e. zero.

  10. well thought out. I think the biggest probelm with our representation as a whole is that they are not us. Government is a cesse pool of silver spoons who have no idea what the crushing weight of nothing feels like. End game I think an asymptotic tax code would solve much of the disparity and give the rich something to worry about besides pilfering what comparatively miniscule resources are left to squabble about. They might actually have to focus on working to maintain their wealth rather than having so many options for watching it explode – perhaps then some empathy would exist.

    • I’m torn about that, to be honest. I’ve worked with some legislators (on a state level, and no, I’m not in politics professionally) who really weren’t self-interested, who wanted to do the right thing, and who were pretty middle-class. But I do agree that we have to find some way to encourage empathy – on every level, for and from every person! Thanks!

  11. I think you need to add a section that says “What American’s are doing wrong”. I can think of three very solid things.

    1. People complain, and don’t vote. Or worse, they simply do not care who is running our country.
    -HELLO! We are so lucky to have the ability to choose who runs our nation, and we just toss away our importance and let other people decide. If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain. and if you don’t care, you have no right to be here.

    2. People vote for their party.
    -Sure, if the candidate in your party is the best choice, vote for them. But don’t vote for a person simply because you think you’re supposed to. that is a waste of a vote! Vote for the BEST person, who will bring the best solutions.

    3. Ask “What will I gain from this candidate” instead of “How will America improve”.
    -The president isn’t supposed to cure your unhappy life. Taxes have existed forever, for a reason. A government needs money. Quit being selfish and trying to keep all your money to yourself, saying things like “I don’t want to work for my money to go to my neighbor”. Work because youre lucky enough to have a job, and know that your contributions are helping your community, your state, and your country. Look at the big picture. You might benefit in a few years, but if youre wearing horse blinders, thinking how you benefit right away, you’re being selfish.

  12. “Ryan will galvanize Tea Partiers who were lukewarm about Romney and maybe independents who didn’t think either candidate was firm enough on anything”

    Great, well-balanced post. 🙂

    Living in Australia (and someone who is unashamedly free-trader) I much prefer Rob Portman– he would have been a more predictable candidate for people like me.

    Mr Ryan’s selection is bold (Please read my take http://onetenthblog.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/things-that-are-caesars/ ) He should inspire the base, perhaps cower the opposition and a clear-cut alternative to another Catholic running mate, Mr Biden.

    People are predicting November will be so close that the outcome could go down to the wire– I think it’ll be a landslide to whoever wins the House!

    • I’m not sure it will be a landslide, but in my consideration, it depends on how good the turnout is. I think Ryan helps with GOP turnout. But as another commenter pointed out, he may also help with Democratic turnout. I said in another post a little while back (about Super Tuesday) that this election season has the potential to re-define the Republican party. I still think that’s true. If Messrs. Romney and Ryan win, it will be a big step toward doing so. Thanks for reading and commenting – I’ll check out your post!

      • Ryan might redefine the Republican party, but I think it’s more likely he’ll split it. I know many conservatives who are fine with his austere (for the lower and middle classes, anyway) fiscal policies, but are afraid of his extreme-right social policies, particularly on issues like birth control. It seems likely to me that Ryan is going to drive away as many libertarian-leaning Republicans as he attracts extreme social conservative Republicans.

        Really, what I’m hoping is that the Ron Paul people will crash the party at the GOP convention. If nothing else, it will make it the first interesting party convention in a long time.

      • I think he’ll do both. The question is: will those who are unhappy with Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan vote for Pres. Obama, hold their noses and vote for Romney/Ryan anyway, or stay home? Ron Paul is a Libertarian – I think there are plenty of Libertarians who might give Mr. Romney a hard time this November, but I don’t think Congressman Paul is the answer to the GOP’s problems.

      • “Thanks for reading and commenting – I’ll check out your post!”

        No prob, and will do often. I’m a contrarian so I think it’ll be a landslide– though not committing to which party 🙂 We’ll see….

  13. Without getting wordy, which I tend to do on my own blog, I agree with everything you wrote. I might add, with regard to Romney’s taxes and his insistence that it’s a non issue, he may or may not be right. But, that said, so were the birthers who constantly pressed the issue of the president’s birth certificate for over four years. So now that the other side is pressing for Romney’s tax returns, he’s screaming foul. Meanwhile, no one is paying attention to what either candidate will do for America. It’s kind of like “National Enquirer” politics. Me….personally, who writes nothing but humor, it’s great. But for the voter making a choice based on facts and leadership, apparently that doesn’t exist. Just sayin’

    • Completely agree with your points. I don’t personally care much about Romney’s tax records. This nonsense about him “only” paying 14%… well, that’s the tax rate for cap gains income, and that’s where his income comes from. Perfectly allowed. I truly don’t care that he’s rich. I just don’t think he gets how hard it is for people who aren’t. The birther argument was patently ridiculous and based on racism of two kinds: anti-African-American and anti-Muslim. Shameful.

  14. I would rather have a succesfull business manager at the helm of this country right now. Getting this country back on sound financial footing will be like tending a garden. Which requires weeding out dead plants and cutting off diseased branches. It will be painful for a while but it is needed for a healthy .harvest so that no one will go hungry. Yes, some people make obscene amounts of money and spend it foolishly while others do without. Will taking from them and dividing it up amongst the rest of us make our lives better? I don’t think so. If that were the case those people living under socialist governments should be happy and content. Is that the case? Not from what I have seen.

    • I can understand your point. I can’t say whether a successful business manager can fix the economy or not; I think businesses are micro-economies compared to the “ultimate” macro-economy of the American federal government and the global economy. There are far more uncontrollable variations and there are real humanistic concerns with which to be involved when one runs a country as compared to a company. But I do agree that there has to be a certain degree of painfulness. My concern is that Americans always want instant gratification; we have no patience for slow and steady improvement, which I think is what we’ve seen over the last three years. It’s not easy, but anything that is going to bring about immediate sharp improvement is only a fallacy – another “bubble” that will burst. And I really don’t want the economic problems of the country to be fixed by more struggle for the lower economic classes. As for socialism: Medicare is socialist. Social Security is socialist. But those who yell loudest that President Obama is a socialist are the same people who yell “keep the government away from my Medicare.” Doubly ironic. (And I think both need to be revamped. Enough of this “third rail” stuff.)

  15. This is about as centrist as one can be. Kudos for that. But it might be a touch much low-info. The most interesting thing I’ve read during this cycle is a letter to the NYT. I paraphrase: I’m concerned about voting for POTUS because he may not get done what he wants to do. And I’m concerned about voting for Romney because he may get done what he wants to do. Speaks to down ticket concerns, doesn’t it?

    There are three types of presidential campaigns: Challenger, Incumbent, and Successor.

    What I find interesting about the Romney campaign is he appears to be running as a “successor” when he should be running as a “challenger.” Like a restoration as opposed to an insurgency. Doing so makes him seem even more entitled than his personal bio suggest. And removes the “join me in this movement” moments that a challenge conjures.

    A good write but getting a bit more in tactical political weeds might be fun. Happy General Election Cycle 2012.

    Regards,
    Doug

    • Hi, Doug, and welcome! Thanks so much for reading. If you’d like more of my analytical/info side, please peruse the “Political Snark” category of my blog. Note: most of it deals with the GOP primary, as that was my purpose. There’s not much about Pres. Obama in there since I wasn’t focusing on him. To your point about down tickets, yes, absolutely. I agree with you, and frankly I think that’s a good articulation of the problem much of the country has. I think it also points to something else, though it’s possible not everyone realizes it: Congress. Arguably, those who are concerned that Pres. Obama may not be able to get done what he wants to do, and the reason that Mr. Romney (with Mr. Ryan) may in fact be able to do what they want to do, is Congress.

  16. Many of have very strong opinions about politics, it can sometimes be a hot topic for debate. I’ve noticed that it is less than “between two evils, ” no politician is perfect. I really enjoyed your blog – keep up the good work. I will make sure to visit your page more often. Please visit http://www.mynutritioninsight.com for information and disease prevention and healthy food and drink recipes.

    • Thank you Peg-O! You know how there are days and days when the FP front page doesn’t change? Yeah, this wasn’t one of them. 🙂 But I’m not complaining! Still getting a lot of page views and comments. Thought it was never going to happen – and definitely didn’t think it would be for a political post!

  17. Nice level-headed view of the Presidential Race. If only people in the news could say these things without being accused of partisan attacks (even though you criticized both parties). And, only skimming the other comments, I see you were attacked for not being partisan enough. Look forward to future posts both political and not.

    • One of the things I find true in all areas of life is that people see what they want to see. I think it’s true in political races, and it’s true in comments on political posts. 🙂 I don’t mind. Some people bring expectations without realizing I had no intention of meeting them. Thank you for reading, and for your comment! Very happy to have you here!

  18. I love politics, and dislike most politicians.
    Politics is good for my income, as I enjoy doing Political Cartoons (see my blog).
    The more they mess up, the more I can draw.

  19. I think you have encapsulated the reasons I’ll be voting for Romney – because he isn’t Obama. Obama has been a do nothing President who played the “blame Bush” card way too long and has done nothing but cynically exploit liberal tick points (especially the same sex marriage issue) instead of creating any positives to replace the failures of the Bush years. Romney may be no better, but 4 more years of Obama is 4 more years of fine talk and no deeds

    • Thanks for validating my theory. I wonder if it bothers you that you believe you may be voting for a candidate who “may be no better.” Are you discouraged by this race? Was there someone else you would rather have seen at the top of the GOP ticket?

      • See, that’s the liberal defense to everything – don’t like Obama – you’re a racist. Hoe dare you! I don’t like him because he is an incompetent who is good at making speeches and bad at actually doing anything.

  20. Wow … you were Freshly Pressed and I missed it. Long overdue. As to your post, it’s good to see you back on politics because even when I don’t agree, I enjoy reading what you think. I have not liked Obama almost from day one … and I think you’ve read enough of me to know it has nothing to do with race. What worries me is that he’s never been anything but a politician. He’s never held a middle class job for any substantive length of time and never managed a business. I didn’t vote for him because I found his lack of experience appalling. And … what he is most is member of the Political Class. Given the choice of being governed by a rich guy who has trouble remembering what it’s like to be middle or a politician who says he does to get elected, I vote as I usually do, for the lesser of two evils. Did you see this editorial in the Wall Street Journal, by the way? Nation That Believes Nothing I almost broke my “no politics” policy and posted about it on Older Eyes. Not only is it a good editorial from a more conservative viewpoint, I bring it up because yours is just as good. Congrats again.

  21. Yes, I certainly know you are not a racist, and I don’t think that everyone who prefers a different president is racist. How we define never holding a middle-class job is tricky. Mr. Obama worked from 1983 – 2004 as a community organizer (a term that’s been vilified, but I found his work admirable), a civil rights lawyer and a professor of constitutional law. Arguably, those jobs were not high-paying; most of his money came from his books. Anyway, it’s clear that he had a passion from a very young age for working toward goals one might deem political. I don’t find much fault in that because he did a lot of work for the underserved in the meantime. But he hasn’t worked within the capitalist framework of supply and demand, and though he managed a lot as a community organizer, that point is fair.
    .
    I just can’t resist making this point to you, though: Mr. Romney has proven for years that he will change his mind on pretty much any issue to suit the political wind. If Ms. Noonan wants to parse that in which Americans believe, she can’t ignore that.

    I find Peggy Noonan to be very interesting. I’ve listened to a lot of her observations on Sunday morning talk shows. In the link you provided, she makes a compelling case but, to my way of reading it, misses a huge point: it’s not really that Americans believe in nothing. It’s that their politicians don’t stand for much. Americans don’t have much choice right now.: buy into polarizing fear mongering (on either side), creating super-division, or wander in the desert, frustrated. It reminds me of an exchange from “The American President:” LEWIS: “Mr. President, The American people want leadership! And in the absence of geniuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.”
    PRESIDENT SHEPARD: “Lewis, we have had presidents who were beloved who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty. They drink the sand because they don’t know the difference.”

    Now, do I think there’s a clear difference between the two candidates? Yes, I do, and particularly now that Mr. Romney has chosen Rep. Ryan as his VP. Do I know which would be better on the economy? Honestly? No. National and global economies are way bigger than anything any professional has ever managed, with much farther-reaching implications.

    The mistake politicians make is trying to get the country to think it’s easy to fix problems. It’s not. Which makes Americans worry that the politicians don’t get it.

    Apparently I could write another post about this. 🙂

  22. Pingback: In Which I Have (Almost) No Real New Things To Say | thesinglecell

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