Archive for Saturday, October 13, 2012

Opinion: Obama’s Big Bird counterattack

October 13, 2012


— No mystery about the trajectory of this race. It was static for months as President Obama held a marginal lead. Then came the conventions. The Republicans squandered Tampa; the Democrats got a 3- to 4-point bounce out of Charlotte.

And kept it. Until the first debate. In 90 minutes, Mitt Romney wiped out the bump — and maybe more.

Democrats are shellshocked and left searching for excuses. Start with scapegoats: the hapless John Kerry, Obama’s sparring partner in the practice debates, for going too soft on the boss; then the debate moderator for not exerting enough control.

The Obama campaign’s plea that the commander in chief could find no shelter under Jim Lehrer’s desk did not exactly bolster Obama’s standing. Moreover, the moderator’s job is not to control the flow of argument, but to simply enforce an even time split.

Lehrer did. In fact, Obama took more time than Romney — 4 1/2 minutes more — while actually speaking 500 fewer words. Romney knew what he thought and said it. Obama kept looking around hoping for the words to come to him. They didn’t.

After the scapegoats came the excuses.

1 Obama had a bad night. He was off his game.

Nonsense. This is Obama’s game. Great at delivering telepromptered addresses to adoring Germans and swooning students. But he’s not very good on his feet.

His problem is that he doesn’t think so. He not only believes his own press, he believes his own mythology. He actually said (in 2007): “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And ... I’m a better political director than my political director.”

Obama is a man of considerable intelligence. But he’s not half as transcendently smart as he thinks he is.

He needs a servant in his chariot reminding him that he’s not an immortal. Of course, after the debate the entire Democratic Party told him he’s a dud. Wrong again. He’s neither lord nor commoner. He’s just an above-average politician who needs a very good night in one of the next two debates.

2 He was weighed down by the burdens of office.

Ah yes, the burdens of office. Like going on “The View” while meeting with not a single foreign leader at the U.N. Like flying to a Vegas campaign rally the day after a U.S. consulate is sacked and the ambassador murdered. Like rushing off to New York for a night with Jay-Z and Beyonce.

Rocky Mountain altitude is a better excuse than that. (Thank you, Al Gore.)

3 Reductionism.

Stephanie Cutter and David Axelrod both said (amazing coincidence) that Romney won on “style points.”

So, the most charismatic politician since Pierre Elliot Trudeau was beaten by an android — on style? I concede that Obama’s reaction shots were awful. But he lost on radio too. And in print. Read the transcript. This wasn’t about appearances. Romney didn’t win on style. He won on an avalanche of substance, on a complete takedown of six months of Obama portraying Romney as enemy of the middle class, friend and footman of the rich.

That was the heart of the Obama campaign. After all, with crushing debt, chronically high unemployment and the worst economic recovery since World War II, Obama can’t run on stewardship. Nor on the future. He has no serious agenda. Nothing on entitlements, nothing on tax reform, nothing on debt, nothing on the fiscal cliff.

So when Romney completely deflated that six-month “kill Romney” strategy — by looking reasonable, responsible, authoritative in demonstrating how his policies would help the middle class by stimulating economic growth — what did Obama have left?

Big Bird. The stupidest ad in memory. Has any president ever run an ad so small and trivial? After an unprecedented shellacking in a debate about very large issues, this is his response?

The Middle East is ablaze, the country drowning in debt, the fiscal cliff looming — and Obama’s great pitch is that only he can save the $130 million enterprise that is the Sesame Workshop?

An inspiring second-term agenda: subsidies for Big Bird and free contraceptives for Sandra Fluke.

Obama has two debates to come up with something better. If he can’t, he will double down on his “Romney the menace” line. It might still work. But a word of advice: Your administration having prevaricated unceasingly — and scandalously — about the massacre in Benghazi, I’d be cautious about the “he’s a liar” line of attack.

Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group.


Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

--- Can anyone afford to be represented by the 1% also known as the republican party? No!

--- Neither women nor republican nor democrat middle class and upper middle class can afford 1% representation.

--- Neither WOMEN nor Republicans nor Democrats nor the Upper Middle Class/Middle class can afford the Republican/RINO Party!

--- Do women need more republican big government in there lives? It is on the way!

--- Public Education is a strong player in new Economic Growth yet republicans starve the system of funding which starves our teachers of resources. Which starves the desired level of education = stealing from our children’s future.

--- Trying to kill an educational institution such as Sesame Street and PBS is reckless and Irresponsible. Republicans are out of touch going on 32 years.

--- Is the market value of your home worth less than your mortgage? How much market value have home owners lost since 2007? Trillions of $$$$.

--- Republican entitlements aka home loan fraud programs have literally destroyed jobs,economies and retirement plans. And made owning a home a risky investment - now that is remarkable.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

--- Romney/Ryan DO want to privatize medicare insurance and social security insurance which of course brings on ADDITIONAL OVERHEAD AND RISKS which nobody should want. Dumb economics!

--- Republicans keep saying that people should be allowed to make more quicker by way of investing in Wall Street which implies playing Wall Street is a sure bet which of course it is not.....absolutely not. If an investment-firm broker made this claim to his clients, he would be arrested and charged with stock fraud. Michael Milken went to jail for several years for making just this type of promise about financial investments.

--- With corporations routinely defaulting on their pension promises, more and more workers must rely on their individual wealth to make up the difference. The stock market collapse at the turn of the millennium wiped out much of the financial wealth of middle class Americans, and the collapse of the housing bubble has wiped out much of their remaining wealth.

--- Making any cuts to Social Security now, either by raising the retirement age or cutting benefits, would have a huge impact on their remaining retirement income and are not necessary to “save the system.

--- Keep in mind Social Security does not contribute one dime to the deficit. In fact privatizing Social Security Insurance will add trillions to the debt and put the economy at further risk.

--- Have elected officials which oppose Social Security Insurance lied to the public about Social Security Insurance? Absolutely!

tbaker 5 years, 8 months ago

Mr. Obama has been built up in the American collective consciousness to be this historic, once-in-a-generation, messianic figure of mythical proportions. He is a good looking guy who can read a speech and make us feel good when he talks philosophy. We couldn’t wait to hire him. When he is forced to justify why we should re-hire him, he is confused. He can’t understand why the tricks he used to get the job in the first place don’t work in the contract re-negotiation. Upon sober reflection, people can see we didn’t get what we paid for. The party is over. We gave him a shot and feel a lot better about ourselves for it, but charm and charisma isn’t what we need now. It’s time to get the train back on the tracks and make some adult decisions. Nuthin’ personal Barry, it’s just business.

jafs 5 years, 8 months ago

Simplistic analyses aren't convincing.

Obama is a politician, nothing more and nothing less.

He faced significant opposition from R in Congress, who have been able to block much of what he and the D would have liked to do - the D had a filibuster proof majority for about 4 months out of the last 4 years.

Romney is also a politician, and he is the significant other choice.

So, the question is simply, which one would be the better president?

All the rest is spin, distortion, idealization or demonization, etc.

tbaker 5 years, 8 months ago

Your line should read simplistic analysis isn't convincing TO ME. You assume everyone shares your belief. Is that true?

"Hows this: The polls increasingly show the people want a change.

jafs 5 years, 8 months ago

Do I really have to say that in each post, that it represents my views?

Reminds me of junior high school.

Interestingly, you present your views without any such addendum - hmmm.

Romney is simply a return to the R policies that have decimated the middle class over the last 30 years or so, and led up to the worst financial crisis in this country since the Great Depression.

Americans have very short memories, it seems.

tbaker 5 years, 8 months ago wasn't R policies that led to the financial crisis. If it was, stop spinning and starting providing examples. Get ready. We'll talk about:

The sub-prime mortage mess (the proximate cause of the crisis) and how the Clinton administration pressured the banks to help poor people become homeowners, and how the Clinton Justice Department threatened banks with lawsuits and fines ($10,000 per application) for redlining (discrimination) if they did not make these loans.

We'll talk about Fannie Mae and how Clinton reduced Fannie Mae’s reserve requirement to 2.5%. That means it could purchase and/or guarantee $97.50 in mortgages for every $2.50 it had in equity to cover possible bad debts. If more than 2.5% of the loans go bad, the taxpayers (us) have to pay for them.

We'll talk about the Senate Democrats who demanded that Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac (FM&FM) buy more of these risky loans to help the poor. Since the mortgages purchased and guaranteed by FM&FM are backed by the U.S. government, the loans were re-sold primarily to investment banks which in turn bundled most of them, taking a hefty fee, and sold the mortgages to investors all over the world as virtually risk free We'll also talk about how Bush tried and failed to stop this madness numerous times.

We'll talk about how in 2005, John McCain submitted a Fannie Mae reform bill. Democrats blocked it in Committee from getting to the Senate floor for a vote.

We'll tlak about how after the 2006 elections, the Democrats took control of the House and Senate. There are plenty of videos on the Internet showing many Democrats including Senate Banking Committee Chairman Democrat Christopher Dodd and House Banking Committee Chairman Barney Frank, responsible with overseeing FM&FM, assuring us that there were no problems with FM&FM right up to their collapse.

We'll talk about how Barack Obama has received more campaign donations that any other politician in the past three years from Fannie Mae and Wall Street. FM&FC have been virtually private piggy banks of campaign contributions for Democrats for the past 10 years. Yes, a token amount went to some Republicans.

Sure there is plenty of blame to go around for the financial crisis, but the reason it happened was 100% caused by a Democrat run government that forced a liberal policy initiated by President Clinton and reforms primarily blocked by Democrats. Saying was caused by the "R's" is just laughable. .

jafs 5 years, 8 months ago

Oh my God.

The CRA contains language specifying that banks are to make loans "consistent with safe and sound operations", so would not lead to risky loans. Sub-prime mortgages that were bundled, securitized and sold were made by entities not subject to the CRA.

Republicans have favored de-regulation of the financial industry for years, and it is exactly that sort of de-regulation and lack of regulation that allowed many of the things that led to the meltdown, including "liar loans", derivatives, etc.

The recent investigation into the causes found Fannie and Freddie not to be major causes of the problems, but rather greed, corruption, and lack of adequate regulation, as I've said numerous times.

Your last sentence is absurd on the face of it - plenty of blame to go around, but 100% caused by D?

Now, I agree that Fannie and Freddie are/were problematic in and of themselves - I don't like entities like them, public/private hybrids. I'd prefer we have one or the other, so that each sector can operate as it's supposed to operate - private can operate with competition, market forces, etc. while government can operate in the common good.

And, I also don't like the corrupting influence of money in politics, as I've also said any number of times.

One very interesting part of the problem is that credit rating agencies were paid by the issuers of the securities they were rating, which is a rather obvious conflict of interest, and led to inflated ratings.

tbaker 5 years, 8 months ago

The federal government caused the housing bubble.

Republicans tried various times to fix things that were causing it.

They were stopped by the democrats who controlled congress.

Both parties voted to bail out the banks which will just cause this to happen again.

Windemere 5 years, 8 months ago

The problems felt by the middle class can hardly be blamed on reps. The giant push to make home ownership "affordable" began in the Clinton years, and resulting policies fed the sub prime mortgage disaster. It's not reps fault that emerging economies in places like India have effects on workers here. Protectionist policies hurt the middle class by driving up prices. There are many causes of middle class woes, can't pin it on GOP, sorry.

jafs 5 years, 8 months ago

Sure I can.

Of the two major parties, R policies have favored those at the top while hurting those in the middle and bottom.

R tend to like to let businesses do as they like, which results in outsourcing of jobs to China, etc.

Clinton signed NAFTA, which is the opposite of "protectionist" (not saying I think NAFTA was great).

The sub-prime disaster was investigated, and the common claims of those on the right were found to be incorrect. Major causes of it included greed, corruption, and the lack of adequate regulation and oversight of the financial industry.

R call for less regulation, while D want more. The Dodd-Frank Act, a reaction to the mess that tries to prevent future such occurrences, is regularly criticized by those on the right.

Krugman has an interesting analysis of how de-regulation was disastrous in a bunch of ways, and yet continued for quite a while, despite that - he shows that it was very good for those at the very top.

tbaker 5 years, 8 months ago

Would it be worth my trouble to dig up the post I sent you that disproves the goofy fallacy that politicians out-source jobs? That efficient capitol allocation is BETTER for the country than is wasting it on non-competative labor costs? Do you need me to dig up the post which shows we have more than enough laws to prevent these crisis, but our government ignores them and causes these bubbles / things to happen, that the market simple responds to government. How about the post where I showed you Dodd-Frank is destructive and bad for the country? Is that worth my trouble?

Krugman's whacko ideas have been discredited more times than I can count. Are you deliberately ignoring this?

jafs 5 years, 8 months ago

I don't think that I will tell you what to do.

But, if you think that assertions made in your posts are factual, and sufficient unto themselves to "prove" anything to me, you'd be mistaken.

In this particular case, various entities operated in ways that weren't regulated by the government, and they were a major part of the causes of the meltdown.

You are right, that sometimes government simply ignores their own laws/regulations, mostly when politicians appoint people to various agencies that don't do their jobs correctly, as in the SEC under Bush.

That's a very good argument for electing people that want government to work as it should, and will appoint people to do a good job.

Krugman is a Nobel prize winning economist, and you are ...

I don't agree with everything he says, but his analysis of the effects of de-regulation seemed quite spot-on to me, and included many facts and much evidence.

tbaker 5 years, 8 months ago

Krugman.. Nobel crack me up. They gave Obama one for doing nothing. They just gave the EU one...for what? Wrecking the Europen economy?..LMAO

Still blaming Bush....get some help. Wow...

Lets try this, how about you disprove the following:

Back in 2005, Alan Greenspan testified to congress that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were well on their way to putting the entire financial system at substantial risk.

Consequently, the Senate Banking Committee put a Fannie and Freddie reform bill a bill together. The bill would have required Fannie and Freddie to eliminate their investments in "risky assets" and it would have given a regulator the power to say "no" to other risky behavior. It would have reined in the community reinvestment act and stopped US government-insured mortgages from being given to unqualified borrowers. This was the very first time a reform bill for Fannie and Freddi was ever created by the committee.

Had that bill become law, none of the flood of “sub-prime” mortgages created during the housing boom of 05-07 would have happened. None of the big investment banks would have had these things on their books and none of the bundling and trading of these otherwise worthless mortgages would have occurred because they wouldn’t have existed.

The bill did not become law because the Democrats opposed it on a party-line vote in the committee, preventing it from ever coming to a vote in the full Senate.

Now that’s what caused the financial crisis Jafs, but that is really inconsequential. What really matters is this. Take party politics off the table. Remove “democrat” or “republican” from the history lesson and understand that the US FEDERAL GOVERNMENT caused the financial crisis, and their supposed solution to the problem just sets us up to have another one.

jafs 5 years, 8 months ago

I love it when people without any qualifications like to denigrate those with some - it's always amusing to me, but of course never convincing.

Perhaps some people like to tear others down in order to build themselves up.

Provide a source or link and I'll check it out.

As I've pointed out, the CRA specifically mandates all loans are to be "consistent with safe and sound operations" of banks, and thus doesn't generate risky loans - source the CRA itself, which you can easily look up online.

Your comments about the sub-prime mess seem way off to me - I've researched the issue pretty thoroughly in the past, and Fannie and Freddie had little to nothing to do with it. The fact is that those loans were made by private sector institutions, bundled, securitized and sold to other private sector institutions, often with falsely inflated ratings, due to the fact that the rating agencies were paid by the issuers of the securities they rated.

As I've said, I think Fannie and Freddie are problematic, and would prefer to separate government entities from private sector ones - I see no need for government guaranteed private sector organizations.

But, from my prior research, your claims are incorrect - Fannie and Freddie weren't big players in the sub-prime, securitized mortgage backed mess.

Alan Greenspan is also the guy who was "shocked" that the financial sector operated in a way that was dangerous for everybody, being a rather strong advocate of free market capitalism.

The comment about Bush was to point out that when we have presidents who don't appoint people to do a good job, they won't - the SEC is a prime example of that, since a Greek fellow brought the Madoff problem to their notice a number of times, and they didn't do anything at all about it.

It was an obvious improbability, if not impossibility, that he could provide extremely consistent returns of 12%/yr. with a low risk investment. And yet, despite the SEC being told about him, and provided with details that didn't make sense, they did nothing.

So, my conclusion is that we want presidents who want the various agencies to function correctly, and will appoint people to head them that share that desire, and support them in their missions.

tbaker 5 years, 8 months ago

The government caused the crisis. If my my comments seem way off to you, I suggest you research the matter for yourself.

jafs 5 years, 8 months ago

I have.

That's why I think you're incorrect.

tbaker 5 years, 8 months ago

It's plain to see the government set rules in place to create the problem that caused the crisis in the first place. It's just as plain to see the government tried and failed to put other rules in place that would have prevented it. Both of these are facts that you have dismissed, and I won't hazard a guess as to why. Believe what ever you want. Always a pleasure chatting with you. Till next time...

jafs 5 years, 8 months ago

A remarkable statement.

Problems that took years to create can be solved in 4 months.

How about if we give Romney 4 months to fix them once elected (if he wins) - would you hold him to the same standard?

John Hamm 5 years, 8 months ago

Why do Liberals constantly have to counter with a "racist" comment? Oh, that's correct no effective argument.

Liberty275 5 years, 8 months ago

If Romney wins, their will be riots across the country and people will be burning down their own neighborhoods.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

Romney is a fraud who can't honestly and specifically describe the plutocratic policies he would implement, so he chose to use a technique called the Gish Gallop that boils down to baffling with BS, and toadies like Krauthammer wets himself over it.

deec 5 years, 8 months ago

Except those pesky tax returns, of course.

deec 5 years, 8 months ago

Tax evasion, if committed, is relevant. If he has nothing to hide, why won't he release them?

Armstrong 5 years, 8 months ago

Are you related to yourworstnightmare ? Really ? Anyone running for President will have a historical enema from birth to present. If Mitt had any major "skeletons in his closet" they would have come out by now

deec 5 years, 8 months ago

His skeletons haven't come out since he refuses to meet the standard of all other recent presidential candidates and release his tax returns. What is he hiding?

John Hamm 5 years, 8 months ago

Pretty bad when a sitting President has to worry more about funding a multi-million dollar operation than the murder of an Ambassador. Oh that's right the WH tried to blame it on a movie until they couldn't keep up the pretense any longer. How can anyone in their right mind continue to support him?

Armstrong 5 years, 8 months ago

How can anyone in their right mind continue to support him? Key words, right mind

Paul R Getto 5 years, 8 months ago

Pay no attention to the pollsters behind the curtain, no matter who is up or down. The press loves the drama, makes their job easier so they can avoid issues just like the candidates do.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 8 months ago

In other Chicago Democrat news: "...The snowballing troubles of Jesse Jackson Jr. took a new turn Friday with the revelation that federal investigators have launched a probe into “suspicious activity” in the South Shore congessman’s finances. Focusing on a completely new area of scrutiny for the son of the famed civil rights leader, the investigation is not related to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s attempted sale of a U.S. Senate seat, a scandal that has ensnared Jackson in the past, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times. Rather, the probe — based in the Washington, D.C., FBI field office —is focusing on “suspicious activity” involving the congressman’s finances related to his House seat and the possibility of inappropriate expenditures, the sources said..." Birds of a feather.

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