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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘debate’

Impressions of the Veep Debate

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Three reactions to the Joe Biden-Paul Ryan debate last night:

Middle East dominance: The foreign policy aspects of the debate focused almost exclusively on Libya, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan. Binyamin Netanyahu’s name was invoked eight times, far more often than any other person other than Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. The Euro crisis, the recent reelection of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, and the country of India all went unmentioned, while relations with Russia and China came up only glancingly. So chaotic, volatile, and murderous has the Middle East become that American politicians are quasi-experts on it to the point of naming the rival Afghan valleys they’d visited. The region has also become an integral part of a voter’s decision on whom to vote for for president. That Tunisia, Turkey, Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain never came up, while Egypt and energy were mentioned only once, points the depth of the Middle East issues bench.

Lack of principles: With only a few exceptions, both candidates (as was also the case in the presidential debate) stayed aloof from principles, preferring to make the case as to who is the more competent manager. They do so presumably in the chase for those independent voters in swing states; but for anyone with views on the proper direction of the country, those endless numbers and the disagreements over small facts meant the discussion verged on the tedious. (October 12, 2012)

Joe Biden’s smirk: Actually it was not just the smirk – it was also the false hilarity, the 82 interruptions of Ryan, the finger pointing, the preening arrogance, and the talking down to the audience – that overshadowed all else in the debate. Not until the last fifteen minutes did Biden talk like a normal human being, and then he became quite effective. Before then, however, his ugly demeanor overwhelmed his words, leaving a powerfully unpleasant impression. In contrast, Ryan spoke earnestly and respectfully, even while getting in a couple of sharp elbow jabs.

This article originally appeared on October 12, 2012 on DanielPipes.org and History New Network.

CNN Poll: Debate Watchers Give Ryan Slight Edge in VP Debate

Friday, October 12th, 2012

CNN reported that a CNN/ORC International nationwide poll found 48% of voters who watched the vice presidential debate Thursday thought Congressman Paul Ryan won, awhile 44% gave the win to Vice President Joe Biden.

Half of the debate watchers in the survey said the encounter didn’t make them more likely to vote for either of the tickets, 28% said it made them favor Romney, 21% said it made them choose Obama.

As to viewer expectations: 55% said Biden did better than expected, and 51% said Ryan did better than expected.

A CBS News poll of uncommitted voters who watched the debate favored Biden over Ryan by a 50%-31% margin. Roughly 10% of the debate audience were uncommitted.

VP Debate a Draw, Ryan Does Better than Most VP Challengers, Biden Rights the Rocky Obama Ship (Video)

Friday, October 12th, 2012

The most effective punches by Republican VP challenger, Congressman Paul Ryan, came in the first few minutes of Thursday night’s debate, over the murder of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. He was correct on the facts – this was a failure of the American intelligence apparatus, and the Administration was concealing the truth about the attack on our Benghazi consulate (as our own Lori Lowenthal Marcus pointed out last night). Biden was thrown off by Ryan’s aggressive opener, and mumbled something about the White House following whatever information Intelligence was passing over. That was, clearly, a questionable fact.

But, alas, Ryan was unable to hone his quick advantage into a devastating punch that could, possibly, leave his opponent staggering for the remaining 80 minutes or so. Remember, Joe Biden is the former chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he is Mister Foreign Affairs, particularly about the Middle East. To score on him decisively in his area of expertise would have been a real body blow.

Except that, unlike his colleague, Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, who held no punches in accusing the Obama White House of outright lying when they described an Al Qaeda well synchronized military attack on the consulate as a rowdy demonstration against an offensive You Tube clip. Ryan retreated, leaving the Vice President room to recover and come out of that opening clash a bit scathed but far from punched out.

With a seasoned politician like Joe Biden you don’t get two chances of this magnitude in the same debate. Joe dusted himself off, collected his thoughts and quickly went on the offensive on the economy. He let the Romney camp have it on the 47% of freeloaders (Romney) and the 30% takers (Ryan), on letting Detroit go to the dogs, on turning Medicare and Social Security into a vouchers system.

He had one admittedly devastating line which he did not deliver as well as he could have, asking the viewers at home what would have happened had President Bush II been able to pass his law on letting workers apply their Social Security savings to stocks just before Wall Street took a dive.

His turning to the folks at home with a grandfatherly warning was truly great, no matter how many times he did it. He warned folks about losing their Medicare benefits under a Romeny-Ryan presidency, about the fate of abortions, about the makeup of the Supreme Court. It was clearly just a device, but it was a device Joe owned the whole night.

His toothy smiles bordering on laughter in response to Ryan’s allegations, and the eye rolling – I could do without. I’m sure Joe annoyed the viewers as much as he did me. Only about 45 minutes into the thing did it occur to him that he could express disagreement without all the fake merriment, and from that point on he concealed the dental work better.

Ryan was better at registering his frustration, and clear, even sharp, occasionally even harsh in making his own points. Both candidates lost me when they started throwing the numbers around, without context, often saying billions when they meant millions or trillions – exhibiting how irrelevant those facts and figures really were to anyone not participating in a quiet budget meeting with several laptops humming around the conference table. Outside that context, the verbose accumulation of facts and figures plucked from nowhere is meaningless, if not alienating.

I was hoping that Ryan, who is known as a nice guy, would out-Biden Biden. He didn’t. Instead he offered a deadly sincere approach, smiled very little, and didn’t manage to look convincingly comfortable in his own skin throughout the exchange. Biden was better at feeling like he could go on with that conversation for as long as it took, he was fine.

Ryan was by far more articulate than Biden, who at times couldn’t complete his sentences and used abbreviated references familiar to the political class which had to be lost on many viewers. Whatever plan the Romney-Ryan team has for bringing on economic change, Ryan came across as if he is thoroughly familiar with it and eager to get started. Biden was offering nothing but more of the same, having argued that “the same” has been doing the job.

Bias Charge: Obama Is Friends with VP Debate Moderator Martha Raddatz

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

President Barack Obama attended the wedding of the correspondent who will be the moderator for the only debate between Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential hopeful Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) which takes place tonight.  Martha Raddatz, ABC Foreign Affairs senior correspondent and tonight’s debate moderator, married Julius Genachowski, in 1991.  Genachowski was a few years behind President Barack Obama at Columbia University, and they were both officers of the elite Harvard Law Review.  Both graduated in 1991, the same year Raddatz and Genachowski married.

Genachowski, from Great Neck, New York, was appointed in 2009 by President Obama to be the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.  The FCC is an independent agency of the U.S. government, which regulates communications capabilities in North America.  Genachowski’s parents are Holocaust survivors.  His cousin is Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union Kosher Division, and a well-known scholar and student of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.

In what has been described by some as a lame effort to downplay the significance of the connection between Raddatz and Obama, David Ford, spokesperson for Raddatz’s employer, ABC News, sent an official statement to various media including Politico and the Daily Beast, even before the article appeared which questioned the propriety of Raddatz as moderator. Even the liberal Huffington Post questioned the propriety of the pre-emptive statement which claimed that “nearly the entire [Harvard] Law Review” attended the wedding of Raddatz and Genachowski.  When pressed by the Daily Caller, which broke the story, to name additional law review members who attended the marriage, Ford came up with only one other name.

The ABC statement was apparently prompted by calls from the conservative news outlet, seeking confirmation of the connection between Obama and Raddatz.  That release states:

Martha Raddatz is known for her tough, fair reporting, which is why it was no surprise to her colleagues inside and outside ABC News that she was chosen by the Commission on Presidential Debates for this assignment. Barack Obama was a law school classmate of Raddatz’s ex-husband Julius Genachowski at Harvard. At the time Barack Obama was a student and president of the Law Review. He attended their wedding over two decades ago along with nearly the entire Law Review, many of whom went onto successful careers including some in the Bush administration. Raddatz and Mr. Genachowski divorced in 1997 and both are now remarried.

After an initial story dismissing the Daily Caller‘s suggestion that Raddatz may be biased, or that, at the very least, the connection should have been disclosed, Politico‘s Katie Glueck did a follow-up article, headlined “Right defends Raddatz’ debate role.” Glueck went through a litany of conservative pundits who were unmoved by the suggestion that Raddatz might be an inappropriate choice as moderator simply because Obama attended her wedding some twenty-odd years ago.

Among the conservatives whom Glueck catalogues as certifying the issue as not-an-issue, Commentary‘s John Podhoretz had the best line, “I have no memory of who attended my 1997 wedding to my ex-wife and I’d like to keep it that way. I bet Martha Raddatz is the same.”  Others who expressed disinterest included the Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin.  Despite the title of the Politico follow-up, at least as many conservatives were mentioned as bothered by the connection and the lack of disclosure, as those who took a pass.

Absent from the Politico articles, and indeed all other commentaries other than that of the Daily Caller, is the failure to call ABC on its clearly from-the-hip, and outright wrong statement that “nearly the entire Law Review” attended the Raddatz-Genachowski marriage.  In fact, out of approximately 70 members of that year’s Harvard Law Review membership, only Barack Obama and one other, thus far unnamed, member was apparently at that wedding.  That doesn’t make the selection of Raddatz wrong, but it does make ABC’s efforts to downplay it, and everyone’s willingness to ignore the the inaccuracy of the statement, raise at least an eyebrow.

Greta Van Sustern of Fox News, reported that the Ryan campaign said “no” when asked the day before the debate about whether they were concerned that Raddatz would be biased because of the long-time connection between Raddatz and Obama.

Instead, when asked what he thinks Biden’s biggest weakness will be at the debate, Ryan said: “Barack Obama’s record.”

Prematurely Celebrating Romney’s Victory

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

On Sunday, I wondered why — after watching Obama’s poor performance in the debate, with Romney’s “likability” rate rising and voters long saying he would better handle the economy, their number one issue — voters would still vote for Obama.

After the debate, reports abounded of Republicans similarly celebrating Romney’s performance and feeling better about their chances in November. One Republican activist recently told me “I’m feeling very confident.”

on Sunday, I cited the post-debate polls which surveyed people who watched the debate and the only regular poll which surveyed voters after the vote, by Rasmussen. The Rasmussen poll showed Romney with a two-point lead over Obama – even though one-third of those surveyed had been asked prior to the debate.

Since then, two other post-debate polls have been released and show a bump for Romney: a Gallup poll which has the candidates tied and a Pew Research poll which gives Romney a four-point lead among likely voters. These seem to confirm my and other Republicans’ hopes.

But one factor the challenging party sometimes overlooks in its hatred for its opponent is incumbency. Even if voters get over their love affair with President Obama, they won’t easily vote against an incumbent.

The New York Times FiveThirtyEight blog which deals with election analysis points out that despite the post-debate bump, Obama may still be on track to reelection.

Based on the jobs data it argues that:

If past trends hold, that analysis predicts a very narrow victory for Mr. Obama — by 2.1 percentage points over Mr. Romney, similar to Mr. Bush’s margin of victory in 2004.

Then it puts the post-debate bump in perspective:

Challengers also generally profit from the first debate: in 8 of the 10 election cycles since 1976, the polls moved against the incumbent, and a net gain of two or three percentage points for the challenger is a reasonably typical figure.

At the same time, incumbent presidents just aren’t that easy to defeat. Mr. Obama’s approval ratings are now hovering around 50 percent and don’t seem to have been negatively affected by his performance in Denver.

I’m not saying this is Gospel or that every election must follow past patterns, but I do recall the feeling among Democrats in 2004 of “how can anyone vote for Bush” mirroring our own fears of Obama today.

The Emperor’s Magic New Debate

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

The outcome of the debate between Obama and Romney had less to do with any extraordinary qualities possessed by Mitt Romney than with the purely ordinary qualities of Barack Obama. No matter how much Team Obama tried to warn the media faithful against any enthusiasm, the expectations were high and remained high until the Chicago Messiah began to speak. And then there was nothing.

Obama did not blatantly fail. He didn’t forget the number of states or stand there stammering for five minutes before throwing a chair and storming off the stage. That would have been extraordinary. Instead his performance was ordinary, a bland heavily rehearsed stew of big government talking points with nothing behind them. It lacked confidence and inspired no confidence.

Romney did not come to the debate and deliver a brilliant performance. The former Massachusetts governor is not Ronald Reagan. He was just qualified and that word is more damning than any other because it highlights Obama’s incompetence. His debate performance was the work of a professional politician who prepped for it, as he preps for everything.

Mitt had spent most of his life talking to people and trying to convince them of various things, religious, economic or political. His way of doing that is through methodical preparation for a presentation that convinces people of whatever he is trying to sell them on. He’s not particularly charismatic, but he is qualified. And qualification means working to exceed the standards of your chosen profession.

Obama has spent most of his life convincing people that he is qualified for things that he isn’t qualified for. He has faked his biography a disturbing number of times, padded out his resume and leaped from position to position until he became the living embodiment of the Peter Principle. He doesn’t work for things, but skates by on doing the least amount of work possible. When he falls behind, then he quickly tries to get up to speed and dives in while hoping that no one notices.

That is what happened at the debate where Obama gave the kind of performance you would expect from an Illinois Congressman, which is the job that he should have had about now. And had he been running for that position, few would have questioned his abilities or qualifications. But it’s not an acceptable performance from a presidential candidate.

Romney is a qualified professional. Obama is a talented amateur. None of that is really new. What is new is the product comparison that the debate made possible.

We’ve all seen ridiculous trends take off, bad art, bad music and bad writing. The power of such trends is that they exist in isolation. They are either so different as to be presented as incomparable or comparison is carefully avoided. A legendary image is manufactured for their creators. They are iconized and elevated to a unique stature so that no one can possibly judge their worth by a real world metric.

The iconization of Obama elevated an ordinary ambitious junior machine pol with a funky bio to the status of a deity. And it was done by singling him out, by treating him as a unique incomparable quantity, a force of history, a living embodiment of poetry, a racial healer and a thousand other empty titles. All of those were meant to avoid comparing Obama with anything else, except the occasional iconic dead president.

On stage at the debate, Obama did not seem unique. He seemed like a shorter surlier version of the icon, a politician blathering endlessly about the things that politicians bleat on about, promises, jokes that seemed witty on paper at 1 AM, long defensive ramblings about his record. He didn’t lose by losing, he lost by destroying his own iconography.

Suddenly Obama could be compared to another human being. Suddenly he was standing next to that human being and fumbling with his lines and looking withered. Suddenly he was not a trend, an icon, a glorious new future, but only human. Suddenly there was nothing special about him at all.

Every rock star, every shiny new writer, every bright new thing hits that moment of unspecialness sooner or later, because specialness can only be sustained in isolation. It requires faith and denial that begins to fall apart when the special thing can be compared to the work of its peers and is found wanting. And then what seemed like genius becomes only a resonance, an echo that people wanted to believe in because they were bored or hopeless and wanted something new and special to save them.

So Why are Voters Still Choosing Obama?

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Last week’s U.S. presidential debate was a victory for Romney on all accounts, especially if one judges by the closing statements, where Obama couldn’t muster any specific reason why voters should re-elect him aside from the fact that he was trying really hard as president.

Even when Obama wished his wife a “happy anniversary” – which appeared, at least to me, a totally unromantic political move – Romney smoothly countered wishing the President a happy anniversary and joking how “romantic” it must be for the president to be spending his wedding anniversary with Romney.

Looking at polls on how people view the candidates, I’m beginning to wonder why it is that Obama leads Romney in national polls and whether that is going start to change in a big way.

On the economy, which is the top issue among voters, Romney has long maintained an edge against Obama. In a Wall Street Journal-NBC poll conducted in April, for example, 40 percent said that Romney had “better ideas to fix the economy” to Obama’s 34 percent. A Rasmussen poll a few days before the debate, showed that 51 percent trusted Romney on the economy to Obama’s 44 percent.

In “likeability,” Obama has traditionally had Romney beat. In that Wall Street Journal-NBC poll from April voters were asked questions like “who do you think would be better at. . .being easy going and likable?” or “caring about average people?” or “looking out for the middle class?” Obama beat Romney two-to-one or better on each.

But in post-debate polls of people who watched the debate conducted by CBS and CNN Romney did a lot better. In the CBS poll people said they liked both candidates. In the CNN poll, Romney beat Obama on likability 46 to 45 percent. A whopping 58 percent said Romney “seemed to be the stronger leader” to Obama’s 30 percent.

In the April WSJ-NBC poll, Voters said they would choose Obama over Romney 49 to 43 percent. But if the likability gap is closing and people favor Romney on the most important issue, it is hard to imagine why voters would still choose Obama over Romney. And indeed, the latest Rasmussen poll from October 6th gives Romney a two-point lead over the President (49-47 percent). In that poll, one-third of respondents were interviewed before the debate, so if all were interviewed after the debate it’s possible that the gap would be even wider in Romney’s favor.

Since the debate, the New York Times reports that Romney is focusing on his “softer side,” telling personal stories and showing a 10-minute biographical video before rallies. If Romney and his team can succeed and keep that “likability gap” closed, there may be reason to believe that Obama can be beat in November.

Oh, and if you still haven’t seen the debate, here it is:

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/so-why-are-voters-still-choosing-obama/2012/10/07/

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