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At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘debate’

Why Obama is Likely to Blow Debate No. 2

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

The short answer is: because he’s got nothing.  There is no record to run on, no argument to make for four more years.  The ideology that drives him is outdated and bankrupt.  He has, in fact, implemented his policies – Republicans have had little means of stopping him – and those policies are the problem.

But there’s a slightly longer answer too.  Obama’s advisors will read the mainstream media assessment of the vice-presidential debate – they actually think a debate that turned women across America off of Biden was a draw, or a Biden win – and conclude that what the president needs to do is find his inner Joe Biden.  Appeal to his base by going on the attack, perhaps interrupting, being visibly annoyed at the trend of Romney’s statements, and vigorously asserting untruths in the interest of racking up effective soundbites.

Petulant attack-doggery isn’t Obama’s style, so I don’t predict that he will simply adopt the Biden posture for this week’s debate.  What I do think is that Obama and his handlers will be looking to enhance the president’s trademark pace and balance in public speaking (which does descend rather often into a sonorous drone) with more Biden-like spice.  This won’t come naturally to Obama, any more than his occasionally put-on “black accent” sounds natural.  It’s not who he is, and he won’t be good at it.

Of course, the townhall format this week can be worked to Obama’s advantage, and no doubt will be.   Obama need not be thrown softballs, but he will get questions framed to suit the answers he is likely to have – and he probably won’t be troubled much with questions framed in a confrontational manner.

Romney probably will be.  He will have to think more quickly on his feet, turning hostile questions into jumping-off points for getting his message across, while conveying a sense of goodwill and avoiding red herrings.  If there is a “silly question” for the debaters – say, “If you were an Oscar-winning movie, which one would you be?” – it may well be barbed with false implications about conservatism, Republicans, or even Romney himself.

Romney will have more choices to make in his approach and substance.  There are a lot of things he could say; what will be the most effective?  We can reasonably suppose he will perform again as well as he did in Debate 1.

Obama doesn’t have those choices, because he’s trying to stay in office – to tend cronies and inflict ideological constraints on the people – using arguments that don’t accurately represent what he’s been doing for nearly four years.  He has no intention of changing course, regardless of what the current course is inflicting on the American people.  Yet he can’t argue in the campaign for his current course – at least not to anyone but his base – because it is so ridden with failure and the scent of corruption.  Americans continue to turn against his signature legislation, ObamaCare, and even the New York Times is beginning to doubt the effectiveness of his foreign policy.

So we can expect to hear more about Romney giving a “$5 trillion tax break” to the richest Americans, along with the other canards about Romney-Ryan policy (e.g., tossing Grandma off the cliff) being trotted out over and over by the Obama campaign.  These mendacious soundbites have lost their impact, but what else does Obama have?  Personal attacks on Romney?

If the president makes a decision on retaliating in Libya before Tuesday night, he may be able to speak at the debate from a perspective of putative decisiveness, the commander-in-chief moving forces around.  A new line of tactical operations would blunt Romney’s justifiable criticism of how the White House has handled the whole matter.  I don’t foresee this dynamic winning the debate for Obama – a belated military response has little hope of trumping the public’s nearer-to-home concern about the U.S. economy, the national debt, and constitutional freedoms – but if it comes off, it will probably be gratifying for his Amen corner in the MSM.

Gratifying them is not enough, however.  Whether he plays to his base or the MSM, Obama will not be playing to the constituency that matters: the majority of likely voters.  His appeal to that constituency in 2008 depended on his being an unknown quantity, and that’s what he no longer is.  Obama doesn’t have any more tricks in his bag.  This is it.

What ‘War’ with Iran is Biden Talking About?

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently warned that, “The results of an American or Israeli military strike on Iran could, in my view, prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations in that part of the world.” During Thursday’s Vice Presidential debate the statement was read to Vice President Joe Biden and Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan  at the start of segment on Iran.

What exactly Gates meant by “catastrophic” I’m not sure (Muslim/Middle East resentment towards the U.S.? Lack of access to oil? Increase in global terrorism?), but during the debate, both Biden and debate moderator Martha Raddatz seemed to argue that it meant going to war with Iran.

Here’s Raddatz:

RADDATZ: Well, let me ask you what’s worse, war in the Middle East, another war in the Middle East, or a nuclear-armed Iran?

RYAN: I’ll tell you what’s worse. I’ll tell you what’s worse.

RADDATZ: Quickly.

RYAN: A nuclear-armed Iran which triggers a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. This is the world’s largest sponsor of — of terrorism. They’ve dedicated themselves…

And here’s Biden:

BIDEN: When Governor Romney’s asked about it, he said, “We gotta keep these sanctions.” When he said, “Well, you’re talking about doing more,” what are you -you’re going to go to war? Is that what you want to do?

But who said anything about “going to war” – a term that implies landing U.S. troops in Iran? What everyone – Netanyahu, Mitt Romney, and even the Obama administration – is talking about is a military strike, and making it clear to the Iranians that the U.S. is prepared to conduct such a strike.

Biden himself said during the debate “we feel quite confident we could deal a serious blow to the Iranians.” By “dealing a serious blow” in the singular, Biden surely means some kind of air strike, not putting boots on the ground for continuous warfare.

The question is how seriously do the Iranians take that possibility. Romney and Ryan are arguing that the Iranians don’t take it seriously at all because so many voices from the administration are playing down the need for an attack, while playing up the negative possible consequences of an attack (e.g., saying it would be “catastrophic,” eschewing talk of “war”)  and pressuring Israel not to attack.  The evidence, which Ryan pointed to during the debate, is the fact that Iranians have, for the past four years, continued and even sped up their nuclear program.

But Biden isn’t actually talking about Iran. With the talk “war,” Biden is implying that Republicans – as evidenced the wars initiated by President George W. Bush – are generally war mongers and only Democrats can be trusted with office of the “commander in chief.”

But “Bush’s Wars” were not solely Bush’s or the Republican Party’s. Democrats, including Biden (despite his insinuation otherwise), voted overwhelmingly in favor of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those were wars made necessary by the failure of the U.S. to pay attention to threats abroad and nip them in the bud, just as Obama is failing to do with Iran.

And, if it is true that attacking Iran will definitely trigger a counter attack which will require a greater U.S. response, then that would indicate the irrationality of the Iranians: that as their economy crumbles they would be willing to engage the most powerful military known to history. If they would act so brazenly without nuclear weapons/nuclear weapons capability, imagine how much more likely war would be if they already had a weapon/capability.

Ryan should have answered Raddatz’s “what’s worse” question like so: “You know what’s worse, a nuclear Iran that starts a war, because that’s the future we’re looking at under Obama’s leadership.”

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/prematurely-celebrating-romneys-victory/2012/10/09/

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