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December 27, 2014 / 5 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘u.s. presidential elections’

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:

On International Affairs Romney Has Not Yet Even Begun to Fight

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Visit Rubin Reports.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has written an op-ed piece about what’s wrong with President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy and what he would do if he is elected president. There aren’t many surprises but it reminds us how far Romney has to go before he can be said to have articulated a clear foreign policy of his own.

Romney lists five crises in the region that he feels place U.S. security at risk and that are neglected by Obama: the Syrian civil war; Muslim Brotherhood takeover in Egypt; murder of the U.S. ambassador to Libya; violent protests at U.S. embassies; and Iran’s continued progress toward having nuclear weapons as it continues to promise to annihilate Israel.

Romney continues: “Yet amid this upheaval, our country seems to be at the mercy of events rather than shaping them. We’re not moving them in a direction that protects our people or our allies.” These crises, however, could pull America into serious conflict.

The problem, he says, is that Obama’s policy

has allowed our leadership to atrophy…by a president who thinks that weakness will win favor with our adversaries….[By] stepping away from our allies, President Obama has heightened the prospect of conflict and instability. He does not understand that an American policy that lacks resolve can provoke aggression and encourage disorder.

He criticizes Obama for misreading the “Arab Spring,” moving away from Israel and lacking sufficient credibility to deter Iran. He also speaks of “using the full spectrum of our soft power to encourage liberty and opportunity for those who have for too long known only corruption and oppression.”

Romney calls for restoring the strength of America’s economy, military, and values. “That will require a very different set of policies from those President Obama is pursuing.”

Such an approach is acceptable for a short op-ed but hardly constitutes a foreign policy strategy. Aside from people noticing on their own that Obama’s policy is disastrous, Romney is going to have to do better if he thinks that the Middle East issue—or any international issue—is going to gain him support.

But what does Romney plan to do on these issues? While some of this can be expected to surface in the debates, he has not yet articulated a serious foreign policy plan with a little more than a month to go before the election. That’s extraordinary.

There are answers about what he should be saying which I have discussed in many previous articles and won’t take your time with now. An inspiring and persuasive alternative to Obama policy could be articulated.

But I am getting the feeling that either his campaign is thin regarding expertise on the Middle East or that those people are not being listened to by those higher up. It’s understandable that Romney might feel only the economy matters. Yet he is going to have to show that he could be a successful president internationally as well.

The process of doing so has not even begun and it is now late in the campaign.

Visit Rubin Reports.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/on-international-affairs-romney-has-not-yet-even-begun-to-fight/2012/10/03/

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