Tag Archives: politics

Did We Learn Nothing?

After years of disappointment and decline, we have chosen to re-elect the same policies that have left us stuck in the mud and economic malaise these past 4 years. Have voters totally stopped learning from their mistakes, or did they just really not like Mitt Romney? Either way, I am concerned at this outcome since it makes me wonder what our priorities really are in this country. We claim that the economy is our #1 concern, but then we don’t vote for the candidate we also think (by the polls) would be better at fixing the economy. Polls show that we voted based off racial identities and vague feelings of likability or “caring” instead of logic and platforms. We want to blame our politicians for the problems we’re facing, but then weren’t willing to vote for new ones. We voted for negativity instead of change or positivity, a total flip from 2008 election, but ended up with the same result. Regardless of the reasons, we have chosen to re-elect a divisive politician that has shown little ability to reunite our fractured political landscape or manage the problems we face as a nation. As such, anyone expecting big progress or big solutions in the next four years is likely to be disappointed. The political gridlock will continue, and regardless of “efforts” on both sides, the economic difficulties and pending crises in our entitlement programs will continue to be kicked down the road.

I hope that without the political pressure of re-election he was so focused on that the President will be more effective in his leadership. I also hope that the fact almost as many citizens in our country voted against him as for him will be a wake-up call. I hope we see a better four years ahead of us than the last four, but I certainly don’t expect it. Congratulations to President Obama on a hard fought and well played (and unfortunately nasty) campaign, now change the game in D.C. like you promised to 4 years ago and actually try to work with people on the other side of the aisle. Now all your actions will only affect the legacy you leave. Make it one worth leaving.

-M

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Why I’ll Be Voting For Romney

I’m rarely this bold with writing about my political preferences on an individual candidate, but considering there are only two (real) options at this point, I figured there’s no point in pretending to be objective. I’m not going to go into deep detail here, everyone reading this is well informed enough to make their own decisions and vote according to their own priorities, but I have been asked by some of my (less informed) liberal friends “How could you vote for Romney?” as if it were akin to beating a puppy. As such, I decided to make my last minute case for why I’ll be voting for Mitt Romney in hopes that you can at least understand, even if you disagree.
He has the experience we need: Okay, so a lot of people don’t like Romney. There are a variety of reasons, some valid, some silly, but I can understand why he’s not the most popular guy on the block. Regardless, his resume (love it or hate it) reads like the perfect applicant for the job position right now. We have a country that is in bad financial shape and getting worse, and a candidate that has experience at… turning around under-performing or near bankrupt businesses. Sure, they’re not exactly the same thing, but they’re a heck of a lot closer than some people would like to believe. He’s proven that he can balance budgets and spend within his means, a lesson our country desperately needs to learn right now. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be fun, but it needs to be done and Romney is the only candidate right now that has a resume showing he’s willing to get the job done.

He’s a leader: I can already hear the Obama fans starting to type angry replies. “You mean President Obama isn’t?!?!” Well, yes and no. I certainly don’t deny that it takes a great deal of strength and leadership capability to achieve the highest political office in the country. However, once he obtained that position he quit acting like a leader. Leaders don’t make excuses or blame their predecessors. Leaders don’t shift blame and focus away from their own short comings to put it on the people they work with. Leaders don’t base policy off the winds of political convenience. What leaders should do is develop a plan they intend to follow and keep their focus on their goals even when others doubt them. Leaders unite opposing views, they don’t deepen the divide. Leaders fix problems, they don’t push them off on future generations. Romney has shown, as a (moderate) Republican leading a solidly Democratic state, that he can be that kind of leader. Whether some of the President’s loyal followers are willing to realize it or not, we do not have a leader capable of uniting the opposing factions running our country right now, and until we have that kind of leadership, we will not break out of this unproductive political gridlock, and things are only going to get worse.

He’s not interested in expanding the government: This is the one that matters a lot to people regardless of their political affiliation (but I know it’s especially crucial to my libertarian friends). Romney has made it clear that his plan for getting the US economy and day-to-day government functioning back on track is shrinking the government. This is a clear distinction between himself and President Obama. This is not to imply that all Republicans are for small government, President Bush oversaw dramatic increases in government reach, intrusion, and overall size, but it is to explain that this Republican candidate disagrees both with his challenger and his predecessors over the role government should play in our lives. The simple math shows that the government has gotten larger, and most people believe that the government alone is not the answer to our economic problems and expanding it is a redistribution of resources to less productive measures at best. (Most economists flat out say that it’s a band-aid fix, and a dangerous one.) The President has shown that he thinks a government-centered approach to fixing the economy is the best path through his words as well as his actions. Romney’s intent to trim the government down will not please everyone, but history and economic theory suggests we’d be better off in the long run.

And finally, the one people like least:

“He’s not President Obama”: I hate it when people say things like this, so I can imagine what you all think as well, but let me explain what I mean by this. I don’t mean that it’s worth voting for Mitt Romney simply because he’s not Barack Obama, that would imply that Obama is somehow the political devil and anyone is better. I disagree with that view. I would suggest that Obama isn’t the best, or even one of the best, candidates on the ballot, but that’s beside the point. The point is that Romney is new to the job, and comes with a great resume. We know Barack Obama. We know his record. And honestly, it’s not good. His most significant achievement was the healthcare reform bill, a law which has already been shown won’t really fix the problems facing our healthcare system (at all) and was passed through less than kosher means with a whole lot of bureaucratic pork added on along the way. It’s a terrible piece of legislation with seemingly noble intent, and that’s what we’ll remember the first Obama term for. The economy is in a “recovery” that’s so slow many have wondered how we can pretend we’re not still really in a recession. Even though we emerged from that in technical terms, we haven’t shaken off the economic malaise our country has been in the past 5 years, and it’s no longer possible to pretend we can somehow blame everything on Bush. (If you chose to believe that, you’re in denial.) We’ve had four years of failed attempts to address the problems facing us. Four years of blaming others for his own short comings. Four years of slinging mud on national television at the very people he claims he is trying to foster bipartisanship with. Four years of broken promises. Four years of fiscal standoffs and deliberately polarizing budgets. Four years of the leader of the free world behaving like a celebrity instead of a leader. Four years of disappointment, not hope, or change, or progress. I don’t know if another four of the same thing would somehow destroy the US like some seem to believe, but I can promise you this: It isn’t going to put us on a better long-term path. I want an America where people work hard and reap the rewards of their work. A land of opportunity that sets a good example by not spending more than it can afford to or passing debt off to future generations because we don’t have the guts to fix the real problems facing us. The country I want will not come from a second Obama term.

I’ll close with this: If the United States were a business with the taxpayers as its shareholders (and in many ways, it is), CEO Obama would have been fired at least a year ago and a new candidate with the right credentials would have been sought. In 2008 the company was hemorrhaging money and taking a public relations beating. We thought this new leader could turn things around and deliver the prosperity and change he promised the shareholders. He tried some bold, expensive moves, which ultimately were not successful. He kept the company limping along, but now in deeper debt and with even more executives and administrators than before and no strong benefit for the shareholders. Now the projections for the future health of the company have gone from bad to worse and our CEO claims to be able to fix that despite having shown no sign of being capable of doing so in the last few years he has been working here. So the shareholders have to make a tough decision and find a leader with experience at turning around this company that is now facing even bigger problems. Of the applicants, one has emerged that looks like he can pull it off, and that is Mitt Romney. We don’t know that he’ll succeed, but we do know that there’s no point in continuing on a path we can see isn’t working for our company. It’s time to move on.

Now, go vote, or you’ll lose the right to complain about the outcome after the dust settles.

-M

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The VP Debate That Taught Us… Nothing?

Against my better judgement I decided to spend the evening watching the Vice Presidential debate to see how Ryan and Biden compared to each other (and maybe a little bit just because I was hoping Biden would say something profane on national tv). It was an interesting ride and honestly involved a lot more policy discussions than the recent Presidential debate did, but I still felt like at the end of the day we didn’t learn anything from it. Why? Well, let me explain (rant) for a little bit…

Biden:

Well, it appears Joe Biden is a volatile old man who can’t allow anyone else to finish their sentence before offering his own loud opinion on an issue. This is not news. What was interesting is that Mr. Biden seemed dead set on making up for President Obama’s lukewarm performance last week by making sure he came across as aggressive and passionate this week. He may have overdone it. Mr. Biden interrupted Paul Ryan 82 times (according to the pundits) in a 90 minute debate. I might have guessed an even higher number. He simply couldn’t sit there and let Ryan talk, he had to hear his own voice throughout the entire thing. It was obnoxious, and worse, made his complaints at the moderator appear laughable when he complained about getting to talk less than Ryan. The moderator was quick to point out that he wasn’t getting less time than Ryan, but when you talk through half of your opponent’s time in what appears to be an attempt to drown them out, you’re not going to get a lot of sympathy from anyone. That said, the Vice President did relatively well tonight aside from his rambling, loud, and sometimes incorrect statements. He made his attacks on Ryan well, kept him on the defensive the entire time, and made lots of references to the middle class. It wasn’t a performance that’s likely to sway anyone towards the Obama/Biden ticket, but he didn’t curse on national tv and he didn’t say something incredibly stupid, so I imagine his campaign team is pretty pleased right now. Note: It will be interesting to see what the other side does with his “I never say anything I don’t mean” comment considering his past colorful remarks.

Ryan:

Paul Ryan came across as a numbers-minded, soft-spoken young politician that thinks his opponents are at least a bit dumb. This also surprises no one. Ryan was put on the defensive from the get-go by Biden, but he handled himself well overall. It did handicap his ability to get the Romney/Ryan priorities across at times, but he attempted to compensate for this at the end of the debate (with limited success). He attempted to make human connections with middle class and family references while talking economic policy, but it came across as even more forced than Biden’s own awkward pandering. As expected, Ryan focused on economic issues and broken promises as much as possible, and did well at articulating his vision for some of America’s best known, and most expensive, programs. He was less specific on the details than many would have liked I’m sure, but he was at least as specific as Biden on the very same issues (this is not a compliment, simply stating that they were equally vague). Ryan’s real strength was his demeanor throughout the debate. He managed to appear calm and collected throughout the night, which was a dramatic contrast with the firey frustration that Biden was projecting from across the table. Nothing makes your opponent look more like an angry jabbering mental patient than sitting there smiling calmly while they yell at you. I doubt Ryan succeeded in getting all of his platform’s views across during the debate, and at times appeared to stumble in his defensive responses, but it was still a decent night for him overall.

Winner?:

Honestly, no one. The majority of polls are showing that most people think Ryan performed better overall, but I think that’s mainly because of how aggressive and rambling Biden came across overall, not because Ryan performed especially well. Don’t get me wrong, neither candidate did poorly, and both succeeded in making good points for their respective candidates. By the same token, neither candidate did particularly well. Biden looked like the angry old man compared to Ryan’s youthful confidence. Ryan was unable to turn the tables back on Biden and never really had control of the conversation. I personally think this was a wash overall. If it helped anyone at all it might be the Romney ticket, but I doubt we’ll see a bump in the polls for either side from this debate.

As always, your thoughts, questions, and rants are welcome.

-M

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Shared from a friend on Facebook. An over-simplified view of the situation of course, but there are a lot of people out there feeling this sentiment (especially in this economy) and I imagine a lot of them will be voting on those views in November.

-M

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First Debate Report: Where was the President?

First Debate 2012

I time my return to the world of political commentary fresh off three months of being trapped in the hospital right as things in the 2012 election get interesting. With the first presidential debate now behind us, I am both surprised and actually a little excited for the rest of the election season. Why? Well, let me grade the candidates and you’ll see why.

President Obama: D-

I’m not going to give the President a failing grade as some already are, but this was a very bad night for him. He appeared unprepared to defend his record, he couldn’t explain how his new promises were different than the old ones he didn’t deliver on, and he couldn’t keep eye contact or a straight face for more than a few minutes at a time. His surrogates are hiding after the debate, his spin doctor isn’t even pretending the debate was a win, and the President himself appears notable unhappy. My question is: What the hell happened? President Obama has been described as a “great speaker” (a claim I have disagreed with in the past), and charismatic (a claim I agree with). Tonight he was neither. He frowned, grimaced, looked at the podium when being addressed, and was all over the place with his meaningless stories about his grandmother that didn’t even address the points he had started talking about. No one learned anything new about the President tonight. No one found a new reason to vote for him. Instead we saw a President that was unable to explain why his policies of the last four years have failed to deliver what he said they would. He was unable to defend his economy. He was unable to counter Romney effectively when attacked, and totally unable to put Romney on the defensive. I can’t explain why Obama had such a poor performance tonight, and I was quite surprised by his lack of passion and charisma. When Bill Maher, James Carville, and Chris Matthews are saying the the President lost the debtate, you know things are bad for the Democrats right now. My prediction: Obama’s political strategists will unleash a whole new wave of mudslinging against Romney while he studies up for the next debate. He won’t make this mistake twice.

Mitt Romney: B-

This wasn’t the same Mitt Romney I watched (and complained loudly) about in the GOP debates. He’s been practicing, preparing, and apparently reading a lot. He came in with clear priorities, he knew exactly how to hit Obama on his policies and platform, and he even managed to keep his cool overall. This was a good night for Mitt Romney. I was surprised to see him able to put (and keep) the President on the defensive for the length of the debate. I was surprised at how well he knew the President’s budget and proposals and how he was able to compare them to his own. He didn’t do that during the GOP debates, but maybe he had been preparing for this the whole time. So why does he only deserve a B-? Well, he’s still Mitt Romney. He still spoke of relatively vague “plans” that will apparently fix all of our problems. He still appeared to want to light the President on fire with his glare at times. He still looks like your boss. However, let me be clear: Mitt Romney appeared more confident, more comfortable, and dare I say, more presidential than President Obama did tonight. If he can keep this up for the next month, it will be a very close election.

Big Bird: A+

In an election he chose not to run in, Big Bird has risen in national popularity in a matter of hours. His poll numbers would be up if we had polls on Big Bird to start with, and the twittersphere and tumblrverse are chock full of his picture. If I were Big Bird’s strategist, I couldn’t be happier tonight.

The Winner:

Mitt Romney. There’s simply no way to spin that debate to claim that President Obama won. Even the best Democratic spin doctors are calling it “a wash” or blaming poor moderation (they’re not incorrect about that, sorry Jim). This one’s a “L” in the Obama column, and they had better bring their A game next time if they want to stay ahead.

The Problem:

It’s a debate and I’m not sure that any shift it causes will be significant or lasting. We watched the GOP debates produce massive swings in the poll numbers for individual candidates, but the effects were fleeting. I have no doubt that this debate will cause a bump in Romney’s numbers in the short term, but will it actually change anyone’s mind in the grand scheme of things? The cynic in me says probably not.

That’s my take. Comment, question, or rant away.

-M

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The GOP Candidates Play Monopoly

The GOP Candidates play Monopoly. A friend sent this to me via Facebook, and I hadn’t seen this spoof yet. I’ll admit I got a laugh out of it. I thought I’d posted this a couple weeks back but it got hidden in the drafts. Enjoy!

-M

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The Rise of Mitt (AKA The Fall of Newt)

First, I am fully aware the postings have been much less frequent lately, despite the action in politics being as active as ever. I’ll tell you what I tell my parents: I’m not dead, I’m just in med school. Sorry about that.

 

This week’s big news is the inevitable nominee, Mitt Romney, and his sweep of the primaries on Tuesday. Yes, I’m aware I’ve ranted against the use of the word inevitable when describing Mitt Romney in the past. That is back when there were still some scenarios where he wouldn’t be the nominee. Those variables did not play out favorably for anyone else though, so now the show is all Romney. So how exactly did this happen? I really think the whole thing boils down to two things: The Rise of Mitt, and the Fall of Newt.

The Rise of Mitt: Mitt Romney has been proclaimed the inevitable (or by those that don’t jump to conclusions, the probable) nominee since the beginning, largely since he’s been running for the spot since 2008, but that doesn’t mean that his nomination was a sure thing. At any number or times, he was trailing in the polls by double digits behind his challengers. The challenger he was trailing changed somewhat frequently, but the point remains: he was there, but he wasn’t in the lead for quite some time. So how does a “moderate” Republican in a relatively hostile political environment with mediocre polling and a lack of overall enthusiasm end up on top? It’s pretty simple, they power through and wait until the more enthusiastic candidates fade due for a number of issues and eventually they’re the only one left. Name recognition, image, and money were critical to this ability to power through the fog, and it ended up working beautifully. This only worked so well because there were so many challengers. Had it just been one major challenger by the time major primaries were rolling around, Romney may have actually been in danger. Luckily for the Mitt camp, he had at least two real challengers (more early on) that were also competing with each other for votes, and the most pragmatic voters probably ignored them. Others just got tired of the endless noise and debates and started ignoring the flavor of the month. Whatever their reasons, that group of voters likely stayed out of it or aligned with Romney as the “strongest” overall candidate. That left the others with only about half to two thirds of the GOP voter pie to fight over, and no one ever succeeded in solidifying that chunk of the pie and taking down Romney. Romney, ever the adaptive politician, was able to learn from the attacks levied at him and was the most effective at spin. I don’t care for spin, hollow words that redirect conversation to allow you to avoid answering questions or attacks and make you look good is often compensation for a lack of substance, but regardless of that, I had to respect how well things rolled off Romney. He has been the Teflon man of the GOP primary season, and that, plus the previously mentioned factors, allowed him to adapt, survive, and prevail.

The Fall of Newt: Whatever you may say about Gingrich, he’s also a survivor. He had the most political baggage of the group and the most negative initial perceptions. Yet he ended up as the front-runner in the race… more than once. Yes, I am aware that Rick Santorum also ended up as the front-runner towards the “end”. That doesn’t mean that I think Santorum was ever as likely a candidate as Gingrich. The reasons for that are a post unto themselves, but logically speaking, Gingrich was the phoenix of the Republican party and if he could rise from the ashes despite his image and run a socially conservative (without being so extreme as to render him unelectable overall… Santorum) campaign and bring some “big ideas” to the table, he was too strong to be ignored. In fact, after South Carolina and a disappointing run for Romney early on, it looked like Gingrich was the man to beat. So what happened? Also pretty simple: money and strategy were against him. Gingrich, according to the press, polls, and online ramblings from people like me, came across as the most competent, intelligent, and composed candidate during debates. He had some compelling ideas and was managing to turn some perceptions around. However, he didn’t ever have the organization or the money that the Romney campaign machine did, and when that machine set their target on Gingrich, it was only a matter of time before they drug him under the water and held him there until the bubbles stopped unless Gingrich found a way to hit back just as hard. Iowa was the test run for this, and the Romney machine accidentally ended up delivering that contest to Santorum by killing off Newt there. When he came back in South Carolina, they went for a full scorched earth campaign and crushed him in Florida to the point he could never recover. The Southern strategy gamble was one he didn’t have the established support network or funds to pull off, and with Santorum rising (thanks to the fall of Newt, in my opinion) and no more debates to “win”, Newt was in real trouble. As polls later showed, Newt’s supporters were more likely to bail for Romney than Santorum, and when they started bailing they didn’t come back. Without the funds to crush his opponents in negative ads or the organization to build momentum well ahead of primaries, Newt stuck it out hoping for the cracks in Romney’s facade to spread and give him enough staying power to make it to Tampa. When Santorum bailed though, Newt was already too injured to rise again and as Tuesday demonstrated, Romney profited in a big way. Whether it was ego, poor management, or the end of the debate season, Newt declined and the circus of a brokered convention has been avoided… for better or worse.

That’s all for now. Congratulations to the Mitt camp for proving that running a campaign like a business is a winning strategy. I’m still not thrilled by him as a candidate (as my previous posts no doubt illustrate), but I’ll certainly be paying attention to how the Romney/Obama dynamic plays out for the next few months before the heavy hitting of the election season starts.

-M

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