Tag Archives: President

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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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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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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It’s Not That Simple: MS and AL Don’t Clarify Things.

Well, the results are (mostly) in, and Santorum will win both Mississippi and Alabama. I’m a little surprised he pulled it off since his numbers had been slipping, but there are some important take away points from tonight.

1.      Tonight changes nothing from the perspective of the race. Think about it. How are we in a different place than we were last night? Mitt Romney still isn’t pulling the “conservative” crowd over to his side, but still has a substantial delegate lead. Rick Santorum is still riding his momentum with the conservative base and winning states, but he didn’t expand his lead over Gingrich tonight in any significant way due to the narrow margin of his victories. Gingrich is still behind and not catching up any. He is treading water in third place, no better or worse than he was before. Ron Paul still exists. At the end of the day, nothing actually changed.
2.      There’s no reason to expect Gingrich to drop out after not winning MS and AL, particularly since he almost pulled it off. He’ll point out that he beat Mitt Romney in both states and came very close to catching Santorum as well. He’ll point to the dissatisfaction of the conservative voter with Romney and the strength of his showing. As mentioned in point 1, since little has changed, there’s no new reason for Gingrich to drop, and arguably less since he will pick up almost as many delegates as Santorum tonight. I know Santorum’s supporters will be ruffled by this, but let’s face it- people wanted Santorum out after he fell flat in South Carolina and not listening to them when his campaign was on life support turned out to be a good decision. Santorum might be able to beat Romney without Gingrich in the race, but the flip side of that applies too. Other than the marginal delegate lead over Gingrich (substantially less than Romney’s lead over him) there’s just no reason for him to say Gingrich should drop. It’s not that Newt is spoiling it for him, it’s that they’re spoiling it for each other. Either of them could feel much more justified in asking Paul to drop and try to support them in taking down Romney, but they know they wouldn’t gain any significant support by doing that so they’re leaving that issue alone since Paul’s supporters are much more candidate-loyal.
3.      At the end of the night, no one is happy. Sure, Santorum gets to claim “victory”, but it’s not significant enough to help him chip away at Romney’s lead or expand the lead over Gingrich. He’ll essentially tread water despite the victories. The delegate math is still bad for him and he knows it. Romney gets to claim that he performed better than expected, but his pandering in the South didn’t deliver him any wins and only provided more material for media jokes about the odd things he says in states when he’s working a little too hard to “fit in”. He’s still in the best delegate position, but every big delegate take where he doesn’t expand his lead is one step closer to a brokered convention. Gingrich gets to point out that his campaign came from behind to snag almost as many delegates as the winner, but in reality it is clear his Southern strategy is  not working. He needed wins tonight for visual momentum if nothing else and he didn’t get it. The delegate math is also ugly for him and despite picking up the 2nd place in both contests tonight, it’s also not going to change the balance for him significantly.
4.      Santorum and Gingrich should be watched. As mentioned above, there’s no more reason for Newt to drop now than before, so Rick isn’t going to get that lucky. What is odd are the comments Newt made at an event about teaming up against Romney in the ad war and the compliments he sent Santorum’s way tonight at his concession speech, all the while blasting Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Even if it is forged out of desperation, some sort of arrangement between Gingrich and Santorum could be in the works.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Everyone seems a little annoyed (no matter which side you’re on) tonight, and I think that’s the atmosphere we’re going to be running with all the way to Tampa.

-M

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The Newt Gingrich/Rick Perry Illusion

Many of you have probably seen the tweets, facebook posts, and blurbs claiming that Gingrich’s campaign has talks in the works about the possibility of a Gingrich-Perry ticket. This has excited some and caused groans from others. My personal opinion? Talks about the “possibility” probably are in the works, and that’s as far as they’ll ever get. Gingrich and his campaign staff are not dumb. Floating speculation that you’re considering a formerly popular Southern Christian conservative as your running mate just before a couple of Southern Christian states go to the polls is a smart political move. Gingrich knows he needs to win those states. He knows that even if he does win those states it is going to be an uphill battle, but he’s taking it one step at a time and the Alabama and Mississippi primaries are the next step. In order to draw voters away from Santorum, who occasionally treats the podium like a pulpit and has attracted the voters that like that, Perry is great ammunition. They both appeal to conservative Christians who apparently aren’t really listening to what the candidates say. Better yet, saying (or even better, having a random source leak) that you’re “considering” someone as a running mate means nothing. I can say I’m considering eating at Chili’s tonight to bring out some of my Chili’s-loving friends and then decide I’d rather eat at Olive Garden. They might be annoyed for a little bit, but they’re already out so they’re probably not going to bother going back home. It wouldn’t surprise me if Gingrich is playing that exact game. I don’t know if Rick Perry would actually consider a VP nod from Gingrich if things played out that way, but I don’t think he’d actually get the nod anyway. Gingrich’s political past shows he does know how the game is played, even if he seems to go off course from time to time, and I think he’ll pick someone more likely to draw in the precious independent and centrist voters needed to win the election if it comes down to that.  For now, Perry’s name is probably just part of the political game, nothing more.

-M

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Kansas REALLY Likes Rick Santorum

I expected Santorum to win Kansas, and I assumed internal polls must be showing him with an insurmountable advantage for Newt Gingrich to cancel his trip there when he so badly needs a strong showing in conservative states. What I didn’t expect was for him to beat Mitt Romney by 30%. Rick Santorum’s campaign will now have more legitimate ammunition to throw at Mitt Romney that conservatives don’t want him as their candidate, and I think you’re going to see an all out ad war between those two campaigns and their Super PACs when the winner-take-all states become more common. I hope those seatbelts are still fastened, GOP voters.

-M 

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Super Tuesday Results: More Craziness Ahead!

Well, most results are in and I’m going to call it: There’s no clean closure to this Republican Race in sight.

 

At this point, that’s basically bad news for all Republican nominees involved since the results ensured that no candidate will drop out and this carnival will continue. Here are my thoughts on each of the candidates and what tonight meant for them.

 

Mitt Romney: Mitt Romney will most likely be crowned tonight’s big winner thanks to a win, albeit a close one, in Ohio. No, his campaign isn’t really in better shape than it was before. No, he didn’t win virtually any counties outside the major metro areas in Ohio. But he won, and that’s what matters for delegates and momentum. Romney’s real problem is that stubborn elephant in the room that he still isn’t winning over those that call themselves “very conservative” or people making less than $100,000 a year in these important swing states. Even more concerning, at least in my opinion, is that he was only able to garner 60% of the vote in Virginia against Ron Paul. 40% of voting Virginians, a state supposed to be friendly to Romney (if pundits are to be believed), wouldn’t vote for Romney when the only alternative on the ballot was the “weakest” candidate in the race from a national electability standpoint. Virginia shows that there are still a lot of Not-Romney voters out there, and they’re just not willing to come around to him yet. Personally, I think most of them will come around in November if it comes to that. Still though, at the end of the night he has the most delegates and won the most states, all of which were pretty predictable outside of Ohio, and that is what will matter for momentum. He’s still the “inevitable” nominee to beat and he will still have the most delegates, the most machine-like campaign, and likely the most money. The overall dynamic of the race really hasn’t changed one bit from the Romney perspective, and that’s at least “okay” if you’re a Romney fan. The crater the Romney campaign has been driving themselves into is that independents and conservative Democrats, must-win candidate groups if he wants to beat President Obama in November, like him less and less as the campaign goes on. Whether the ads come from him or his Super PAC, the negative tone and frequent gaffes have really hurt his image and he’s got a lot of work to do if he wants to improve it before November.

 

Rick Santorum: Rick Santorum did relatively well tonight too, which means he’ll be sticking around a lot longer as well. Tennessee and Oklahoma were significant wins for him, especially since Gingrich was coming from behind and hurting Santorum enough to possibly propel either Romney or Gingrich into the winner’s seat in those races. Unfortunately for both of them, Santorum hung on and won those states. Unfortunately for Paul, Santorum also won North Dakota pretty handily. Winning Ohio would have been huge news for Santorum, but as it is he didn’t come out of the day too badly. Interestingly, if he had been able to win over the voters who cast ballots for Rick Perry or Jon Huntsman (I really, really, really don’t see the point in voting for people not even running anymore, by the way), he could have won Ohio, but those people made their stubborn views known today. His numbers with women are still weak and he still doesn’t have a lot of appeal to the more moderate or independent voters, both of which could be major issues if he ended up with the nomination, but I find it unlikely that he can come from behind in the all-or-nothing states and grab the reins away from Romney, who already has a significant delegate lead.

 

Newt Gingrich: Tonight was a disappointing night for Newt Gingrich, no matter what his campaign may be saying right now. Yes, he won Georgia, his delegate-rich home state and a state he worked very hard in the past few weeks. Yes, he came from behind in the polls in Tennessee and Oklahoma and did considerably better than most would have predicted, but he really needed a couple wins to get some momentum back on his side. The good news for the Gingrich campaign is there are a couple more contests in the next few days he may fare well in, and with a decisive win in Georgia his campaign can continue fighting on. However, and I really don’t love saying this, I think his campaign is probably done for in the next several weeks. Gingrich isn’t doing that badly in delegates in all honesty, he’s only 40ish behind Santorum, but as long as both of them are in the race it will be almost impossible for either of them to grab enough delegates away from the other to stop Romney. Even combined they would trail Romney, but there are some factors that can’t be predicted that might have allowed either of them to perform better if the other weren’t in the race. At any rate, Santorum’s moment in the spotlight appears it is going to continue, and that’s bad news for Gingrich. Unless Santorum somehow implodes spectacularly and releases his delegates to Gingrich, a highly unlikely event, Gingrich will need an act of God to get enough momentum back on his side to seize the nomination. I don’t necessarily think he should drop out, the voters have delivered enough delegates to both Gingrich and Santorum to let them know that they are liked, but they can’t all be liked at the same time and beat Romney.

 

Ron Paul: Tonight was a mixed night for Ron Paul too. He performed pretty well against Romney in the two-man Virginia contest, and he came in second in North Dakota and Idaho, all of which will be loudly proclaimed as wins by his exuberant campaign spokesmen who like to keep my inbox flooded with lengthy emails. Despite the fact he didn’t win any of them, he just did better than most people were willing to give him credit for, the Paul campaign will still happily jump up on the soapbox that all but his most ardent supporters are growing weary of and claim the establishment is afraid of him and he’d be winning if it were a fair fight. Considering he has received a good bit of air time and debate time this election cycle and he’s one of the most consistently financed candidates, I have a hard time believing it’s not a fair fight for him, but that’s not the point. The point is Virginia, North Dakota, and Idaho all went pretty well for him. More interesting than those states, or the Paul campaign’s pattern of rhetoric, at least in my opinion, is that Paul came in second in Vermont. I hadn’t heard near as much speculation about his performance in Vermont, so his ability to beat Santorum and Gingrich on the east coast will be a legitimate strength to proclaim for the Paul camp in the weeks to come. Alaska’s results aren’t all in yet, but it appears he will not do nearly as well as many had predicted there. Not only will he not get the win he was needing, it looks like he won’t com in second either, which is disappointing considering he was the only candidate to visit Alaska. This Super Tuesday performance means the point I made last time, and have been making for some time now, still remains: Ron Paul cannot, and will not, win the nomination proceeding like this. Before you send me angry messages or comments about how he’d win in a fair fight (and in the future, please explain to me what a fair fight is, I really don’t know what you’re talking about there), do the math. Paul hasn’t won a single state, despite claiming several times he was about to win one. He just can’t appeal to enough voters overall to deliver a win for his campaign, and without some wins, and some big ones, he can’t rack up enough delegates to get the nomination. Right now he has less than a sixth of the delegates that Romney has. If Gingrich, Santorum, or both, choose to drop out and release their delegates, you know damn well they’re not going to ask them to support Paul. Don’t get me wrong, I like Paul. I like some of his ideas and I respect his consistency and conviction, but if you think he can still win the nomination with a shortage of friendly states ahead for him on the calendar and all-or-nothing state contests nearing, you’re living in a fantasy world.

 

Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough for now. The bottom line is that there is still no decisive winner and the Republican voters are still very divided. Super Tuesday took us one big step closer to a brokered convention, and the Obama campaign must be loving the thought of that.

 

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

-M

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