In case you haven’t looked at the schedule, the first presidential debate, coming from Denver and starting at 9 pm ET (6pm PT), covers domestic policy–topics include the economy, the economy, the economy and health care.
The candidates are sequestered away prepping madly for the event, of course.
“Mr. Romney’s team has concluded that debates are about creating moments and has equipped him with a series of zingers that he has memorized and has been practicing on aides since August,” reports the New York Times.
Ezra Klein at WaPo offers this pro tip: “If your strategy to turn the presidential election around relies on Romney’s sense of comic timing, you might want to prepare a Plan B, as well.”
It’s been a while since my last rant, and I’ve been holding myself back, biting my fist, trying to contain that unbecoming tinge of schadenfreude that was coloring my cheeks–that smug smirk that crossed my lips whenever I heard about another Romney gaffe.
What can I say? It’s been an enlightening few weeks.
Let’s start with Libya and the horrifying violence that followed the YouTube video mocking Mohammed that was promoted by Terry Jones–not the Monty Python guy, I’m talking about the American pastor who wanted to burn Korans in 2010 and hanged (read “lynched”) Barack Obama in effigy earlier this year. How is it the Secret Service is not ALL OVER this guy?
Anyway, after the death of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens at the hands of a mob/terrorists, Romney, with his steel-trap-like grasp of foreign events, decided to slam the president for sympathizing with the attackers. Too bad that was completely and absurdly untrue and everyone knew it. If you like timelines the way I do, you can follow along in detail and see how Romney managed to respond before either Secretary of State Clinton or President Obama had made a statement.
Add to that that no one likes a political candidate scoring political points at a moment when national unity was called for–and on September 11 no less. “If the past week was Mitt Romney’s opportunity to show how he would handle a foreign crisis, the GOP nominee did not put his best foot forward as far as voters are concerned,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a press release.
At Slate, Fred Kaplan pointed out: “No other prominent Republican, even those who have vigorously criticized Obama in the past, has spoken out against the president on this issue. Sens. John McCain and Mitch McConnell, as well as House Speaker John Boehner, have stepped before microphones to condemn the attacks, mourn the deaths, and assert American unity in seeking justice. These politicians know, as Romney apparently doesn’t, that in these sorts of crises, the proper thing to do is to rally around the flag. Ironically, it’s also the politically smart thing to do. Imagine if Romney had called President Obama, asked how he could be of assistance in this time of crisis, offered to appear at his side at a press conference to demonstrate that, when American lives are at risk, politics stop at the water’s edge—and then had his staff put out the word that he’d done these things, which would have made him look noble and might have made Obama look like the petty one if he’d waved away these offers.”
Then there was the delightfully candid remarks Romney made at a June fundraiser which surfaced in video from last week. Really? 47% of Americans “believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement…I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” Hmmmm, maybe “entitlement” defines an arrogant rich guy who think he can dismiss half the country as freeloading peons who aren’t worth his consideration.
As Andrew Tanenbaum at Electoral Vote says, quite astutely, “The danger for Romney is that this story reinforces his image of wanting to be the President for the upper half. Gaffes only matter when they reinforce an existing stereotype and this one does.” Tanenbaum also points out that scooped up in Romney’s 47% are “government employees, soldiers, veterans, people on Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, people who have gotten Small Business Administration loans, people who work for government contractors or companies the government bailed out (like banks and GM) are at least somewhat dependent on government.”
Polling that heartens...
Here’s the part I really like, though. I like to look at pretty polling graphs, and by pretty, I mean ones that point to a clear trend with sanity prevailing… Here is the state of the electoral vote, from electoral-vote.com, with handy markers for key events, and including the states that are considered swing states if they were to vote today. Notice the little blip around the 47% remark…
Here is the same graph but without the swing states included. See? Relatively the same curves, but with Obama just jogged over the all-important 270 line with the help of Romney’s 47% remark…
For reference, here is the graph from 2008, and you can see that actually McCain was in a better position than Romney at this point in the election–that is shortly after the McCain gaffe-fest started and certainly before the debates.
I know in those swing states you’re probably buried under campaign ads and sick of even thinking about the election. I have a solution: Early Voting. Vote now and you’ll never have to think about it again.
Not sure when early voting starts in your state? Check out this calendar.
Check in with your friends!
In-personearly voting has commenced in South Dakota, Idaho, Vermont, Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska, and Ohio.
You can vote by absentee ballot already in Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Georgia, Arkansas,Maryland, South Carolina, New Jersey, Maine, Michigan, Mississipi, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Texas,Delaware, Virginia, Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, North Dakota, Illinois, Washington DC, New York and Florida.
On Monday we here in California can begin early voting. Just do it!