Sky symphony

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  • bildanielson

    Wednesday Night Presidential Debate: Two winners, a loser, a prediction and a prescription.

    Point in fact, the two most pressing issues in America (and the world) right now are fundamental economic growth and stability, coupled with the rise of religious fundamentalism and fanaticism. These to issues are the backdrop of both our current foreign policy debates, and all of our domestic policy discussions and policy initiatives. It is in light of these two overriding issues that the first of my two predicted winners on Wednesday will be (drum roll please) one of the two candidates as proclaimed by the media intelligentsia (initially, both sides will claim victory). The other winner you might not guess, and the loser should be obvious to all.

    Obama will win this first debate when Romney does what he now has a habitual reflex of doing. Romney will, at some point, append/modify an answer he basically gets right by stating something as a point of emphasis or clarification. In doing so he will once again take away from his otherwise reasonable answer, or create a glaring contradiction when logically thought through. The aforementioned media intelligentsia will leap on him. We saw this most recently with his rather obtuse 47% comment. He is now famous for this, and I don’t see this changing at all – it’s involuntary with Romney. Alternately, I see Obama as simply able to debate more skillfully knowing what he knows about swing state polling data, his core constituency, minorities, and the hot buttons waiting to be pushed in those states and within those groups. Romney is not adept at those subtelties; it is one of his most glaring interpersonal communication weaknesses. So, the first winner on Wednesday will be a candidate – the fact it will be Obama is of little consequence.

    The other winner on Wednesday will be one you might not initially consider, but is actually more important than the candidate who wins: the tired, worn-out, sorry American presidential election mechanism. This win will be noticeable right from the start when the debate opens and only two candidates will be on stage. The omission of Gary Johnson from the debates should be a source of embarrassment and shame for Americans. Sadly, it will not. Mr. Johnson has some views that America should absolutely and seriously ponder (drug legalization, military spending, interventionism abroad, and individual rights). I do not hold the view that if he were in the debates it would usher in some incredible shift in the electorate, but I do believe he would provide sorely needed contrast juxtaposed against the views and policy prescriptions of Obama and Romney. Moreover, it would send a message to Americans that there is a third perspective out there that ought to be heard and considered. Other hints of a victory for this embarrassing system should be obvious by the questions or issues posed for debate, the way they are posed, and to whom they are addressed. Media bias and media myopathy will, as it always is, be on display once again. The media machinery and its interests that run the process would be the very last to challenge its own status or the incestuous process itself. Our pathetic and clearly defective (some might argue inequitable) political election process will be the second (and more important) clear winner Wednesday night.

    The biggest loser will, of course, be America. More accurately, the idea of America. Both candidates will utter shameless calls for more sacrifice to one degree or another, and in reference to multiple issues. Sacrifice will be either an overt or tacit solution to all our problems. The unstated cost will, of course, be our liberty and a diminution of individual rights. All this will be in the context of an economy that is very weak and headed for worse, coupled with a world that is seemingly run amok in religious fundamentalism and fanaticism. Neither candidate will articulate the core, fundamental, reason why the economy is in semi-shambles. Nor will either recognize the fundamental reasons why, for example, Islamists actually hate America. Both will offer up bromides from the realm of sacrifice, both will be profoundly wrong.

    On the economic front neither candidate will get to what the core reasons are, and how and why they impede our economic system. While Romney has a better handle for this, his premise is clearly faulty. Moreover, why is it that we are hated (and make no mistake about it, we are hated) by certain religious and ethnic groups? In both cases the religion-based notion that sacrifice is a cardinal virtue is clearly involved. The running stream of our policies and the organization of our society flows with this premise. Yet, each side of this coin is different – sacrifice related to economics, and religion-based sacrifice related to hatred towards America are not operating in the same way. In one case it is a direct problem, in the other it is merely a distraction; in both cases it is a seriously flawed notion and ought to be ejected into the sun.

    • bildanielson

      Thoughts in retrospect…

      On balance I’d call it a clear win for Romney, so boy I was wrong!

      I was very surprised that Obama did not “win” the debate. I was actually more surprised by Obama’s lackluster performance than anything Romney did with two exceptions.

      Romney was far more on the offensive tonight and scored nicely in my view with a subtle point when Obama suggested Romney had ideas, but no details to back them up. Romney’s response was really quite effective, essentially suggesting that leadership is not coming to the table with a complete and totally detailed plan making it a “my way or the highway” proposition. Rather, leadership requires having strong guiding principles and then bringing the parties together to solve problems without sacrificing those principles.. I actually thought that was very effective from a purely superficial, political, perspective given the state of gridlock we have in Washington..

      Secondly, Romney did not do what I predicted he would do.. Step on his foot with a follow-up or clarification of gaff proportions.. He debated pretty cleanly as far as that goes.

      Obama appeared like he wanted to be somewhere else.. As if the election was a forgone conclusion and he simply had to go through the motions.

      As far as both men echoing the self-sacrifice theme, they surprisingly stayed away from it overtly. And insofar as they addressed the root causes of our economic malaise neither one really drilled down to the core.

      I still cannot help but think that had Gary Johnson been on stage this debate would have clearly been totally different. We’ll never know..

      Given that Romney had a good night, I am still not persuaded to vote for him.. But the message going out now is: not so fast there Mr. President – you now have a race on your hands in my view..

  Open Thread #361
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