A Little Projection from Palin

This is priceless!

On Fox tonight, Sarah Palin said that Mitt is not petulant or self-centered.  But as for the President — “Obama is a very self-centered politician who wants to blame everybody but himself when something goes wrong….”

Fox finally found something that Palin can speak with authority about — being petulant, self-centered, and blaming everybody but herself.

I Wasn’t the Only One Surprised

From “Peacenik Mitt gets pummeled,” Greg Sargent, The Plum Line, WaPo:

“I was genuinely surprised by the Mitt Romney who showed up tonight. Conservatives had been yearning for Romney to finally swing the Libya cudgel at Obama’s supposed national security glass jaw — the one they’ve persuaded themselves Romney is always on the verge of shattering for good. But for most of the night, Romney studiously avoided attacking Obama aggressively. Perhaps Romney feels out of his depth on these issues and decided to tread carefully, to avoid major mistakes. Perhaps Romney thinks he’s on track to win. Perhaps Romney decided his most important imperative was to appear reassuring and presidential, rather than go on the attack. He clearly decided he needed to head off perceptions of himself as a throwback to Bush-era foreign policy adventurism, again and again stressing his desire for a peaceful world.

“Tonight, America was introduced to Peacenik Mitt — and watched him take a pummeling. I don’t know how much this will impact the overall dynamic of the race — it may not matter much at all — but it’s hard to see this as a good night for Romney.”

Fool Me Once…

As the debate progressed and we were introduced to Mitt the Dove on foreign policy, I felt so foolish that I hadn’t seen this coming.  He did in the foreign policy debate exactly what he did in the first debate on domestic policy — move sharply and dramatically to the middle.

So whatever Obama said and stood for, we then heard that championed by Me Too Mitt.

He ran as far and as fast from his neo-con image and advisers as he could, trying to hurl himself into the arms of women voters.  This election won’t turn on foreign policy, but it will turn on how big the gender gap is.

When Mitt said “We can’t kill our way out of this mess,” and talked about dealing with the Muslim world through economic development, education, gender equality, and the rule of law, he wasn’t really telling us his strategy for the Muslim world, he was telling us his strategy for American women.  If he doesn’t care about gender equality here, why would he care about it there?

Mitt didn’t need to win (and he didn’t), he just needed to keep his momentum going.  Saying something glaringly stupid as Ford did on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe would have stopped that momentum cold and doomed him.

So the main goal tonight was to avoid a gaffe that made him seem unready to be commander in chief.  He achieved that.

The next goal was to calm down women voters who might worry that he’s too hawkish.  He achieved that.

His strategy told me that his campaign is feeling confident right now.  Pretty, pretty confident, as Larry David would say.  If they weren’t confident, he would have felt the need to be much more aggressive against the President, rather than amiably agreeing with him.

They know the election is still about the economy (where Mitt was aggressive), so why make waves on foreign policy when he had more to lose than to gain?

Behind that cautious playing-it-safe was a calculated playing-to-win.

Nate Confirms With Data My Gut Feeling That Denver Is Still Hurting O

Nate Silver from his FiveThirtyEight blog at the NYT:

“Although many of the surveys that are influencing the forecast preceded the debate, meaning that it will take another day or two before we can close the book on its effects, at the very least it seems clear that Mr. Obama will not see anything like the sharp break toward Mr. Romney that followed the first debate in Denver.

“A gain of two or three points for Mr. Obama in the polls, for instance, would very probably have become obvious by now. Perhaps the debate was worth a half a point or a full point for Mr. Obama — these trends would be more difficult to distinguish from statistical noise — but it probably wasn’t worth much more than that.”  Emphasis added.

With the economy still as weak as it is, the bottom line is that O couldn’t afford a bad debate performance.  It’s easier to slip than to climb back.

This Makes Me Nervous

Nate Silver at the FiveThirtyEight blog at the NYT is suggesting that Obama should concede Florida.

He writes, “Romney has made larger-than-average gains in the state since the Denver debate, and has now become a definitive favorite there.”

Silver’s model gives Mitt a 69% chance of carrying the state on November 6.  If the election were held today, he gives Mitt a 78% chance.

Obama doesn’t have to carry Florida to win, but if he does, it would make it very, very challenging for Mitt to find another electoral path to 270.

Quote of the Day

“She kept feeding Obama lines. She did, folks, she kept feeding him lines. She kept prompting him. You Democrats, he couldn’t have done this last night without her assistance.

“She committed an act of journalistic terror or malpractice last night. If there were any journalist standards, what she did last night would have been the equivalent of blowing up her career like a suicide bomber.”

Rush Limbaugh on Candy Crowley and the debate.

How much longer is Rush’s journalistic terror going to continue?


Mitt Lied About the Binders

Mitt lied last night about demanding those “binders full of women.”  He was presented with them when he was elected.  Then he appointed women to agencies he didn’t care about.

From “Mind the Binder,” David S. Bernstein, The Phoenix:

What actually happened was that in 2002 — prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration — a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.

They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected.

I have written about this before, in various contexts; tonight I’ve checked with several people directly involved in the MassGAP effort who confirm that this history as I’ve just presented it is correct — and that Romney’s claim tonight, that he asked for such a study, is false.

I will write more about this later, but for tonight let me just make a few quick additional points. First of all, according to MassGAP and MWPC, Romney did appoint 14 women out of his first 33 senior-level appointments, which is a reasonably impressive 42 percent. However, as I have reported before, those were almost all to head departments and agencies that he didn’t care about — and in some cases, that he quite specifically wanted to not really do anything. None of the senior positions Romney cared about — budget, business development, etc. — went to women.

Secondly, a UMass-Boston study found that the percentage of senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined throughout the Romney administration, from 30.0% prior to his taking office, to 29.7% in July 2004, to 27.6% near the end of his term in November 2006. (It then began rapidly rising when Deval Patrick took office.)

Third, note that in Romney’s story as he tells it, this man who had led and consulted for businesses for 25 years didn’t know any qualified women, or know where to find any qualified women. So what does that say?

Emphasis added.



Mitt Up in Florida

The latest PPP poll released today shows Mitt up by one in Florida, 49 to 48%.

That’s a five-point swing from a couple of weeks ago, when Obama led Mitt by four.

The debate this Tuesday really is the most important moment of this campaign for the Prez.  It will kick the pendulum in one direction or the other, and that momentum will be hard to stop.

Grace Under Pressure

Joe Biden did a great job tonight saying what Obama should have said, and the Obama campaign is back on track.  Now Obama just has to keep it there.

I wasn’t really worried that Biden would have a gaffe, and he didn’t.  I was more worried about the age contrast.  When you have two candidates who are a generation apart, you wonder if the younger guy will make the older guy seem over the hill, or if the older guy will make the younger one seem callow.  Tonight it was clearly the latter.

Biden was passionate, engaged, energetic, fluent, and forceful.  He came across as authentic and sincere, as someone who speaks from the heart.

I always think of Mitt as Eddie Haskell, and tonight Ryan was Eddie Haskell, Jr.  He was slick and smarmy.   He seemed over-rehearsed.  He’s turning into a robot like Mitt. He was his far-right self, and so he raised doubts about that Moderate Mitt we saw last week.

My favorite moment was his Dan Quayle, deer-in-the-headlights look when Martha Raddatz asked if those who support abortion rights should be worried if he and Mitt win.  The correct answer was “Well, duh!,” but Ryan refused to answer it directly, sputtering about unelected judges versus elected representatives deciding.  How about women deciding for themselves, how about that?

Martha Raddatz did a great job.

If only the Yankees had won tonight…