The Gullibility Election

From “Mitt the Shape Shifter Falls on Obama’s Bayonet,” John Cassidy, The New Yorker:

Afterwards, however, there was some suggestion from the pundits that his entire performance had been a fiendishly clever attempt to ape what the Gipper did in 1980, during a debate with Jimmy Carter: come on all lovey-dovey and peace-loving, and thereby put to rest fears that, should he be elected, he would promptly loose one off on the Soviets. “Mitt Romney did something pretty important tonight,” David Gergen said on CNN. “He came across as a responsible-sounding Commander-in-Chief.” Over on Fox, Charles Krauthammer developed this argument further: “He stayed away from the pitfalls. He did not allow himself to to be pictured as a warmonger. I think this could help him win the election.”

I don’t buy it. If Romney does win, it will be despite this performance rather than because of it. In refusing to engage in detail about what happened in Libya, he gave up his one chance of really embarrassing the President on a specific foreign-policy issue. In constantly siding with Obama on issues of military policy and counter-terrorism—did I say he loves drone attacks?—he undermined his argument that the President’s term of office has been a failure and he needs running out of town. And in constantly reversing his previous positions, he raised anew the question that has plagued him all along: Does he actually believe in anything?

Where once he repudiated things he said three years ago, he now repudiates things he said three months ago, or even three weeks ago. Fourteen days from now, we will find out whether his outrageously cynical approach to campaigning pays off. Given the way the polls are going, such a possibility can’t be wholly discounted. But last night, I suspect, he went too far. The voters may be gullible. But are they that gullible Emphasis added.
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I agree with Cassidy.  If people buy the BS Mitt is selling, then we get what we deserve.

Romney Campaign Flips Again on Gay Marriage

This is getting sooooooo tiresome — the Romney campaign’s apparently taking a more moderate position at a moment when it’s likely to get a lot of attention and then quietly walking it back, counting on fewer people hearing about their reversion to a more extreme policy.

We’ve recently seen this on Mitt’s supporting abortion for the “health” of the mother, and then the campaign saying no; Mitt supporting health insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, and then the campaign saying only if they have had continuous coverage, which was already the law before Obamacare.

In the spin room after the last debate, Mitt’s spokesperson Bay Buchanan (yes, she’s Pat’s sister) said that Mitt favored leaving gay marriage up to the states, that it was a Tenth Amendment issue.  This seemed to be a softening of Mitt’s position supporting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in all states.  Now she’s taken that back, saying Mitt supports the constitutional amendment.


No Al Qaeda Evidence in Benghazi Attack

From “No Evidence found of Al Qaeda role in Libya attack,” Ken Dilanian and Shashank Bengali, L A Times:

The assault on the U. S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi last month appears to have been an opportunistic attack rather than a long-planned operation, and intelligence agencies have found no evidence that it was ordered by Al Qaeda, according to U. S. officials and witnesses interviewed in Libya.

“[A]fter five weeks of investigation, U. S. intelligence agencies say they have found no evidence of Al Qaeda participation.

“The attack was ‘carried out following a minimum amount of planning,’ said a U. S. intelligence official…. ‘The attackers exhibited a high degree of disorganization.  Some joined the attack in progress, some did not have weapons and others just seemed interested in looting.’

“A second U. S. official added, ‘There isn’t any intelligence that the attackers pre-planned their assault days or weeks in advance.’  Most of the evidence so far suggests that ‘the attackers launched their assault opportunistically after they learned about the violence at the U. S. Embassy in Cairo’ earlier that day, the official said.

“[I]n Benghazi, witnesses said members of the group that raided the U. S. mission specifically mentioned the video….

“They were extremely well armed, but Libya is awash in weapons.  In Benghazi, machine guns and shoulder-fired grenade launchers…are sold on the streets.

“Republicans began portraying the attack as the work of Al Qaeda, and they accused the administration of deliberately seeking to downplay that possibility.

“Now, however, said another official with access to the intelligence, ‘it may turn out that the initial assessment was not that far off.'” Emphasis added.

The Prez needs a coherent narrative on this for the foreign affairs debate Monday. 

He’s Baaaack, But Was It Enough?

The President was certainly back last night, and I hope, but am not sure, that it was enough.

Mitt helped the Prez by not seeming presidential himself.  He seemed more like a very rich, entitled, spoiled, impatient, looking-down-on-us peons CEO.  Appearing like a guy used to being in charge and getting your way doesn’t necessarily translate into looking like a commander in chief.  Mitt reminded me more of Donald Trump than Thomas Jefferson.

The President was extremely well-prepared,  crisp and fluent without being professorial, engaging and engaged.  He consistently did well, as when he called out Mitt on his past rejection of coal plants; when he explained that oil companies were sitting on their leases on public lands waiting for prices to rise; when he twice called out Mitt for his own low tax rate and called his tax plan “sketchy,” inevitably making us think of Mitt himself as “sketchy” and untrustworthy; when he explained that gas prices were so low when he took office because the economy was crashing and demand for oil was low.  The President really had an answer for everything.

The President called Mitt a liar, as on the auto bailout, without hurting himself.  By contrast, Mitt came across as rude to the President.

The President was effective going after Mitt both personally and on policy because Mitt helped him.  Obama sought to portray Mitt as an out-of-touch rich guy, and Mitt helped him by playing that role well.  The shoe definitely fit. Obama sought to portray Mitt as not having any answers other than tax cuts for the rich, and Mitt helped him by being vague and not explaining how he would create jobs, just claiming that he knew how.

The coup de grace obviously was the President’s 47% attack at the very end, which was powerful and effective.  He contrasted “debate Mitt” with Mitt “behind closed doors,” who has contempt for people on Social Security and veterans and active-duty service men and women and students.  There is no explaining away the 47% video.  When Mitt said he cared about 100% of us last night, his voice lacked the passion and conviction it had when he was dissing almost half of us in Boca Raton.  He gives himself away.

To me, Mitt was at his lowest when he claimed that Obama’s description of Mitt’s tax plan was “foreign.”  It was a bizarre word to use when you mean inaccurate, and it was intended to convey that Obama himself is “foreign.”  We’re back to Kenyan Muslim Socialist, we’re in birther, World Net Daily territory, which is beyond the pale of a presidential debate and beneath the dignity of a presidential candidate.  But Mitt really has no dignity, just ambition.

This debate would mean more if the first one hadn’t gone so badly for Obama, if he had been building on a strong first showing.  Mitt wasn’t as bad in this debate as Obama was in the first, he wasn’t a disaster.  I’m not sure he stumbled as much as Obama needed him to.  He certainly came across as more unlikable this time because things weren’t going his way, and he was facing a very different opponent.  It was easy for Mitt to be pleasant in the first debate when the President was doing so poorly.

The President wasn’t on a level field with Mitt last night, he was in a hole.  But he definitely put down his shovel and hopped on his ladder.  He has three weeks to keep climbing.



Girardi, Like Obama, Looks for Game Changer

Wow!  Girardi has both A-Rod and Swisher out of the line-up tonight.

Gardner is batting leadoff and playing left, with Ichiro moving to right.  Chavez is at third.

I hope both the Yankees and Obama do what they have to do tonight.

I’m not sure if I’m more worried about Verlander or Mitt.

I am kind of bouncing off the walls, “going mental” like the Ed Grimley character (Martin Short) on SNL.

Quote of the Day

“In his first debate with Mitt Romney, President Obama arguably blew a modest lead in the polls, breathed new life into the moribund Republican campaign, and left his closest supporters frustrated if not demoralized. Not a bad night’s work! Now two weeks later, Obama has a chance in their rematch Tuesday night to patch up the mess he made of things in Denver — or to compound his problems even further.”

Benjy Sarlin at Talking Points Memo

The Prez better spend the entire 90 minutes patching up like crazy, not compounding.  To paraphrase that old Mary McCarthy-Lillian Hellman feud, every word Mitt says is a lie, including “and” and “the.”

TPM Gives Florida to Mitt

Liberal web site Talking Points Memo now gives Obama only 256 electoral votes (down from 270 on October 9) and Mitt 235 (up from 206 on October 9).

They’ve moved Florida to “Lean Romney.”

Sarah Silverman, you need to schlep harder.

But mostly the Prez needs to “try better,” as Alex the Parrot used to say, in the final two debates.

Nate Silver Says…

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog shows a 30-vote swing in the electoral college against Obama since Silver’s October 4 projections.  Silver now projects Obama getting 291 electoral college votes on November 6, and Mitt getting 247.

Silver’s projections also show a 20.3% decline in Obama’s chances of winning since October 4.  He now gives Obama a 66.8% chance, and Mitt a 33.2% chance.

That’s quite a dramatic swing in a week.   Of course that was quite a crappy debate performance…