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.



We Can Drill Here, We Can Drill Now, But We Won’t Pay Less

I was reading articles on energy over the weekend, and I started to wonder how many Americans really believe the GOP mantra, “Drill here, drill now, pay less.”  Because we can drill here, we can drill now, but we won’t pay less.  If we suddenly started producing many more barrels of oil and prices fell sharply, other countries would simply cut back their production till prices went back up.  We’re not drilling in a vacuum, we’re drilling in a global market.

While the Republicans were very anxious for every American to understand this global market when gas prices rose under President Bush, they’re not about to make that same effort for President Obama.  In fact, they’re doing everything they can to confuse the issue and blame Obama.  President Bush had no control over prices, but President Obama, magically and mysteriously, somehow does.

The Democrats, as usual, are doing a lousy job communicating about the global market for oil and the president’s inability to affect prices.  The Democrats can’t explain their way out of a paper bag, even when the facts are on their side.

I especially love the way the GOP is touting how low gas prices were when Bush left and Obama arrived.  That’s because the global meltdown also destroyed the demand for oil, so prices plummeted.  A deep recession is not a happy way to lower gas prices.  Sure, you’re paying less to get to work, but maybe you no longer have a job.  Rising prices reflect recovery here and around the world.

Further confusing this issue is that politicians and pundits frequently talk about “oil and gas.”  When you talk about domestic production, they are two very different commodities.  Because natural gas is difficult to ship, increased domestic production does in fact have a strong effect on prices.  But not oil.

There are lots of reasons to vote for or against President Obama.  But how much you pay for gas on November 6 on your way to vote isn’t one of them.

Fox News Poll Shows Little Love for Mitt or Rick

A new Fox News poll of registered voters shows that both Mitt and Santorum are upside down on their favorable/unfavorable ratings.

Mitt is at 39/49, while Santorum is at 35/47.

You can’t win with numbers like these, no matter how high the price of gas.  People will ride their bikes to the polls for Obama.

Obama Approval Down

In a new CBS/New York Times poll, President Obama’s approval rating dropped to 41% from the 50% he reached last month.

He’s running at 47 to 43 against Mitt, and 48 to 44 against Santorum.  That Tweedledum/Tweedledee result for the GOP hurts Mitt’s electability argument against Santorum.

The President is down among voters with lower incomes, which makes sense, since they feel higher gas prices the most.

Tea Party Excess in the States Will Help President Obama Win

Conventional wisdom says that in a presidential election year, turnout for state offices is increased because more people come out to vote for our highest office.  Winning presidential candidates have “coattails” and help pull their party to victory in the down ballot races.

But I believe that this year Americans will be highly motivated to turn out for their state races, to swing a pendulum that moved too far to the right after the 2010 triumph of the Tea Party.  2010 saw the GOP win many gubernatorial races and take total control of many state legislatures.

People who thought they were voting for smaller, more efficient government found that once these candidates were sworn in, it was all abortion, all the time.  While voters certainly wanted negotiation with public unions, such as on health care and pension contributions, they didn’t want those unions to be stripped of all their rights.

Angry voters showing up to fix things in their state houses will help President Obama stay in the White House.  I believe there will be reverse coattails in 2012.

Yes, gas prices and the unemployment rate matter for him.  But so do transvaginal ultrasounds.

Hubris and over-reach are consistent losers for both political parties.