It really does amaze me that your librul media doesn’t think Romney’s religion is relevant.
50 years ago today, the Beatles released “Love Me Do”:
David Corn points out that Social Security is a great big surprise package to be opened only after the election! Trust us!
While it is certainly true that a presidential contest tends to focus on silly frivolities (say, Paul Ryan’s workout schedule or Joe Biden’s photo with motorcyclists), and while it is undeniable that an election season tends to bring out the craziness in everyone, it is also true that those unfortunate realities are no justification to divorce the entire campaign from serious issues. Elections, after all, aren’t supposed to only be vapid exercises in bad reality TV. They are also supposed to be exercises in democratic participation, which means they are supposed to present We the People with a substantive policy discourse – one that helps us all cast informed votes.
This is a particularly important principle when it comes to Social Security – a program about which the Obama administration has been sending mixed signals.
The most recent signals, of course, came from the president himself, who has insisted that “what I’m not going to do, as a matter of principle, is to slash benefits or privatize Social Security.”
I’m just going to make sure you get less money!
Yet, during the first presidential debate in Denver, he nonetheless called for the program to be “tweaked” – a troubling reminder that last July, the Washington Post and CBS News ran stories headlined “In debt talks, Obama offers Social Security cuts” and “Obama proposes cuts to Social Security,” respectively, with both quoting unnamed Democratic officials leaking the prospect of big reductions in promised benefits. Likewise, at the Democratic National Convention this year, Vice President Biden criticized Republicans for not embracing the Social Security cuts championed by the Bowles-Simpson commission. Meanwhile, as some Democratic legislators have pushed to enact Obama’s own 2008 campaign proposal to raise the Social Security payroll tax cap, the White House has been noticeably absent in voicing its support for such legislation.
In light of these equivocations, the key questions should be ringing in every voter’s ear. If we can’t have a debate about Social Security before we make a presidential choice, at what point can we ever have such a debate in a way that honors our democratic ideals? In Hillel’s own words, if not now, when?
Corn’s right. It’s undemocratic. You can’t send out obscure smoke signals while you’re campaigning for no other reason than being able to claim, after you’re reelected, that “I told you I was going to do this!”
You remember Bob Herbert, right? The only New York Times columnist who wrote about poor people in America? What he said:
There is always some excuse, some reason for not bringing all of the president’s energy and resources to the fight.
On jobs, the biggest crisis facing the country, the excuse for not having done more has been Republican obstructionism. There is no doubt the Republicans have tried to thwart the president every which way from sundown. But Obama never fought back in kind. He never found his inner Harry Truman, never took his case forcefully to the people. He kept trying to accommodate the other side long after it was clear that no accommodation was possible.
In the face of the worst economic calamity since the 1930s, the United States needed a mammoth job-creation and economic revitalization program, a New Deal for the 21st century. But that would have required presidential leadership capable of challenging the formidable opposition mounted by the very folks who caused the crisis in the first place. Instead we got a woefully insufficient stimulus program and a failed effort at some kind of grand bargain between the president and the retrograde Republicans in Congress. That grand bargain would have imposed austerity measures that would have further crushed the poor and the black and the middle class.
On Wednesday night nearly 60 million television viewers got to witness this chronic unwillingness of Barack Obama to fight. He did not hammer Mitt Romney for his ugly, all-too-revealing comments that demeaned nearly half the population as slackers and ne-er-do-wells. He did not go after Romney’s terrible job-creation record as governor of Massachusetts. He did not assail Romney for his callous contention on 60 Minutes that people who don’t have health insurance actually do get care — in the nation’s emergency rooms. “If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die,” said Romney. “We pick them up in an ambulance and take them to the hospital and give them care.”
Obama never bothered to bring up that cold-hearted comment during the debate, never bothered to explain why the reliance on emergency room treatment is one of the worst possible approaches imaginable to providing health care.
One of the more remarkable things about the debate was Mitt Romney’s absolute contempt for anything resembling facts, truth or reality. Deliberate deception was the bedrock foundation of his strategy. He wouldn’t even come clean on the tax cuts that are a cornerstone of his campaign. And yet it was Romney who had the chutzpah to look Obama in the eye and assert: “Mr. President, you’re entitled to your own airplane and your own house, but not your own facts.”
How in heaven’s name could Obama let him get away with that?
The harsh truth is that President Obama seemed unprepared for the debate. He came off as a man who didn’t really want to be there, who wondered why he should have to be bothered fending off the impertinent attacks and serial untruths being flung at him by his opponent. The millions of Obama supporters who wanted to see flashes of passion and fire from their guy — from a president fighting effectively on their behalf — were left with nothing but the bitter taste of disappointment.
Romney, in contrast, seemed not just confident but in command. He was dynamic (as he fashioned one falsehood after another), while Obama seemed flat, uncomfortable and unwilling to vigorously counteract the falsehoods. Most important, Romney was the one far more willing to fight.
There will be more debates. And the election has not been decided by any means. But Obama’s supporters need to make it clear that the time for excuses is over. The president had no right to show up for a debate unprepared and offer an expectant nation an embarrassingly half-hearted performance. Progressive leaders, who represent Obama’s strongest and most faithful supporters, have an obligation to convey that message in the strongest possible terms.
The president let his people down. And if he’s capable of doing that in an election that is clearly so important, it means he’s capable of doing it again if he wins a second term.
See, this is my problem with Obama, and why I’m so unwilling to get on the Blue Team bandwagon. Obama’s policies (or lack thereof) have been just as bad for the poor and unemployed as if Republicans were in the White House. And he seems to be fine with that! He wasn’t being funny when he told Romney how they agreed on Social Security — he’s a corporatist asshole who sees his job as herding us meekly into our new Third World reality.
Well, I won’t be quiet. This man doesn’t care enough to fight for us. He only fights for himself.
My favorite urban farm is holding its annual Subaru Fall Festival tomorrow. Lots of cool stuff for grownups and kids!
So we have 23 million people out of work*, and the big story this morning is that the official unemployment numbers (not counting those who have stopped looking, of course) have edged down. Conservatives are accusing Obama of manipulating the numbers, and so-called progressives are gleefully ridiculing them.
In the meantime, uh, 23 million people are still out of work and you’d think real progressives would be fighting for them — and not just for the Blue team.
*U.S. Labor Department counts 12.8 million people as unemployed. Add in the people not actively looking, and it brings us to just over 15.3 million. Then we have 8.2 million part-time workers who can’t find full-time work = 23.6 million.
Rick Santorum on killing Big Bird: