The Debate Show
For months now we've been watching a series of kick lines fatuously called debates. The formula is essentially the same: a moderator, or moderators, presses a slowly diminishing number of Republican candidates for their party's nomination with a variety of questions, mostly irrelevant, idiotic and quite obviously designed to make the questioner look good and all of Obama's potential opposition look weak, venal and stupid.
My online friends at Just One Minute have tagged this phenomenon, "The Debate Show," a quick way to convey the content free talent show aspect of it all. I confess I haven't been able to sit through even one of them. I hate television and from the date Brit Hume announced his retirement, I've turned it off, joining my husband in watching it only when one of those super HBO series, like Rome or Deadwood is on. My impressions of The Debate Show are based solely on those of the live bloggers and the portions of the transcripts my favorite writers have highlighted.
I end up with much the same feeling I had before this all began. I wish Fred Thompson or someone very much like him were on the ticket instead. Still, as much as I find the present roster flawed, anyone beats the alternative, Barack Obama, and for the good of this country he must be defeated.
Under his watch, the economy is so bad that if the sycophantic and clueless legacy media reporting on its decline were still using lead type the letters spelling u-n-e-x-p-e-c-t-e-d-l-y would have to be replaced every week as in this latest example:
Sales of new U.S. homes unexpectedly declined in December for the first time in four months, capping the slowest year on record for builders. Purchases of single-family properties decreased 2.2 percent to a 307,000 annual pace, figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington."
There's nothing "unexpected" about this in my eyes.
The Fed's GDP projections keep going down. My friend Rick Ballard, who remains optimistic about the election based on the economy and patterns showing its significance in presidential elections says, "Today's Fed non-upwardly revised GDP projections, which, when applied to the Ray Fair Model produce a predicted share of 48.77%. (The Fair Model predicted a Democrat vote share of 49.9% for the 2010 election, the actual share was 44.8%)." That is to say, Rick believes the economy is a good indicator of how the election will go and that as it continues to plunge, so do Obama's re-election chances.
Spengler (David P. Goldman) says much the same thing: There will be no economic recovery before the election and that spells the end of Obama's term in he White House:
President Obama thinks that the improving economy will win him a second term, the New York Times reports today. Whatever he's drinking, order me a double. His poll numbers look a little better because the Republicans have spent the past several months in a fratricidal bloodbath. Fortunately, the memory of the American electorate for such antics is short. Once we choose a candidate (and I am happy with Romney, Santorum, or Gingrich) and unite behind him, we will win, unless, of course, we find a way to sabotage ourselves.
People are hurting, and badly. The official unemployment rate may have fallen, slightly, but the real unemployment rate - the number of working-age Americans who aren't working - rose from about 12% before the 2008 crisis, to about 23%, and hasn't come down. That includes people who have retired early because they can't find work, spouses who used to earn a second income but have gone back to homemaking because work isn't available, self-employed people whose businesses have collapsed, young people who live in their parents' basement because they can't afford tuition and can't find work. The chart below, courtesy of the Shadow Government Statistics website, shows (in the blue line labelled "SGS alternative") the way unemployment feels to Americans: one in four Americans who could be working, isn't. That's roughly twice the pre-recession level.
Investors Business Daily has more:
Direct payments. The amount of money the federal government hands out in direct payments to individuals steadily increased over the past four decades, but shot up under Obama, climbing by almost $600 billion - a 32% increase - in his first three years. And Obama's last budget called for these payments to climb another $500 billion by 2016, at which point they would account for fully two-thirds of all federal spending.
People getting benefits. According to the Census Bureau 49% now live in homes where at least one person gets a federal benefit - Social Security, workers comp, unemployment, subsidized housing, and the like. That's up from 44% the year before Obama took office, and way up from 1983, when fewer than a third were government beneficiaries.
Food stamps. This year, more than 46 million (15% of all Americans) will get food stamps. That's 45% higher than when Obama took office, and twice as high as the average for the previous 40 years. This surge was driven in part by the recession, but also because Obama boosted the benefit amount as part of his stimulus plan.
Of course, the economy is not the real issue according to those who set the parameters of these "debates." Neither is the money wasted on the stimulus, the horrifying deficit, the Administration's crony capitalism corruption or the big green energy fiascos (e.g., the latest example) this Administration threw billions of our dollars at. The big, important issues according to the media are things like gay marriage , abortion, whose wife would make the best First Lady and what should be the curriculum in elementary schools. And , as we all recall, what Newt said to his ex-wife.
Some wags made up questions for Diane Sawyer to illustrate their contempt for the process, though from what I can tell it's hard to parody such absurd questioning. Can you honestly say these are so much worse than the questions she and her cohorts actually posed:
"What's the difference between an orange?"
Turning to the economy, how would you help gay couples find jobs?
So abortion is legal except when it's not legal, and in some cases is not legal. What is the future of the Euro?"
One thing not an issue in the last debate were the baseless charges leveled against Newt by Romney partisans that Newt was disloyal to Reagan. Romney has admitted he did not support Reagan-Bush so it is obvious the charge is not based on principle but was designed to drive a wedge between conservative voters who adore Reagan and seemed inclined to support Newt.
The fact is, Romney "ran away" from the Reagan legacy, as [Legal Insurrection's William] Jacobson noted.
In a debate during Romney's unsuccessful 1994 Senate campaign, he said: "I was an independent during the time of Reagan-Bush. I'm not trying to return to Reagan-Bush."
He admits he even voted for Tsongas in his state's Democratic primary.
Thus, the charges against Newt seem puzzling and self-defeating were they even half true. By debate time, Mitt backed off the charges against Newt as the story was collapsing when subjected to scrutiny. He may have saved himself from further embarrassment by backtracking, but those who joined in this Republican version of media manipulation may not be so lucky. To my way of thinking they have sullied their reputations so that even if Romney should win the White House he risks a lot should he attempt to appoint them to office.
This week, I am less neutral than I was last week. Romney's tactics have turned me off. Jeff Goldstein rather expresses my initial view of the entire shameful campaign:
I'm curious why you'd expect me to reward a candidate who, in every election cycle, uses his money and his surrogates and sycophants to level insidious attacks against his opponents - not on the substance of their ideas, but rather in an attempt to smear them personally and, frankly, to ruin them. (The tell came last evening when Romney suggested to Wolf Blitzer that, in fact, Gingrich had indeed used a certain phrase, making his attack valid even if the phrase was taken completely out of context, and he knew it to be out of context.)
Watching the "pragmatic" center-right electability-jackals go after Newt Gingrich the last couple days - in a concentrated, concerted, and organized way - suggests to me that the establishment sector of "our" movement has adopted the worst tactics of the left, which it will use, amazingly, only against those to their right.
That is, these "pragmatists" are willing to smear and demonize conservatives (while pretending to define contemporary conservatism, in that way moving it leftward), and yet they make it their mission to woo the moderates and independents with pleasing panders and populist pablum.
And for this they deserve my vote?
Sorry, but that's how Obama made his political bones. And I'll be damned if I'm going to support that kind of behavior just because those reveling in it wear flag lapel pins and check R on their voter registration forms.
In fact, I hope they fail.
The President also gave his State of the Union Address this week. It was very much like his State of the Union Address last year, although he seems suddenly to have discovered the military and how wonderful ours is now.
If Obama wins re-election and we have to listen to his same sophomoric drivel again next year, I think I'll throw the TV set out the window . For certain the economy will continue to worsen and his autocratic power grabs and awful judicial nominations will expand. So maybe I just have to hold my nose and vote for the guy (Romney) whose campaign was so sleazy. And, I hope in time Jeff will come to that point of view, too.
For the children.