Sunday, September 30, 2012

Questioning Romnney Strategy

     The Romney presidential campaign owns the airwaves in Florida.  The frequency of his TV ads is driving Floridians to distraction.

In fact, some folks are complaining about the saturation, the repetition, to the point that there is talk of a backlash that could cost the GOP nominee votes.

I doubt that will happen.  Even those who complain the most and the loudest about the commercials may very well be swayed by them.  One thing is certain, the ads are too numerous not to be on voters' minds.

 I do question the wisdom of the message selected for the preponderance of Romney TV ads.  Most are about China, which is not foremost in the minds of most voters--especially in Florida.

What is most important to Floridians is the economy, and then medicare, and after that, immigration; and the President is favored over Romney to handle all three issues.

It would seem as though that is where Romney's money should go.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Five Weeks To Go -- And All Eyes Are On Ohio

     No Republican presidential candidate has won The White House without winning the state of Ohio since Heaven knows when;  and it will take some hurry-up help from above to save Mitt Romney from losing the Buckeye state--and the election--this year.

With all of this week's polls showing President Obama leading his challenger by anywhere from five to ten percentage points, and the internal numbers all going the President's way, it would seem as though it would take a minor miracle for Romney to capture Ohio's 18 electoral collage votes.

The odds are against a sufficient closing of the gap for a variety of reasons.  First, the polling has been trending toward the President and his approval rating has climbed to 50 percent, while Mitt Romney's popularity has been plunging.

Two miscues continue to haunt Romney in Ohio.  There's the "47 percent" debacle that is adversely affecting Romney everywhere; and there's "the miners mistake" that is especially damaging in Ohio. 

A group of Beallsville, Ohio coal miners are airing complaints about the GOP candidate that have resonated state wide.  The miners lost a day's pay when they made a mandatory appearance, and acted as a backdrop for TV cameras, at a Romney rally.  They felt used--in more than one sense of the word--by Mitt Romney.

The really big problem for Romney in Ohio, however, is his opposition to the auto industry bailout at the height of the great recession.  One in eight Buckeye state workers is employed directly or indirectly by the auto industry, and to these folks, Barack Obama saved their jobs and is, therefore, their hero.

Add in the facts that the unemployment rate in Ohio is lower than the national average, and voters there are more optimistic about the economic outlook than other parts of the country.

In-person voting begins in Ohio Tuesday, and the timing is better for the Obama campaign in that the President can "bank" votes while surging in popularity.

And as if all this wasn't enough to keep the Romney boys in Boston awake at night, an Associated Press report--out today--definitely will.

According to the AP, if President Obama wins Ohio, as now appears likely, he can lose the swing states of Nevada, Colorado,  Virginia--and even the biggest battleground prize, Florida--and still win the election.



Friday, September 28, 2012

The Best "Decider" -- Obama Or Romney?

     The most important question of this presidential election year is an obvious, generic one:  Who is best qualified to be Commander In Chief ?

To answer that question requires an opinion as to who is likely to make the best decisions once in office.  And reaching that conclusion is accomplished by looking at the aftermath of important decisions that have been made to date by our incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama, and by his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

One very important and revealing example of  decision making is the selection of vice presidential candidates--running mates who, if elected,  would be the proverbial heartbeat away from the presidency.

Four years ago, Barack Obama tapped U.S. Senator Joe Biden for his running mate.  Seldom has the person chosen to run for the office of vice president brought a better resume to the presidential ticket. 

His more than three decades in Congress had given him valuable experience and expertise in both domestic and foreign affairs.  And his propensity for coming out with what critics often consider the wrong thing to say was, and is, part of the total honesty and personality plus that have made Joe Biden so popular with constituents, Congressional colleagues, the American electorate, and world leaders.

Since becoming Vice President, Joe Biden has executed the duties of his office in admirable fashion and has been as involved in, and valuable to, the workings of the executive branch of government as anyone in history.   He is well-known and well regarded around the globe.  And most important, Joe Biden is well qualified to become president should the need arise.

 Barack Obama's choice of Joe Biden to become his running mate, and vice president, was an excellent decision.

This election year, Mitt Romney tapped Congressman Paul Ryan for his running mate.  Seldom has the person chosen to run for the office of vice president brought a weaker resume to a presidential ticket.

 Zero business background.  Zero foreign policy or national security experience.  Little known beyond his Congressional district.  Completely unknown abroad.  An uncompromising, divisive member of Congress.

Paul Ryan's only claim to fame at the time of his selection was his now infamous economic plan that has been faulted by most independent analysts, including the non-partisan Congressional budget office.

Ryan was thought by Romney to be able to deliver his home state of Wisconsin, and its 10 electoral votes.  But it's not happening.  Wisconsin is now projected to be safely in the Obama column.

Paul Ryan definitely has a way with words, but in his case, that is not an asset.  His propensity for lying kept the fact checkers busy, and the media buzzing, after his acceptance speech.  His continuing outrageous claims and distortion of the truth have cost him credibility with voters.

Especially damaging was his appearance at the AARP convention in New Orleans,  where his remarks were met with a cascade of boos.  Ryan's national unfavorable rating with the electorate is now higher than his favorable rating.

Mitt Romney's choice of Paul Ryan to become his running mate was a terrible decision   It contradicts Romney's success as a CEO, and raises one more question as to  his decision making were he to become Commander In Chief.

So who is the best "decider"--Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Fifth Year Of The Obama Presidency

     It's looking more and more like voters will give Barack Obama four more years.

 If so, what will it be like, that second term?   Where will we be as a nation a year from now? 

It's certain to be an eventful 2013--the fifth year of the Obama presidency.  It will be another difficult year in many respects.   Americans, and their elected representatives, will finally be forced to painfully face a myriad of problems that can no longer be kicked down the road.

But next year at this time, we will have survived the fiscal cliff, and we will be seeing a steady, albeit still slow, strengthening of the economy. And we will have made strides toward the balancing of the budget and the reduction of the national debt.

What have I been smoking, you ask?  What makes me think that better days are in the offing?
Won't the fifth year--like the first four under President Obama--be one of acrimonious partisan politics, with nothing getting done, nothing getting resolved?

Well, I don't smoke anything--legal or otherwise.  I just believe that Republicans--yes Republicans--as well as Democrats, will be moved, in great part out of desperation, to get about the people's business after the November 6 presidential election.

Act two of the Obama presidency will be much different than act one.  Barack Obama will not have a sudden change in his convictions, but he will be wheeling and dealing, coaxing and compromising, so as to rack up a list of accomplishments that have long been part of his master game plan.

Some of what he will do may not be popular.  Some of those who support him now may rue the day they voted for him. 

But what he accomplishes will be done with two things in mind--what is best for the American people long term, and how history will judge his presidency.

As for the opposition party, 2013 will be a time of change for Republicans.  Mitt Romney will be forever gone from politics.  Paul Ryan will be viewed as damaged goods--his once highly-touted economic plan discredited, his credibility damaged, his popularity down.

Grover Norquist's no taxes pledge demands of Republicans will be a thing of the past.  The likes of Jeb Bush, who opposes such pledge demands, will quietly, but quickly, provide new GOP leadership.

The inability of the GOP to take back the Senate, and the loss of House seats, along with public pressure to cease and desist from non-compromising obstinacy, will effect a change in attitude among Republican members of Congress.

Yes, 2013 will be a somewhat painful year.  But as they say in body building--no pain, no gain.

And for all Americans, the long term gain in resolving our problems is well worth the short term pain.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Random Thoughts Of A Political Nature

     Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and Chris Christie of New Jersey have taken time off from their home state duties to campaign for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in Iowa.  Their presence in the Hawkeye state has made me more than a little curious on two counts.

 I question why.  I question the wisdom of their spending time in a state that would appear to be already lost.  President Obama's lead is now outside the margin of error and most political pros have moved Iowa from swing state to the Obama column.

 It seems to me that these political pros could make better use of their powers of political persuasion in a battleground state where the decision is still in doubt.

I also question their motives.  Both Jindal and Christie were on the short list for Mitt Romney's running mate, and both have presidential ambitions. Both are almost certain entries in the 2016 presidential sweepstakes if Romney loses November 6.

Iowa has a lock on being the first contest in every primary season, and I have to wonder if these potential presidential candidates went to Iowa to sell themselves as much or more than Mitt Romney.

Still looking for a gaffe-free week, Mitt Romney kept his streak of bloops and blunders ongoing with the "airplane" remark he made after the flight his wife was on made an emergency landing due to a fire on board. 

Well-educated, and definitely an intelligent man, Romney inexplicably bemoaned the fact that windows on planes can not be opened.  And no, he wasn't kidding.

 Republicans have been living a "Murphy's law" life ever since their convention--seemingly nothing but bad news.  The Democrats, meanwhile, have had most everything go their way.

But the Dems could have some big time trouble lurking over the horizon, in the form of all-but-forgotten Monica Lewinsky.  She's shopping for a book deal and the bidding is reportedly up to $12 million.

The Lewinsky story is said to be explosive, with the inclusion of some juicy correspondence.  Making the best-seller lists is a given, and the fallout could influence Hillary Clinton's decision over whether to make a run for The White House in 2016.

President Obama and the Democratic party should thank their lucky stars that a book deal wasn't consummated earlier, and therefore won't be out in time to affect the election.  An earlier release, say mid summer, and Bill Clinton doesn't deliver a convention speech that's a game changer.

Today the Huffington Post picked up another of our election year articles:  "Iowa Just Became More Important".

Monday, September 24, 2012

Political Afterthoughts From The Week That Was

     Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus incredulously told George Stephanopolous on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that the Romney presidential campaign had experienced "a good week". 

Later in the day, Mitt Romney told Scott Pelley on CBS's "60 Minutes" that his campaign was going well, and that he and the President were tied.

Those two attempts to reinvent recent history were an appropriate way to end a wacky week.  Truth be told, it was a very bad week for Romney, and in actuality, he trails President Obama in the polls.  

As for how the week really went for Republicans, in general, and Mitt Romney, in particular, the daily columns of the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan give a more accurate account.

A Republican herself, she called the Romney people "incompetent" early in the week, and then doubled down at the end of the week--describing the GOP presidential campaign as "a rolling calamity".  But most telling, and damaging, was the distancing from Romney of Congressional candidates.

The really big story to come out of the past week, of course, was the release of a tape showing Mitt Romney dissing 47 percent of all Americans, whom he said considered themselves victims and wanted to remain dependent on the government. His remarks about those who did not pay federal income tax insulted the elderly, the working poor, students, and armed services men and women.

The most interesting, and amusing to some, revelation was that--amidst all the blunders of the past three weeks--already well-paid staffers were rewarded with bonuses totaling $200,000.

The most puzzling thing to me about the last seven days has concerned Mitt Romney's choice of words.  Every time he tries to explain away what he said on that fundraiser tape, he says his remarks could have been more elegant.

Since elegant refers to refinement and grace, I must assume that he really intends to say his remarks could have been more eloquent, which means they could have been better expressed.  With speech writers on the payroll, it is amazing that no one has whispered in Romney's ear about the continuing misuse of a frequently uttered word.

Then, late in the week that was, came a reminder of the obvious--that Mitt Romney never read that book about how to make friends and influence people.  Though trailing badly in the polls among women voters,  he took on and insulted the female hosts of a wildly popular TV show that is targeted to women. 

He said that the ladies of "The View" " were "sharp-tongued women" who were "not conservative"--as though that was a crime.  Romney's remark makes for another case of bad timing.  The President and First Lady are scheduled to appear together on "The View" Tuesday.

What a week it was. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Random Thoughts About The Political Present

     This current election cycle is moving along so quickly, with so much happening each and every day, that it's hard for this political junkie to keep up with it all.

There is neither time nor space to cover everything of interest or importance; so occasionally from now until November 6,  this space will be given to random thoughts about the political present.

One newsworthy item that does not require a full column of commentary is a quote for the ages from Mitt Romney.  The Republican presidential nominee will be forever remembered for derisively stating, "It is not my job to worry about those people".

"Those people" are the 47 percent of the electorate whom Mitt Romney says are dependent on the government and can never be convinced to take responsibility for their lives.   He cites the fact that they pay no federal income tax. 

"Those people" include countless numbers of his own supporters--many of America's white working poor, elderly citizens who have earned their place on social security and medicare rolls, and this nation's veterans, who have paid a heavy price for the government help they now receive.

Romney is said by critics to have done what he has falsely accused President Obama of doing--dividing the country.  The extent of the fallout over Romney's remark is yet unknown, but it could be the proverbial dagger, a self-inflicted fatal wound that the best of debate performances can not heal.

CNN political analyst David Gergen, who has been an advisor to four presidents, and who has written words of praise for Romney in Parade Magazine, said yesterday that Romney's latest blunder means that the President "could win this thing bigger than anyone could ever have imagined".

Another story in today's news that requires little detail concerns the latest polls.  For the first time, the NBC poll has the President now even with Mitt Romney on the question of who can best handle the economy.

On a different subject--but one that has a political connection--the National Climatic Data Center finds that the first eight months of 2012 is the hottest such period in recorded history.  In his convention acceptance speech, Mitt Romney mocked concerns over global warming.

The final random thought for today is nothing new about the political present.  It is merely a reminder about this blog's editorial content.

A column many months ago answered questions about the preponderance of political blogs at the expense of other subjects.  Since then, this space has become devoted almost exclusively to politics.

That is because, in this presidential election year, there is not a subject which is not affected by politics.  Who wins and who loses on all levels of government, and the policies they pursue, affects every area of everyday life.  Post-election, this space will again feature articles on a variety of subjects.

Then there is the matter of this blogger's political preference.  Over the years it's been sometimes Republican; sometimes Democrat--always for whom was perceived to be the best person for the job.  That voting pattern will likely continue in years to come.

But this year, it's no secret.  This blog leans to the left.  This blogger believes that President Obama deserves a second term, and more important, he is the best man for the job for the next four years.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It's NOT The Economy, Stupid!

     It  couldn't be said just a couple of weeks ago, but it can be said now.  It definitely isn't the economy.  To say it is, in the light of recent economic news, is to sound stupid.

No, the economy is off the table as an issue Mitt Romney can use to win The White House.  Even two more disappointing jobs reports before election day won't help the Republican challenger.

Americans have come to grips with slow job growth and an unemployment rate hovering near eight percent.  Voters have accepted as a sad fact of life that coming all the way back from the depths of the great recession will take years--not months.   

Meanwhile, there is sufficient economic good news to have the electorate thinking it best to stay the course with President Obama at the helm.  CNN reports online today that President Obama's jobs record is actually better than that of George W. Bush, and the proof is there in black and white.

Anyone with a 401K is hollering "hell, yes" when asked about being better off than four years ago.  Stocks are up, way up. over what they were when President Obama took office.  Oil prices have plunged.  Signs of recovery have replaced predictions of doom and gloom.

So with the election just seven weeks from today, Mitt Romney needs a new issue to campaign on.  To attack President Obama over the economy would be--well, just plain stupid.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Romney -- Pressure From His Peers And The Polls

     It seems like every week in the past 30 days has appeared in advance to be a really big week, a most important  week, a break out week,  for Mitt Romney.  But each and every one of those recent weeks has come and gone with naught but major disappointment.

There was the week when the announcement of a running mate was supposed to put a charge into the Romney campaign.  It didn't happen.  The selection of Paul Ryan, in fact, hindered, as much as helped the GOP presidential ticket.

Then came the week of the Republican National Convention, when Mitt Romney was to be humanized, and shown to be a lovable leader.  It didn't happen.  The lies of Paul Ryan and the failure of Mitt Romney to mention our troops are what is remembered most about the GOP acceptance speeches.

And then came last week's tragedy in Libya, and the turmoil in Egypt, when the Romney/Ryan team saw what they thought was an opening, an opportunity,  to bolster their foreign affairs standing with the electorate.  Instead, their reaction drew a wave of rebukes from the press, the pundits, and politicians--even some from their own party.

And now, here we are at the start of another "big" week.  The boys in Boston who run the Republican presidential campaign tell us that they spent the weekend developing a fresh approach that they will try out beginning today.  New ads. New emphasis on the economy.

They are correct in thinking that something had to be changed.  They are political pros who can see that their nominee is in trouble.  Pressure is mounting from both peers and polls.

The list is long of Republicans--especially conservatives--who are becoming more vocal in their criticism of Mitt Romney--the candidate and the person.  Joe Scarbrough--himself a Republican--rattled of  a number of Romney detractors on MSNBC this morning.

  Meanwhile, the polls show alarming trends that are more ominous than the numbers themselves. And those polls were taken prior to Mitt Romney's mishandling of his response to events overseas.

So, yes, something needs to be done--something that will stem the tide that threatens to wash away realistic hope long before November 6.  The new ads might help.  Concentrating on the economy might help.

But there is something else the Romney/Ryan campaign might want to try.  How about a little more honesty.  I suggested this in Saturday's blog titled, "Memo To Mitt -- Thou Shalt Not Lie".

And last night,  Don Lemon, an anchor for CNN's weekend "Newsroom", launched a blistering attack on Mitt Romney over his propensity for lying.  It came during commentary relating to the GOP nominee's controversial reaction to the recent events in Libya and Egypt.

Lemon deplored what he called "a rush to judgement", and the false accusation that the Obama administration sympathizes with those who are attacking America's embassies. Lemon did not mince words.  He employed the correct one--saying that Mitt Romney was "lying".

Don Lemon predicted that Mitt Romney "dealt a major blow to his campaign".    I agree.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Memo To Mitt -- Thou Shalt Not Lie

     Most political campaigns--Republican and Democratic alike--have their fair (or unfair) share of little white lies and distortions.

But the Romney/Ryan campaign is something else--it must surely be setting a new high for the number of "pants on fire" claims, and a new low for credibility.

And the GOP truth-stretching modus operandi will continue right up to election day; for as one of Mitt Romney's advisors defiantly declared, the Republican campaign will not let itself be affected by the critical comments of fact checkers.

Hopefully, though, those fact checkers will indeed,  have an effect on the way the electorate views the Republican presidential ticket.  Hopefully, voters will begin taking Romney/Ryan claims with a grain of salt.

Yesterday, a neighbor asked me about something Mitt Romney said this week at a rally in Ohio.  My neighbor wanted to know if it was true that President Obama had run up almost as much debt in his first term as all other American Presidents combined.

My neighbor was referring to an emphatic statement by Mitt Romney that our national debt under President Obama had increased by six trillion dollars in less than four years; while all of his predecessors over more than two hundred years had accrued ten trillion in debt.

The facts are that twelve years ago a Republican President--George W. Bush--took office with a surplus.  Ten trillion dollars in national debt then came under his watch.  And a large part of the six trillion incurred in the last four years was due to two wars and a tax cut for the wealthy and the great recession--all of which had their beginnings during the Bush presidency.

My neighbor walked away shaking his head.  Hopefully, there are are many more voters like my neighbor who are hearing the truth, and shaking their heads.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Dems Are Winning This Political Chess Match

     Michelle Obama is coming to town.  She will be speaking at the University of Florida here in Gainesville on Monday.

The other half of America's first couple will also be in Florida next week, as the President makes appearances at rallies in Tampa and Miami.  And Vice President Joe Biden--as well as other surrogates--will be at Florida rallies in the week ahead.

But with the President now leading his Republican challenger by five points in the latest polls of Florida voters, some pundits are questioning the wisdom of devoting so much valuable time and personal attention to the Sunshine State--time and attention that could be spent in some of the other battleground states.

At this point in time, however,  there is no more important state than Florida and its 29 electoral votes.  Should Mitt Romney lose Florida, it would take a minor miracle for him to win the election.

So with the President's sudden surge in the Florida polls, the Obama campaign team smells blood in the water and is seizing the moment to close in for the kill. They see an opportunity to widen their advantage to an insurmountable lead.

And it's not just the in-person visits that the Obama team is relying on to seal the deal.  There's a most convincing fellow speaking to Floridians multiple times a day via TV--and the Bill Clinton message is resonating well with voters.

This all-out Florida effort by the Dems will dictate strategy for Mitt Romney.  He desperately needs this state, and so he will be forced to spend more valuable time here--pulling him away from Ohio and other swing states where he also trails.

The Obama reelection team is winning this political chess match, and they could soon be calling out to Mitt Romney, "checkmate".


Friday, September 7, 2012

Final Thoughts About The Democratic Convention

     The frequent fervent roaring of a raucous partisan crowd is an enduring memory I take away from the Democratic National Convention.

If there ever was an enthusiasm gap problem for the Dems, a baker's dozen of outstanding speakers provided a cure.  The old pros of political conventions, including independent-minded pundits and the press, called some of the speeches among the best ever. 

Near unanimous rave reviews were accorded the addresses of The First Lady, former President Bill Clinton, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, Massachusetts U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry,  Illinois congressional candidate and Iraq war heroine Tammy Duckworth,  and Vice President Joe Biden. 

"Workmanlike" is the word most often used to describe the acceptance speech of President Obama, who chose to forego stirring poetic oratory for a more businesslike address.

I was impressed with the patriotism on display throughout those three days in Charlotte.   Loud chants of "USA--USA--USA" erupted spontaneously throughout the proceedings, and the American flags many held seemed never to stop waving.  And then there were those camera shots of tears--genuine displays of emotion in response to the words of the speakers.

The host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe"--Joe Scarbrough--who is a conservative former member of Congress, called the just concluded 2012 Democratic Convention the best convention ever.  I agree.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Paul Ryan -- Asset Or Liability?

     Back on August 18, when Mitt Romney announced that Paul Ryan was his choice for a running mate, the press, the pundits, and the GOP fully expected that the Republican presidential ticket would get a bounce in the polls.  It didn't happen.

Then, on August 28, when the hurricane-delayed Republican National Convention finally got underway, the press,  the pundits, and the GOP all reminded us that the three days of national prime time TV exposure would produce the bounce in the polls that political parties can always expect post convention.  It didn't happen.

Meanwhile, the media--egged on by the Democrats--chastised Paul Ryan for numerous less-than-truthful remarks in his acceptance speech.  But the most embarrassing put down for a false claim had nothing to do with politics.

Paul Ryan does some running as part of his fitness program, and so an interviewer inquired as to his marathon experience.  The GOP vice presidential candidate claimed to have run multiple marathons, but actually participated in only one.

When questioned about his best time, Ryan claimed a finish of under three hours--"in the high twos".
The records show, however, that his time in his only marathon was over four hours.  And that is a slower  time than what Sarah Palin has turned in for a marathon.

Paul Ryan's propensity for falsehoods has already earned him the nickname "Lyin Ryan"--
a moniker that will be a career killer if it sticks.