Presidential Debates 2012

Obama, Romney Debate: Who Speaks for the Majority That Wants Gov't to Do Less, Not Promote Trad. Values?

|

I watched last night's debate in a college setting, at a joint called Woody's in Ohio State's student union. The good news? The place was packed and though only three of nine TV screens were tuned to C-SPAN, the students not only followed the debate but were well-informed and vocal. More good news: They seemed sharply critical of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney's various sketchy statements about all manner of things.

There's no question that Obama gave a better showing than he did the first time around. He was energized, no doubt, by his lackluster performance a coupla weeks back, the town hall format (which mostly is a showcase for bad questions coming from jes' plain folks), and moderator Candy Crowley's inability to let any real or imagined slight against the president go uncommented upon.

But the oddest thing about Obama's rap to me was that he was talking as if he hasn't been in office the past three-plus years. The way he talked about George W. Bush and the various situations he faced upon moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, you'd think he just called up to the bigs for the playoffs or something. He invokes the years since 2009 as if he just came back from vacationing off-planet. Does anyone else remember all the crowing that went on after Obama's "historic" first year in office? This is a president who basically was able to get everything he wanted—stimulus, healthcare, the sorts of military actions he wanted, a free-hand in surveilling enemies here and abroad, and more—and he has still reaped a whirlwind when it comes to a vaguely decent economy and America's standing in the world. Indeed, the Dems took a "shellacking" (his term) in the 2010 mid-term elections because of his legislative record, not in spite of it. By his own litmus tests— especially the unemployment rate—he's been a huge and undeniable failure. When it comes to foreign policy, does anyone really believe he's done more than drive down U.S. standing from the already-low place that his predecessor left it? And when it comes to a variety of other issues—ranging from executive power to raiding medical marijuana joints in states where they're legal to immigration—he's simply been godawful.

The strongest case against re-electing Obama remains the one that Clint Eastwood made during his empty chair performance: Bam might be a good guy, but he hasn't gotten the job done, and so it's time to let him go. The strongest case for re-electing Obama shared the stage with him last night. Mitt Romney bungled questions on the Benghazi attack and follow-up (there's no doubt that the administration dissembled in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, which itself showcased inexcusable misjudgments in State Department security priorities) and he totally whiffed on issues such as gun control and immigration. Indeed, his signature flip-flopping was very much in evidence as he tried tacking away from clear positions (hey governor, maybe the reason gun crime and violence is way down is because virtually all states liberalized their gun laws and the Supreme Court started upholding the Second Amendment) toward some sort of mushy "centrism." Romney has more private-sector experience than Obama (who has exactly zero), but whatever free-enterprise bona fides he carried in his pockets stayed there in favor of rants against cheap Chinese imports and pledges to bring back manufacturing jobs (because nothing says first-world economy more than assembly lines, right?). Simply put, he doesn't inspire confidence that he would be a particularly effective and level-headed leader when it comes to domestic or foreign policy.

The flash polls I've heard about have Obama winning last night's tussle by about 7 percentage points, with as many as one-third calling it a tie. Which means maybe the presidential election will be tight right down to election day. Which is good for cable news, but bad for the large majority of libertarianish Americans who believe the government should do less in the economy and not promote a single set of traditional values. We just weren't represented on the stage last night and it seems unlikely that huge lack will be addressed not just before the next debate but November 6, 2012.

NEXT: Three Dead in Ohio Shooting

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. firstienth!

  2. After coming home from playing cribbage with the old guy next door I turned on the radio, and within ten seconds I heard Obama mention the 47%.

    I had no choice but to take a very stiff drink.

  3. My wife had the debate on so I caught a few of the questions. All I really remember is Obama running against GWB and the talking over the moderator when she tried to move on tot he next question, and Obama thinking that dude was a lady. I thought the questions were pretty lame and felt like they were pre-approved by the campaigns. It was basically an exercise in spewing out as many talking points as possible in the alloted time.

  4. There’s a majority that wants government to do less??? Most amusing Nick. Oh! You meant people who want government to do less for the other guy or gal, but keep the status quo for them. Got it.

    That majority was more than abundantly represented by both Pres. Santa Claus and Gov. Floppington pandering away to The Town Hall of “Free Shit”. People want government to “butt out of their personal lives”, but still expect their neighbor to pay for it. You know, the “ACCESS ARGUMENT”, writ largesse.

    1. I rolled my eyes at that one too. If the majority really wants to do less in the sense the Gillespie means, why didn’t Paul or Johnson win the nomination?

      To reconcile those two facts you have to either believe that there is some kind of conspiracy to suppress the will of the majority or that the politicians who claim to want to get the government to do less are complete incompetent boobs who manage to lose even though a majority of voters agree with them.

      1. either believe that there is some kind of conspiracy to suppress the will of the majority or that the politicians who claim to want to get the government to do less are complete incompetent boobs who manage to lose even though a majority of voters agree with them.

        Or it could be a combination of the two (conspiracy and incompetence). State ballot access issues are one problem. The other is that people want government cut, just not the part that benefits them. Like how people do not like congress, but like their congressman.

        1. That and the war against radical Islam. It has split the right the way Vietnam split the left.

      2. To reconcile those two facts you have to either believe that there is some kind of conspiracy to suppress the will of the majority or that the politicians who claim to want to get the government to do less are complete incompetent boobs who manage to lose even though a majority of voters agree with them.

        Pretty much, well those two points combined with the fact that people that want something from government REALLY REALLY WANT IT while the larger majority that just wants to be left alone doesn’t have the same intensity or tenacity.

  5. I really tried to watch it. I couldn’t leave it one for more than a minute at a time.

    I saw the part about Obama telling the rich – those making more than $250k – need to do more like they did during the Clinton era. He blamed the Republicans, forgetting that the Democrats controlled Congress during his first 2 years. Romney then whiffed by not offering to return to Clinton taxes if they could return Clinton era spending.

    Then I found other things to do.

    1. These things are brutal. I was trying to go to sleep but every time Obama opened his mouth my inner rage woke me up again. I hate the way that fucker talks to the audience like they are a bunch of children.

      1. Well – that kind of seems appropriate since they didn’t laugh or yell bullshit at his obvious lies.

  6. I watched two and a half questions. Had to leave. Felt nauseated. Played FTL on Steam, thought about buying XCOM and decided to wait a little before I inevitably spend the fifty bucks. Felt better.

    1. Thank you for using the correct synonym for “sick”. Too many people incorrectly use “nauseous”.

      1. I try to bring expanded vocabulary and proper usage to the People. God knows I try.

    2. Wait until the Steam Holiday Sale if you can. I bet it will be chopped down at least 20%.

      1. Yeah, I’m trying to be that patient. But I must admit I’ve been waiting for a new XCOM for a damn long while. At least FTL gives me a nice Captain Kirk sorta fix. I just wish it were voice activated so I could say “Shields up!”

        1. Just get the XCOM demo to hold you over until the sale.

      1. I guess Wikipedia is my friend. How did I miss this back in the ’90s?

      2. You’re dead to me.

    3. FTL — that game was fun as shit when they originally called it Stardog in the 80s. Running around replacing your stints and ship parts while in the middle of a fire fight. highly amusing. I’m almost nostalgic enough for it now to check it out.

  7. But the oddest thing about Obama’s rap to me was that he was talking as if he hasn’t been in office the past three-plus years.

    Iowahawk put it well:

    David Burge ?@iowahawkblog
    Obama did fine, as long as people remember that Romney is the incumbent.

    1. When the lady asked about Romney how he would be different from GEORGE BUSH I was gobsmacked.

      1. I missed that. Who is the left going to run against in 2016?

        1. Bush. They ran against Nixon for a solid 20 years.

  8. “I watched last night’s debate in a college setting, at a joint called Woody’s in Ohio State’s student union. The good news? ”

    -You got laid?

    1. “Seriously baby all us libertarians wear these. Did I mention I have my own TV show? Don’t go anywhere, I have to check in with Washington….”

  9. “The flash polls I’ve heard about have Obama winning last night’s tussle by about 7 percentage points, with as many as one-third calling it a tie.”

    Odd – MSNBC and Luntz’s bunches of “undecideds” leaned to TEAM RED Captain. In other words – nothing changed.

    1. I heard about that. Did the MSNBC talking heads explode? Was there weeping and gnashing of teeth?

  10. They [college students] seemed sharply critical of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney

    College students seemed distrustful of the Establishment? Huh.

    1. What? They don’t want a nice manufacturing job?

  11. Via Facebook:

    Obama:”I don’t look at my pension, it’s not as big as yours.” BAM! Over. Done.

    1. You’ll take your pension in loneliness and alcohol.

      1. +100 for the Billy Squire reference.

        1. -1000 for getting that stupid song stuck in my head.

          1. It is in mine too. But there are worse songs to be stuck there.

          2. Just think of Barney the dinosaur’s song. See? Fixed.

            1. I hate you, you hate me
              let’s go on a killing spree
              take a 12 gauge shotgun, point it at his head
              pull the trigger, Barney’s dead

              1. Uhuh-huh! That wasn’t very nice. Let’s be Friends!

          3. It replaces a really crappy song. so, I’m good.

            Wished Squire had only done more with his particular brand of cheese hard rock.

    2. I heard that line live and was disgusted. All because of Harry Truman’s broke ass, presidents don’t have to worry about shit for the rest of their lives.

      The other line regarding equal opportunity for women pissed me off. Seriously, Obama is worried about the opportunities his daughters will have? You’re the god damn president of the free world!

      1. Well you know the sons and daughters of Presidents really have had it hard in the past. I about vomited on that line. That is just insulting to people.

  12. “because nothing says first-world economy more than assembly lines, right?”

    Because nothing says first-world economy more than soup kitchens and unemployment lines, right?

  13. Obama is running against the incumbent. Understand this, and you’ll understand him.

    1. That’s too good for a dead thread. Use it again.

  14. Wanting government to do less is a traditional value.

    1. Yeah, exactly. Why are traditional values necessarily bad? Isn’t fiscal responsibility a traditional value?

  15. “…moderator Candy Crowley’s inability to let any real or imagined slight against the president go uncommented upon.”

    While I didn’t watch, if that is true then she failed as moderator, and that is today’s story. Not this nonsense about platitudinous punching.

    1. Oh, I was just informed that Fox is making it a story. Heh, no surprise I guess.

    2. Rom shouldve called yakturds on Crowley’s defense of the Punk.

      Oh, and RE: “Bam might be a good guy, but he hasn’t gotten the job done, and so it’s time to let him go”

      That’s not the strongest case, but it’s easier to make. The strongest case for gettin rid of him is that he is a Marxist by deed. Every mammyshankin thing he does is a tin horn marxist dick-tater move of one sort or another.

  16. I see nothing about juggalos in here so why do we have a picture of them on the link? Gross. Magnets, how do they work?

    1. SRSLY. WTF’s up with that.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.