Presidential Campaign

Presidential Campaign

An honest outcome in Venezuela, But what about here?

It was a result that might predictably raise skeptical eyebrows among many Americans. The recent reelection of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez came amidst a polarized political atmosphere and resulted in a victory for a man whose relationship with the United States has been contentious, to say the least.
 
Americans need only remember their own systemic misadventures in Florida in 2000 to reflect on how vulnerable the election process can be to either intentional manipulation or chaotic breakdown.

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Two questions for Obama and Romney on Afghanistan

When voters mark their ballots on November 6th, there will be 68,000 U.S. soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. In spite of a long campaign, it's still unclear what each candidate believes should happen with those soldiers after Election Day.

Nothing captures the ambiguity better than Tuesday's news from the State Department about the formal opening of negotiations to extend the US troop presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014. This follows on the heels of Vice President Biden's much-noted statements in the vice presidential debate that, "We are leaving in 2014, period." President Obama has also been trumpeting the coming end of the war, with a partial withdrawal completed this summer. But the U.S.-Afghan strategic partnership agreement he signed this year, along with statements from the Pentagon, leave the door wide open to a large troop presence as far out as 2024.

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The economic case for voter ID laws

One of this election cycle’s most controversial issues is voter ID laws. Depending on your point of view, these laws are either essential for a functioning democracy, or the modern-day equivalent of a “poll tax” designed to depress minority voter turnout.

While I’m sympathetic to both points of view, neither captures the crux of the issue: A well-designed ID law — applied with ample guidance in communities where it could dampen turnout — can actually create a positive economic and civil benefit for exactly those voters about whom proponents are worried.

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History shows businessmen make bad presidents

Republicans make much of Mitt Romney's experience as a businessman and tell us it predicts success as president. But is there a precedent for this, a track record of business success correlating with presidential success? In a word, no. Historically, the relationship between business success and presidential success is zero, perhaps even inverse.
 
Many surveys have ranked our presidents in terms of their achievements and success or failure in office, assessing such qualities as leadership, political skill, character and integrity, including many surveys of presidential scholars - academic historians and political scientists. by the Wall Street Journal in 2000 and 2005 emphasized a balance between liberal leaning and conservative leaning scholars.

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Romney offers course correction at home and abroad

In his recent speech at the Virginia Military Institute, Mitt Romney laid out a foreign policy vision that represents a clear break from President Obama’s approach.

Sometimes foreign policy is viewed as being completely distinct from domestic policy. But in his speech, Romney underscored the crucial connection between the two realms, highlighting the need “to revive our stagnant economy, to roll back our unsustainable debt, to reform our government, [and] to reverse the catastrophic cuts now threatening our national defense. . . ”

Indeed, no matter how wise our foreign policy may be, our scope for action is curtailed if our domestic finances are in disarray. Throughout the Cold War, the United States largely defended much of the free world while incurring a drastically lower debt than we have today. With our $16 trillion debt now rising by a trillion dollars a year, even if we manage to avoid the severe defense cuts in the sequestration, we are still confronted with unsustainable debt levels that are even more alarming when you factor in the tens of trillions of dollars unfunded liabilities from our entitlement programs.

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Romney's pivots raise the character issue

With his performance in the second presidential debate, Barack Obama allowed his supporters to exhale. Not only did the president show up; from the opening question he executed his debate strategy against Governor Romney almost flawlessly. Each two-minute response was framed in all the necessary ways I laid out after the first debate: Obama succinctly took credit for his accomplishments, made clear contrasts between his policies and positions and Romney’s, and defended himself when Romney went on the attack. The only apparent hiccup on the part of the president was his meandering response to a question about gun violence and the lapsed weapons assault ban legislation. But Obama recovered quickly by paraphrasing (of all people) George W. Bush, when he accused the former Massachusetts governor of being “for the assault weapons ban before he was against it.”

That moment crystallizes the retooled strategy of the Obama campaign that will in all likelihood take us through Election Day. It’s not necessarily the economy, stupid – it’s character. If Massachusetts Mitt is going to show up for the rest of the campaign, then expect him to be painted, in the words of Jon Huntsman, as a “perfectly lubricated weathervane.” 

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Romney - A man without a plan

Never mind the usual boxing-style debate roundups or overblown tactical analysis. That’s all well and good – and what a lot of reporters specialize in – but it doesn’t tell us what we really need to know. What’s important to take away from last night’s debate, and every debate, is what it tells us about policy. Last night told us a lot.
 
The big takeaway is that Mitt Romney doesn’t have an economic plan. You can sugarcoat it, wave your arms around to create a distraction, and dress it up with a hundred right-wing studies, but there’s nothing really there. When he told moderator Candy Crowley with an annoyed smirk, “Of course my numbers add up,” tens of millions of Americans saw the bluster of an executive who didn’t prepare for a board meeting and didn’t expect to be called on it.

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Politicizing the Benghazi attacks

The killing of four American patriots in Benghazi, Libya last month was an act of terror. Those four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, represented the best of our country. They put their lives on the line to advance American interests in a volatile region. They deserved the support of their government back home.

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Romney to the right of Bush on immigration

In the second presidential debate, Mitt Romney dug himself deeper into the hole on immigration. While both candidates traded barbs, for Romney they stung more. Romney refused to address the 12 million undocumented immigrants already living in the country while at the same time touching bad nerves when he called undocumented immigrants "illegals".

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Not the 'Thrilla in Manila', But certainly 'Nasty in Nassau'

The President Obama of yore (2008, that is) showed up at the debate last night and so was hailed the victor. In fact, the numbers show that it was not that Romney faltered. He did not. Rather it was the president who recovered from his first debate 'debacle' (as viewed by his strongest supporters).

The numbers reveal the story. First, keep this number in mind: 7.4. This is the grade level of Obama's most widely hailed speech, the "Yes, We Can!" Grant Park victory speech. 'Yes, We Can!" is widely perceived as a classic to be enshrined in the American Oratory Hall of Fame along side Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream," Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address,' and Ronald Reagan's "City on a Hill" speeches.

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