For the second straight presidential debate, the top trending meme related to one of the least sensational aspects of the contest: the presidential transition period. With due respect to “Big Bird”, the interchange in the first debate over Romney’s “busy first day” and in the second day over “Binders full of women”, drew chuckles and rapid tweeting and re-tweeting. What makes each of these comments interesting, though, is that, while they were clearly not a part of the prepared debate quips, they address a critical issue: how Governor Romney would actually transition into office if elected.
One of the highlights of last night’s presidential debate was moderator Candy Crowley’s real-time fact-checking about when President Barrack Obama first used the word “terror” in reference to the murders in Benghazi. We needed such quick corrections in the first debates on another important issue.
In those debates inaccurate statements were made about how allowing the Bush-era tax cuts for the richest 2 percent of Americans to expire on schedule at year-end would affect small-business owners.
Forget policy and details. Last night's presidential town hall debate at Hofstra University in New York was about each candidate's acting in the political theatre. Could President Obama atone for his lackluster display in the first debate without appearing too aggressive? Could Mitt Romney maintain the aura from the first debate in Denver of an authentic presidential alternative?
We had answers within the 90 minutes.“Can Obama Rebound?” is now the question of the past. “Can Romney Re-surge?” takes over.
Just three months ago at Thomas Jefferson’s historic home, Monticello, 81 citizens were freshly minted in an annual Independence Day naturalization ceremony. One after the other these new citizens took to the podium and spoke with anticipation about voting for the first time in this Presidential election year. For their convenience a voter registration tent was even erected on Monticello’s lawn. Lucky them.
For hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens living overseas, election day means barbeques, embassy functions, and following the election results on TV or the Internet. But for many of us, that’s as far as it goes, because we are not part of the electoral process. Most U.S. citizens born overseas cannot vote. These citizens are disenfranchised, not because of criminal records, voter ID laws, or clerical errors, but simply because legislation never bothered to catch up with them.
A lot can change in 13 days. When the presidential debate takes place tonight it will be that long since the last debate, and Gov. Romney will likely change any aspect of his foreign policy stance that he believes it politically expedient to change or minimize. He has been doing a lot of that lately. What he will not be able to change is the fact that his lack of experience, understanding, and credibility on national security and foreign policy would be a detriment to America’s security. We have seen in candidate Romney a leadership void, a string of policies that lack originality, and a dedication to dogma that harkens back to the Bush policies that in the last decade marred the global standing of our nation.
We have seen this all before in politics, in the board room, on the ball fields, and in life. The person at the top of the pecking order makes a misstep, seemingly minor, and then cascades into something major, and then cascades further still until it become calamitous -- unless it can be stopped in time. Time is of the essence here. It must be squelched immediately, or sooner. And hopefully sooner still.
Last night’s vice presidential debate proved to be just about everything the first presidential debate wasn’t: lively, spirited, passionate, aggressive, and entertaining. This one had heart. We wait to see what impact it had on the electorate, but in all likelihood it will not significantly change the race at this point. In the eight previous vice presidential debates going back to 1976, only one had any significant impact. That was the 2000 debate between Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman. In the last poll taken by Gallup before that debate, Al Gore went in with a 48-39 advantage. In its first poll after that debate four days later, Bush was up 44-43.
The Biden-Ryan debate will not have that type of effect on polls. On the other hand, each man did what was necessary to get the race to the final two acts of this presidential election. Biden woke up a dispirited Democratic base with his feisty, folksy performance. Four years ago, he treated Sarah Palin with kid gloves. Last night, he tried to turn Paul Ryan into a punching bag. On the other side, Ryan stood his ground in his wonkish manner and refused to be intellectually intimidated by the more experienced Vice President.
So both sides can claim a victory of sorts. In that sense it was effectively a draw. But the vice presidential debate was a definite pivot in this long and winding presidential race.
Two words can be used to distill the essence of Thursday Night's Vice Presidential Debate: Malarkey v. Adorkable.
On the one hand you have Joe Biden in familiar territory talking, interrupting, spinning, smiling feverishly to help the Democrats regain control of the political narrative after the widely perceived misteps of the president in the first presidential debate; on the other you have Paul Ryan, the wonder wonk, attempting to demonstrate 1) that he is NOT Sarah Palin, and 2) that he is more than simply a policy wonk and has the attendant seriousness, intelligence and skill set necessary to sit a heartbeat away from the presidency. Both succeeded in their appointed tasks.
The choice is clear. If Floridians want continued job growth in the private sector, and a commitment to the middle class, then Floridians should re-elect President Barack Obama. If Floridians want to return to the disastrous polices that turned a budget surplus into a deficit, and nearly caused an international economic collapse, then vote for Mr. Romney. What the president realizes, and what Mr. Romney cannot comprehend is that when the least amongst us is doing well, we all do well.
Florida is a state with a high population of informed seniors. Many of Florida’s seniors live on a fixed income, and constitute the 47% that Governor Romney has callously dismissed as people he does not have to worry about; dismissing Florida’s seniors as takers who feel like they are entitled to basic needs such as food, housing, and healthcare. However seniors in Florida are no fools. Mr. Romney’s callous disregard for Florida’s seniors, working class people, and veterans will cost him dearly. As Floridians get to know Mr. Romney’s they understand that it is President Obama who can relate to their hardship, it is President Obama whom they see as favoring the middle class, and with the continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act, they realize that despite the relentless misinformation campaign, the Affordable Care Act is good for Florida’s seniors.
Interest here in Britain in the U.S. presidential campaign is almost as intense as the interest in the UK general election. Inevitably, we are caught up in the horse race of who will prevail on November 6, but equally prominent is the question of what will be different under an Obama or Romney Administration for the next four years, both for Americans and for those outside the U.S.
The immediate verdict on last night's vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan was that this was --- to borrow a term from football (or soccer, if you prefer) --- a "score draw". Neither candidate clearly won, but each notched up enough goals to satisfy his supporters. Ryan, despite some signs of nerves and some tangled responses on foreign policy, showed the competence and ability under pressure to dismiss worries about his relative lack of experience. Biden's spirited, sometimes aggressive performance was more than enough damage control after President Obama's weak display last week.