Wednesday, October 17, 2012

2nd Presidential Debate – Taxes, Jobs, and Vision Still Rule with Voters

One of the most significant moments in the debate actually came after the debate.  Moderator CNN’s Candy Crowley admitted, shortly after she left the debate broadcast, she was wrong in her assertion during the debate President Obama was correct in his terrorism characterization of the 9/11/2012 Libyan attack, on the U.S. embassy that left four Americans murdered, as an “act of terror” on September 12 in the Rose Garden.  

Ms. Crowley acquiesced Romney was actually right in his debate challenge to Obama on this point.  

For clarification, President Obama did use the words “act of terror,” but he was referring to the original terrorism attack on 9/11/2001 in context, not the Libyan 9/11/2012 attack.  

Ms. Crowley’s interjection into the debate on this point allowed Obama to escape his real record on refusing to acknowledge the 9/11/2012 Libyan attack was a terrorist attack on America for at least two weeks.

One of the other most significant aspects of the second presidential debate was its confrontational style in a town hall format.  After his detached, low-energy performance at the first debate, President Obama had a higher bar to meet to stay in the game.  He obviously took the debate preparation more serious this time around. 

Obama was more assertive in his style, but he brought nothing new to the table in defending his record as president the past four years.  He was not able to make a case for an “all of the above” energy policy even with a very combative exchange on onshore and offshore oil drilling permits, the Canadian pipeline, failed green energy, and doubling consumer gas prices. 

Obama and Romney pushed each other’s buttons.  They both got in each other’s faces and interrupted each other.  They both talked over each other as well as the moderator at times.   They both fought for the microphone time.  

It was obvious both knew the stakes of momentum for their campaigns after the debate.   But, the bottom line stakes for the American people is they want to believe their next president has solutions for the current prolonged weak economic growth and unacceptable high unemployment and underemployment rate.  This is the forward momentum they want in 2013 and beyond. 

Americans care about U.S. foreign policy, terrorist attacks on our soil, and health care.  But, what will still decide this election are competitive business tax rates, tax reform, a stronger economic outlook, and faith in a better job creation environment.  

Voters are more in tune with confidence in an effective future economic vision and in competent leadership to develop and execute this vision. 

President Obama may have thrilled the left with his aggressive style in this debate, but the undecided and more non-partisan Independent voters will more than likely break for Romney, if the decision is based on economic competence. 
Obama needed to dominate the vision for the next four more years being better with him at the helm.  He did not.  As in the first debate, he did not present a compelling case for another four years that would look any different than the last four years.  

While pressing Romney for workable solutions and specifics in his vision, it is not lost on many Obama does not effectively give any of his own in reality.  He only seemed to once again champion the status quo on creating a more prosperous middle class.  

The status quo is not acceptable.  Obama’s economic policies have not worked well, if at all, for those outside of Washington, millions of everyday Americans, small business, and those without political connections and lobbyist.  

Obama’s economic policies have not created growth which has even kept up with the population growth.   

His signature legislation Obamacare looks to already be leading to large employers moving current full time employees to a part-time status to remain in business in 2013.  Obamacare looks to also be leading some employers to decrease employees or not hire additional ones.       

Middle class Americans understand the negative impact of taking money out of the economy, and specifically out of the hands of business owners wanting to create jobs competitively.  

Romney did not necessarily win this debate, as he easily did the first debate, yet he did win the presentation of experience and competency on successful job creation over Obama.  This will be on the mind of most voters when they cast their ballot for leadership in the White House.               

President Obama was a better candidate in the second debate than in the first debate.  He may have even won the second debate in the eyes of many.  Romney presented himself as a viable alternative to Obama in both debates, even if seen as not a clear cut winner in the second round. 

An instant reaction after the debate was noted by a CNN Poll which gave the debate win to Obama over Romney at 46% to 39%.  Romney won easily with an 18% point lead in the minds of voters on who was “seen as better able to handle the economy, taxes, and the budget deficit…”

The CBS instant poll gave Obama the win – Obama 37%, Romney 30%, Tie 33%.  Echoing the CNN Poll, the CBS poll reflected Romney was seen as more capable on the economy, “34 percent said the president would better handle the economy, with 65 percent saying Romney would.”

Frank Luntz, a popular pollster and focus group leader usually on Fox News, had a debate focus group soundly choosing Romney as the second debate winner.  Many were clearly unhappy with the Obama presidential record of broken promises and failed economic policies. 

Translated to the voting booth, style does not matter as much as the issues do in any debate, unless perhaps if there is a resounding debate knock-out blow.  None of the three debates so far, two presidential and one vice presidential, had one. 

The knock-blow that really matters comes every time a voter is laid-off or an already unemployed or underemployed voter is turned down for a job or searches in vain for one that does not seem to exist anymore.    

The knock-out blow decision continues for all voters, whether they have jobs or not, every time they pay to fill up their car, buy groceries, see health care premiums deducted from their paycheck, and have to say “no” to things they used to be able to enjoy easily.

No amount of debate style or recycled promise will be able to bail Obama out of a failed administration as seen through the eyes of voters hurt by the last four year’s economy.  

Americans still have hope for a change in moving forward toward a better economic vision.  In 2012, voters may believe real hope and a change in forward movement looks more possible with a new President Romney than a status quo President Obama.

Friday, October 12, 2012

2012 VP Debate: Biden tested Libya excuses for presidential foreign policy debate

Photo Credit-Flickr Common

The 2012 Vice President Debate last night in Danville, Kentucky was a draw. Democrat Vice President Biden executed a strategy of throwing GOP nominee Congressman Paul Ryan with distractions and interruptions.  Ryan did not seem intimidated and remained calm and confident.  He was respectful of the elder politician, even while being interrupted 82 times in 90 minutes.

As any parent can tell you, when children are not being truthful or trying desperately to be believed, they often talk fast, interrupt the other person giving facts, make faces, laugh nervously, and mouth the other person is lying, and generally mug out of false frustration.  

These antics leave one knowing they are only trying to control the situation.  This is not behavior reflecting strength and confidence.  The constant Biden interruptions were by design to prevent Ryan from detailing the failed Obama record and presenting details of the Romney plan.  

This allows the Democrats to continue the assertion Romney and Ryan are not giving any specifics.  Funny thing is, where is any real plan other than to “raise taxes on the rich” and redistribute to “level the playing field” coming out of the Obama and Biden campaign with specifics or not?  For example, what does “level the playing field” mean exactly in policies?

A CNN post debate poll results asking “Who won?”gave Ryan a slight edge at 48% versus 44% for Biden.  The same CNN poll rewarded Ryan as being the more likeable of the two by 10 points.   Other media polls reflected Biden as the winner by a wider margin.  

Both candidates fired up their base, but more than likely neither did little to move the needle significantly with the 6-10% of undecided voters.  Biden’s antics may have played well with the left, but it was a losing strategy and not effective with the middle.

It was disturbing the fiscal cliff looming and America’s overall energy policy was not front and center in the debate.  Will they be in the remaining presidential debates?   What we know should be, and will be, is the Libya investigation.

Debate moderator Martha Raddatz raised the pertinent question right out of the gate.  Biden’s response was a test drive of excuses to gage acceptability for Obama and the upcoming presidential debates, especially the last debate designated as a foreign policy debate.  The transcript excerpts from The Washington Post.

“I would like to begin with Libya. On a rather somber note, one month ago tonight, on the anniversary of 9/11, Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi. The State Department has now made clear, there were no protesters there.

RADDATZ: it was a pre-planned assault by heavily armed men. Wasn’t this a massive intelligence failure, Vice President Biden?

BIDEN: What is was, it was a tragedy, Martha. It — Chris Stevens was one of our best. We lost three other brave Americans.

I can make absolutely two commitments to you and all the American people tonight. One, we will find and bring to justice the men who did this. And secondly, we will get to the bottom of it, and whatever — wherever the facts lead us, wherever they lead us, we will make clear to the American public, because whatever mistakes were made will not be made again.

When you’re looking at a president, Martha, it seems to me that you should take a look at his most important responsibility. That’s caring for the national security of the country. And the best way to do that is take a look at how he’s handled the issues of the day.”

Biden essentially floated blaming the entire intelligence community for President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton for not knowing this was a terrorist attack. 

This contradicts what is currently known in investigations already being conducted by Congress this week in Washington.  Intelligence confirmed it was a terrorist attack within 24 hours. 

Is it plausible this information was not given to the White House by Intelligence?  Is it believable President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and United Nations Ambassador Rice did not know?

Did they in fact know Libya was a terrorist attack reality for two weeks as they continued to recite an orchestrated spontaneous protest based on a movie trailer video for two weeks in a government produced apology video, on political talk shows, in a United Nations speech, and press briefings?       

“RADDATZ: Congressman Ryan?

RYAN: We mourn the loss of these four Americans who were murdered.

RYAN: When you take a look at what has happened just in the last few weeks, they sent the U.N. ambassador out to say that this was because of a protest and a YouTube video. It took the president two weeks to acknowledge that this was a terrorist attack.

He went to the U.N. and in his speech at the U.N. he said six times — he talked about the YouTube video.

Look, if we’re hit by terrorists we’re going to call it for what it is, a terrorist attack. Our ambassador in Paris has a Marine detachment guarding him. Shouldn’t we have a Marine detachment guarding our ambassador in Benghazi, a place where we knew that there was an Al Qaida cell with arms?

This is becoming more troubling by the day. They first blamed the YouTube video. Now they’re trying to blame the Romney-Ryan ticket for making this an issue.

With respect to Iraq, we had the same position before the withdrawal, which was we agreed with the Obama administration. Let’s have a status of forces agreement to make sure that we secure our gains. The vice president was put in charge of those negotiations by President Obama and they failed to get the agreement. We don’t have a status of forces agreement because they failed to get one. That’s what we are talking about.

Now, when it comes to our veterans, we owe them a great debt of gratitude for what they’ve done for us, including your son Beau. But we also want to make sure that we don’t lose the things we fought so hard to get.

Now, with respect to Afghanistan, the 2014 deadline, we agree with a 2014 transition. But what we also want it do is make sure that we’re not projecting weakness abroad, and that’s what’s happening here.

RYAN: This Benghazi issue would be a tragedy in and of itself, but unfortunately it’s indicative of a broader problem. And that is what we are watching on our TV screens is the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy, which is making the (inaudible) more chaotic us less safe.

BIDEN: With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey.

RADDATZ: And why is that so?

BIDEN: Because not a single thing he said is accurate. First of all…

RADDATZ: Be specific.

BIDEN: I will be very specific. Number one, the — this lecture on embassy security — the congressman here cut embassy security in his budget by $300 million below what we asked for, number one. So much for the embassy security piece.

Number two, Governor Romney, before he knew the facts, before he even knew that our ambassador was killed, he was out making a political statement which was panned by the media around the world. And this talk about this — this weakness. I — I don’t understand what my friend’s talking about here.

We — this is a president who’s gone out and done everything he has said he was going to do. This is a guy who’s repaired our alliances so the rest of the world follows us again. This is the guy who brought the entire world, including Russia and China, to bring about the most devastating — most devastating — the most devastating efforts on Iran to make sure that they in fact stop (inaudible).

Look, I — I just — I mean, these guys bet against America all the time.”

Is Biden in reality when he portrays Obama as a strong foreign policy U.S. president the world follows?  How influential has the U.S. been in the United Nations or in the world during the Obama presidency?

“RADDATZ: Can we talk — let me go back to Libya.

BIDEN: Yeah, sure.

RADDATZ: What were you first told about the attack? Why — why were people talking about protests? When people in the consulate first saw armed men attacking with guns, there were no protesters. Why did that go on (inaudible)?

BIDEN: Because that was exactly what we were told by the intelligence community. The intelligence community told us that. As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment. That’s why there’s also an investigation headed by Tom Pickering, a leading diplomat from the Reagan years, who is doing an investigation as to whether or not there are any lapses, what the lapses were, so that they will never happen again.

RADDATZ: And they wanted more security there.

BIDEN: Well, we weren’t told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again. And by the way, at the time we were told exactly — we said exactly what the intelligence community told us that they knew. That was the assessment. And as the intelligence community changed their view, we made it clear they changed their view.”

This week’s Congressional hearings reflect the polar opposite of what Biden is saying.  Letters asking for more security are in evidence.  Biden’s excuses seem to only confirm the government is not giving Americans the full information it could, or there was complete incompetence in the understanding and handling of Libya security needs.

This is an administration used to getting away with blaming others, minimizing the importance of situations, giving obviously ridiculous explanations to the main stream media without being challenged, and believing the American people will buy stone-walling on the truth.

The Obama/Biden administration is forgetting Libya was in fact a life and death situation.  Biden got his facts completely wrong in his answers to the valid questions. 

Biden test drove Libya excuses for Obama in this VP debate to gage if Americans will buy implausible explanations at best or arrogant, hyper-politicization leading to incompetency at worst. 

After the test drive, are you buying the car?

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Presidential Debate: Romney Showed Up to Work, Obama Voted Present

Photo Credit - Flickr Common

In the first 2012 presidential debate last night in Denver, many were anticipating seeing the stark contrast of the competing philosophies of big compassionate government versus big mean private sector within the two big political party nominees.   

However, astonishingly, the contrast most on display was the work ethic difference between the Democratic candidate President Barack Obama and the Republican candidate Governor Mitt Romney.

It was evident in the first fifteen minutes; Romney came with rolled-up sleeves excited and ready to get to work.  Obama embodied the impression he loves the perks of being the President of the United States but not the job which actually required more work and preparation than getting by voting present.

Romney was energized and engaged.  He appeared confident and competent as a leader.  His command of the facts and figures, as well as his vision for the next four years for America, was superior.

Obama was flat and academic.  He appeared bored and unprepared. 

Obama’s lack luster engagement was in line with a president whom has held minimum press conferences, attended minimal national security Intel briefings, refused to meet with world leaders last week at the United Nations, and rarely directly engaged Congressional members throughout his four years as president.  He did not display a competent leader with a confident vision.  

Romney dominated the stage and commanded the debate topic discussion.  He looked directly at the moderator PBS’ Jim Lehrer and President Barack Obama throughout the ninety minutes.  Romney was aggressive yet remained pleasant and in control when he corrected the president’s characterizations of his vision and policy.

In contrast, Obama looked down most of the debate.  He constantly wrote notes as Romney spoke.  He seemed to look to Mr. Lehrer to save him at times by moving the discussion to another topic, even asking to move on at one point.

Obama looked annoyed at times as though his four years as president had him forgetting what it was like to be interrupted, challenged, called-out, outside the presidential bubble, and without a prepared speech loaded in a teleprompter.

The split television screen of the two men was startling at times in the contrast of style.  The substance of the topic discussion was even more startling at times considering the importance of the debate to each and to the American people.  

Romney had a vision, a policy message, and a plan to articulate them to the American people in this debate.  Obama did not and seemed to revert to tired campaign stump talking points as a failed last resort when his memorized facts were challenged.  Obama struggled to make any acceptable case for his failed focus and policies the last four years.

The Democrats have spent a lot of money defining Romney in attack ads one after another presenting him as an unacceptable alternative to Obama even if the president’s economic policies have been a failure over his first term. 

Tonight Romney defined himself as not only an acceptable alternative but as a more serious and competent choice to get the country back on track.           

Romney projected he was ready to get down to it and get the job done.  He seemed ready to work long hours for the American people. 

Obama projected he was ready to continue the pace and focus he set in his first term – a pace that has failed the unemployed, underemployed, and discouraged – a focus that has failed those without lobbyist, campaign donations, or political connections in general.

America had high hopes for Obama when he took office.  Unfortunately, it has been obvious for a while to anyone who has been watching, and is not blinded by hyper-partisanship; President Obama seeks the limelight and the company of the fun celebrity crowd. 

Obama enjoys situations where he is the adored one gracing you with his presence.  He likes being labeled the smartest guy in the room, but in reality, he seems to be the cool guy whom finds the actual work of governing a drag. 

Perhaps President Obama is living off his 2008 campaign laurels and hopes no one will notice.  If so, people did notice at last night’s presidential debate – even his liberal celebrity friends and most ardent main stream media supporters noticed and lamented. 

Twitter was alive during the debate with tweets wondering what the heck had happened to Obama in this debate.  The newspapers and online media were full of devastating headlines for Obama claiming a direct hit by Romney on the president in this morning’s debate conclusions.

The plain assessment is Romney exceeded expectations, and Obama did not meet expectations.   Many noted, including the MSM and pundits, this was Romney’s best performance in a debate to date and was possibly the best debate performance by a Republican candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1980.

For the average American, most important was Romney seemed ready to not accept the Congressional gridlock in Washington and to resolve it by taking it on and demanding bi-partisanship leading by example. 

Romney’s experience in working successfully with a Democrat controlled legislature in Massachusetts was a stark contrast to Obama’s ineffectiveness in working successfully with a Republican controlled House and a Democrat majority Senate in D.C.

Voters were left with the feeling there would be a real change in Washington with a President Romney.  They were also left with the impression there could be continued economic and foreign policy failures and a deeper partisanship divide with a continued President Obama.   

One thing is for sure, the pressure is even greater now in the October 11 Vice Presidential debate for the Democrats.  They cannot afford two bad debates in a row. 

One bad debate performance can be spun away by supporters as a candidate having an off night.  Two negative vision presentations however become an election narrative.

Vice President Biden must pick up the vision presentation after President Obama’s failure in Denver.

The GOP candidate Congressman Ryan is known to present facts and figures with clarity.  He will most certainly show up to the next debate ready to work.  Ryan has proven confidence in discussing budget specifics and vision.

Any Biden gaffes will not be seen as “charming or funny” this time around.   After four long years of economic turmoil, Americans want substance over style.   They have had the “cool guy” and the “crazy uncle.” 

Now the American people need and want the semi-boring, almost geeky guys who in contrast are ready to show up for work every day of their term with rolled up sleeves and are willing to work long into each night to get the job done.   

Romney and Ryan are already known as those guys.   Maybe Obama and Biden can be, or maybe not.  They will have to get down to business and prove they are to the American people.  Maybe they will, or maybe they won’t. 

Anyway you look at it, this is the contrast that now makes the remaining 2012 debates must-watch events going forward.   Americans are ready for leadership who “works” and works for them.

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