The Third Debate



                                                                                                                                 The Third Debate


     During the day, before the debate was held, we were increasingly nervous and downcast.  If Romney won Debate Number One, and he did, handily, and Debate Two was a tie, how could President Obama save his job, his positions, his presidency?  There seemed to be no way he could pull a rabbit out of a bedraggled hat.

     But he did.

     Pundits from Charles Krauthammer on FOX to the entire gang at MSNBC gave the nod and honors to the president.  Even Krauthammer, a gorgon of the worst sort, had to admit on FOX that “on points, the president won.”

    Then of course began the autopsy, which started immediately and will continue right up to Monday night’s debate in Florida when the candidates will address foreign policy.

     We caught glimpses of two distinct personalities on Tuesday night last.  We saw a president finally engage and get angry.  We saw his challenger go ‘way over the top and behave like an insistent ten year old…why? why? why?

     And incidentally we also saw a complete lack of respect from Mr. Romney for the office, let alone the person, of the President of the United States.

     Nothing was more pleasing to this viewer than the abashed look on Romney’s face when Obama said he was offended by Romney’s hungry yapping chihuahua-like behavior.  And the final stroke about whether or not Obama had said “terrorist attacks” in the Rose Garden the day following the Libyan disaster, with Candace Crowley’s help — not to mention a little farsighted brilliant planning by the president’s staff in providing her with a transcript of that event — was so good it made the entire day of tension and foreboding disappear in one stroke.

     Pundits are lining up every day to point out that the President has yet to lay out his plans for a second term.  We agree this is a failing, BUT….

         If the Senate stays in Democratic hands, and the House stays in Republican hands, what possible difference could there be between term one and term two?

     The only hope for progress of any kind in dealing with the nation’s business is if the Republican’s come to their senses, realize they have failed from keeping Obama a one term president, and decide, for the benefit of their constituents, to cooperate with some of what the President may want.

     We’d say there is a 30/70 per cent chance of this happening.

     That is roughly the same mathematic formula that obtains in the President’s mind, he who for four years had consistently held to his utopian belief that Congress should be attending to the people’s business and, in order to do so, reach the occasional compromise with the Executive branch.

    Ideally, what we would have if Obama gained a second term is a tougher, more realistic leader who would be unafraid of both his base and his opponents.   

     It is about at this time in political parlance when the voice of the turtle is heard throughout the land: he can’t run again, he should be willing and able to gamble, to actually achieve some of his outstanding promises.

     Of course, we have the lame duck session yet to get through, in which the Republicans can maintain their extreme obduracy and give Mr. Obama nothing at all.  The trouble with this stance is that it is also during the lame duck session that so much remains to be done, especially addressing the “fiscal cliff” and the deficit reduction schemes that exist on both sides.

    And it’s only fair to point out that with current polls giving Mr. Romney an edge in the popular vote, should he make it through the electoral process and rack up 270 electoral votes to become president, he faces a future not much more hopeful.  With the Senate remaining Democratic, and the House Republican, what chance has Romney himself of producing any better results for the country?  And wouldn’t the Democratic Senate simply adopt the same scheme as the Republicans, stand firm, deny everything, ignore problems for political gain in 2016?

     There are hundreds of problems facing the nation now.  Two of them are astonishingly simple.  Obama has never learned to court Congress, or to “schmooze” with his opponents, trying to win them over by personality and reason alike.  Romney, for his part, the prototypical “boss” who will brook no or very little disagreement — remember how much he likes firing people? — will find himself increasingly blocked by men and women whose idea of governing is a long way from saying “yes” to the boss, and to laughing at his jokes.  He cannot fire them all, or perhaps even any.

     Worse, on the basis of his debate performance this past week, we are faced with a child who is insistent, interruptive, without respect for person or office.

     Congress likes to imagine itself as sophisticated and capable.  Whether or not this is true, Romney interrupting every conference and/or conversation about women’s healthcare, the defense budget, the deficit, the debt ceiling, Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, not to mention immigration and a new tax code and his own particular bailiwick, international business, would be intolerable to our Representatives and Senators.

     One of the grand differences between Obama and Romney is that one plays his cards too close to his chest, and the other keeps repeating and repeating like “Night and Day” that he knows how to do this at the tops of his lungs.  Romney, the newbie, claims he can work bi-partisanly and get things done as he reputedly did in Massachusetts.  Voters may buy this or not, but coming “from the private sector” Mr. Romney knows as much or as little as his Republican counterparts about compromise and cooperation.  He’s the boss we would have elected and he will expect obedience.

     The nation, unlike Mr. Obama, will not simply tell him to “proceed.”  That bit was an elegant trap into which Mitt fell and the look on his face as he prosecuted his case against the administration’s handling of the tragedy in Benghazi – a tactic he must have learned from the movies, i.e., to keep pushing, pushing, pushing until the alleged miscreant breaks – was one of an angry ten year old close to tears of frustration, knowing he’d been had and finding no way to redeem himself. 

    We can’t know about the opinions yet of voters who voted early around the country, or who voted absentee, or who voted from the Armed Services.  The polling currently is worthless.  And, to be frank, we’re all just a little tired of Ohio standing in for the entire nation.

     So where are we?  Obama has to address the future and Romney has to tell him that his future doesn’t work.  Romney has to prove his figures on debt reduction, taxation, and the deficit can work, and Obama has to tell him they never will.

    The nation is riding a dry horse, standing in the middle of a roaring stream.  To dismount and select another is guess work.  We have neither proof nor plan.  How could so many millions be so certain of what they want in advance, with early voting and absentee voting?  Beats us.




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