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Thursday, October 04, 2012

Why did Barack Obama bring a lollipop to a knife fight? I think I have the answer...

What the hell went wrong? Why did Barack Obama bring a lollipop to a knife fight?

Obama's poor debate performance bugged me so much that I went for a long walk to mull the problem over. A long walk. Didn't get home until nearly four in the morning.

Obama let Romney frame him as a Big Gummint Democrat, even though the government has shrunk. Obama allowed Dodd-Frank to seem like onerous regulation, when in fact it is hardly sufficient to keep the Wall Streeters in line. Obama barely attempted to combat the absurd claim that the President (not the GOP) has been responsible for the hyper-partisanship in DC. Obama allowed the $700 billion Medicare canard to stand. Obama couldn't combat his opponent's false claim that the Romney tax plan wouldn't add to the deficit, despite huge tax cuts and a big military build-up.

Obama didn't refer to Mitt's Janus-faced history of saying anything he thinks his audience wants to hear at any given time. I mean, jeez. That tactic should have been obvious.

As Jeff Greenfield notes:
Most surprising, the whole evening felt as if Obama thought he was back in 2008, needing only to demonstrate a sense of cool, calm collectedness to persuade the voters that they could do what they desperately wanted to do: change course.

There was barely a moment when Obama offered any sense that he was prepared to challenge Romney on his weakest point: who does the Republican presidential nominee speak for? How much (or little) does he understand where the country is, how it got here?

Even on the most basic political points, Obama seemed clueless. When you argue as a Democrat that you and your Republican opponent share wide areas of agreement on Social Security—especially when recipients make up a chunk of Romney’s “47 percent” of indolent spongers—you have thrown in a fistful of high cards.
That last point bugged the hell out of me. Mitt Romney is the guy who picked Paul Ryan, the apostle of Ayn Rand and therefore the sworn enemy of Social Security. The obvious move was to force Romney to distance himself from his own veep. That's what Obama would have done if he had brought the killer instinct to this match.

Joe Klein:
You may have noticed that the President never mentioned his most important achievement in the most crucial states: the auto bailout. He never said, “That $716 billion in Medicare savings you keep harping on? That was in Paul Ryan’s Republican budget — you know, Mitt, the one that passed the House because all the Republicans voted for it.”
Jonathan Chait lays out the things that Obama allowed Romney to get away with:
So Romney is a candidate of a 20 percent cut in tax rates, a new plan to cover people with preexisting conditions, and higher defense spending, and he will accomplish it all by eliminating federal funding for PBS. He would not accept that his proposal would result in any trade-offs at all — no lower funding for education, no reductions in Medicare for anybody who is currently retired. He insisted his plan would not cut taxes for the rich, which is false. He described his proposal to allow people with continuous health insurance to keep it — a right that, as Obama already noted, already exists, and is therefore a meaningless promise — as a plan to cover all people with preexisting conditions.
Such thoughts ran through my head as I took that long, long walk across foggy Baltimore. My only consolation came in a Dunkin Donuts shop, where a stout, unhappy woman served me a Boston Kreme which clogged the arteries while soothing the soul. (Bad for the diet, but the walk compensated.) She also wanted one dollar for a cup of water.

How did this happen? By "this," I mean Obama's exercise in surrealism, not the water policy at Dunkin's. As I sat there looking like Homer Simpson in an Edward Hopper, samsara struck: What if it was that stupid video?

In the days before the debate, the right mounted a coordinated attack based on a "newly discovered" (actually well-known) video from 2007, in which Obama praised his former pastor Jeremiah Wright, the firebrand blowhard who went under the bus half a year later. (I've long suspected that Obama joined that church simply to get ahead in Chicago politics. Obama probably isn't very religious. For many politicians, Christianity is the best image.)

Reactionary pundits used this video to portray Obama as an angry black nationalist. Of course, he is nothing of the kind.

But: I think that this line of attack unnerved the President. The purpose of the scheme was to stimulate one of Obama's psychological weak points.

Obama knows how to play the role of the non-threatening black man -- how to be the kind of black guy that middle-class white people like. Barack Obama is, I think, very self-conscious about the need to project this persona. The right's inane misrepresentation of that 2007 video was designed to transform Mr. Nice Guy into an amalgam of Farrakhan and O.J.

And so Obama over-compensated.

He came to this debate determined to show that the Fox Newsers were wrong -- that he wasn't a firebrand, wasn't angry, wasn't scary. That he really was Mr. Nice Guy deep in his heart.

The result? He was a wimp.

No matter how many absurdities Mitt spewed, Obama didn't tell him to cut the crap. Romney re-re-re-re-re-reinvented himself right there on that stage, and not once did Obama say the obvious: "You never know which Mitt is going to show up." Despite being handed many opportunities and ample cause, Obama didn't attack.

Why did Barack Obama bring a lollipop to a knife fight? Because he didn't want to be seen as a black guy with a knife.
You got it. I came to the same conclusion. Last night I said on Twitter:

#Obama pulls his punches because he's wary that he will be called "uppity" or be characterized as an "angry black man."

But I need to amend that slightly. Obama knows that because he's black and because America really hasn't changed very much since the 60s, he is always in a no-win posture: If he knife-fights, he will be characterized as the angry black man. But if he tries to use logic and reason (Professor Obama) he risks being perceived as "uppity"

He's made a deliberate choice to risk "uppity" to avoid being the "angry black man". He tries to mitigate the "uppitiness" by being such a likable guy.

The 2007 video may have made it worse, but this ABM dilemma has handicapped him throughout his presidential term.
Actually, last night was one of Obama's better debate performances.

That WAS his "A" game.

I thought that too. They were playing it safe so he wouldn't damage his likability advantage. Now, in the second debate, he can be seen more as fighting back and fighting for the middle class in his second debate. Plus, it really lowers expectations AND the second debate is the town hall meeting where the audience asks questions which is more his forte and less Romney's. He was too subdued but this next time he'll be given different motivations for being more aggressive.
First of all, Obama was not prepared. It's that simple. So please stop the excuse-making.

Second, if in fact the video posed a threat, then Obama was still not prepared. Deal with the video. You have one day? So what? Give up the trip to Hoover Dam. Re-strategize. Practice.

No, it was the lack of preparation, the smug narcissism that leads him to believe he will be adored whatever he does. Well, I can't really blame him. That's how he's been treated his whole life. He's been conditioned. (Also, as an aside, his programs are pretty similar to cardboard man's, when you get right down to it, so what's to argue about?)

Finally, and most important to me, Obama is not a black man. He is a half-black man. I cannot abide the discounting of his white half. He was raised middle-class white. That is who he really is. He knows nothing of the ghetto.

He and the Bots are the ones who have used his identification as black as a weapon, trying to slay any of us who treated him as we would any other candidate, but, because we treated him the same, given the color of his skin, we were racists. So he used race as a sword, and now he wants to use race as a shield?

Pitiful. Utter weakling. Anything but an intellect. Unable to think on his feet. Excuses excuses excuses.

Oh, I am a very liberal Democrat. I haven't run into too many of those lately, especially in the "Democratic Party."
Bambi thought he was the coolest guy on the stage?

Reminds me of a former governor from Alaska what thought she knew it all and didn't need to bone up on stuff.
I think you are onto something but I also believe that Obama probably was prepared to debate an entirely different version of Mitt than the one who showed up. He lied and etch-a-sketched away his entire campaign for the last 18 months.

If Obama calls him out on his lies, Rmoney just smirks and says something like "you know your record of failure, so your only going for personal attacks". With a really smooth pathological liar it's hard to play their own game.

I'm not sure how you attack that kind of person successfully and avoid looking desperate yourself.

Even if your theory is correct that Obama was concerned above all not to look like the "angry black man," couldn't he have refuted Romney's many misstatements in a calm and respectful, yet devastating way if he was truly on top of things?

It could be argued that Romney had a similar handicap -- not to seem condescending or dismissive while talking to a black President. But he didn't let this get inside his head, and was as assertive as he needed to be to make his points, while remaining respectful to a fault.

It's true that Obama seemed to be checking himself to a dismaying degree. But if his fear of coming across as "angry" was the reason, then he is paranoid about this far more than he needs to be. He's the president, for god's sake! People expect someone who's made it that far to show a healthy self-confidence.

Zbig Brezinski Carter Nat sec advisor is now echoing cannonfire blog , thought you would want to know, and perhaps update the story on 'Innocence of Muslims' hate film:

"Here is Zbigniew Brezinski, former national security advisor, discussing the “Innocence of Muslims” video and its possible origins. Money quote:

“There is some indication that there was a conspiracy involved here. The people who produced the film remain anonymous. Who paid for it? How was financed it? Why are they keeping quiet about it. What was the intent? Purely to amuse?”

He then speculates that there might be “evil forces at work trying to provoke violence between us” and the Muslim world.....An elaborate prank – or a covert operation? "
It appeared to me that during Romney's answers Obama was busily crafting his own response to the moderators question. You could tell he wasn't really listening to Romney's words because he spent much of the time during Romney's answers nodding, in what appeared to be agreement, while looking down and writing. While many of us were hearing Romney's BS and anticipating Obama countering the lies, Obama was busily preparing his own response to the question. In short, Obama missed what Romney was saying because he wasn't listening. As a mother of 4 children I can tell when someone isn't listening, and Barack wasn't listening to Mitt.

In that format not listening to your opponents entire answer is a fatal mistake, because many, if not most of the points Obama could have scored, were setup by Romney's answer.

The next format may favor Obama's style, but Barack needs to learn to REALLY listen.

And poor Jim Lehrer. He was just totally run over by Romney. Debate moderators need control of the debaters microphone so that they can exert some control over candidates and enforce debate rules.
Obama brought an Ambien to the duel.
This performance was Obama's typical debate style. He was always creamed by Hillary. The comparison between him and Romney was so striking that one was mind boggled. Obama is not brilliant! Obama does not prepare. Obama expects to have his pillow fluffed. Obama is a fool.
And the media has protected him forever. The electorate was scammed. Obama should have been primaried. He should have chosen not to run again. Just like G W Bush should never have run again. Two fools elected by even bigger fools. I have always felt both of them were not really elected but selected. Bush was selected in the Supreme Court and Onama selected bynthe big doors in the Democrat primary race. Hillary won tthe primary, but Obama cheated and
got the nod.
Obama brought a lollipop. Mitt brought ... a cheat sheet? If so, that's against the "rules" of the debate (not the corporate overlords who oversee the debate spectacle give a damn about rules). Anyhow...

Caught on tape, Romney brings a cheat sheet.
Anonymous, You seem to have a lot of Obama hate to spew, why not put your name on it?
We are awaiting the reply to Zbigniew Brezinski's request for an investigation of the conspiracy to product the anti Islamic hate film, Innocence of Muslims, since we still dont know who wrote the script, hired Jimmy Israel and Steve Goldberg/Goldenberg, nor who paid Media for Christ, the geller Spencer hate group condemned by the ADL.

LA Film permit was released, but the names involved have been redacted.

Meaning, there are new names on the film permit , different from Nakoula, and Jimmy Israel, whose names are already public.

"A $1,195 permit allowed a shoot at Blue Cloud Ranch with 20 actors and 20 crew. Also allowed were the use of animals within regulations and burning torches and barrels to "simulate a building on fire."

Names of the producer, director and others were redacted before the permit was released."

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