Okay, so last night was the first of the three scheduled Presidential Debates. Sadly I had a night class to go to so I missed watching it; but with the glory of modern technology I did record the debate, from C-Span, to keep as neutral influence as possible, and I watched it just about an hour ago.
So, let’s just dive in and go straight for the biggie, who do I think won this opening debate between two of the Presidential Candidates? Well, if these were the only two choices out there, and based upon what I saw, then I would have to say that Mitt Romney “won” this debate. You will notice that I put the word “won” in quotes, and that I italicized the word “saw,” which certainly needs some explanations.
The reason why I put the word “saw” in italics is because based solely on body language, tone, and presentation Mitt Romney looked, in my opinion, to get the best of President Obama. Before anyone gets all worked up in a lather over this, and start hurling outlandish barbs and accusations at me, (1) it is simply my opinion, based on my observation; and (2) did you see the President’s body language? To me it seemed that he couldn’t bring himself to look Mitt Romney in the eye. At times I thought the President looked sheepish. Hell, one of my Facebook friends, who is an avowed Democrat, posted that they thought the President looked tired, and un-energized; and upon watching the debate I would have to agree. There seemed to be a lack of energy, or engagement by the President. Anyone who was “Hoping” for the enthusiastic Barack Obama that ran in 2008 must have been disappointed in what they saw last night. My understanding is that Chris Mathews had a virtual meltdown on MSNBC last night following the debate, because of the President’s seeming lack of interest and engagement. In short, based solely on what I saw, then I would give the nod to Mitt Romney, which is also why I put the word “won” in quotes; because Romney simply won the eyeball test. Perhaps the President will “win” the eyeball test in round two.
Now let’s get to what was said. Both of these two candidates talked of reducing the deficits, and growing the middleclass a great deal. Apparently both agree that the best way to reduce the deficit is to increase spending, because that is what I heard. Mitt Romney’s idea on deficit reduction is to increase military expenditures, which are already a higher percentage of our budget than at any time during the Cold War, and if I understood what he was saying about Medicare, he is all for spending more money on it too, as well as tax cuts. President Obama’s deficit reduction ideas are to increase spending on Medicare, increase spending on the training and hiring of math and science teachers (it sounds good, but given the federal constraints and mandates by the Federal Dept. of Education, more teachers really won’t do much to improve America’s failing school system and only costs more money), increase spending on green energy initiatives, increase access to student loans (more spending), and he wants to raise taxes, he says on only the top 1%.
Umm, hey guys, has anyone ever told you the old saying, “when you find yourself in a hole, it is wise to quit digging.” Look, I majored in English and International Affairs because I knew my weakness was/is mathematics, but even a relative algebraic dullard like me can figure out that you do not reduce deficits by increasing expenditures.
Mitt did say that he would cut programs that would require selling debt to China, and that he would reduce federal departments through attrition and combine redundant departments. Then there is his claim to close the many tax loopholes that riddle our convoluted tax code like Swiss cheese. I think many of that sounds fantastic, the thing is that these promises have been falling out of both red and blue politicians as long as I can remember, which are decades, and nothing even remotely like these promises ever seem to happen.
The President’s response to this was basically to say that these are the same failed ideas that put our country in its current pickle. He then goes on to explain how he wishes to go back to President Clinton’s policies and taxes, which he says left the country with a surplus, and created many millionaires. I have mentioned this before, but I will do it again, it was NOT President Clinton’s policies that led to the surplus and millionaires. It was the Dot Com boom that just so happened to coincide with Clinton’s administration. The internet and all of the technology that came with it was becoming a major part of pretty much all facets of life way back then, which fuelled private investments, which led to new business opportunities, which led to more millionaires, which led to higher tax revenues, which led to the government surplus. What happened was in spite of President Clinton, not because of him, so unless President Obama can introduce a new widget into the market place that will lead to a similar boom in the economy, other than using a fallacious cause and effect argument, then yeah, it ain’t going to work.
The debate soon shifted to healthcare, and uh, okay, so the only real difference between the two is that Obamacare should be left to the states – other than that it is great. Sure, Romney hammered Obama on the reported $700 billion Obamacare takes from Medicare to help pay for it. Obama hit Romney with the “it was modeled after your plan in Massachusetts” argument, and how he (Romney) is going to turn Medicare into a voucher program, and at the mercy of private insurance companies. I really don’t think either guy really won that portion of the debate.
The debate was wrapped up with each candidate asked to explain what the role of the federal government is. The President spoke of how the federal government should be there to provide opportunity. Mitt Romney actually spoke to the founding principles of this country and that the federal government should reduce its footprint in the individual’s life. Sadly neither mentioned how laws that allow for the indefinite detention of Americans over a suspicion of potential wrong doing (not proof, or actual wrong doing) honors the freedom’s we hold dear.
Again, based solely on what I saw, and part of what I heard (a very small part) I have to begrudgingly give the nod to Romney in this debate. He came across as the more sincere and seemed to use statistics to refute the President’s claims, which Obama seemed to fail to counter in any substantive way. In the closing statements the President went back to his tried and true message of hope, which is getting a little long in the tooth as this country’s economic malaise drags on. Mitt’s closing statement was an attempt to draw a stark contrast between the two of their (Mitt’s and Obama’s) visions of America.
Sadly, I really don’t think either of these two candidates really painted a complete picture of real solutions to the growing shadow that our current $16 trillion debt or the institution of a balanced budget that curbs continued deficit spending. Sure, both talked to it, and a little about it, but neither really addressed it in any formulaic way. Instead we were treated to what each was going to do that requires the spending of more money and little in regards to the spending of less. I could say that I don’t really care, because the candidate I like (Gov. Gary Johnson) wasn’t there to promote his ideas, but the thing is that the glacier, that is a looming sovereign debt crisis here, the one that we have been warned about since the Reagan administration, has finally encroached close enough to be taken seriously by all of us. However, debt eventually reaches a size where it no longer moves glacially, it eventually turns into a tsunami; moving too fast for anyone to control, let alone get out of its way; and I don’t believe that either of these two candidates have sufficiently addressed a substantial, or logical plan that actually could prevent a debt tsunami from crushing our country.
If you are interested in hearing some third party candidates debate the issues, the following links will give you the opportunity to hear where they stand on the issues as the Huffington Post Live held a third party debate this earlier today. The candidates are Reform Party candidate Andre Barnett, Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson, and Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson.
I encourage everyone to check each of those links out, listen to what the candidates are saying, just as I did, and do for the two big tent candidates. Politics in a republic cannot, and should not be an all or nothing affair.
Debt is the slavery of the free. (Publilius Syrus)