Sep 182012
 

As y’all know, I have been posting quite a bit of analysis and opinion about the status of the Presidential race. But with yesterday’s comedic revelation of Little Lord Fauntleroy’s contempt for 47% of the American citizenry, let’s just draw the curtain, shall we?

Between the Keystone Kops announcements of “reboots”, the abortive attempts to hijack tragedy for political gain, and now His Royal Highness’ pooh-poohing of nearly half of the country on tape to his similarly rarefied supporters, I think we can say that the 2012 Presidential is all over but the GOTV.

It isn’t just this latest event, the way the Palin choice doomed any chances McCain might have had. Romney just doesn’t have ANY bright spots. His policy positions—to the degree he has any beyond “Mitt Romney should be President”—are so unpopular he’s had to deliberately obscure them; his supposed business qualifications have been revealed/framed as questionable and morally filthy; the man is personally an awkward, deeply unlikeable, priggish gaffe machine; his running mate is Iago as played by Jim Nabors, and the two of them can’t even come up with a straight story on which of their appalling budget visions they embrace; the foreign trip and his cheerful eagerness to try to score points off the murder of American diplomats has revealed him for the cold-blooded shark he is; his convention combined the excitement of “Waiting for Godot” with the spectacle of Clint Eastwood losing an argument to an empty chair; and his party’s steady pandering to angry, white, low-education males at the expense of all other demographics has left him with a universe too small to win under the best of circumstances…which these are NOT, because despite the best efforts of his party to torpedo the American people’s economic prospects for political gain, it isn’t entirely working.

Meanwhile, they are running against an incumbent with an arm-long record of achievement, against a crew that has a better understanding of how to run a national campaign using today’s tools and media context than any other on the planet, and against a guy who has already had every lie, every distortion, every calumny the right has been able to imagine thrown at him for four years, and is still viewed positively by most of the country. A man who beat *both* national party’s machines in 2008. A man who is almost certainly one of the giants in the history of the American Presidency.

And whose policies appear not only to have pulled the country back from the edge of the disaster teed up by Romney’s party, but also to be slowly helping it to recover. While Romney and Ryan offer only more of the same failed policies, on steroids.

We’re seven weeks out as of today. The perceived narrative of the Romney/Ryan campaign is that they are in disarray, panicking, and throwing the kitchen sink. I do not recall any challenger to an incumbent in a widely-watched election EVER to survive that perception so close to the election and win.

There just aren’t any bright spots for Circus Romney. Obama’s narrow edges in the battleground states have begun to solidify and move out of the margins of error. Now it’s all about how much the headliners of the Greedy Obnoxious Party can drag down the chances of their compatriots downticket.

From here through Election Day at the sign of the Green Dragon, I’ll focus on local politics and Congress. I’d be surprised if I feel a need to say much more about the Comeuppance of Mitt Romney…except perhaps to gloat a bit.

At publication, the Dragon was EXPERIENCING SCHADENFREUDE

Sep 142012
 

Earlier, I wrote in this post my suggestions for how the Obama campaign could thrash Mitt Romney this fall. Thus far, they seem to be thinking along the same lines, and it’s working pretty danged well.

We have the debates coming up soon, which are Romney’s very last, hail-Mary chance to gain any chance of winning. So I’ve been thinking about the debates. I was a successful high school and college debater, and a debate coach and argumentation teacher after retiring from competition. For what it’s worth, here is what I would do if I were in Obama’s shoes.

  1. Keep bringing up–with dates and locations–Romney’s widely varying statements on the issues under discussion, and seeking to clarify how these fit together or which of them he has settled on. In other words, tacitly question his veracity and trustworthiness.
  2. Frame Romney’s tax policies with the analyses showing they must inevitably lead to raising taxes on the middle class. Make him defend them. Make him explain again that “middle income” is $200-250K. Press for specifics in the places he refuses to give them, saying the American people deserve to know specifics to make their choice. Contrast with what he (Obama) has done in cutting taxes for 95% of Americans.
  3. Politely hammer on Romney’s desire to double down on failed Bush/Republican economic policies. Remind him and viewers of the facts on how these policies have screwed everyone but people like…Mitt Romney.
  4. If you really want to put the knife in, contrast this slavish devotion to trickle-down economics with Obama’s willingness to consider ideas from the other side of the aisle…like Governor Romney’s health care initiative in Massachusetts.
  5. On social issues, play the right-and-wrong card, and frame in the context of “freedom”. “I don’t understand, Governor Romney, why you think it’s a bad idea for government to have a say in whether or not banks can deceive consumers on the terms of their credit cards, but it’s a good idea for government to make women’s health care decisions for them. I don’t understand why you think we should be telling Americans who volunteer to risk their lives to serve their country that they aren’t equal under the law, no matter who they love. I just don’t see how that squares with a moral America.”
  6. Show viewers the warmth Romney is incapable of mustering. Be sure to reference the suffering you’ve seen in person and in letters you receive. THAT is the reason you knew it was the right thing to save the automotive industry, restoring a flagship American manufacturing sector providing millions of jobs to profitability, instead of doing as Gov. Romney suggested and “letting Detroit go bankrupt”. Americans are hurting: fewer of them than were hurting in 2008, but far too many nonetheless. You get up every day thinking about how best to give people a chance to get back up on their feet. With the wealthiest richer than ever before, you can’t see any reason to believe that giving them even more money is going to help the situation of the people who write you those letters.
  7. Overall: stay cool and cordial–which will not be a problem for O-Cube–and methodically make Romney mad. Romney comes off as a snotty, insincere, awkward and entitled bully even at the best of times. But because he is accustomed to getting what he wants, he is thin-skinned. When he gets mad, his arrogance and assumption of entitlement go off the scale, and he becomes the classic Hollywood stereotype of the Sociopathic Rich Kid. You want America to see Romney being that guy.

Romney is desperate, and he knows he needs to land some punches in the debates. So he’ll be overreaching with his swings, just as he did with the embassy attack debacle. Just bob and weave, wait for opportunities, and keep stinging him with small shots that contrast your achievements with his empty claims, your commitment to bettering the country with his opportunistic flip-flopping and self-interested policies.

Get him steaming. Do that, and the man will defeat himself.

At publication, the Dragon was CONFIDENT

Sep 052012
 

Okay, here’s the thing about this Democratic National Convention, in my view.

Rallies can be great, but there’s a body-level thing that happens in humans when involved with a mob swept with enthusiasm…which can be good or bad, depending.

So I try to step back from the emotional surges that come with cadences of speeches and roaring crowd approval: as a speaker, I know how to make those things happen, and though when I do, I do it because I believe what I’m saying, I know that there are people who DON’T believe what they say who can nonetheless trigger those responses.

But independent of that, this convention has been a more full-throated endorsement of what this country is supposed to be than I have heard in my lifetime at a political convention. More than the 2008 DNC, when the idea of a Democrat as competitive was much more tentative and speakers had to be more gingerly.

Physics help me, I’m a Democrat. It’s a road that can be hapless and frustrating and throw-your-hands-in-the-air exasperating. More than once it has led to downright despair, as I’ve watched the slow-motion nightmare that Reagan ushered us into.

It got so very dark, under Bush. Kafka, wrapped in Orwell, sold by Goebbels. Hard to watch. Hard to bear.

But I’m a Democrat. I’m a sucker for optimism.

That Rosie-the-Riveter-We-Can-Do-It thing? Can’t help it: I believe it. I can’t help but believe in the City on the Hill. I love it too much to give it up.

So after the despair, I’m soon back at it. And finally, crazy as the Orcs have become—and yes, let’s start calling them Orcs, shall we?—the Democratic Congressional sweep in 2006 felt like light on the horizon; the election of Barack Obama, like sunrise at last.

Now, in the light of day, beset by Orcs who can no longer hide how ugly they are under darkness, Democratic politicians don’t have to whisper about what they stand for, the way they did in the Clinton years because they thought the whole country had flipped to the right. They don’t have to soft-pedal their caring about the poor and the disenfranchised. They don’t have to pretend free markets are the Magical Fairy Dust of Prosperity.

So when I listen to Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Warren and Bill Clinton speak at this convention, and they speak about heart and love and hope and future and mutual responsibility and inclusiveness and good-paying jobs and fairness to women and minorities and gay people—and basing policies on some goddamned FACTS for a change—they’re the words I’ve wanted to hear from people in a position to do something about it since the bitter, disillusioned years of the late 1970s.

We’re better than the small, mean people our opposition wants us all to be.

We’re the United States of America.

What we’re supposed to be doing here is making this joint match what we thought that meant when we were kids and they first told us those glittering, sanitized stories about Washington and Jefferson and Lincoln. The way Dr. King invoked the mountaintop.

Nobody at this convention is apologizing for anything any more. No one at this convention is weaseling around what we stand for.

Which is Justice.

And Reason.

And Responsibility to the Future: environmentally, economically, militarily, diplomatically, educationally, scientifically, technologically, culturally.

We stand for Good.

And damn, it’s good to hear it ringing from the Big Podium, at last.

At publication, the Dragon was MOVED

Aug 312012
 

Here is your post-Republican-convention Presidential race thumbnail, as viewed by Your Tavernkeeper:

Two national polls were released today. CNN has Obama by 7 points nationally, and FOX-fer-gods-sake News by 9. Those numbers are identical to where they were three weeks ago, before Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan as his running mate.

Of course, these polls only measure the national horse race, and what really matters are the battleground states. But perception is huge in national elections, and Americans hate to back a loser. Reports from Tampa are that after Romney’s speech, even delegates to the convention appeared dispirited and glum as they filed out of the arena. The more Obama looks like an inevitable winner, the more likely he is to become an actual one.

These polls were conducted prior last night’s…um…unique climax to the RNC, so they don’t reflect any possible convention bounce, but I don’t expect Romney to get much, if any such help. Here’s why:

Romney announced his selection of Paul Ryan earlier than he should have, because he was desperate to shift the national conversation away from his tax returns and record at  Bain Capital. Given that Romney isn’t exciting or particularly liked in the first place, the VP pick was probably going to be the biggest driver of any convention-driven improvement in his numbers.

Because he announced his selection early, it’s been long enough that any such bounce would already have shown up in the polls. Yet with the exception of Wisconsin, where the GOP ticket has seen slight improvement—but the President still leads—there has been no sign that Paul Ryan has much helped Romney’s prospects.

Now we are done with a convention that is perceived by many as having been a disaster for the GOP. The big takeaways from this year’s RNC are that Paul Ryan is a lying lying liar and Clint Eastwood lost an argument with an empty chair; the more insider-baseball stories which will undermine GOP voter enthusiasm are the suppression of Ron Paul delegates through passage of a rather Stalinist rule change, and the fact that Romney himself does not support the party’s platform plank on abortion, which certainly can’t be pleasing social conservatives. Of course, that position could change, because with Romney, it usually does.

TV ratings for Ryan’s big speech were only slightly more than half what they were for Palin on the same night in 2008, even though Ryan—being unfamiliar to many voters—should arguably have been the biggest draw of the convention besides Eastwood. Sarah Palin may be a dim bulb, but she’s charismatic to conservatives. You don’t tend to find “Paul Ryan” and “charismatic” in the same sentence; he just ain’t no Sarah Palin. And that’s another serious problem for the GOP ticket, because given the sharply reduced audience, those who were watching this convention were almost certainly the Republican base, rather than undecided voters.

Maybe, given its content, that’s a plus for them, actually.

The upshot of all this is that Romney’s last real opportunity to make a positive impression on the American people is over, and unless I am very much mistaken, he failed in that task. Which is a serious problem for him, because America really, really doesn’t like him.

Meanwhile, Nate Silver notes that economic indicators are improving somewhat, undermining the GOP argument and strengthening the incumbent. His model now shows Obama over 70% likely to win.

The DNC is up next, and we know that one speaker, at least, has the chops to draw and retain viewer attention. Like it or not, America smells like teen spirit, and the incumbent President knows how to make his case while entertaining us.

It’s still a long way to November, but the Romney/Ryan ticket is running out of options. Looks like they’re stuck with spend that money and lie, baby, lie.

At publication, the Dragon was ANALYTICAL