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By Tom Cushing

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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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Debate 2 Recap: the Rumpus on the Campus, or The Brawl at Town Hall

Uploaded: Oct 19, 2012
Here are some miscellaneous impressions from the rancorous second presidential debate at Hofstra U. this week. I suspect that you may want to add a few of your own.

1 -- It was remarkable how timid the commentators were in their post-debate analysis – as if the herd needed to be given some clear direction before knowing in which direction they should stampede. Actually, there was a similar snouts-in-the-wind phenomenon after the first edition, with tentative indications of a Romney victory morphing into an eventual heaping pile of scorn for the President's tepid performance. This time, only Fox was decisive in its immediate conclusions – their unanimous dismay over the Moderator, the questions, the time allocations, etc., sent the clearest early message we got: when the fans spend all their time complaining about the umpire, you know their team lost. That said, the 'me-too' inclination of the current crop of media mavens is discouraging, in general.

2 -- To end all the bickering about time and order, the Moderator should be armed with a microphone kill-switch. All she'd have to do is show it to the candidates when they whined, and they'd desist, immediately. Who could imagine either of these alpha dogs risking such emasculation, even or especially at the hands of a woman-in-charge?

3 – I thought Mr. Obama gave far better than he got. I do not think he is wired for this kind of combat – his no-drama style is intent more on problem-solving. But he roused himself to this occasion and came across as firm, confident and in-charge. He even turned the cringe-worthy Libya situation to his favor, albeit with an assist from his opponent (BTW, I'm convinced that the Mod's confirmation of his Rose Garden statement was her payback to Mr. Romney for his verbal and gestural bullying, earlier in the session – good for her). Mr. Romney appeared truculent, by contrast.

4 -- The whole women-in-binders segment was remarkable, in several ways beyond the condescending phraseology. First, if true and as NPR pointed out, Romney's description constituted a remarkably clear endorsement of voluntary Affirmative Action. Who knew that he was a champion of such a liberal policy, anathema to his base? Perhaps they can take comfort in the fact that he actually did no such thing – those famous binders were compiled by an advocacy group in-advance of the election, and handed to him, unbidden, when he assumed office.

5 – Thus, we are presented with another example of the candidate's unfortunate practice of never letting the truth get in the way of a self-aggrandizing story. Did he think no one would check? And was he unaware of the follow-on fact that those women also left his Administration in droves, that he ended his term with fewer women advisors than his predecessor? His braggadocio did finally convince somebody to examine the halcyon mythology he has woven about his one-term service in Massachusetts. Query: where has the Obama campaign been on that subject, and did the Fifth Estate really need that kind of broad hint to go looking?

6 – Back on the media, it is dismaying to me that a candidate who has studiously dodged specifics at every turn, can continue to get away with it. Mr. Romney said – fully five times – "and I know how to do it." Really? Will nobody dissect the yawning chasm in job descriptions between the relative ease and great position authority of running a middle-sized business with the challenges of leading a fractious, multi-trillion-dollar nation in dire times? He keeps making this fundamentally false equivalence because "Trust Me" is easier, and seems to be working. The best argument against the so-called media bias is that, if they really were intent on his destruction, it would be impossible for them to be so uninspired and incompetent in pursuing it.

7 – As one more specific example of the above, it is blindingly obvious that the Romney-Ryan recovery plan is no plan at all, but a series of hoped-for outcomes, unattached to any real-world arithmetic. The candidate acknowledged as much in a lesser-quoted passage of his Boca Raton confessional. Has our education system so failed us, are we so bad at math, that this point eludes us? Has the tax code become so byzantine and dense that we'll believe just anything said about it? It is said that there was really only one business media analyst who swam against the Enron tide when it was high – everybody else was content to ride the wave, until it crashed on the rocks. Your country needs you, Madame Analyst.

Now it's your turn.

Comments

Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 20, 2012 at 9:42 am

My family of five and I racked up $80,000 in debt these past four years. Not us personally. But our government borrowed $5 trillion. That's around $16,000 per person. The govt. plans to borrow $5 trillion more during the next four years. I think that's unwise and would like to change course.


Posted by RWR, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 20, 2012 at 9:51 am

The first "redistribution of wealth" by Obama should be cashing out his government pension that has foreign assets in it and paying the US government back for all that affirmative action free education student aid he got to attend college and law school. Yes, his pension is smaller than Mr. Romney since Obama has never had real non-government job, but has been living off the government.


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 20, 2012 at 10:38 am

Like most Americans, Romney doesn't have a pension.Web Link So Obama was wrong when he quipped, "I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours so it doesn't take as long." Typical. Most of what Obama says is wrong.

What Romney has is a huge IRA. Bain Capital allowed Romney to use his IRA account to invest in Bain's deals. Now his IRA is worth an estimated $100 million, all tax deferred. Good tax planning. Is it abusive? The purpose of an IRA is to encourage Americans to save for retirement. Looks like some wealthy individuals are using it as a tax shelter to shield vast sums of money from tax.

Anyone can use an IRA to shelter investment income from tax. But looks like Romney used his IRA to shelter his work compensation from tax. Clever idea. The typical American can't do that with a paycheck. Is that fair? If two people earn the same amount of compensation, wouldn't a fair tax system tax them the same? There's also the issue of doing something that is not within the spirit of why Congress made IRA accounts tax deferred.

Web Link


Posted by Dave, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 20, 2012 at 10:37 pm

RWR -
I'd say that President Obama has more than paid back any government financial aid invested in him as a student, given the taxes he has paid on the millions he has earned over the past few years. Surely, you can do that simple math?


Posted by Citizen Paine, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 21, 2012 at 10:37 am

RWR: Yeah, that 'redistribution of wealth' is a huge problem.

A colossal migration of wealth -- starting in the 1970s and abetted by government policies -- has moved from the middle class to the very rich. It has allowed those at the very top to amass fabulous wealth at the expense of those below. The biggest problem with that is that it's ultimately not sustainable, because the top ultimately depends on a vibrant middle class to buy the output of the economy -- but that bill has not yet come due.

Or was that not the policy issue you had in-mind?


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 21, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Citizen P says there's been a massive migration of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy since the 1970's, but hasn't the creation of that wealth been largely attributed to growth in foreign markets rather than growth in U.S. markets? Why should U.S. workers enjoy the fruits of labor they did not produce? Web Link

For example, if 75% of GE's profits are from products designed by engineers educated abroad, manufactured, and sold in foreign markets, and intellectual property created and protected under foreign law, why should a U.S. worker be entitled to a cut of that wealth if they're not involved in creating that foreign wealth?

Isn't it true that U.S. middle class incomes have kept pace with U.S. growth? Middle income of U.S. households rose 46% from 1979 to 2007, adjusted for inflation. Isn't this in line with U.S. GDP during the same period? Why should they get more wealth than they help create? Web Link

Finally, middle class income taxes are at historic lows, currently 5.6% for a family of four. And overall federal taxes --which include income as well as payroll and excise taxes -- on middle-income households are near their lowest levels in decades, 14.3% on average.Web Link


Posted by RWR, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 21, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Sorry Dave, I am too busy clinging to my religion and guns. But as Obama told the Russian leader not knowing the tape was still on, when he is reelected there is a lot he can do for Russia. Redistribution of wealth will begin.


Posted by Citizen Paine, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 22, 2012 at 7:24 am

Fun with numbers. Tell you what, spcwt and anyone else, try jotting down your estimate of the % of 2007 wealth held by the the top 1%, 5%, 10% and 20%, then the next 2 20%, then the bottom 40% -- and then look at this chart to see how you did: Web Link

Then recognize that the Great Recession wiped out 40% of the middle class' wealth between 2007-2010, per the Federal Reserve: Web Link.

Let 'em eat cake crumbs.


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 22, 2012 at 9:23 am

Citizen P,

The middle class saw their wealth shoot up sharply during the housing bubble, as their main asset, their homes, rapidly appreciated in value. But then wealth evaporated as housing equity did after the boom turned to bust.

The Top 1% have become more wealthy over the past 40 years primarily because of the dramatic rise in the stock market, not because they've stolen wealth from the middle class. Web Link


Posted by Citizen Paine, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 22, 2012 at 10:13 am

Yes! Clearly the middle class erred in not demanding better management of their trust funds, stock portfolios and overseas accounts. Good help is SO Hard to find these days!

Since they don't generally accept dense people into Sandra Fluke's law school, are we to assume that you think everybody else who reads this column really IS that dense?


Posted by Tango, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Ok kids ! Everyone just relax. Come Nov 5 we will see which of these two used salesmen had the bet pitch !


Posted by Unworthy petty partisan, a resident of San Ramon,
on Oct 24, 2012 at 9:07 pm

turn??? to such diatribe, unworthy of comment.


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