Friday, October 19, 2012


Mitt Romney is now structuring his entire campaign around accusing President Obama of not having a second term agenda.
"We used [Wednesday] to remind voters that if President Obama had a record to run on he would do so, but he doesn't so he can't," said [Romney senior adviser Kevin] Madden, adding, "Voters have a choice between Governor Romney, who has a plan to fix the economy and address concerns like gas prices, and President Obama, who hasn't even presented voters a second term agenda. We want to continue to drive that fact with swing voters."
Jon Stewart echoed that talking point in his Obama interview last night -- and Obama mostly said that he'll stay the course, and he should be reelected to prevent Romney from getting into office and changing course in a wingnutty way. The answer played well with the Stewart audience, and it's good enough for me given the extreme nature of the GOP at this moment in history -- but is it enough to get Obama across the finish line when Romney is goading him to provide second term specifics?

Here's the full exchange:
STEWART: Would you say-- do you feel like you have a stronger affirmative case for a second Barack Obama presidency or a stronger negative case for a Mitt Romney presidency? What is-- in your mind, what is the stronger case to be made? Or do you prefer a melange? But what is-- because I'm curious, what do you think? Do you feel like you've-- do you feel you've made the strong enough affirmative case or a stronger negative case?

OBAMA: I think I've got a strong case on both ends. Look, four years ago I said I'd end the war in Iraq. We did. Said I'd pass health care reforms, make sure people don't go bankrupt when they're sick. We have. Said we'd refocus our attentions on Al Qaeda. We have. Made sure that we saved an auto industry that was on the brink of collapse. We've done that. So we've got a very strong story to tell, whether it's on social issues, like Don't Ask, Don't Tell, or economic issues that matter for middle-class families.

I do think that part of the president's job is not only moving forward on things that will work, but also preventing things that won't work. So I think you want a president in the Oval Office who's going to say, "No, we're not going to amend our Constitution for the first time to restrict rights for gay and lesbian couples. We're not going to pass a budget where all the work that we've done to make college more affordable for young people gets wiped aside so that suddenly lenders and banks are getting extra tens of billions of dollars. We're not going to roll back health care so that millions of people are thrown off the rolls."

But when you think about it, it is two sides of the same coin. The question is, what kind of vision do you have for this country? We need to make sure that we're developing oil and gas but we're also developing solar and wind. So we're leapfrogging current technology and making sure that technology twenty or thirty years from now is developed here in the United States. That's what creates jobs.

And the most important thing is, when you think about the economy, I'm absolutely convinced, when you look at the historical record, that when middle-class families do well, when there are ladders of opportunity for poor families to get into the middle class, the entire economy does well. And when a few folks are doing very well at the top and everybody else is getting squeezed, the entire economy grows slower. And that is the central issue in this election that we've got to make sure we address.
When pundits talk about the Mitt Romney campaign, the conventional narrative is "Romney thought just saying he wasn't Barack Obama would win him the election, but then he changed his message, and now he's doing much better." (Romney isn't actually describing an agenda in much detail, except drill/deregulate/cut taxes = profit!!!, but he says he is, and he says "five-point plan" so often you'd think he really has a detailed plan and Obama doesn't.) If Barack Obama's principal message is "I'm not Mitt Romney," is he making what everyone thinks was Romney's former mistake? Or will this work for Obama because he can make a Romney future sound scarier than Romney can make an Obama future sound, because we know Obama, and because Romney really is much more extreme? Can Obama still convince us that Romney is much more extreme? Or does he need more than this?


tonycpsu said...

I'm surprised you're falling for this, Steve.

He's laid out a very ambitious second term agenda. Increased taxes for high earners, investments in education in research, leaving Afghanistan, and, yes, reducing the deficit. He and Biden have referred to nominating SCOTUS judges who will defend Roe. He's talked about comprehensive immigration reform. etc.

There's only so much oxygen in the room to both (a) push back against Romney's mendacious lying and (b) talk in vivid detail about what he'll do in a second term, and the political calculation his people have made (one which I agree with) is that the danger of letting Romney get away with his many exaggerations and fabrications is much larger than the danger of not talking about the second term agenda enough.

Just think about how much danger it would be for Romney to get away with his flip-flop on choice, his absurd deficit / tax cuts math, etc. You really think Obama makes up the many votes he'll lose if people fall for that by talking more about continued implementation of PPACA and creating a legal path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants?

Victor said...

In all fairness to both candidates, neither can promise much, besides giving some guidelines.

Mitt keeps talking about what he's going to do his first day in office, like he's some kind of dictator.

And Obama has laid out his plans - only without Mitt's bluster and bragadoccio.

But, what actually happens will depend on the make-up of both houses of Congress.

Yeah, with a Congress full of Wingnuts and Teabaggers, Mitt very well could end a lot of the New Deal and Great Society programs - as well as reinstate DADT, and further solidify DOMA.

But without both houses, he won't be able to ramrod any anti-gay agenda's (sorry, I couldn't help myself), let alone end Obamacare, privatize SS, send Medicaid to the states, and make Medicare a voucher system.

Same goes for Obama.
Without control of both houses he won't be able to move firmly on his agenda(and with the Red Dog Democrats, any progress at all is not guaranteed).

What pisses me off the most is, when Obama makes that joke, "Don't boo. VOTE!" He needs to say, "And vote straight ticket, or else there's no chance for hope or change."

And you know Republicans don't have to be told the same thing. To them, the "D" next to a candidates name, stands for "DEVIL!!!"

Steve M. said...

I'm just saying that he needs an answer that puts the question to rest. My post is about how the rhetoric is playing, not about what the two presidencies would actually be like.

barent said...

Good post on this here:

The problem is that without the media pointing out how insane everything Romney is proposing is, Obama is hamstrung. I would say something like "I will keep us moving forward, not moving backwards," and tie Romney's plans to Bush.

BH said...

Maybe a short answer for O on his 2nd-term agenda could be something like: "We're gonna keep tractoring the country out of the ditch, as fast as we can. Romney's warming up a ditchdigger."

Probably not... but maybe something along those lines.

-blessed holy socks, the non-perishable-zealot said...

Greetings, earthlings… We ROTE this {theeyebeam} to show how whorizontally corrupt the world has become and is a true story about sex in Heaven after we croak. C'mon, people. The Liar's a deceiver: ain't no sex in Hell, yet, puh-lenty of sex Upstairs for eternity. God bless you.