On why tomorrow night’s debate won’t affect the election


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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165 Responses

  1. Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

    In fact, I can think of only two scenarios where tonight’s debate leads to a Romney administration: Either Jim Leher dies of a heart attack mid-debate and Romney brings him back to life with a touch of his hand, or Obama eats a live baby on camera as he laughs manically.

    Oh, man, I’m still laughing.Report

    • My favorite line is:

      Because really, what kind of brain-washed, liberal, Lotus-eater would you have to be to assume that some chump – who’s only been a Harvard Law Review editor, a US Senator, a come-from-nowhere-to-beat-a-Clinton-in-a-Democratic-primary winner, and an incumbent President – would be able to debate his way out of a wet paper bag?

      Also, just a fantastic piece of analysis overall.Report

      • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Russell Saunders says:

        I’ve always thought the teleprompter thing was pure Rovianism — attack someone with his strengths. Listen to the guy when he answers a question, rather than reading a prepared text — you get a logical arguent divided into paragraphs made up of grammatical sentences. The hilarious part is that “teleprompter” often comes from people who have no problem with And you know, he who warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms, by ringing those bells and making sure, as he is riding his horse through town, to send those warning shots and bells, that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.Report

      • Avatar Michelle in reply to Russell Saunders says:

        My favorite line as well, but there was a lot of great stuff here.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

      Jeez Patrick, SPOILERS!!! Why should I even watch the debate now?Report

  2. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    “According to aggregate polls, at this point Romney can collect every single the electoral vote from every state that is a toss up and all the ones from states that are just slightly leaning Obama, and he still won’t have enough to reach the needed 270 plateau. “

    Quinnipiac had the race at 48% Obama, 47% Romney as of this morning.

    I have no horse in this race but I can say anecdotally that I know a LOT of people that voted for Obama in 2008 and are looking for a reason not to vote for him in 2012. Doubt that Mitt will give it to them, but there is a small window.Report

    • I think the national popular vote will be tight, but looking at the electoral college it will be much less so.Report

    • Avatar Ryan Noonan in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      That same polling outfit has Obama up by 9 in Florida and 10 in Ohio. How Romney wins the election without either Florida or Ohio is sort of beyond me.

      (Also, just a note, but single polls aren’t a good approach. Nate Silver to the rescue!)Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

        I think there’s a real possibility that people will vote differently than they are polling. It happens with gay marriage. Polls should majority approval and then the vote is different. There’s a certain segment of the population that doesn’t want to admit they don’t like a black president.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          Nate Silver has a good post on the currently fashionable idea that polling is skewed against conservatives. The short take: there is no evidence anywhere to support the claim.

          Why would racist conservatives be hesitant to say they don’t support Obama when they’re polled? I mean, they’re not being asked why they don’t support him, right?Report

        • Avatar Ryan Noonan in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          There’s not a lot of good evidence that the Bradley Effect still exists (if it ever really did). There’s virtually no evidence that polls, Nate Silver’s model, and Intrade are all disastrously wrong about the state of the election. This is up there with “I don’t know anyone who voted for Nixon!” on the list of reasons why you should believe data instead of people you know.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

            There’s virtually no evidence that polls, Nate Silver’s model, and Intrade are all disastrously wrong about the state of the election

            I really don’t understand why that is such a hard thing for so many people to grasp. All the indicators point in the same damned direction. If there’s real uncertainty, some of them would point the other way.Report

            • I believe, and would bet money, that Barack Obama will win. That being said, the indicators are all looking at probabilities. They’re saying this will *probably* happen, not that it will. So, there is not certainty.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman says:

                I think I would understand this mindset more if so many of the Republicans themselves (and just about all of their base) didn’t dislike their candidate so. As it is, I just don’t get the argument of how you go from here to there.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I will give the GOP this.

                Their version of John Kerry isn’t annoying as John Kerry.

                It’s a small comfort, I suppose. There’s a lot of ground between “not annoying” and “not as annoying as John Kerry”.Report

              • I think I think of it like this:

                You’re in the 7th grade, and the end of the year Most Popular Student is being voted on. There’s the kid that you really hate because he, I dunno, beat you up in the 3rd grade or something, that everyone thinks will win because most of the kids really like him.

                You really don’t want that kid to win, so you start asking people to vote for this other kid as most popular. Unfortunately, no one really likes that kid – even your friends can’t stand the guy.

                What argument are you going to construct, really, that makes the student body vote the guy no one likes as Most Popular?Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tod Kelly says:


                (I was never going to win at grade school electioneering.)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Well, that’s a good point Tod. If conservatives really liked Romney, then the claim that polls are biased against him would carry some weight. As it is, even conservatives don’t like the guy.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Romney is registering 45 or so points in the polls and 45% favorables. No matter how much all right-thinking people at The League dislike him, not everybody dislikes him (especially with Obama as the alternative).

                He is a guy who most likely will not win, but not one who cannot win. Elsewise, the likelihood of an Obama victory would be registering higher than it is.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:


              • Avatar Trumwill Mobile in reply to Stillwater says:

                My personal number is about 80%, which is not far off.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                ALso, it’s just not true that conservatives like him. The Republican primary proved that point.Report

              • Avatar Trumwill Mobile in reply to Stillwater says:

                45% favorables. I don’t think that’s moderates and independants. How much they like him is a question, but he’s not running against Republicans. They like him better than the Democrat.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

                Right, sometimes “Favorable” is a figure against a really “Unfavorable” ground.Report

              • Avatar Trumwill Mobile in reply to Stillwater says:

                Which, in the context of an election, matters if unfavorable ground makes neutral ground seem more favorable.Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

              I think it’s a combination of wishful thinking and the inability (which is universal, I should note) to fully grasp that most people don’t see things the way you do. It’s so obvious that X is true that, in the end, it will be clear that most people believe that X is true, even if the indications are now that most people in fact believe ~X, or worse, Y.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          There’s a certain segment of the population that doesn’t want to admit they don’t like a black president

          Is this bigger or smaller than the contingent that wouldn’t vote for one in the first place?

          The name of the effect you are looking for is called “Desperate Hope”. It’s ALWAYS called “desperate hope”, whether it’s Romney right now or John Kerry in 2004. It’s called that because only “desperate hope” can convince you that some mass delusion or conspiracy has overtaken America to the point where it skews polls to a noticeable amount.

          “Desperate Hope” is when you sit there and say “Sure, all the polls show Obama leading and he’s up 9 and 10 points in “must-win” Romney battleground states, but I bet there’s 9 or 10 points worth of people out there lying to the robot who called them, lying to the nice fellow on the phone, because he’s too ashamed to admit he’s gonna vote Romney”.

          Because that is what you are saying. That a large segment of America — large enough to appear as it’s own demographic — can’t be honest with a pollster, robot or live or mail, and is consistently dishonest time and time again.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Morat20 says:

            The lying majority.Report

            • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Stillwater says:

              Everyone likes to think the majority of people agree with them. There probably is a name for that bit of human irrationalism. Lord knows I’ve fallen prey to it enough, and still do.

              A poll might be wrong (heck, 5% of them are wrong by statistics alone!). A poll might be massaged. Aggregates? That’s a horse of a different color. For them all to be wrong, consistently and in the same direction, you’d have to be missing something major.

              Major, major, MAJOR. Something that, curiously enough, doesn’t show up in cross-tabs or demographics or down-ticket or idealogical questions, just on the Presidency alone.

              That’s…hard to credit. Sure it’s possible. And random quantum fluctuations might cause a pig to fly. But that doesn’t mean it’s very likely.Report

    • Avatar Matty in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Maybe I read the wrong blogs but any comments I’ve seen from people saying they voted for Obama in 2008 and don’t want to in 2012 are doing so based on issues where Romney is further from what they want. These are the people angry that he didn’t prosecute Cheney/close Guantanamo/nationalize healthcare, why would they go further to the right?Report

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    Can we stop calling these things debates. Reporters pitching questions to each guy then letting them give a short speech is not really a debate. The candidates don’t go back and forth arguing propositions and the moderators don’t ask repeated follow up questions.Report

    • Avatar wardsmith in reply to greginak says:

      It would indeed be refreshing to actually have Lincoln Douglass style debates to settle the question of who will lead this country.

      If Obama gets re-elected, it means the American public is perfectly happy with an uninterested, uninvolved absentee President. Of course one could plausibly claim the electorate is likewise uninterested, uninvolved and absentee. Too bad for the /real/ 1%, that is those who are self-informed and interested.

      Idiocracy here we come.Report

      • Avatar Ryan Noonan in reply to wardsmith says:

        I have a feeling a lot of people around here who aren’t voting for Obama (Jaybird, Jason, Hanley, others) would be ecstatic if someone offered them an uninterested, uninvolved absentee President.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to wardsmith says:

        Why yes Ward if the guy you don’t like gets reelected it means people are bad and you are in an oppressed minority.Report

        • Avatar wardsmith in reply to greginak says:

          It isn’t so much that I like Romney as dislike (and distrust) Obama. The man and his party has spent millions to seal every minute of his past. No explanation of strange SSN, no college records, no high school records, no nothing anywhere. And the left screams bloody murder because Romney hasn’t given them quite enough dirt on himself, while blithely ignoring their own chimera’s past.

          Tod and others are merely parroting the 4th Estate’s narrative.

          Personally and to repeat what I’ve said here before, I predict a very close election, which will be contested ala Florida and chicanery will be involved. The polls don’t mean squat. How many of you have accepted the robo-calls asking your opinion on this election? Who is answering the calls and why? Who is telling the truth? Hiding behind statistics won’t make the results any more accurate. At the end of the day the election will be held on Nov 2nd and then we’ll get to know.

          I still laugh at Zogby. Remember him?Report

          • Avatar Ryan Noonan in reply to wardsmith says:

            Your Gravatar is really perfect.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to wardsmith says:

            I want Obama’s fourth grade book reports and they’re totally equivalent to Mitt Romney’s tax returns!Report

          • Avatar clawback in reply to wardsmith says:

            I’m pretty sure they’re also spreading misinformation about the date of the election in order to throw off their opponents.Report

          • Avatar Michelle in reply to wardsmith says:

            No explanation of strange SSN, no college records, no high school records, no nothing anywhere.

            We don’t have these records for Romney either because such records are sealed by law (no need for a goon squad to do it). I don’t know about that SSN because I’m assuming it’s some right wing meme that hasn’t made it off townhall. And the same folks who are demanding Obama’s school records don’t seem to give a darn about Romney’s. Surprise, surprise.

            The Obamas have, however, released 10 years of their tax returns and, unlike the Romneys don’t have millions in the accounts in the Caymans, where even Romney’s erstwhile running mate admits, the rich go to hide their money. There are plenty of rational policy reasons for conservatives not to like or trust Obama, but this stupid conspiracy theory stuff makes you guys look ridiculous and petty. And just a tad whacko.Report

            • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Michelle says:

              The ‘strange’ ssn is that (apparently) Obama has an SSN that starts with 3 digits normally assigned to the Connecticut zone.

              But what most people seem to forget is getting an SSN close to birth has only been a thing since the 90’s (maybe the 80’s) when the tax law (or regs) for claiming dependents changed. I got mine in the 80’s as a(n older) kid and in any case not the state I was born in.

              Obama’s first ‘real’ job was in NYC, so it’s not inconceivable that he got a SSN (in the 80’s) in that region as it was the first time he ever needed one. (assuming of course that the number is close to being the correct one, a dicey proposition).Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to wardsmith says:

            Ward, given what you already believe, what would constitute relevant evidence here? Evidence confirming your beliefs would will count, of course. But the lack of evidence also confirms your beliefs. Isn’t that the functional definition of a conspiracy theory?Report

            • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Stillwater says:

              Obama hasn’t been vetted. We have no idea what he’d do with the powers of the Presidency.

              If only, over the past four years, he’d held some form of public, highly visible office in which he was called upon to deal with large, intractable problems so we could judge how he’d perform as President!Report

      • Avatar Shazbot2 in reply to wardsmith says:

        “the American public is perfectly happy with an uninterested, uninvolved absentee President.”

        Bush is running for a third term?Report

          • Avatar Ryan Noonan in reply to wardsmith says:

            Are you a LONE WOLF or just ONE WOLF? The eternal question.Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

              simple answer. how much do the other wolves hate you.
              Right now I’m a “one wolf” type of gal.
              When I get around to posting my abortion post,
              I’ll be a “lone wolf”.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to wardsmith says:

            Republicans are calling their own side “economic terrorists”, and it’s supposed to be the DEMOCRATS Fault?
            Emily Dickens, I don’t expect you to listen to MY side, but can you at least listen to your own?

            Golf is about a nice private space where people can cut deals and not be eavesdropped on. it’s not a sport. Golf’s work.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to wardsmith says:

            Obama’s lack of leadership has been a constant criticism. Hell, he left Obamacare to Pelosi.



            Woodward’s reporting in his new book, “The Price of Politics,” reveals a president whom he said lacked the “stamina” in turning personal relationships with congressional leaders into action the way some of his predecessors have done.

            “President Clinton, President Reagan. And if you look at them, you can criticize them for lots of things. They by and large worked their will,” Woodward told Sawyer.”On this, President Obama did not.”

            As for being an autocrat, that’s a different criticism.


            Cato Institute vice president Gene Healy, writing in The Washington Examiner, lays bare the myriad constitutional problems with Barack Obama’s policy of bypassing Congress and ruling by decree.

            In a Rose Garden speech Friday, President Obama announced that per a “Homeland Security Directive,” his administration had called a halt to deportation proceedings for certain unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors. The eligibility criteria stated in the order roughly tracks the requirements of the Dream Act, which has never quite been able to make it through Congress. A mere technicality, the president suggested: it’s “the right thing to do for the American people.”…

            …As it happens, Obama’s “royal dispensation” for young immigrants is hardly the most terrifying instance of administration unilateralism. In fact, as a policy matter, it’s a humane and judicious use of prosecutorial resources.

            But given the context, it stinks. It looks uncomfortably like implementing parts of a bill that didn’t pass, and — carried out as it was with great fanfare and an eye to the impending election — the move sits uneasily with the president’s constitutional responsibility to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”Report

            • These criticisms seem like they’re operating at cross purposes. Is the argument that Obama doesn’t sufficiently compel Congress to do things, or that he ignores Congress and does them on his own? Is he too authoritarian or not authoritarian enough? Maybe this is the Goldilocks Theory of Authoritarianism.

              Or maybe we’re just trying to come up with reasons to hate someone whose politics we disagree with.Report

            • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              “As it happens, Obama’s “royal dispensation” for young immigrants is hardly the most terrifying instance of administration unilateralism.”

              OK, that line made me , lilterally, laugh out loud.

              “the most terrifying instance of administration unilateralism”

              YA THINK?

              Paging Mssrs. Grach, Greenwald and Friedersdorf…Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              Gawd. This sort of thing from CATO kinda pisses me off. It’s the Executive’s job to execute the damn laws. Prioritizing resources is a damn good move.

              They seem to be complaining more about the trappings of “here’s what we’re gonna do”… aka that he publicized it and made a big party out of a minor decision.Report

            • Avatar Shazbot2 in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              Suppose you had The goals of a Democratic president but were willing to compromise.

              What would you have done that Obama didn’t to “lead” the country? I’m curious and serious. If you don’t answer this, I’ll go back to concluding you have nothing of value to add to this blog.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Shazbot2 says:

                Don’t shove Obamacare down an unwilling nation’s throat and lose the House in 2010.

                Address the deficit and unemployment instead, then advance the progressive agenda toward the end of the first term and win a mandate for it by winning a second.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot2 in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                And how do you “address the deficit and unemployment”? (Reagan would have willed away jobs with his Christian-whiteguy-freedom-magic. He’s sort of Magneto, but instead of manipulating magnetism, he manipulates everything.) Remember, that the centrist blue-dogs in the senate wouldn’t allow anymore stimulus spending after 800 billion. (Confirmed by lots of sources.) How do you make them accept more stimulus? (The Fed Reserve is not in Obama’s control. So that’s out.)

                And how do you jumpstart the economy without a Keynsian jolt? I would love to hear your answer. Seriously.

                Moreover, the long term deficit can be solved only and primarily by bringing healthcare costs under control (healthcare costs are actually a bigger problem than the government’s debt level as it threatens individuals finances directly, too.). The ACA does that and is by and large deficit neutral. The fact that you ignore this is pretty damning.

                And moreover again, a Democratic congress in 2009 that plans to cut Medicare and SS in 2015 or 2020, a la Simpson-Bowels is not going to win elections in 2010. The Teaparty that was mad about the government takeover of Medicare would not have been pleased by actual cutting of entitlements, and Dem turnout in 2010 would’ve been worse if Obama had caved to the right more than Clinton and the Blue-dogs. Thus, it’s crazy to say that somehow Simpson-Bowles would have been a bigger electoral winner in 2010 than the ACA. (Simpson-Bowels is asshatery as policy, IMO. But even if it isn’t it’s even more toxic for the people who pass it than the ACA. Watch. People will praise it until it passes -just like healthcare reform- and then they’ll get really pissed.)

                And moreover even more again, centrist Dems in the senate weren’t going to raise taxes, even on the gold-plated financial people who own them, even in the long run. So Obama wasn’t going to be able to pass a liberal deficit-reduction plan that worked by primarily taxing the rich and cutting the military, either.

                Finally, Obama won on the promise of exactly this sort of healthcare legislation. It was the central plank of Obama and HRC’s domestic policy proposals. The idea that he shouldn’t push to pass the thing at the very center of his (and his primary opponents’) campaigns is insane.Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              This is one of those instances where I feel like pointing out that there facts don’t mean anything without theories to explain them. Myopia, sometimes, a feature not a bug, when your goal is to ensure that the world looks like you were expecting it to look.Report

          • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to wardsmith says:

            “not everyone has the time or inclination to enter the lion’s den that is the 5th Estate.”

            C’mon, man, you have Steve Doocy- what more can you ask for?Report

          • Avatar Shazbot2 in reply to wardsmith says:

            Obama plays golf, sure. But he spends his time governing, not clearing brush. This is obvious. Here is a fair piece on vacation time. Bushes and Reagans take more vacation time than Clinton, Carter, and O-Satan.


            I think the lack of a formal budget is, at worst, to be blamed on the bad relationship between Obama and the hard right. Maybe some Democratic, more centrist president could’ve got a compromise out of Cantor, Ryan, and the tea-party, but I doubt it. (Obama did get Boehner to agree to a crazy-good for conservatives budget, but it wasn’t good enough for the far right who turfed it.)

            The credit downgrade was a joke and was obviously so at the time. Interest rates dropped before and after it and are virtually negative at this point. People are begging to buy U.S. debt, which is safe as imaginable.

            And the primary reason for the downgrade was the Republican congress using the debt ceiling (in other countries, and previously in the U.S. a mere technicality) to play political games that really did create some small risk of default.

            You are reaching here to criticize Obama. It’s clear. There are legitimate criticisms, but they aren’t these criticisms.Report

          • Avatar Michelle in reply to wardsmith says:

            And Bush spent far more time on vacation than any president, and far more time on vacation than Obama has spent playing golf. He also spent a lot of time biking and running. So what?

            Your interest in facts seems to be pretty limited to stuff that will make Obama and the left look bad.Report

            • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Michelle says:

              Pity the stupid Bush team for actually putting vacation on the calendar. Smarter to just do what O does and skip 60% of his intelligence briefings, sleep in, play golf, go on “fundraisers” and play the truant while Rome burns (or consulates, whatever).

              Next you’ll tell me this has been disputed by “fact checkers” and I’ll laugh, then you’ll tell me he gets the briefings on his PDA and I’ll say, “Gee almost as good as being there” and you’ll say, “Conservative’s keep bringing this up all over the Internet” thereby dropping the conversation. See, I just saved you a bunch of typing.

              And Roger is correct, I’m not a conservative but I could play on on TV. I’m Libertarian through and through.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to wardsmith says:

                First off, you’ve said in the past that you’re a conservative. Things change of course, but you’ve self-described as a libertarian leaning conservative in previous comments.

                Second, I think criticizing Obama on PDBs is a particularly inapt way to make your point, given the Bush Admin. quite famously rejected/overlooked/ignored the content of a PDB reporting that AQ intended to hijack airplanes and fly them into really tall buildings.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot2 in reply to wardsmith says:

                Are you saying

                A.) All criticisms that the president is taking too much vacation and free time are nonsense?

                B.) Criticisms that the president is taking too much vacation and free time are always valid?

                C.) Criticisms that Obama takes too much vacation and free time are valid, but criticisms that Bush takes too much vacation and free time were nonsense.

                I know I joked about Bush earlier, but I accept claim A. I hope you do too and that you’re just horsing around.

                If you believe C.), which is pretty stupid, IMO, you need to explain to me why Obama’s golf and minimal vacation time are worse than Bush’s more extensive vacation time clearing brush, and cycling, and picking his nose, and poking a stick around in the dirt, and getting his tongue stuck to a frozen pole, and getting his cat drunk, and burning his Transformers to make em look cool, is not a valid criticism of Bush, but would be of Obama.Report

              • Avatar Michelle in reply to wardsmith says:

                He gets his intelligence briefings in print, whereas Bush preferred verbal briefings because he didn’t want to read more than a one-page summary. Obama then has discussions with his intelligence people.

                But I know conservatives would prefer to think of Obama as that lazy black guy.Report

              • Avatar Michelle in reply to Michelle says:


                I know the facts don’t matter to you, Ward, because the meme is so much more satisfying to your preconceptions, but nonetheless, facts matter.Report

          • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to wardsmith says:

            ” Our credit rating is about to be downgraded AGAIN but it is the Rep’s fault because… well because that’s all.”

            Standard & Poor’s gave their reason when they downgraded. They explicitly said that it was because of the Tea Party antics with the debt ceiling.

            S&P is part of the Librul Conspiracy!!!!Report

            • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

              Jeff you can’t just make this up (well, you can and you obviously do) but here is the S&P report so please show me where they mention the Tea Party? Of course since you get all your news from the Huffington Post you’ll be sure and tell me it was between the lines. Now did the Republicans refuse to simply raise taxes so the Democrats could waste it all as they have done every time they had the majority? Yes. Can I blame them? No. Can I blame the Democrats who think money grows on trees (and in millionaire’s pockets)? Yes. How many Solyndra’s does this country need? Even GM, which Obama pretends has paid back every dime is a bald faced lie, since the government owns the company at $53/share and it only trades at $23. We could talk about layoff notices and the gov’t stepping in to pay the legal bills of defense corporations for NOT sending out the (legally mandated) notices, but I’m sure you don’t want to go there. King Obama doesn’t like that he has pretty thin skin.

              Again and for the record, Obama had AMPLE opportunity to submit a budget HIS OWN DAMN PARTY would have agreed do, and even when he HAD A SUPER MAJORITY not one SINGLE Democrat voted YES for it! AS Obama/Pelosi Care proved, when he had the majority he did not need a SINGLE Republican vote to get his way. But those are just facts, and you’ll now want to scurry back into your basement to lick your wounds.

              Kicking the can down the road is not the equivalent of fiscal policy nor prudence and the REST of the ratings agencies will soon follow suit with S&P in likewise downgrading the US debt. I really envy stupid people, not understanding anything, not having to face reality, just happily living their stupid lives. When the shit hits the fan they are genuinely surprised. Mark my words, the brown stinky stuff is inexorably heading for the fast spinning object as we speak.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to wardsmith says:

                Now did the Republicans refuse to simply raise taxes so the Democrats could waste it all as they have done every time they had the majority?

                I hate to pick you here Ward, cuz I generally like your take on economic issues, but what you wrote here is unvarnished nonsense. The GOP has consistently “wasted” government money at a higher rate than the Dems over the last forty years. If the deficit is any indicator, anyway. Sorry about that.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Stillwater says:

                No, you don’t understand. The DNC was in charge of Congress most of those years, so they’re the cause of all the debt. Of course, Reagan was the reason the economy rebounded, not the Democrat’s in Congress BTW.

                Because, ya’ know, Reagan could stare down the Russkies, but he couldn’t stand up to Tip O’Neill.Report

              • Avatar DRS in reply to wardsmith says:

                I really envy stupid people, not understanding anything, not having to face reality, just happily living their stupid lives.

                Proof positive that Wardsmith is not a conservative but simply a Republican sock puppet, with a big dose of cranky thrown in. Good paraphrase of Romney’s speech, there.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to DRS says:

                DRS you’re not a sock puppet for the Democrats? You and about 100 other posters on this site? Could have fooled me. I’m my own man, there isn’t much daylight between Romney and Obama but as Koz’ post indicates, there’s certainly some. For the reasons I identified months ago in a guest OP, the Rep’s didn’t put forward their best candidates, a point even Pelosi agreed with me on.

                This country needs a two party system before it turns into Mexico with their PRI 70 yr reign of terror. There’s a good reason so many immigrants streamed across our borders for a better life from that cesspool. Under Calderon their unemployment is 4% better than under Obama, and the illegal immigration has dried up. We’ll see if the nuovo el presidente can continue Calderon’s lead or whether the old corrupt regime is back.

                No country on earth has ever borrowed its way to prosperity. This isn’t about debt ceilings, this is about insurmountable debt, entire tax receipts being used to pay interest. You don’t think we can go there? That just means you don’t think.Report

              • Avatar DRS in reply to wardsmith says:

                No, wardsmith, I’m not an American. I’m Canadian. And I’m a conservative. A real one, not just a Louis-Hartz-ian classic liberal like most American conservatives are, without realizing it.

                No country on earth has ever borrowed its way to prosperity.

                Yup. And no country ever balanced a budget or paid off national debt without raising taxes, either. That violates supply-side orthodoxy, but if the fear of national destitution isn’t enough to scare Americans sane, then few things will. This situation has been building since the 1980’s and would exist had Obama never been born. And all Romney, et al offer is cutting taxes yet again. And that’s apparently fine with you. And you have the nerve to say I’m the one who doesn’t think?Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to DRS says:

                So you’re admitting you don’t know about Romney’s plan? After all, he intends to modify the tax code, get rid of the complexity and reduce the loopholes. That will have the ultimate effect of raising overall taxes without creating yet another grab bag of entitlements for the most well funded lobbyists. Furthermore it is simplistic to the extreme to believe that /merely/ raising taxes will magically raise the necessary funds. Spending MUST be cut and at least Ryan has taken a stab at that, by changing the retirement age over time. This only makes sense, given that Social Security was implemented at a time when the life expectancy was DECADES lower than it is today. Why shouldn’t the system make adjustment? Furthermore the Democrats were the ones who made the system insolvent by stealing (er borrowing) from it during the Johnson administration and playing further budget/off-budget games during the Clinton administrations.

                But as a Canadian I’ll forgive you for not knowing our history more intimately and frankly even in your ignorance (thanks to Canada’s vastly superior public educational system) you’re light years ahead of most Americans. Sadly.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to DRS says:

                After all, he intends to modify the tax code, get rid of the complexity and reduce the loopholes.

                Ward, that’s not a plan. That’s a mission statement.

                A plan has steps. On paper. With goalposts and stuff. C’mon, man, you claim to be a freakin’ engineer for cryin’ out loud and nothing you’ve ever written here leads me to believe that you’re not and you’ve written plenty to make me think you’re a good one.

                I don’t understand why you don’t demand more of this guy. So far he’s selling snake oil. So was Obama in 2008; that’s not the freakin’ point.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to DRS says:

                Linkies to the policy briefs?
                Unlike you, I know friends who read these things.Report

              • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to wardsmith says:

                The reality behind the debt ceiling debacle is pretty simple. The debt ceiling needed to be raised. It was going to be raised. Both sides ultimately agreed that it needed to be raised. But one side decided that they should receive concessions before they would do the thing that both sides agreed needed to be done.

                My wife and I agree that the mortgage needs to be paid every month. If I hold up the mortgage payment unless she caves on my demands about which move we’ll watch on Friday night, I’m pretty sure that I can’t pin the resulting madness on her intractable negotiating position on movie night or even her objectively bad taste in movies. In fact, allowing me to get away with that sort of destructive lunatic behavior would probably not be in the long term best interests of our household.

                As for the S&P, I think that the bond markets pretty much showed that the S&P rating is basically irrelevant on the subject. If you’re right about the future of US debt, there’s a killing to be made because the markets simply aren’t seeing it.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot2 in reply to wardsmith says:

                This is just partisan nonsense.

                The credit downgrade was a signal to stop screwing around with deficit ceiling and pass some long term deficit reduction. The former happened because the Republicans went temporarily insane and became reckless. The latter happened because there is an intense disagreement between the T’s and the D’s about how to balance the budget that is insurmountable by any president, at least in the short term.

                Blaming the downgrade on Obama is pure partisan hackery. Sorry.

                And the credit downgrade turned out to have no consequence on the desirability of U.S. treasuries -(a credit rating is supposed to measure desirability, which is why this downgrade was a joke) which are selling even at almost negative interest rates.

                Nonsense. All of it.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith says:

                From the report:

                The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy. Despite this year’s wide-ranging debate, in our view, the differences between political parties have proven to be extraordinarily difficult to bridge, and, as we see it, the resulting agreement fell well short of the comprehensive fiscal consolidation program that some proponents had envisaged until quite recently.

                “Brinksmanship”: is the practice of pushing dangerous events to the verge of—or to the brink of—disaster in order to achieve the most advantageous outcome.

                I think that this is a reasonable thing to lay at the feet of the Tea Party, by their own political rhetoric.

                Tea Party leaders ripped into House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, as well as other House Republicans, saying any vote to raise the debt limit without major fiscal policy changes will amount to selling out the Tea Party, adding the group will work to unseat those who vote for an increase in the next election.

                I quote Fox News there, for you, Ward.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Just in case it’s not clear:

                “The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy. ”

                “Any vote to raise the debt limit without major fiscal policy changes will amount to selling out the Tea Party“.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                I replied to this hours ago but the cell phone failed to post apparently.

                Jeff said that S&P made the pronouncement about the Tea Party. Jeff made that up, S&P said NO SUCH THING. There is a LOT more to the fiscal debate than /merely/ raising the debt ceiling, a move BTW that was necessary because of the abysmal failure of the presidency to advocate a SINGLE budget in 3 1/2 yrs that /anyone/ would agree with. You’ve all blithely skipped past the point about Obama not being able to deliver a budget that Congress would vote yes on, and I mean not ONE Democrat would vote yes on, not just the Republicans you want to blame. How incompetent is that?

                Now in our system, the president submits a budget (since he /is/ the executive officer) and the Congress approves or disapproves. If there is disapproval there is negotiating. That’s the way it is supposed to work. But /this/ president submits a bullshit budget that he KNOWS won’t get approved and then plays pre-emptive partisan brinksmanship politics anticipating when the previous budget resolution expires. I’ve already posted months ago about precisely this, I won’t type it all in again with an injured finger. The Democratic party bigwigs were crowing about how they’d pull one over the Republicans, and now you’re all falling over yourselves to blame the Reps for what the Dems did. I guess stupid is as stupid does.Report

              • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to wardsmith says:

                You’ve all blithely skipped past the point about Obama not being able to deliver a budget that Congress would vote yes on, and I mean not ONE Democrat would vote yes on, not just the Republicans you want to blame. How incompetent is that?

                That’s because it’s not especially interesting. Congress is playing games on this one. Games so strange that I have no idea what they are. But let’s be honest: a bill to nuke Yellowstone would get at least a few votes in one of the houses. The fact that the budgets are receving zero votes is an indication that this is meant to look like something other than what it is.

                In fact, I think you’re interpreting it the way the Republicans hoped you would. I’m not sure how the Democrats hope I’ll interpret it because it seems like one of the dumbest dances Congress has ever done. But I’m clearly supposed to see it and get all worked up and say the Democratic equivalent of, “The President is dumb because his budgets never get any votes! So there!”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                I’m not sure how the Democrats hope I’ll interpret it because it seems like one of the dumbest dances Congress has ever done.

                It is weird from a political pov, tho, innit? The better strategy – the obvious strategy! – would have been for the President to propose a budget that at least some Dems would agree on and vote in favor of, all the while knowing full well that it would be rejected by the House and Senate GOPers. Then they could blame the GOP for obstructionism, right? As it is, it makes no sense at all. To me, anyway.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                Even a blind pig can root up an acorn now and then.

                In all the partisanship going on and the rabid Democratic Party rallying you’ve begun to hit on a simple truth. IF this president had even a modicum of leadership he would do EXACTLY what Stillwater recommended. The fact that he hasn’t is indeed indicative of incompetence or worse. The crying shame is that the press is making this out to be “11 dimensional chess” when in fact it is NOT. By LAW there is supposed to be a budget and what the Congress is doing today is decidedly NOT following a budget, but lurching along from emergency to emergency.

                This isn’t wonkery for the sake of wonkishness, this is a dereliction of duty. IF there were a legitimate budget process, then we would have certain items see the light of day. The Democrats specifically don’t want that to happen and the Republicans can’t force it to happen. The house has voted on MULTIPLE budgets that the Senate leadership refuses to allow to come to a vote. Who is being irresponsible here?

                So as I said before, the President is more concerned with lowering his golf handicap than leading this country. HE can’t be bothered to meet with the budget committees, he can’t be bothered to meet with the jobs committee, he can’t be bothered to do anything at all other than give campaign speeches and collect campaign donations. There is a reason he’s called “campaigner in chief”.Report

          • “Obama played more golf in two years than Bush did in eight but if you say he’s engaged I guess I should just take your word for it.”

            Irrelevant, or at least not enough information to draw the desired conclusion.

            “He hasn’t delivered a budget in 3.5 years that a single DEMOCRAT would vote for,”


            “Our credit rating is about to be downgraded AGAIN but it is the Rep’s fault”

            Well, I wouldn’t put ALL the blame on the GOP, but you’re right, they’re mostly to blame.

            “The left doesn’t need facts, they just get to make pronouncements and the complicit media will back them to the hilt.”

            Come one, come all, that’s the way the game is played.

            “I’m just a lone voice crying in the wilderness that’s all.”

            So….nobody agrees with you?

            “but there might be more folks like me than you think, not everyone has the time or inclination to enter the lion’s den that is the 5th Estate.”

            So….you’re not a lone voice?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to wardsmith says:

        an uninterested, uninvolved absentee President.

        I’m going to put on my serious professional hat here for a moment. I.e., the guy who teaches U.S. Presidency every couple years when I decide that I really ought to offer it again.

        I absolutely get why people can think this about Obama. During the healthcare debate I really wondered about his apparent lack of involvement. But watching him closely, and talking with a friend who’s an academic, party operative, and former Capital Hill legislative aide, I’ve come to the conclusion that Obama’s trying to operate by the Eisenhower model of the Presidency–what we now call, following presidential scholar Fred Greenstein, the “hidden hand presidency.”

        Ike also was criticized for being uninvolved, but as Greenstein revealed, he actually was very active behind the scenes but wanted to try to stay above the appearance of engaging in mere politics. He was the Washington of the 20th century, the war hero without (supposed) political aspirations, called to serve his country yet again, but wanting to be the Head of State, not Head of Government. The American system doesn’t allow those roles to be separated, the president is both, but Ike wanted to emphasize the former and downplay the latter. He did so with considerable success, but at the cost of being criticized for not being Head of State-ey enough.

        I think that’s the model Obama’s trying to emulate, and I think close observation shows that he’s actually more involved and active behind the scenes than is immediately apparent. He doesn’t like to directly call Congressmen and push them on issues–at least not in a way that becomes public–but he’s very careful about the message his administration delivers, and who goes to talk to Congress.

        Now, whether that’s working out for him or not is a question that is too early to ask. We’ll have to wait for the serious presidential scholars–political scientists and historians–to answer that sometime in the future. Whether a president can successfully make that model work without having the Washington/Ike national icon status prior to entering the presidency? I’m dubious. But I wonder if Obama has chosen that role because he is the first black president, so that he wanted to make an extra effort to portray himself as the representative of all Americans, and not of a particular party, ideological group, or, of course, ethnic group.

        At any rate, after a lot of considered thought, I’m pretty sure that’s a better explanation than that he really is uninvolved. But that he’s trying to follow that model says nothing about whether he’s actually managing to do so successfully. So if you think, “well, maybe he is, but he’s doing a s****y job of it,” well, I’m not going to argue with you.Report

  4. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Nate Silver has Obama’s probability of winning at 85%. That’s up from 63% only a couple weeks ago. Romney’s taking a nose dive in all the important swing states. Obama’s pretty a pretty weak debater, but Romney’s pretty weak at … like … talking. So maybe that’s a wash.

    I don’t see the debate changing anything.Report

  5. Avatar scott a. says:

    The Q Poll was Obama 49, Romney 45, but I don’t disagree that it might tighten some, just not enough. On the people who voted for him in 2008 and are looking for a reason not to, lots of THEIR friends (as it’s happened here, and at Balloon Juice and LGM) are busily making them feel like evil scum-buckets for even having the thought.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to scott a. says:

      I’m not trusting any polls at this point because people’s polling behavior has changed dramatically in the last couple of years. The response rate to calls has dropped from about 36% to 9%, and I don’t see any valid way to fold, spindle, or mutilate a self-selected 9% into a reliable predictor of the other 91% of people called.

      For example, almost everyone now has cell phones that show the caller’s number, and many people who would otherwise answer (and find themselves uncomfortably stuck talking to a pollster) just don’t answer the call anymore. The people who are still using a land-line, or who answer calls from strange numbers from a different area codes, are not like most people. We don’t yet know how their self-selection affects the polls, but we’ll find out in a month.

      I’ll note that polls are generally accurate because after a behavioral or technological shift, the pollsters get a few elections badly wrong, analyze why they’re getting it wrong, and change the polling methods to get back on track. Given that we’ve definitely undergone both a behavioral and technological shift, we might be getting inaccurate polling data and not yet realize it because nobody is cross-checking the phone polls with door-to-door results or any other method.Report

  6. Avatar greginak says:

    The odd thing about debates is its often completely trivial silly stuff that gets remembered and talked about. ( Bush I looking at his watch, Gore sighing, etc) Those are meaningless. They indicate nothing, but people spent precious seconds, minutes and hours of their lives punditing over them. Who knows what kind of silliness could get the attention of people.Report

    • Avatar Michelle in reply to greginak says:

      By people, I think you mean “the media.” They’ve spent the run-up to the debates gaming every possibility, and will spend the aftermath deconstructing every dot and tittle. Ad infinitum. And then wonder why nobody takes them seriously.

      I think our country would be done a tremendous service is we could somehow get rid of the 24/7/365 cable news cycle.Report

  7. Avatar Shelley says:

    I’m more worried about the downticket races. If we don’t get more Democrats like Elizabeth Warren in the Senate and the House, the result will be more gridlock, which operates in favor of the right wing’s mantra that government doesn’t work.

    Brilliant strategy on their part. Nothing becomes their Something.Report

  8. Avatar DRS says:

    And obviously, so too is Lloyd Bensten’s oft-paraphrased “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

    That was masterful, that was. The look on Bensten’s face as he dragged out the sentences, as if thinking “You’re really going to make me say this, aren’t you?”. The look on Quayle’s face as he knew what was coming and had to take it. Really a classic debate moment. I was in high school at the time, it was a foreign election and I saw it on a news clip, but even then I thought – “That’s going to leave a mark.”Report

    • Avatar Russell Saunders in reply to DRS says:

      It was such a great line it’s easy to forget it was delivered by the guy who lost.Report

      • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Russell Saunders says:

        Lincoln lost after the Lincoln-Douglas debates too.Report

      • Avatar DRS in reply to Russell Saunders says:

        I think it was the line that killed Quayle’s career. It was what everyone was thinking, and then Bensten went and said it.

        You know, if you had a parliamentary system like many other countries, you could watch Question Period highlights and see this kind of thing all the time.Report

        • Avatar Michelle in reply to DRS says:

          And I bet Bensen hadn’t practiced it for months before he delivered it.Report

          • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Michelle says:

            “‘And you are no Jayne Kennedy!’ How was that?”

            “Very nice, Senator, but …”

            “Because he’s not. I guess he’s kind of good-looking, but she’s a damn beauty. Even if she is a Negro. Kind of like that Uhuru gal.”

            “Yes, but…”

            “Mind you, I’m just appreciating from afar. I’m no Strom Thurmond.”

            “Of course. Let’s try it once more, from the top.”Report

            • Avatar Shazbot2 in reply to MikeSchilling says:

              “I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, the fact that I am so much older and sicker and closer to death than my opponent. I mean, sure I have some Alzheimer’s that I’m not supposed to talk about, but I remember lots of things. Like my policy on unions. Sure, we can’t bust heads like we used to. But I have ideas about what to do. One trick is to tell stories that don’t go anywhere. Like the time I caught the ferry to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for m’shoe. So I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt. Which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on ’em. Gimme five bees for a quarter, you’d say. Now where was I… oh yeah. The important thing was that I had an onion tied to my belt, which was the style at the time. You couldn’t get white onions, because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones… “Report

              • Avatar Michelle in reply to Shazbot2 says:

                I remember that debate and Reagan wandering off on some old guy tangent. One of my professors thought that would be the moment he lost the election because he’d showed himself to be senile.

                Wishful thinking.Report

              • Avatar kenB in reply to Michelle says:

                If that had been the last debate, it might’ve worked out that way — I knew several Reagan fans who saw that and had some major hesitation about sending him back to the White House. But then he had a strong showing at the next debate and they could just write the episode off to fatigue or whatever.Report

  9. Avatar zic says:

    Nice, Tod. I think all the debates do is provide confirmation bias for the reasons we’ve already decided to vote.

    I sort of liked Brooks concern trolling for Romney; but my favorite response to it comes from Matt Yglessias; basically saying Brook’s recommendations are GOP anathema.

    If I were Romney, I’d give practically the reverse speech focusing on the president’s strange obsession with raising taxes. It used to be that I thought Democrats wanted to raise taxes because they love big spending. At least, that’s how they did it in Massachusetts. But this president loves tax increases so much he was eager to betray his own party and slash Medicare spending in order to get them. A Romney administration doesn’t think you bolster a depressed economy with higher taxes. Heck, you can even ask Paul Krugman! I understand ideological disagreements, but this is an administration that just doesn’t get it. Let’s extend the Bush tax cuts, let’s extend the payroll tax cuts, and let’s work on revenue-neutral pro-growth reform for the long term. But in the short-term, why not try to make taxes even lower? This administration keeps trying to “stimulate” the economy with unemployment benefits and food stamps to help people get by when they can’t find jobs. Why not deploy that money cutting taxes on work and business investment? I don’t think struggling Americans want more SNAP benefits, I think they want to work.

    That’s not a bulletproof economic agenda, but it makes more sense that what Brooks is proposing and even better actually reflects conservative ideas!

    But my favorite concern trolling for this debate season comes from Bloomberg Executive Editor, Albert R. Hunt. Obama’s Penchant for Arrogance is Bigger Debate Foe. His reasons for fearing Obama is arrogant? Saying Hillary was likable and saying Romney got really excited rewriting a speech to contain more attacks on the president.

    But this bit takes the cake:

    The president’s campaign sees Romney as an out-of-touch stiff without core beliefs, willing to say or do anything for political advantage.
    Fair or not, that’s a derisive characterization.

    Derisive characterization. A dog whistle, telling the first black president not to get too arrogant. Don’t you go getting uppity, Obama. Remember your place.

    The Oval Office.Report

  10. Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

    I understand that “There you go again” is iconic, but it always bothered me that it was so. Isn’t it really just a non-answer to throw out there to derail an opponent who is pounding a good point that you keep dodging? A good zinger should be clever and devastating, not just distracting and patronizing.

    Example: Google had a promotional YouTube video showing off its underwater maps. The top post under it was something like, “That will be useful for when Apple Maps drives you into the ocean.” That’s a zinger. It’s relevant, funny, and absolutely brutally true. The equivalent of “There you go again” would be a rickroll post underneath.Report