The Miracle Product That Cures Degenerative Entitlement Syndrome!
“You might have noticed that there is an increasingly massive industry in our country that sells something called “financial products”. This industry now comprises close to 40% of our economy. What is a financial product, you ask? It is the most amazing, miracle invention known to humankind! You can buy one of these financial products and then just wait – go on a vacation, do your nails, play golf – while doing absolutely nothing productive. And when you come back you find that your financial product has disgorged free money! You don’t even have to water it!”
During last year’s presidential election, Dr. Willard M. Romney diagnosed a previously unrecognized epidemic illness that is eating away at the moral foundations of our country. Romney was the first medical scientist to grasp that 47% of our citizens have been transformed into an army of zombie parasites now known to the experts as “moochers.” The moochers have been infected with DES, Degenerative Entitlement Syndrome, a 21st century plague whose victims live lives solely devoted to sucking funds from the bank accounts of decent people. Not one to sit idly by while an invasive undead horde saps and impurifies our precious bodily fluids, Dr. Romney attempted to sound the national alarm about the moocher scourge. But alas, he was ahead of his time. The country was not yet ready to hear his bracing but prescient DES warning.
Moochers might appear normal, but don’t be fooled by appearances! While these bloodsuckers are seemingly busy changing bedpans, waxing the floor at your office, serving up stacks of pancakes at Denny’s and standing in long lines to beg abjectly for “jobs’, they are all the while draining our hard-won and well-merited wealth. A tell-tale symptom of DES is that while moochers pay all kinds of sales taxes, payroll taxes and government fees just like the rest of us, they don’t pay any income taxes. Imagine! No income taxes! The DES sufferer will tell you that the absence of income tax obligations is somehow related to the moocher’s extreme deficiency in actual income. A likely story!
Moochery is the new leprosy. Its victims cannot be cured, but only isolated from the rest of us by being cut off from access to lobbyists, fund-raising dinners, Justice Department cronies, voting booths, think tank idea moguls, astroturfing consultants, and all the other instruments by means of which normal, healthy people influence the direction of government and society. They must even be cut off from access to regular, remunerative employment. Economists are now helping the cause by gradually redefining the natural rate of unemployment upward to take the profusion of unemployable moochers into account. It is expected that by 2021, the country will have become quite comfortable with workforce participation rates of 50% or less.
But what hope is there for the rest of us? If Degenerative Entitlement Syndrome can’t be cured, can it at least be prevented? Scientists now know the answer is – yes! And the urgently needed prophylaxis has lain within our grasp all along. A common, widely-sold product that is available to almost all worthy and non-mooching people with a respectable amount of money in the bank can keep DES at bay indefinitely.
What is this marvelous treatment? You might have noticed that there is an increasingly massive industry in our country that sells something called “financial products”. This industry now comprises close to 40% of our economy. What is a financial product, you ask? It is the most amazing, miracle invention known to humankind! You can buy one of these financial products and then just wait – go on a vacation, do your nails, play golf – while doing absolutely nothing productive. And when you come back you find that your financial product has disgorged free money! You don’t even have to water it!
Where does the money come from? Hardly anyone really knows! The person who sold the financial product probably doesn’t know; and certainly the person who bought the financial product doesn’t know. (A hysterical rumor has been spread that some of these financial products derive their cash flows from the work of some of the moochers themselves; but economists have now proven this manifestly ridiculous theory to be unambiguously false.) What we do know is that the money is 100% deserved. And that makes financial products the perfect barrier to fend off the DES virus and the onset of acute moochitis.
But what are financial products made of, you ask? What hidden quintessence produces these glorious emanations of lucre? So far as scientists have been able to discern, financial products are mostly derivative products that come from other financial products! And the best thing about these money-engendering financial products is that to buy most of them you are required to have a lot of money already. So the more money you have the more money you are able to get. Just buy a financial product, sit back and enjoy the spontaneous money ejaculations!
Financial products have been shown to have all sorts of salubrious psychological effects. Doctors have shown that the mere ownership of financial products causes their owners to develop extremely high levels of self-esteem and unshakable convictions of personal merit. Even though the owners of financial products might do nothing productive, they become resolutely convinced that the effort they put into deciding which financial products to buy is in itself a form of meritorious personal industry. The ability to buy and sell lucrative financial products with a rapidity exceeding the perceptual thresholds of naked eye vision is viewed by their owners as the most exalted of all human occupations. Also, staring into one’s financial products sometimes induces the same kinds of transcendent experiences and levels of higher consciousness others have attained from close concentration on mandalas and lava lamps.
The owners of financial products also develop contempt for the meaner and more productive occupations in life, which is no doubt good for their health as it makes them avoid all kinds of physical hazards, toxic industrial environments, and muscular stresses and strains (unrelated to golfing). Indeed, the shrewd owner of financial products acquires the belief that the very fact that their discernment is more keen than others, to the degree that they are able to bathe in fountains of money without expending the kinds of labor others must undertake to enjoy much smaller trickles, is proof positive of their ordained desert. The fact that others demonstrably lack those rare combinations of personal qualities that make a person a discerning purchaser of financial products, and so must work for a living instead, only convinces the owner of financial products that work is a barbarous vestigial habit of the undeserving undermasses.
But isn’t the psychological conviction that one deserves flows of money that are not derived in any measurable way from one’s own productive contribution to society, and that seem to come from magically reproducing money alone, a sense of entitlement? The effects of financial product ownership seem disturbingly similar to the moochachondriacal symptoms of DES, do they not? If I own some financial products and feel entitled to their monetary discharges, how do I know that I am not suffering from DES myself?
The effects may look similar on the surface, but don’t be fooled by these false positives in self-administered DES tests! Just as in the case of cholesterol, scientists have learned to distinguish “good” entitlement from “bad” entitlement. The technical names are “1-alpha entitlement” and “86-zeta entitlement”, but let us not be sidetracked by jargon. Bad entitlement is the kind of entitlement one feels when one thinks one is entitled to a decent life in exchange for a willingness to work to the best of one’s abilities, given the natural gifts one possesses, however meager, and given the opportunities for work that one’s society has offered. Bad entitlement is the entitlement of the DES-afflicted moocher. Good entitlement is that kind of entitlement one experiences from the assurance of one’s own cleverness in the buying and idle owning of financial products. (1-alpha entitlement is closely related to the other members of the alpha family of entitlement experiences, such as 800-alpha entitlement: the entitlement feelings that flow from having high SAT scores; and 10-alpha entitlement: the sense of entitlement that derives from being totally hot.)
As Martin Luther King said, “The course of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice!” If King was right, then there is no doubt that Willard Romney will eventually receive his just due from the world: a Noble Prize in medicine for his studies in the identification and treatment of Degenerative Entitlement Syndrome. He has already been nominated for other prizes, including the Eric Holder memorial Too Big to Bother lifetime prosecution exemption award from the US Justice Department. And yet, what if King was wrong? Well, Romney is already an accomplished virtuoso in the buying and ownership of financial products, so his real reward will remain the quiet, inward assurance of his own awesomeness, and the enjoyment of his 100% merited 1-alpha entitlement. Dr. King, on the other hand, is not known to have possessed any noteworthy skills in the acquisition and holding of financial products. So really, who cares what he thought?
Unable to move on:
In his first interview since losing last year’s presidential election, Mitt Romney made it pretty clear through his words and tone that he hasn’t moved on from his loss. “I look at what’s happening right now, I wish I were there. It kills me not to be there, not to be in the White House doing what needs to be done.” Ditto his wife, Ann. “It was a crushing disappointment. Not for us. Our lives are going to be fine. It’s for the country.” Given that the Romneys haven’t moved on, it raises this question: Why did they do the interview? In fairness to Romney, he’s not the first losing presidential candidate to have a hard time getting over a loss — George McGovern, John McCain and Al Gore all come to mind. Not everyone ends up like Mondale or Dole and moves immediately to elder statesman status. By the way, don’t miss what Romney said about his infamous “47%” comment: “What I said is not what I believe.” Folks, that one sentence sums up Romney’s two failed presidential bids.
It gave the political reporting award to David Corn of Mother Jones magazine, who uncovered the video of Romney at a private fundraiser remarking that 47 percent of Americans—those who back Democratic President Barack Obama—are “victims” who are “dependent upon government” and “pay no income tax.”
The video became an immediate news sensation, and was used by Democrats in damaging ads against Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. It further hurt the public perception of Romney at the same time as Democrats were pushing a narrative portraying Romney as out of touch. A press release announcing the award described the story as one that “rocked the nation and perhaps cost Mitt Romney the Presidential election.”
Even after the election, the Romney campaign still doesn’t get it. Mitt Romney’s 47% remark at a fundraiser haunted his campaign more than any other issue. Matched with similar remarks that he liked to “fire people” or that “corporations are people,” Romney constantly confronted the belief that he didn’t understand the problems of ordinary Americans. The Romney campaign could never overcome that obstacle. Now it appears that was because they didn’t really understand it.
Stuart Stevens, a top strategist for Romney, wrote in the Washington Post how wonderfully transformational the Romney campaign was. Stevens tries to present Romney as a dark horse for the nomination because the Republican Party elders never liked Romney and Romney trailed in the polls to about every Republican presidential candidate at one time or another.
Was Stevens in the same campaign that the rest of us remember? Romney was the favorite for the nomination from day one after the 2008 election. He raised far more money than his rivals and lead in the polls regularly. The only reason that the polls briefly gave candidates like Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann and Santorum boosts was disatisfaction with Romney. A disatisfaction in hindsight that that was well placed. Failing to seal the deal is hardly something to throw laurels at.
Stevens suggests that the selection of Paul Ryan was brilliant because it forever changed the way that America looked at Social Security and Medicare reform. He must be joking. Does anyone remember anything memorable that Ryan did in the campaign? That’s not to say Ryan was a poor choice. He just wasn’t a gamechanger.
Stevens points to Romney’s 8-point victory over Obama as proof that Ryan’s entitlement reform ideas went over well. Stevens should look at the 2008 demographics. John McCain carried senior by 8 points too. 2012 was a closer election. The numbers improved for the Republicans from McCain’s run in 2008. When a demographic doesn’t follow that trend, it takes a particularly strong dose of chutzpah to claim it as a victory.
None of that comes close to this piece from Stevens’ reflections:
On Nov. 6, Romney carried the majority of every economic group except those with less than $50,000 a year in household income. That means he carried the majority of middle-class voters. While John McCain lost white voters younger than 30 by 10 points, Romney won those voters by seven points, a 17-point shift. Obama received 4½ million fewer voters in 2012 than 2008, and Romney got more votes than McCain.
All that is true, but Romney’s only got 54% from those receiving over $100,000 a year. Obama carried those making under $50,000 with 60%. Romney did get 52% of those making between $50,000 and $99,000. That doesn’t mean that once someone makes $50,000, that person is more inclined to back Romney. Romney might have won those making over $40,000 or lost those making under $65,000. The $50,000 mark is an arbitrary drawing line.
What can be assumed comfortably from the exit polls is that Romney lost the 47% that he decried by a comfortable margin. Those are Americans making significantly less than $50,000 a year. They are often the young and minorities. These are the very demographics that the Republican Party needs to expand and embrace if it is going to compete in future elections.
Yet Stevens dismisses all that in his proud declaration that Romney won the voters who really matter: the rich, old and white voters. I’m actually surprised that Stevens didn’t pound himself on the chest and declare Romney won the majority of the male vote too.
No wonder Romney never comprehended the image problem that he had with a majority of Americans. He had people like Stevens telling him that the important voters are those who dominated America’s past.
The Republican Party’s challenges are going to be more difficult than just rebranding. It has people like Stevens who are entrenched in the twentieth century thinking that they can still bring together the coalitions of Nixon and Reagan. Someone needs to tell them that the silent majority is no more.
Rich, older, white male voters are not going to dominate politics like they once did. Yet Stevens really thinks that Obama’s campaign was the aberration and the Democrats will not be able to replicate it.
There was a time not so long ago when the problems of the Democratic Party revolved around being too liberal and too dependent on minorities. Obama turned those problems into advantages and rode that strategy to victory. But he was a charismatic African American president with a billion dollars, no primary and media that often felt morally conflicted about being critical. How easy is that to replicate?
There is Stevens trying to make the argument that an African American candidate is nearly invicible, especially with a billion dollars in the bank and the media in his back pocket. If Stevens really believes that there is no racism left in America, then he is further delusional than I am imagining. Maybe he is. Take a look at his conclusions.
Yes, the Republican Party has problems, but as we go forward, let’s remember that any party that captures the majority of the middle class must be doing something right. When Mitt Romney stood on stage with President Obama, it wasn’t about television ads or whiz-bang turnout technologies, it was about fundamental Republican ideas vs. fundamental Democratic ideas. It was about lower taxes or higher taxes, less government or more government, more freedom or less freedom. And Republican ideals — Mitt Romney — carried the day.
Mitt Romney carried the day? Mitt Romney performed better than only four other Republican candidates in the last 15 elections. Stevens had better looked at the election results again. Romney received 47% and 206 electoral votes. He did not carry the day. He lost the election in what may be the last attempt to forge a coalition of the older, white and wealthier voters that Stevens admires.
Mitt Romney didn’t lose because he was awful and the GOP message was awful and the rest of the Republican Party was awful. No, it was because President Barack Obama gave people free shit.
“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift,” he said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.
”The president’s health care plan, he added, was also a useful tool in mobilizing African-American and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers — 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics voted to re-elect Mr. Obama.
“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity, I mean, this is huge,” he said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”
Phew! He no longer has to pretend that his 47 percent remarks were “just completely wrong.”
He can go back to his belief that 47 percent of Americans are leeches on society. And bragging to his country club friends about all the NASCAR team owners he knows, as if anyone gives a shit.
The New York Times has an awesome graphical breakdown of voting data from the 2012 Presidential election.
In case you had any doubt about how the country breaks down along gender, age, race, financial status, religion, education, and community lines, just have a glance at these stats.
Obama won “Women” by 11 points (55% to 44%). This was very important, because women made up 53% of voters.
Romney won “Men” by 7 points (52% to 45%). Men were only 47% of voters.
Obama won “Young voters” (18-29) by an astounding 24 points (60% to 36%). These folks were 19% of total voters.
Obama won “Young middle aged voters” (30-44) by an impressive 7 points (52% to 45%). These folks were 26% of total voters.
Romney won “Middle-aged voters” (45-59) by 5 points (52% to 47%). These were 29% of voters.
Romney won “Older voters” (60+) by 9 points (54% to 45%). These were 25% of voters.
Obama won “Black voters” by a staggering 87 points (93% to 6%). Blacks were 13% of voters.
Obama won “Asian voters” by a remarkable 47 points (73% to 26%). Asians were 3% of voters.
Obama won “Hispanic voters” by a remarkable 44 points (71% to 27%). Hispanics were 10% of voters.
Romney won “White voters” by 20 points (59% to 39%). Whites were 72% of voters.
Obama won gay, unmarried, and working-mother, and parents-with-young-kids voters by massive margins.
Romney won “married” voters.
Obama won uneducated (no high school), modestly educated (high school), and super-educated (graduate degree) voters.
Romney won college grads by a small margin.
Obama won by a staggering margin voters who said their financial situation is the same or better than 4 years ago.
Romney won by a big margin voters who said their financial situation is worse.
Obama won households making less than $49,999 by ~20 points
Romney won households making more than $50,000 by 6-10 points
Obama easily won voters who classify themselves as Democrats and Liberals and narrowly won those classifying themselves as Moderates
Romney easily won voters who classify themselves as Republicans and Conservatives, and very narrowly won Independents
Obama won by a landslide in big cities and easily in small cities.
Romney won easily in rural areas and more narrowly in the suburbs and towns.
Obama won Jewish voters handily (2% of voters) and Catholic voters (25% of voters) narrowly
Romney won protestants (53% of voters) and white evangelical Christians (26% of voters).
The political prize that eluded him in 2008, and his father four decades before, had seemed tantalisingly close. It was all the more remarkable give that his roller-coaster campaign threatened to come off the rails early on, before roaring back to life following his first energetic television debate.
But within hours of arriving in Boston to watch the results pour in with his family and advisors, the television networks had called the election for his rival.
What may rankle most with Romney is that the obstacles which prevented him from beating an incumbent saddled with high unemployment and a disappointing first election term were largely of his own making.
But there was no one else to blame for the verbal gaffes, his comments about the 47 per cent of people on welfare, his failure to produce tax returns or his constant shape-shifting on fundamental policy issues.
Ultimately, voters never warmed or trusted him in sufficient numbers – and Romney never effectively made the case for himself.
47 per cent
The voice on the secretly recorded video was steady, and the message was severe. “There are 47 per cent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what,” he said at a private fundraiser.
“All right, there are 47 per cent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it,” Romney said. “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
It took Romney days to express regret at his comments.
Coming after a slew of ads that accused his investment company, Bain Capital, of vulture capitalism and outsourcing jobs, the damage was devastating, particularly among the blue-collar vote he so badly needed to secure.
Romney’s refusal to release more than two years of his tax returns gave Democrats even more ammunition. What he did release showed that he had paid a meagre 14 per cent, significantly less than average workers.
“What else is he hiding?” a narrator in an Obama ad asked viewers over the summer.
It was Romney’s decision not to release any earlier tax returns, on the basis that it would play into the hands of the Democrats’ campaign.
But it all hinted at a bigger problem.
Romney, the affluent son of a former car industry chief and state governor, was deeply uncomfortable discussing his wealth.
He did a good job of completing the caricature of a one per center by boasted that his wife had “a couple of Cadillacs” and making a $10,000 bet with his Republican primary rival, governor Rick Perry, over health care policy.
Democrats spent millions of dollars during the summer portraying him as a vulture capitalist, happy to ship jobs overseas in order to maxmise his financial returns.
Yet, these were the same ads – and in some cases, the same individuals – that had been used eight years earlier in his unsuccessful Senate campaign bid against Ted Kennedy.
Neither Romney, nor his campaign, insisted they were vastly exaggerated, but they never did enough to rebut them. The mud stuck. It hardly matters when he went on to tell voters at a rally in New Hampshire that he “liked to fire people”.
It was no surprise that Romney would seek to make a play for the middle ground after securing a nomination.
But the sheer number of about-turns gave the impression of a candidate with no real conviction.
He largely disowned the health insurance policy introduced in Massachusetts as governor (which became the model for Obamacare) and embraced the coal industry he had denounced a few years earlier.
In order to appeal to the his Republican base, he renounced more liberal position he held in the past on abortion. It all allowed the Obama campaign to characterise these many changes as “Romnesia.” But voters – both Democrats and Republicans – didn’t forget these about-turns.
Lack of personality
Ironically, it was only during the final weeks of the campaign that some of Romney’s personality began to come through.
For most of the campaign, he had avoided revealing anything to do with Mormon faith besides clipped overall generalisations. Yet, there was aspects of it which reflected well on him. His personal engagement with charities were considerable. He have millions to voluntary groups and spent significant period of time with ordinary church members, often allowing poorer visitors from abroad visiting Boston for medical attention to stay in his home.
All in all, Romney never gave the public a good enough reason to vote for him as a person. He never effectively made the case for Romney himself, instead allowing others to define him.
US Election day live:Its on Twitter, so it’s official? @BarackObama Four more years – Latest updates
|OFFICIAL: FOUR MORE YEARS
• Obama wins New Hampshire and leads in swing states
• Both campaigns watch as Florida goes to the wire
• Exit polls put Obama ahead in Ohio and Wisconsin
• ‘Firewall’ holding as Obama wins Michigan, Pennsylvania
• GOP to hold House, Democrats on course for Senate
• Live video from campaigns’ headquarters
04.06 (23.06) CNN is now calling Wisconsin for Obama. The entire Midwest is now blue except for the state of Ohio.
04.05 (23.05) Polls close on the West Coast and with that California’s 55 votes have marched into Obama’s column. There are huge cheers at Obama’s rally in Chicago as they his electoral vote tally surges forward.
04.00 (23.00) Al Gore, a man has who spent more time thinking about the importance of Florida than anyone else, predicts it will go for the President. If you were a Democrat would you welcome a prophecy like that? Not sure.
03.55 (22.55) Obama has left his home and driven to the Fairmont hotel, where and the First Family will wait in one of the suites and continue to watch the results flow in. There’s only one more stop after this – the convention centre where his increasingly hopeful supporters are waiting.
03.50 (22.50) Will it all end in Florida? 88 per cent of the vote has been counted and Obama is up by 16,000 votes. There are still ballots to be counted but right now they look to be in Miami-Dade, a Democrat county.
03.45 (22.45) The Democrats have won the Senate’s marquee race in Massachusetts and Elizabeth Warren will replace Scott Brown as the Bay State’s junior senator. Brown, who upended the political world by winning Ted Kennedy’s old seat, is conceding in Boston now. Not far away Romney’s staff must be watching him concede defeat and wondering how their own night is going to end.
03.40 (22.40) For months and months and months we have been told Ohio was the centre of the political universe and would crown the next President of the United States. That may still prove true but there is a distinct possibility that Florida may steal the show. If Obama wins there then suddenly the Midwest may not matter.
03.10 (22.10) Two new battleground exit polls and both spell more gloom for Boston.
So far, Romney has only taken one of the states that Obama won in 2008 – Indiana, which the Democrats didn’t contest this year. Romney needs some good new – any good news – soon.
03.05 (22.05) We are at 86 per cent of votes counted in Florida and Obama is still ahead. As I said in my list of things to watch – if the Republicans are defeated in Florida then they fall at the first hurdle.
02.57 (21.57) Multiple networks are now calling New Hampshire for Obama, meaning Romney has lost the state where he launched his campaign and where he owns a summer home. The walls are beginning to close in on Romney and very soon he is going to have no path left to 270.
02.55 (21.55) Mark Hughes reports on the chaos in Florida.
With more than 80 per cent of the vote counted in Florida, the lead is continually changing with neither candidate leading by more than a few hundred votes at a time.
At times the margin has been fewer than 200 votes. It’s worth remembering that The Gore v Bush 2000 debacle was a 537 vote margin. Under Florida law a recount will be triggered if the margin of victory is less than a half of one percent which, going by the numbers at the last election, means one candidate needs to win by a margin of at least 40,000.
The latest numbers show Obama up by about 20,00 but you would be crazy to call it now.
02.45 (21.45) Rob Portman, the Republican Senator from Ohio is addressing Romney’s Boston supporters by video link. He says that the campaign’s efforts in the Buckeye State have been beyond anything Republicans have ever done before. But there’s no mistaking the heaviness in his voice – it’s not looking good for Team Romney in Ohio.
01.40 (20.40) We have 60 per cent of the vote counted in Florida and Obama is leading 51-49. That’s a tiny margin and there’s time for Romney to close the gap but it will have to come soon. In Chicago they may be beginning to indulge in the idea that they win Florida and end election night almost before it begins.
01.35 (20.35) Could the deeply-divided US bear a repeat of the Florida 2000 recount?
Romney: ‘I’ve written my victory speech’ 07 Nov 2012
01.30 (20.30) More bad news for Republican Senate hopes: the Democrats have held off a challenge from Linda McMahon, the former wrestling executive who poured $100m into her candidacy, are going to win in Connecticut, the AP reports.
Is ‘Mr Business’ Romney losing his grip?
With the US election just days away, both Republican candidate Mitt Romney and incumbent Barack Obama are hustling for an edge in the race. Yet in recent weeks, the president has been boosted by those traditionally considered Romney allies.
In what has turned into a razor-close race, US President Barack Obama has relied heavily on endorsements from all the usual suspects – liberal-minded movie stars, musicians and writers, as well as the who’s who of the Democratic party. In the past couple of weeks, however, it looks as though the president has also enjoyed a slight boost in support from a less-likely milieu – figures from the political right and finance.
London-based newspaper The Economist stepped forward in support of Obama in its November 3 issue, albeit in a rather reluctant tone. Although the publication, which also endorsed Obama during his 2008 bid, called the president’s first term “patchy”, it justified its decision by comparing the two candidates’ track records. While an endorsement from an international newspaper may not seem like a big deal at first, the fact that it is a highly-respected business publication matters.
Since campaigning began, Republican candidate Mitt Romney has striven to portray Obama’s handling of the country’s struggling economy as ineffectual and horribly mismanaged. The Economist pleads a different case, applauding the president’s wherewithal for having “helped avert a Depression”, and thereby undermining a pillar of Romney’s campaign. What’s more, the newspaper gashes the Republican candidate’s own approach to the economy, calling him “the great flipflopper” and saying his macroeconomics are off the mark. Regardless, a reported 60 percent of the $1.8 billion in business-related contributions thus far in the election have gone to Republicans.
Just two days before The Economist’s tepid endorsement, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stepped into the presidential campaign after publishing a soberly worded statement endorsing Obama’s re-election bid on Thursday. A registered Independent, Bloomberg cited climate change as his principle reason for throwing his weight behind Obama.
While Bloomberg’s position on issues like gay marriage, abortion and gun control make it unlikely that he will sway voters in more conservative states, his status as a shrewd businessman and multi-billionaire may come as a check to Romney, who has attempted to tout his own business experience as a strength when it comes to tackling the country’s economy. Bloomberg’s endorsement carries all the more weight considering that the mayor, who Forbes rated as the 17th most powerful person in the world in 2011, declined to take sides during the last presidential election in 2008.
Most surprisingly, however, is New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie. Known for his free-flying opinions and fierce criticism of the president, the governor has had only good things to say about Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Christie, who has already endorsed Romney and was a speaker at the Republican National Convention, rattled other members of his party after stating that he “doesn’t give a damn about Election Day” and gushing that Obama deserved “great credit” for his deft response to the “superstorm”.
Christie’s compliments came a little more than a week after another prominent Republican and George W. Bush’s former secretary of state, Colin Powell, also endorsed the president’s re-election bid in an interview with CBS television. While Powell’s support came as no real surprise (he backed the Obama/Biden ticket in 2008), he did offer some searing commentary of Romney, saying that although he respected the Republican candidate, he had concerns over his stance on foreign policy.
“The governor… was saying things that were quite different from what he said earlier. I’m not quite sure which Governor Romney we would be getting with respect to foreign policy,” Powell said in the October 25 interview.
With polls putting the race at neck and neck just days before the vote on November 6, both candidates are scrambling to fine tune their messages and rustle up support in swing states. As Obama and Romney kick their campaigns into overdrive, anything from The Economist’s unenthusiastic endorsement to Christie’s recent adulation could give the president a slight edge in his re-election bid – an advantage neither candidate can afford to ignore at this late stage in the game.
One of the less convincing critiques of the US presidential election campaign, which winds up on Tuesday, is that there has not been much to choose between the incumbent, President Obama, and his challenger, Mitt Romney.
The reality is very different. Instead, a stark choice exists. One can only judge a candidate on his past record and on what he has pledged to do in the future. Romney has said and done a lot of things, many contradictory, some deliberately so. It has been very hard to know during the campaign which Romney is real: the man who backed the precursor of Obamacare when he was governor or the candidate who suggested to donors that almost half of Americans were welfare beneficiaries beyond his political reach? Is he the centrist Republican of the first presidential debate or the man who insisted during the primaries he was “severely conservative”?
Doubts about Romney have accrued not only from his ever shifting politics but also from a wider sense of flakiness. His economic policies have a touch of the fantastic. Romney would enact large tax cuts, reducing revenue, while increasing defence spending sharply, but also arguing he would eat into the deficit by spending cuts alone.
On foreign policy too, Romney represents a return to the disastrous years of George W Bush – threatening confrontation with China by saying he would list it as a currency manipulator, while making bellicose noises about conflict with Iran.
On the other side of the balance sheet, what is there to say about Obama? Few would disagree that America’s first black president, who was once able to inspire with his oratory, has lost some of his lustre. The messages of hope and change ran aground in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, exacerbated both by the parlous state of the economy he inherited from his predecessor and by the two huge costly wars he was obliged to fight.
If he has not transformed America in the way that many might have hoped, he has at least mitigated some of the pain while moving to bring to an end one of the US’s greatest iniquities, its shocking inequality in affordable healthcare provision. Through the car manufacturers’ bailout, his insistence on stress testing of banks and through carefully targeted stimuli, he ensured that the US now appears to be emerging from financial crisis with modest growth and a rise in employment figures even as those European governments that pursued a strategy of austerity are at very best bumping along the bottom. Obama steered a course between the left of his own party, who were advocating for populist but risky measures, and Republican obstructionism.
On foreign policy, the Obama doctrine has been a mixed bag. He strictly limited US involvement in the most significant military adventure launched under his watch, in Libya, and has resisted Israeli pressure for military strikes against Iran. On the Arab Spring, he has preferred by and large to keep a watching brief and avoided an overt entanglement in Syria. After the war in Iraq, launched on a false pretence, and the mishandling of Afghanistan by Bush, this caution should be seen as positive.
But while Obama may have brought an end to some of the human rights abuses of the Bush era, he has failed either to close Guantánamo Bay, as he promised, or moved to end the immunity of Bush-era officials implicated in abuses.
On climate change too, Obama has been disappointing, not least on the campaign trail. In 2008, speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative, he insisted: “No single issue sits at the crossroads of as many currents as energy. This is a security threat, an economic albatross and a moral challenge of our time.”
Whoever is elected will face a new presidential term marked by considerable challenges. While the US is recovering from recession it remains weak and would be vulnerable to a number of factors, including a war in the Gulf over Iran disrupting oil supplies, China falling into recession itself or a further worsening of the eurozone crisis.
He will also have to engage quickly with the “fiscal cliff”, due at the year’s end, when temporary payroll tax cuts are due to come to an end, which promises a tough choice between sharp tax increases for ordinary Americans that would threaten the recovery (but cut the deficit) or an extension of the tax cuts and a consequent increase in the deficit, an issue fraught with political strife.
On the wider stage, the war in Syria is sucking in its neighbours, producing growing instability and, for all Obama’s alleged commitment to negotiated solutions, he appears unable to engage Assad’s main backer, Russia. The proposed draw down of the majority of US troops in Afghanistan by 2014 and the continuing tensions in Pakistan threaten another crisis.
Despite all of these caveats, the candidate best equipped for the challenging period ahead is Barack Obama. While his campaign has hardly been inspiring, he remains a thoughtful figure who has taken his responsibilities with a seriousness absent from the Bush years. He has brought a new dignity to the White House and while there remain many who are still opposed to him simply for the colour of his skin, for many others he has achieved the remarkable by making it seem unremarkable that the president of the United States is a black man.
His response to hurricane Sandy, praised by both the independent mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, and the Republican New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, was a belated reminder that there is a wider middle ground in US politics than the recent period of partisan disputes has often led us to believe.
In the coming months, it will not be solely the new president’s responsibility to confront the challenges facing the US and the world but all of those involved in the US political process. Any chance for healing and consensus after the elections should be grasped by all sides. This election offers an opportunity for a fresh start for US politics itself. It should not be squander
According to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, Americans are more likely to say that President Barack Obama shares their views on important issues than they are to say that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney does, and more than half say that Romney does not share their views.
According to the new poll conducted Oct. 30-31, only 30 percent of Americans think Romney shares their views on the issues that they care about, while 51 percent say he doesn’t share their views. Obama performed better — 44 percent say he shares their views on issues they care about, and 37 percent say that he does not share their views. Although respondents were more likely to say that Obama shares their views, the poll shows neither candidate has been able to convince at least 50 percent of Americans that he shares their views.
Among registered voters, slightly more say that Romney agrees with their views — 39 percent, or 9 percentage points higher than in the general population. But even among registered voters, 51 percent say that Romney does not agree with their views. Registered voters were more likely to say that Obama does not agree with their views than respondents overall, but registered voters were also more likely to say that he does share their views, though by a far narrower margin of 45 percent to 44 percent of overall respondents.
Independents were less likely to say that either candidate shares their views than respondents overall, but they were more likely to say that Obama shares their views than that Romney shares their views. Only 38 percent of independents said Obama shares their views (34 percent said he did not), and only 23 percent said that Romney shares their views (52 percent said he did not).
Men and adults age 65 and over were the most likely groups — aside from Republicans — to say that Obama does not share their views: male respondents say Obama does not share their views compared to Romney not sharing their views by a 44 percent to 42 percent margin, while those over age 65 say Obama does not share their views compared to Romney not sharing their views by a 49 percent to 43 percent margin. Older adults were also more likely to say that Romney shares their views — 48 percent — than they were to say that Obama shares their views, at 45 percent. Men were slightly more likely than respondents overall to say that Romney agrees with their views (37 percent), but no less likely to say that Romney does not agree with their views (52 percent).
The new HuffPost/YouGov surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults using a sample that was selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church. The survey’s margin of error is 4.6 percentage points.
FIVE DAYS before the presidential election, president Barack Obama’s campaign has been cheered by a new poll showing their candidate ahead in Florida, Ohio and Virginia, which hold the lion’s share of electoral college votes among swing states.
“At this time next week, president Obama will have been re-elected for a second term and we can all get some sleep,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told reporters in a conference call. “The bottom line is we have the math and they have the myths. Whether we are talking about getting out the vote or bringing down the deficit, our numbers add up.”
Obama will resume campaigning in Wisconsin, Nevada and Colorado today after devoting the past three days to dealing with Hurricane Sandy.
The poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University for the New York Times and CBS, found Obama five points ahead in Ohio – without which no Republican has ever won the presidency – at 50 per cent to 45 per cent for Romney. But Obama’s lead in Florida is tiny, at 48 to 47 per cent, and hardly better in Virginia, at 49 to 47 per cent. Republican challenger Mitt Romney has a 30-point lead in Florida and Ohio among white, working-class voters.
Obama’s senior adviser David Axelrod cited three “desperate moves” by the Romney campaign. “The most notable are the automobile ads in Ohio,” he said, referring to misleading advertisements that give the impression that Chrysler, which benefited from the administration’s $80-billion bailout, is shipping jobs to China.
“In keeping with Halloween, governor Romney has decided to masquerade as a champion of the American auto industry, an industry he was willing to let go bankrupt,” Axelrod said.
The second sign of desperation, he said, was Romney advertisements in Pennsylvania “reprising the discredited welfare-to-work charge from over the summer”. The Romney campaign falsely claimed Obama rescinded a Clinton-era requirement that welfare recipients seek employment.
The third sign was a Romney campaign thrust into “three states they simply are not going to win: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Minnesota”, Axelrod said.
The Obama camp believes its greatest advantage is its “ground game” – the network of local campaign offices and workers it retained from the 2008 campaign and fortified over the past year, while Romney was fighting challenges from other Republicans. Messina quoted a Republican memorandum from Florida that said: “The Democratic turnout machine is cleaning our clocks.”
Democrats “have a significant early vote advantage in battlegrounds from North Carolina to Nevada,” Messina said. “Governor Romney wants you to think he has momentum. That’s a hard case to make when you haven’t put a single battleground state away.”
The Romney campaign was “at a break-glass moment. They understand their path no longer gets them to 270 (the electoral college votes required to win).”
New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who yesterday guided Obama through devastated parts of his state, called the president’s handling of Hurricane Sandy “outstanding”. “I don’t give a damn about election day after what has happened here,” he said. Christie delivered the keynote address at the convention that nominated Romney.
Romney’s performance lifting boxes of tins for hurricane victims on Tuesday was mocked by liberal media, who pointed out that the Red Cross has asked for donations of money, not goods. Romney ignored repeated questions from journalists about whether he still wants to dismantle the federal disaster relief agency Fema, which is co-ordinating relief efforts.