Thursday, October 4, 2012
My Take on the Debate
When I was in high school and college debate we had a saying, used at both levels, "who won on the flow?" "The flow" refers to the flow sheet, the legal pads almost all debaters use upon which we would take a special kind of notes designed to getting down everything in that debate format. The reason we distinguished between winning 'on the flow' and 'on the ballot' is becuase there's a disparity. Often we would win the issues according logic an evidence and lose because the judge was not a debater, didn't understand what we were talking about, and would vote on whatever extraneous factor she find, like who was most handsome or the color of a tie. In the Presidential debates last night it seems the spin doctors and the press are saying Romney won. I supposed he may have won on the ballot but he didn't win on the flow.
I think what happened is most people expected Obama to put Romney away. Romney has said some stupid things (we forget the 47% quote was a candied shot after an event--he didn't say it to the public and he's not stupid, he's not going to say that in the debate!). When he came out, spoke well, smiled, looked confidence and knew how many beans make five, it seemed like he's winning. Obama looked tried and apprehensive. That make him look frustrted and being frustrated make it seem he's losing. I felt he was thinking "this misconception of Rowney's is too complicated to explain here." So in other words I don't believe Obama lost, but he looked like he was losing.
Are we going to let little extraneous factors determine the outcome? Are we voting who tie we like the best? Probably. Hey I still content that's why Reagan won. I suggest we nominate David Letterman, I like his ties. The trust of it is Obama did not put Romney away even on the issues. I never thought Romeny was a fool. He's an opportunist and will be much more likely to side with the right than the left. The few reasonable seeming things he did as governor or Massachusetts were probably due to the fact that the legislature was overwhelmingly Democrat. Actually, I have to admit I don't think Romney lost all that badly on the flow (on the issues). I do think he lost, but it was close. It was the closeness that makes people just feel Obama lost. If in fact people feel that. So far I have sen a lot pundits telling me how I feel but little evidence of how people really feel.
One problem that made debating the issues difficult is that Romney's basic ideology is republican trickle down theory. That means that they automatically equate saved money for the rich with stimulus and investment that creates jobs, they don't equate it with lack of revenue. So all of the Republican nominee's estimates about what he will cover, what he will do, how he will pay for things he's assuming something that has never worked out historically. For example in the 80s Regan tax cuts for Steel industry were not spent on updating plants, they were spent investing in oil; this gave the inverter profits but created few jobs. Another assumption Romney made is that 'green energy' doesn't produce jobs, which it does. At several points he kept saying how much money Obama was wasting investing in green energy. He knows the average voter doesn't know about the multiplier effect and doesn't trust green energy, and doesn't see the necessity of it. Romney stated flatly "I'm interested in clean coal." Clean coal doesn't' exist. It requires every expensive scrubbers to clean it an those are not mandated so they don't have to use them. They are cost prohibitive so they wont install them. Coal is the most polluting form of energy. The first study to quantify deaths from pollution was largely quantifying coal pollution, that was the Leave and Suskin study of the early 70s. Yet Obama seemed too tired to answer this so he let it go with minimal defense of green energy as a choice.Americans have been groomed by Republican administrations not to trust global warming senierios so he President was probably leery of getting bogged down in a debate about that.
Another point at which I feel Obama won on the flow was about raising revenue. At one point Romney said "I will not raise taxes on high income" he also said he would not raise taxes middle income. He kept saying they would pay for programs by not spending differently, obviously he means cutting social programs. Obama did talk about they wont have the revenue and the elderly will be on the street. Romney asserts his play will grow the economy and we will have revenue because wee will be creating jobs and the economy will be growing. That's a good dream on paper but what if it works like he Regan tax cuts which allowed the rust belt to determinate and put steel industry out of business? Historically that's what happens when you cuts taxes for the right, they do not create jobs they invest in non labor intensive profit making ventures. Obama did allude tot his but he didn't clarify. Yet he did npoint out the capital short fall. He pointed out the Romey voucher program will cost the average elderly person six thousnd dollars years in permiums and medicine and repealling the health care reform will take away the cheap meds for the elderly. Romney did not respond.
Another area where Obama won hands down was the issue of leaving medicaid to the states. That will be a total disaster. Romney's answer indicates he doesn't understand the issue. He talks about how the states want that. He indicates that because that's what the states would prefur that means they will do a better job. It doesn't dawn on him (or does it?) the reason they want it is because it will enable them to put that money in other things they can't pay for now and cut befits to the poor and elderly. The states with Republican governors are the reason the stimulus package didn't work. They spent the money on things already being done that they couldn't pay for. What would change that with Romney? Especially since he so enthusiastic about leaving it tot he states. Obama pointed this out but he didn't point out that in the sixties the state administration was one of the major means of circumventing the war on poverty. then you have places like Texas where they have raised raiding the funds to an art form. Perry is now in a suit where a state legislator is charging that he took from the education fund to pay for other things, and denuded state education. We know that will happen again. So leaving it to the states is a disaster.
The horror that awaits us from a Romney administration is clear, but in last nights debate it was well disguise beneath a confident smile, affable manner, and competent seeming air. I still think this was all just window dressing and if one studies Romney's answers one sees it's not pretty what he's leading us into. Obama won on the flow and we should understand and take it seriously.