Welcome to this week’s edition of The Daily Banter Mailbag! Today, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss the first presidential debate, the most feared aspects of a Romney presidency and the Fox News Suicide Channel.
1) I think we’re all agreed on the left that Obama had a terrible night in the debate. He looked so out of sorts I can’t help but think it might have been a ploy from the Obama camp. He barely looked as if he was awake half the time, and he had to know the smirking wouldn’t look good on TV. Is there any way this could have been deliberate? Love to hear your thoughts.
Ben: The thought did cross my mind Jamie. Obama’s performance really was awful, and I can’t help think that it was deliberate on some sort of subconscious level. I don’t think Obama went in wanting to screw it up, and certainly his campaign team would not have advocated it, but there’s a lot of evidence to show that Obama performs much better under pressure. Thus far it has been pretty easy for the President – Romney has committed blunder after blunder and Obama’s poll numbers were looking very assuring pre-debate. Maybe, just maybe, Obama wants a fight and he’s pulling Romney into the trenches where he feels he rises to the top. I can relate to this as I’m the same way. I don’t function too well unless there’s a challenge, and I hate being bored. Perhaps Obama just wants some excitement.
Chez: I’d like to think that this was another case of Obama playing the long game and pulling an “I’ve got them right where I want them,” but I don’t think that’s the case. I think Obama a) doesn’t really enjoy debating because he’s a very serious guy who doesn’t get into the silly games of politics with the kind of relish that, say, Bill Clinton did, and b) is affected by the pressures of simply being President of the United States, pressures that Mitt Romney doesn’t have to deal with. He had a bad night but he was for the most part the guy we’ve come to expect, for better or worse. For the record I think he’ll do better and be warmer when he has an audience to play off of.
Bob: I think it was deliberate to the extent that the president wanted to remain dignified, thoughtful and, to a certain extent, on defense. However, what we all tend to forget is that the president has a degree of contempt for the contrived debate format. From David Plouffe’s book, the president dislikes “the whole exercise of boiling down complex answers into thirty- or sixty-second sound bites.” That said, he has to know that there’s an expectation for theater, and I suspect we’ll see more of that in two weeks.
2) What is the one thing you fear most from a potential Romney presidency?
Bob: This is easy. I fear a hard-right conservative Supreme Court for another generation. If Mitt Romney wins, he’ll appoint at least two Supreme Court justices. They’ll be conservatives and, as such, we can kiss reproductive rights, campaign finance reform and a variety of other liberal issues goodbye for 20+ years. From there, the entire Obama agenda will be rolled back and we’ll end up reverting back to an endless cycle of bubbles followed by recessions. Furthermore, if Romney wins and the economy improves, conservatives will claim credit, yet if Obama wins, it will further vindicate Keynesian policy and a pragmatic, diplomatic foreign policy. I could answer this question for hours and still not entirely cover the stakes in this election.
Ben: This is a close to impossible question to answer Martin. There’s so much to be afraid of if Mitt gets in that it’s tricky to pick one thing over another. Having said that, I’m mostly terrified of his economic policies that would see a huge exacerbation of the current problems facing America. There’s no doubt that Romney’s economic prescription for the country would be terrible – just look at the countries were severe austerity is being tried (Greece, Spain, the UK). The worse the economy is, the more volatile the political system becomes and the more extremism it breeds. Fascist parties are born out of bad economic times, and given how far Right the Republican party is already, I’d hate to see anything worse.
Chez: Look, I don’t think the world is going to end if Romney gets elected. This country has survived worse times — it’ll do it again. Logically, the thing to fear most is the fact that Romney has no real backbone and basically will serve at the pleasure of the most dominant voices in his party, and right now those would also be the batshit craziest voices — and what that could mean for the Supreme Court is terrifying. The high court is the one thing Romney could affect that would truly outlive his presidency, no matter how terrible it happened to be. His legislation could be overturned — the same way he’s vowing to overturn the ACA if elected — and his mistakes could for the most part be undone, but creating an ultraconservative Supreme Court, that could be devastating on social issues for decades to come.
3) Now that Fox News has actually aired a suicide live, doesn’t Nancy Grace deserve a break?
Chez: No — although it would be endlessly entertaining to mash up the two and watch Nancy Grace commit suicide live on television.
Bob: You’re employing Fox News as a litmus test for cable news decency?
Ben: I’m still waiting to see if Nancy Grace had something to do with it. That poisonous woman never deserves a break if you ask me. I don’t despise too many people but Nancy Grace is certainly one of them. I can’t watch her for more than 30 seconds without wanting to destroy my television set, and it really does take a lot to get me angry. Live suicides are tame compared to the venom Grace spews on a nightly basis.
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