Two candidates, two anxieties


I’ll have more on the debate and the state of the presidential race in the upcoming issue of Maclean’s, but thinking back over last night’s presidential debate, the thing that stood out to me most — more than the near fist-fight over drilling licenses, or the “binder full of women”, or the “sketchy plan” or any other soundbyte — were two questions raised by audience members in the town hall.

They encapsulate two anxieties at the core of this election, one about Obama and one about Romney.

The first was posed  by a student named Jeremy Epstein to both candidates, but it captured the anxiety that without a change of economic policy, the next four years will be a continuation of the last four:

QUESTION: Mr. President, Governor Romney, as a 20-year-old college student, all I hear from professors, neighbors and others is that when I graduate, I will have little chance to get employment. What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?

The second notable question came from  Susan Katz and captured a core anxiety about Romney:

QUESTION: Governor Romney, I am an undecided voter, because I’m disappointed with the lack of progress I’ve seen in the last four years. However, I do attribute much of America’s economic and international problems to the failings and missteps of the Bush administration.

Since both you and President Bush are Republicans, I fear a return to the policies of those years should you win this election. What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush, and how do you differentiate yourself from George W. Bush?

Listening to the candidates’ answers, it didn’t seem to me that Obama gave Epstein the economic answer he was looking for, nor did it seem that Romney assuaged Katz’s concerns. And in follow-up interviews after the debate, both questioners said as much.


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Two candidates, two anxieties

  1. The first question was a poor one: it involves far too many factors on which the federal government has but limited or even no influence. If I was the moderator I would not accept fielding such a question because it is naive, short sighted and an invitation for the candidates to go on tagents since they cannot give an honest answer to the question.
    People complain about politicians not answering questions properly, this is true a lot of the time, but sometimes the question is just awful and the politician cannot be expected to call out the person for asking something stupid.
    The woman who asked about education credits knows how to properly frame a question.

    • Well, it also might be useful if the media (or the candidates) were to remind
      the questioner that the graduate unemployment rate is something like 4.1%.
      Of course, that doesn’t describe what kind of jobs are available, but still …

  2. Did any of the questioners get their questions answered by either candidate?

    • The equal pay for women question was answered effectively by Obama, citing his family but also concrete action, signing the Lily Ledbetter Act as his first act as President. It was not answered by Romney.

      • Hard to take seriously from a guy who pays his female White House staff 18% less than the male staff.

    • You are conflating 2 issues, and wrong on both.

      1) Romney made a huge deal of saying that Obama did not say the exact words “act of terror” for 2 weeks. As the moderator on the spot, and transcript, prove, he said those exact words the very next day at the Rose Garden. Romney was wrong, and Obama did not huff and puff… he did not need to.
      2) In the larger context, that the White House took too long to shift from the Youtube riot narrative from a planned terrorist attack narrative. While admitting his specific semantic allegation was wrong, the moderator acknowledged this larger contextual point for Romney again on the spot, and both the Secretary of State and Obama have acknowledged it also, taken responsibility for the delay and launched an investigation as well.

      • No I’m not.

        CNN, September 20 – “The White House, for the first time Thursday (September 20), declared the attack that killed Stevens and three other people a terrorist attack.”

        Candy Crowley, September 30 – Candy Crowley calls bullshit on David Axelrod claiming the administration called it a terrorist attack on September 12.

        At the debate, Crowley reverses her September 30 position after Obama lies about it.

        CNN, fact check after the debate. – Crowley was right.

        So CNN, including Candy Crowley, held the same position as Romney…that the administration did not call it a terror attack on September 12. Until Obama says he did at the debate. At which point, CNN reverses itself and says Obama’s right. With 60M people watching.

        Until Crowley reverses herself again in the post debate analysis and admitted she was wrong. With 60 people watching.

        There are no words to describe the level to which CNN has beclowned itself trying to carry Obama’s water for this. Did he say “acts of terror”? Yes he did…in a general sense. After talking about the 9/11/2001 attacks. He did not refer specifically to Benghazi as a terror attack. Not one news outlet the next day said that Obama called Benghazi a terrorist attack. Not CNN. Not AP. Not the NYT. None of them.

        Obama – September 12 – “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others — but there is absolutely no justification for this type of senseless violence. None.”

        Got that? It was senseless violence based on denigrating religious beliefs (i.e. the movie).

        CNN – The most busted name in news.

        • Perhaps you should read your source on the “fact check after the debate” rather than just repeating the crap you get from Drudge.

          Specifically the lines where Obama was speaking on September 12:”No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.”

          Did he specifically say, “This was an act of terror”? No, not in those exact words, but the hair you’re attempting to split there is pretty fine.

          • Did he specifically say, “This was an act of terror”? No, not in those
            exact words, but the hair you’re attempting to split there is pretty

            Thwim, that’s the exact same hair the president tried to split. The same hair that Crowley said “no you didn’t” to only 2 weeks before, until 60 million people were watching her at a debate.

            A terrorist attack that murdered an ambassador on the anniversary of September 11 would be above the fold front page news. Find me one news story that ran that headline within 24 hours of Obama’s speech. You can’t.

          • Huh. Funny how often you claim the news media was in the wrong, unless they happen to be reporting something you want them to in the first place.

            The facts are simple, nowhere did the president deny it was an act of terror, and he specifically alluded to it being an act of terror on the 12th. Whether CNN was correct about the facts on September 20th or 30th is immaterial to what the facts actually were.

            Whether the media reported what you wanted them to is also immaterial to what the facts actually were.

            Also, you probably want to learn what “split” means. You’re trying to divorce the meaning of his September 12th statement from what was actually said. That’s splitting it. The president saying his meaning was in agreement with his words is not splitting anything.

            Now, if you want to go on about how later he hedged on that when he was on the View, that’s fine, and that’s factual. But that’s not what you were saying, it’s not what Romney was saying, and it’s not what Crowley or anybody at CNN was saying.

          • What are you talking about!?!?!?

            He’s denied it all over God’s green earth. He’s directly blamed it on a video, starting September 12 and continuing into September 25.

            Obama on September 12 said it was senseless violence prompted by denigration of religious beliefs. He was talking about the damn video.

            Susan Rice went on TV talk shows 5 days later and blamed protests about the video for the attack.

            Obama went on David Letterman on September 19 and directly blamed Benghazi on a video.

            Obama was interviewed by Univision on September 20 and directly blamed Benghazi on a video, even after Univision prompted him that the administration had declared the attack a terrorist attack earlier in the day.

            Obama went on the View September 24 and said it was still being investigated. 4 days after his administration declared it a terrorist attack

            Obama went to the United Nations on September 25 and directly blamed Benghazi on a video. 5 days after his administration declared it a terrorist attack, and 13 days after he allegedly did the same.

          • I also have to admit, I really don’t follow US news at all — I don’t want to be an American, after all, I’m happy being Canadian. So I’ve been going off of what information you’ve provided.

            However, I really don’t understand how him saying it was provoked by a video is mutually exclusive with it being an act of terror. You’re the one who follows the US news, do you have even one citation where he explicitly denies it was an act of terror? Where he says something along the lines of “No, this was just a random act of violence, it was not a terrorist attack.”

          • Yes, I consider them mutually exclusive.

            The reason I do is because they’ve been painting the protests as spontaneously caused by the video. And since it was spontaneous, they couldn’t possibly have foreseen it, and thus they can’t be legitimately questioned about why they didn’t have enough security there in the first place. Because who can predict a spontaneous demonstration?

            That’s the story they wanted you to believe, so that questions about security could be sluffed off. That’s the story he told for 2 weeks…even though his administration knew from day one what it was.

            Because when you peel back the layers on this one, and what the administration ignored coming from their security experts, and from the Libyan government, from the previous months of attacks against the same compound, and from the ambassador, and from Al Qaeda videos released in the days before the attack…it becomes clear that the handling of the consulate security is a scandal and cover up of epic proportions.

          • So that’d be a “No I don’t.” then?

          • Well, if I’m saying that they are mutually exclusive, then I’m saying that when he answers a question about Benghazi by saying it was part of the spontaneous movie protests…then absolutely yes he is, with that answer, implicitly denying that it was a planned, organized terrorist attack.

          • What you consider to be mutually exclusive is irrelevant. Consider the moon to be blue cheese if you want. It still won’t be.

            I’m not going to take your faulty premise and base logic on it. Show me some reason why an act of terror could not be sparked by a video on the internet.

            However, let us, for the sake of argument, dispense with the need for objective fact and just say that over the next couple of days, he came out and specifically denied it was an act of terror. I’m not seeing any evidence of this yet, but just to get beyond this point and to the real matter, I’ll let you have it.

            That still, in no way, changes his first address, where he did suggest it was an act of terror — and which is what Romney said didn’t happen, even though it did. If Romney had wanted to argue, “The President was denying it was an act of terror for two weeks”, then under our assumption you had that point, he would have been correct. Neither he, nor Crowley, did so. And that wasn’t what Romney was called out on. He was called out on a factual mistake.

    • Muammar Gaddafi was pushing other Arab countries to adopt a gold standard currency which would have eclipsed the dollar and the euro.

      So the whole country of Libya was sacked in order to kill him.

      When the ‘rebels’ ousted Gaddafi, what was the first thing they did ? Form a new GOVERNMENT ?

      Nope. They formed a NEW LIBYAN NATIONAL BANK.

      Now, why would they do that?

      And even though they ‘ousted’ Gaddafi, he remained sole proprietor of the Libyan National Bank (the original one) until he (and his heirs) died.

      So… guess what?

      The EUSSR needed Libya’s oil and since they have been on US military welfare since WW2, they had their dupe Sodom Hussein Obama arrange the assassination of their newly uncooperative stooge Muammar Queerdaffy, who they previously had on the UN Human Rights Commission.

      In Syria, nobody wants to get involved because it would force them to admit that George Bush was right and the WMDs Saddam Hussein did have and did use on Kurds and Iranians went over to his friend (and formerly theirs) Bashar al-Assad in the Ba’ath Socialist party.

      These EUSSR socialists can never face the facts of what socialism really is.

      “The U.S. has lost track of some of Syria’s chemical weapons, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Friday, and does not know if any potentially lethal chemicals have fallen into the hands of Syrian rebels or Iranian forces inside the country.”

      – Foreign Policy (9-29)

      Leon Puñettas was too busy having gay pride celebrations at the Pentagon… now there is a dead US ambassador and all the left wing progressives can do is play with their wee wees and cry about some stupid YouTube video ?