Political Demagogue IV: Autopsy of the Second Presidential Debate for 2012


Keywords or Terms: Obama; Romney; Candy Crowley; CNN Journalist; Second Debate; Risks in Choice; Rose Garden; Benghazi attack of the US embassy; Women in Binders; Romney’s admonishment or Embarrassment; Obama’s Triumph; and, 2012 National Elections

Richard Holbrooke, a former US Ambassador to the United Nations, wrote a piece in the Foreign Affairs journal of October 2008 regarding the daunting task ahead for the Next President; surmising: “The Next President will inherit a more difficult set of international challenges than any predecessor since World War II, a reactive and passive presidency will not succeed, nor will one in which a president promises solution but does not deliver, .. to restore United States to its proper world leadership role, two areas of weakness must be repaired: the domestic economy and the United States’ reputation in the world.” No one would question that both challenges cited by Mr. Holbrooke became front and center in the second debate for the National Elections of 2012, last night.

Understandably attentions were directed towards what each Party’s flag bearer was offering in totality to correct for the evident anomalies brought on the country by the performance of the Bush Administration. No one however will contest that the performance of Barack Obama, in the past four years, on the second agenda for the future President as identified by Holbrook’s 2008 article, has been brilliant. Barack Obama has really done well in burnishing the image of the country across the Globe by not being that lone-ranger; but a consultative reformer in international and foreign policy on the world’s stage. That credit does not go to him alone, but to the United States Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton.  And when Mitt Romney mistakenly forayed into the foreign policy arena, where many have credited Obama for helping the nation build bridge to the world’s community, Obama not only let him have it on the question of terrorist attack or mishap at Benghazi Libya US embassy, the moderator of the debate Candy Crowley, a renowned CNN News anchor/journalist, re-affirmed Obama’s honesty of purpose in dealing with the terrorist attack on the US embassy. You may contest that Ms. Crowley has no business interjecting in the debate and re-affirmation of Barack Obama’s action in the Rose Garden on September 12, 2012; however, Ms. Crowley was probably tired of the miss-information and untrue stories swirling around Obama’s action since the Benghazi attack of the US embassy.

To counter Mr. Romney’s preconception of the events, Ms. Crowley said: “he did call it an act of terror.” If Romney was about to score a point on foreign policy yesterday night, he probably got his ego deflated by the facts on the ground. And for those Republicans who are still in denial regarding their candidate, yesterday’s dramatization or debate event confirmed the indisputable fact: Mr. Romney is reactive and passive; and, with that type of person in the White House, the nation could expect the type of debacle and missed opportunities that got us into two foreign wars that has continued to deplete our resources. The President addressed issues regarding his action immediately after the terrorist attack of the US embassy in Benghazi; and, reiterated how distasteful he finds receiving American caskets when they arrive from overseas after a horrible event as this. He also found abhorring any attempt to politicize unfortunate event as this, in a time when the country should be coalescing together to form a single bond and front. As someone experiencing history and the President’s action since the unfortunate event, Ms. Crowley, the debate moderator, said she waded in to bring some clarity to the debate!

History is not immutable to facts; and those who attempt to re-write it, often suffer the type of humiliation or admonishment Mr. Romney had yesterday.  Beginning in the first minute of the debate, Americans could sense the disrespect between these two men who want to sit on Uncle Sam’s throne. What many, especially those still sitting on the fence regarding who to vote for in the coming National Elections, may have missed is that: it is reasonable to be optimistic regarding the direction of the economy, despite the hiccups that the nation has experienced since the downturn of the economy under the last two Republican Administrations. And a true candidate emerged from the second debate, one whose performance in the past four years on the economy may have been drawn out by the partisan politics in the US House of Representatives, which has made things rather difficult to get America’s economy going again. Obama’s failure on the economy wasn’t only his fault; and no one will dispute this considering the comments from the mouth of leading Congressional Republicans that they would rather have Barack Obama a one term President.

With the price of gas at the pump tripling in the past four years, a case may be made that President Obama could have done more; however, listening to him, he has opened up federal lands for exploration of oil and gas and only when holders of leases held back their exploration efforts had the federal government yanked earlier issued licenses to offer to those ready to prospect for oil and gas.  Republican Politicians have focused attention on the domestic pressure caused by high gas prices at the retail level; however, they have failed to appreciate the fact that America continues to experience the greatest transfer of wealth from her shores to oligopolistic OPEC and Middle East nations. This is a reality that began not under Barack Obama’s administration, but one which many literature had alluded to, prior to his taking office. Yes, America must take strategic decisions regarding its energy policies and do it as fast as possible; however, it does not look like the current administration has been shacking on that front. The long-term challenge for the economy from the rising oil prices is not because the nation has not awarded the permit for the Canadian pipeline that has the potential of polluting mainland America, but the yet unaddressed accumulation of wealth in oil producing nation that has been precipitated by competing world’s consumption from nations as China, Japan, India and European Union.

Over time, America would have to address its carbon-based consumption level as it is more likely to create greater geopolitical destabilization of the world order, as is currently being realized in acquired political muscle of nations as Iran and other rouge states. Can a US President make a difference on the international price of oil? Yes and No! If the Free Market doctrine advertised by our nation must subsist, international price of oil will be determined by the forces of demand and supply. It is therefore reasonable to assume that a US President can in reality, not make much of a difference regarding what a barrel of oil is going for on the world’s market. On the other hand, the US President can put more pressure on the equilibrium price of oil by diversifying the sources of energy used in the country. If investments in alternative sources of energy, solar, wind and water, are heightened or precipitated; and, stringent rules on energy consumption are put in place, including maintaining higher standard of energy efficiency-use rule for consumer products, the government could actually bring down the prices of oil on the world’s market. Declining demand of carbon-based energy source by the US because of energy-use diversification will ultimately reduce pressure on international prices. This is an issue that was not thoroughly debated yesterday because of the tone of derogation of the current administration’s policies. However, if we take the President at his words, the nation is better -off in the long-run with the diversification of energy sources and increased standard of energy-efficiency rule put in place by the Obama’s Administration. 

Given the dissatisfaction with the current administration’s handling of the economy, the freely expressed concerns of critics of the Administration probably failed to take into consideration partisan politics as one of the greatest challenge faced by the country. As long as our elected officials in congress fail to work together on legislative initiatives or efforts, no matter who comes into the White House, there would still be some unfinished business of the nation. If Congressional Republicans fail to work with a Democratic White House; how would we be able to guarantee that Congressional Democrats will work with a Republican White House?  The partisan wrangllings are killing the nation and its progress. Irresponsbile aggradization of the choice to exercise legislative power, to undermine the executive power, is one of the reason we are in the job slump. A much more cordial relationship between the legsilative and executive arms of government will not by itself  eliminate the hash reality in America's economy; however, it will go a long way in ensuring that the pressure on unemployment problems are released or diminished.

Further, whether true or not, the deeply felt view that the Congressional Republicans are hostile to the current White House, emerged in Mitt Romney’s proposition to want to be President: He said he will bring together all congressional leaders from both parties to work on the nation’s problems. However, those Massachusetts citizens who saw Romney during his governorship of their state, say his leadership was a disaster; and, most of the bills before the Massachusetts assembly were overturned by two-thirds majority. This hardly seems like a leadership the nation craves at this time with respect to the economy. There is an indisputable fact of life: the devil you know is better than the saint you can hardly define. Mitt Romney has been all over the map in his campaign: he has advanced an initiative in the day and denied it at night! He has not been upfront on some delicate issues of interest to the voters, the economy, foreign policy, women health and Planned Parenthood, his taxes and life at Bain Capital. He has advanced to kill Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, ‘voucherize’ Medicare and probably privatize Social Security Benefits. These are very important issues to many Americans; and, no Etch –A-Sketch Strategy can disabuse voters’ minds regarding how inconsistent or untruthful Mitt Romney and his campaign has been. Perhaps there is going to be a window of opening in Romney’s campaign before November 6, 2012, where and when Americans can trust and take him for his words; but for now, many Americans consider Mitt Romney as a risky choice for the White House oval office.

In addition, it is the difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney that are truly revealing after the second debate: Here is a President who is doing all he possibly can to improve the status of the economy; and, there are indications that his policies are working. The American Economic Engine is revving up, but not completely at full speed. There also, is a business man, who has divested in America, hidden his wealth in foreign off-shore accounts, undermine the American Economy by betting against her workers and shifting their jobs overseas. He is also disrespectful; and disdained, of the poor and women classes; and, has been overheard denigrating both groups in a privately held dinner at fifty-thousand dollar-a-plate per participant. Who do you trust? Who do you give your vote to, to become the leader of the free world? 

Obama’s current initiatives and policies, though not completely perfect, are forward looking; he proposes taxation policies that will make the rich pay more of their fair share in the nation’s resources, without hurting more than 2% of the population with respect to taxation. On the other hand is Romney, who has been accused of carrying the bag for the rich in his effort to cut across the board taxation up to 28%, with negative consequential impact on the take home pay of up to 98% of Americans. Obama argues for patience from the electorate, insisting that the economic mess he met in 2008 is greater work to complete in just four years. In contrast, Romney says, four years is enough to have cleaned up the mess from the Bush's Administration. The realities of Romney’s campaign has made it difficult to appreciate his honesty and position on his advancements and made many voters apprehensive of his candidacy for the White House Oval Office.

Consider the following: the one and a half hour or so Presidential Candidates’ debate could hardly answer all the concerns of the electorate.  The views expressed by President Obama and Governor Romney in the past two debates for the White House have been thought provoking. Both candidates have offered diverse solutions to the contending problems before America. Much as some Republicans despise President Obama, so also do some Democrats despise Governor Romney? There will be much more complications in the future debate for the White House; one moderator will remain active or passive as the case may arise. The uniqueness of the enterprise of debating for the highest office will hardly subside; as Americans continue to demand more accountability of their leadership. What we saw yesterday was the beauty of American democracy; our government is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. May God bless the United States of America!
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