Obama's performance in Wednesday's debate reminded me again why progressive advocates of genuine public interest always seem outgunned and outmaneuvered by private interest and wealth. He, like much of the mainstream Left, looks for accommodation with opponents who want none at all. Obama, to the extent that he is of the Left at all, is that portion of the Left with money and access yet he did not press his case. When Mitt Romney bragged about working with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature, Obama should have shot back, "At least you had legislators willing to work with you!" and shoved the intransigent partisanship of the Republican leadership in Congress down Romney's throat. He should have called Romney the liar and dissembler that he is. Maybe that's just not his style. Maybe insufficiently presidential.
As a result, the lies and distortions go unchallenged. Just like the CheneyBush lies that took America into an illegal war in Iraq in 2003 or the Swift Boat lies that torpedoed John Kerry in the following year. Until the American Left--or more precisely that portion with money and access--vigorously and systematically calls out the Republicans and their fellow travelers for their lies and becomes as hard nosed as the the Right, progressive ideas and policies will have no traction in America. Where is today's Franklin Roosevelt challenging the"economic royalists
I watched the Expanded Debate broadcast by Democracy Now!
where they spliced Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson responding toe he same questions and issues along with the Obama-Romney exchange. The format worked pretty well although the audio did not quite match the video online I watched which made both men somewhat robotic-looking, not a good enhancement for Romney. Stein and Anderson spoke as I would have Obama speak: strongly, pointing out the disparities in wealth, opportunity and hope created by a corporate controlled economy and state. They called for breaking up banks that are "too big to fail", prosecuting the financial gamblers who wrecked the economy, offering truly universal health care and ending America's military imperialism--options excluded from public discourse because they infringe an entitled sense of economic freedom. It would have been fun to have all four on the same stage, something that's not likely in our political duopoly.
Much gloating and gnashing of teeth (depending on one's candidate) has been evidence in the debate's aftermath. No doubt, Romney gave his campaign a boost. He also gave Obama a wake-up call. Obama needs to come prepared to play hardball in the next debate. For that matter, from now on. Obama's no dummy so perhaps he will come up with a strategy for recovery.
Maybe the lackluster performance in the debate is part of a larger strategy. Pepe Escobar thinks so
. But his analysis is based on the premise that American voters will see that Romney's numbers just don't add up. I'd like to think that will happen but history tells me that Americans are easily deceived by campaign lies.
For all of his weakness, Obama is still my preferred candidate. I can distill my thinking into two words: Supreme Court. If anything demonstrates the success of the Right, it is the systematic packing of the Supreme Court with conservative activists who have hollowed out many of the social and economic gains implemented during the New Deal and after. It's been a long-term campaign, dating back some four decades, that has given America the One Percent Court
of Citizens United
. A president Romney will lock in that victory for decades to come.
Labels: hair triggers, politics