Live-blogging the 3rd (and last!) presidential debate of 2012

Okay all y’all, the final presidential debate begins this evening at 9:00 (ET), live from Boca Raton, Florida, and is moderated by Bob Schieffer.

The wingnuts have already started whining about how biased Schieffer is, and expectations have been lowered so much for Mitt Romney, that if he manages to walk onto the stage and not cough up a hairball, he’ll be the winner.  Yeah, whatever.

I think the President will do well tonight.   He’s got four years of foreign policy under his belt, and he knows what Mitt’s all about — and he knows that the chances of us seeing a brand-spankin’-new Mitt Romney this evening are high.

Drink your whole glass every time Mitt says “Benghazi.”  We’ll all be hungover together tomorrow.


The Watering Hole, Thursday, October 18th, 2012: Romney’s Foreign to Foreign Policy

While we’re all still on a bit of a contact high from President Obama’s excellent performance in Tuesday night’s debate, the final Presidential Debate, supposedly covering U.S. foreign policy, looms just around the corner. As a follow-up to my post on Monday, I’m offering two pertinent articles from Foreign Policy magazine.

The first is a piece of rather hawkish advice offered to President Obama by David Rothkopf, which, in part, points out the frightening fact that:

“To get to buried Iranian facilities, such as the enrichment plant at Fordow, would require bunker-busting munitions on a scale that no Israeli plane is capable of delivering. The mission, therefore, must involve the United States, whether acting alone or in concert with the Israelis and others.”


The second, as I mentioned on Monday, is a return to Mitt Romney’s recent foreign-policy speech at VMI (Virginia Military Institute.) While I find it disturbing for a Presidential candidate to be obviously undermining his audience’s Commander-in-Chief, even more disturbing were Romney’s comments about the recent tragic attack on our embassy in Benghazi. This line in particular jumped out at me: “These mobs hoisted the black banner of Islamic extremism over American embassies on the anniversary of 9/11.” I’m still looking, but I have not found ANY independent corroboration of this little tidbit.

The following are a few more excepts. Of course, it figures that Romney is a proponent of an Obama Administration policy with which many of us liberals take great issue.

“Drones and the modern instruments of war are important tools in our fight, but they are no substitute for a national security strategy for the Middle East.”

Anyway, Romney continues…

“It is time to change course in the Middle East. That course should be organized around these bedrock principles: America must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose and resolve in our might. No friend of America will question our commitment to support them. No enemy that attacks America will question our resolve to defeat them. And no one anywhere, friend or foe, will doubt America’s capability to back up our words.”

Based on this attitude, Romney wants to pour an unnecessary and unasked-for $2 trillion-with-a-T into the Department of Defense.

“I’ll work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination. For the sake of peace, we must make clear to Iran through actions, not just words, that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated.
I’ll reaffirm our historic ties to Israel and our abiding commitment to its security. The world must never see any daylight between our two nations.

Why? The United States of America is NOT the same country, we don’t share the same culture or the same history as Israel; we are not geographical neighbors experiencing common challenges. The Constitution says nothing about our country’s ability to create a new country, nor about then being responsible for that new country forever. The President of the United States swears an oath to protect and defend our Constitution, and that oath does not mention protecting and defending Israel as well. Israel is fully capable of defending itself, having been greatly helped by our military and financial assistance. Isn’t it time to cut the cord and let the allegedly adult sovereign state of Israel be responsible for its own actions? But I digress…

“Finally, I will recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel. On this vital issue, the President has failed, and what should be a negotiation process has devolved into a series of heated disputes at the United Nations. In this old conflict, as in every challenge we face in the Middle East, only a new President will bring the chance to begin anew.”

Now, that’s the ultimate lying hypocrisy from Romney, who, in the infamous, supposedly-private “47% speech” to big-money donors, said:

“And I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there’s just no way. And so what you do is you say you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that it’s going to remain an unsolved problem. I mean, we look at that in China and Taiwan. All right, we have a potentially volatile situation, but we sort of live with it. And we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve. We don’t go to war to try and resolve it.

In other words, Romney has no plan for the Middle East. Does this mean that Romney’s believes in “hopey-changey”?

I also ran across this interesting and helpful analysis on Romney’s VMI speech, by Andrew Quinn.

This is our daily open thread–what do YOU have to say?

Obama/Romney Presidential Debate — Round 1

And so it begins…

President Obama and Mitt Romney will meet on the stage at the University of Denver tonight at 8:00 p.m. 9:00 p.m. (ET), to “debate” domestic policy.  The moderator will be Jim Lehrer of PBS.

Each campaign has worked over the last week to lower expectations for their candidate, with the notable exception of Chris Christie promising Romney is a great debater and is going to kick some Obama ass.  Oops.

It’s a school night, so a drinking game might not be in order — although a certain amount of alcohol might help us cope with high levels of bullshit — but if you’re up for a drinking game, here goes:

I think we’re going to be in bad shape this evening…

C-Span will be live-streaming the “debate” here, but it’s a safe bet that all major news outlets will be having live coverage as well, and live-blogging/commentary is happening in TheZoo comments section.

Let’s do this thing…

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, October 3, 2012: On the Campaign Trail with Invisible Obama: Master Debaters


Invisible Mitt

Invisible Obama

Dateline: Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The first of the Presidential Debates between Invisible Obama and Invisible Mitt will take place in Brodie, California. Brodie is a Ghost Town, a holdover from the glory days of the California Gold Rush, where such towns sprang up overnight, and were abandoned just as quickly when the ore ran out. Brodie was selected for its remoteness and lack of a living population.

Tweeter: Before we get going on tonight’s topics, which include the economy, health care and the role of government and governing, I want to ask each of you what you’ve done to prepare for tonight’s debates. Mitt?

IM: I’ve been doing a lot of aerobics. It really helps shake things up, so I can get a new position on everything.

IO: Me? I’ve just been doing a lot of leg lifts to stay in shape. (chuckles)

Tweeter: Mitt, I see you’re beginning with a blank slate. Any comment?

IM: I am fully prepared to take any position on anything you ask.

Tweeter: With that, let’s get started. First up is the economy. We had a booming economy when President Clinton left office. The budget was balanced, and we were even paying down the national debt. Eight years later, we were running massive deficits, the floor was falling out from under the stock market. hundreds of thousands of workers were being laid off each month. Invisible Obama, what have you done in the past three and a half years to turn this country around?

IO: Not enough, Tweeter. Yes, I got a stimulus bill through, but it was barely enough to keep the country from sliding into a Great Depression. But I had to agree to letting the very same people who drove the economy over the cliff keep their massive Bush Tax Cuts…that’s the only way I can ever get anything past the Republicans in the Senate.

IM: There you go, blaming Republicans for your failed policies. The stimulus didn’t work because it didn’t cut taxes enough, it didn’t cut regulations enough. If you really want to stimulate the economy, you have to stop taxing the job creators and get rid of wasteful government regulations. Now I’m all for children. God knows Ann popped out enough of them. But why keep them out of the labor force? Why not let them, if they’re industrious enough, go out and get a job and start taking advantage of all the opportunities this Great Country has to offer to get ahead in life. I’m a prime example of pulling myself up by my own bootstraps and making a name for myself.

IO: As I was saying before my illustrious opponent interrupted me, I have had to deal with Republican obstructionism in the Senate since Day One. That’s why I need to be re-elected, so I can continue to do the same things, only this time, I hope the voters toss out the ten Republicans that are up for re-election this year.

IM: (chuckling) Good luck with that! Zing! Oops, wasn’t supposed to say that.

IO: And I suppose you can do better?

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The Watering Hole, Thursday, September 27th, 2012: Presidential Speed Dating Debating

Most of us liberal political junkies suffered dutifully through some or all of the 20 or so Republican Presidential candidate debates, from May of 2011 – yes, MAY OF 2011! – through February of 2012. Our months and months of exhaustive study of the Republican Presidential wannabes revealed (fairly early on, actually) that, once the true crazies made themselves obvious, the Republicans would be stuck with Willard Mitt Romney as ‘the best of a bad bunch.’ (See this Wiki page for a recap of each debate, with each one’s highlights, lowlights, weird quotes, and squabbles.) But still, we watched for hours and hours in fascinated horror. In fact, those of us who sat through most of the debates did so for a total of more than 24 hours of coverage, some of us even more. Mitt Romney attended all but one of those debates, but we still endured at least 20 hours that included a large amount of Mittspeak.

Now compare those interminable hours of coverage of the Republicans choosing their nominee, with the three 90-minute Presidential debates and the one 90-minute Vice-Presidential debate, scheduled for October.

The first Presidential debate will be on Wednesday, October 3rd, and, according to a release by CNN, will cover the following topics:

Economy – 45 minutes
Health Care – 15 minutes
Role of Government – 15 minutes
Governing – 15 minutes

(I like the fact that “The statement also acknowledged that the topics could change “because of news developments.” Heh.)

So, the first debate is going to take on the topics of ‘Health Care’, ‘Role of Government’, and ‘Governing’ for a whopping 15 minutes apiece, and those 15 minute blocks are divvied up between the two candidates – just how much are potential voters going to learn in such little time?

The second Presidential debate, scheduled for October 16th, will be a “Town meeting format including foreign and domestic policy”, where “The town meeting participants will be undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization.”

The third debate, on October 22nd, will cover foreign policy, and “The format for the debate will be identical to the first presidential debate…” Hmmm, does that mean that, say Iran gets 45 minutes, Pakistan 15 minutes, Israel 15 minutes, and oh, how about Russia gets the last 15 minutes?

This election (as so many are) is described on both sides as “the most important election in the history of our country” – then why is so little time devoted by the major networks to helping voters make an informed decision? A total of four-and-a-half hours, to try to figure out who should be the leader of the free world for the next four years, is way too little, but hopefully not way too late.

This is our Open Thread. You may speak Up on any topic that you choose – just speak up!

What’s Up With The Undecided Voters?

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Jack Cafferty asked a great question yesterday on his blog entitled “Why are so many voters still undecided?” A question I have been wondering about also. As Cafferty points out, this has been the longest and most expensive presidential campaign in history. In the CNN Poll it shows we have 7% who are undecided. So why do we still have so many people not sure who they are going to vote for? Cafferty made me laugh when he remarked, “Maybe if voters haven’t figured it out by now you should not be allowed to vote.”

I know we can’t be the only two people wondering about this, so I surfed the net to see what others thought of this conundrum. Their views of what’s the problem? My first stop was with an author of fiction named Dawn, here is part of her message to undecideds.

I am confused by the existence of undecided voters at this stage of the Presidential race. However, I cannot be so naïve as to believe that much of this indecisiveness is not a race issue. But, what else can it be? This is 2008, a time where racial and cultural lines are meshed more than they ever have been before. I mean, Senator Obama is proof of this with his half Kenyan half Anglo lineage. No doubt he is a Black man, and a great one at that. Well- educated; graduate of Columbia University, top in his Harvard Law class; magna cum laude, and the first Black President of the Harvard Law Review. Admiringly, he chose to work as a Community Organizer out of college instead of going directly into the corporate arena.

Dawn is confused by the existence of undecided voters, I have to say part of me is also.  Her message to undecideds is a very good read.   The next problem Jack thought possibly it’s the issues.

We’ve had three presidential debates, one vice presidential debate, one economic meltdown, a $700 billion financial bailout package, a couple of wars and countless arguments about under whose plan you and I would pay more in taxes and for health care.

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CBS Poll: Obama Beats McCain In Debate 53-22

A clear win again for Barack Obama.  CBS Breaking News:

Fifty-three percent of the uncommitted voters surveyed identified Democratic nominee Barack Obama as the winner of tonight’s debate. Twenty-two percent said Republican rival John McCain won. Twenty-four percent saw the debate as a draw.

More uncommitted voters trusted Obama than McCain to make the right decisions about health care. Before the debate, sixty-one percent of uncommitted voters said that they trust Obama on that; after, sixty-nine percent said that. For McCain, twenty-seven percent trusted him to manage health care before the debate; thirty percent said so afterwards.

Which John McCain Will Be At Debate?

McCain Campaign knows by now that every time they use personal attacks against Obama they are losing voters, but it’s like they can’t help themselves. Mike Maddon’s view from about which McCain will we see at the debate.

Yes, America, there is yet another new John McCain on the campaign trail now, after yet another campaign “reset” over the weekend (albeit one that didn’t involve any melodramatic suspensions). This one promises to fight, and he pounds the podium as he says, “Yes, we will,” a slogan that sounds strangely familiar. The new McCain, though, appears to have some of his supporters pining for the old version, the one who would bring up Bill Ayers and challenge his opponent’s character more directly, asking, conspiratorially, “Who is Barack Obama?”

You know, the McCain from last week.

A day before the final presidential debate of the year — and three weeks before Election Day — McCain’s campaign still seems to be struggling to figure out how to regain momentum in a race that, for him, has gone south faster than a retiree with a ticket to Florida. (That is, if the retiree still has any savings left to head south with.) McCain himself is sticking to a kindler, gentler stump speech that only impugns Obama’s policies, not his personality, and his rallies are more carefully controlled by the campaign — at least in part because polling found voters were starting to turn away from McCain, rather than Obama, because of McCain’s sharp tone.

Another reason McCain’s poll numbers are spiraling down is that, Independents and Moderate Republicans are repulsed also by McCain/Palin supporters. What their campaign has drawn to these hate-fests most Undecideds and Independents find contemptible. They are looking to hear answers and talk about the issues, but the conduct at these rallies has been a big turn-off to several blocks of voters.

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The Young Turks – Highlights of the Week in News


A great recap of stories from all the news sources that range from sad to just plain goofy. The sad is Bush trying to talk to the American People about the Economy.  He not only can’t find the right words but is having trouble finding any words period, to express what is on his mind. Clips of Obama and McCain at the debate, where McCain calls Obama “That One”. Several Fox News clips, one with Sean Hannity being asked if he is Anti-Semitic and the ridiculous is Fox making a big deal about seeing Sarah Palin’s pores on her face on a magazine cover. Could they get anymore superficial?  Good collection of video clips and commentary from the week.

Lawmakers Chastised AIG For Resort Junket – Plans For New One Next Week

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md) castigates AIG for manicures, pedicures & facials while the American People pay the bill.

After lawmakers found out that AIG Execs spent $147,000 on Banquets and rooms that cost from $425 to $1,100 dollars a night – which Rep. Cummings pointed out is more than some people pay in mortgage payments a month – Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md) thundered away at them – is this fundamentally responsible. This week-long resort event cost $440,000; just days after the Feds had agreed to an $85 million dollar bailout.

To make matters worse another event has been planned for next week. According to Nicholas Ashooh, these sales meetings are very vital and that AIG has them around the world all the time.

The event, at the Ritz-Carlton in California’s Half Moon Bay, aims to “motivate and educate” about 150 independent agents who sell AIG coverage to high-end clients, said spokesman Nicholas Ashooh.

The White House, Congress and Barack Obama have lashed out at AIG for “wining and dining” executives at a weeklong conference last month at the St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, California. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino called “despicable” expenses that included $23,000 for spa services. President George W. Bush didn’t push for the bailout “to help top executives go to a spa,” Perino said today at the daily White House briefing.

CEO Edward Liddy, told Secretary Henry Paulson – AIG needs to reevaluate expenses like $400,000 Junkets. Now they are thinking about cutting costs; these measures should have been instituted at least several years ago. Obama had this to say at last night’s debate about AIG.

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The Undecided’s Speak Out Candidly – They Like Obama

As in the previous presidential debate, a group of undecided voters are gathered together in a swing state, this time they are from Colorado. To get a true gauge of their reactions and feeling about the candidates-they are polled before and after the town hall debate. This group was comprised of 50 voters, mainly former Bush supporters, but split evenly between party lines.

The voters awarded Obama the “win” (38% to 30%, with the rest choosing no clear winner). But that result was actually the least useful of the evening. Because while the earlier debate did not result in any net change in support for the two candidates, Obama walked away with a clear lead in new voters tonight. After the debate ended, 26% of the audience had become McCain supporters while 42% said they planned to vote for Obama. Only a quarter of the group was still undecided.

Even more dramatic was the shift in the voters’ personal reactions to the two candidates. Before the debate, McCain had a 48/46 favorability rating; that improved to 56/36 by the end. But that’s about where Obama started the evening-54/36. After an hour and a half, Obama’s favorability numbers were 80/14. As Joe Biden would say, let me repeat that: 80% of the undecided voters had favorable views of Obama and only 14% saw him negatively for a net rating of +66. Not even Bill Clinton got such a warm response in town hall formats.

Republicans are good for throwing out the word “liberal” to see if it sticks or elicits the response they are looking for, which is negativity. That didn’t work last night, for one, Obama is hardly the most liberal Senator. He is viewed by most as a moderate.  As McCain would say, look at his voting record.

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Undecided Voters: McCain’s “That One” Remark – Their Verdict How “Childish”

McCain Refers To Obama “That One”

I know you grow a little weary with this back-and-forth. It was an energy bill on the floor of the Senate loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies, and it was sponsored by Bush and Cheney.

You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one. You know who voted against it? Me. I have fought time after time against these pork barrel — these bills that come to the floor…


Undecided Voters: McCain’s ‘That One’ Remark Was “Over The Top”

The undecided voters thought it was very “childish” of McCain to make that remark. Their thoughts were it was over the top and they have put up with this for eight years, that’s enough.   What a jerk.

Obama Crushed McCain In Debate Polls

Fifty-four percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey conducted after the debate ended said that Obama did the best job in the debate, with 30 percent saying Sen. John McCain performed better.

A majority said Obama seemed to be the stronger leader during the debate, 54 percent to 43 percent, and by a more than two to one margin — 65 percent to 28 percent — viewers thought Obama was more likable during the debate.

Obama Corrects McCain On Rescue At Debate

Obama discusses the future of the economy and corrects McCain on which campaign is tied to the fiscal crisis.

OBAMA: Now I’ve got to correct a little bit of Senator McCain’s history, not surprisingly, but let’s first of all understand that the biggest problem in this whole process was the deregulation of the financial system. Senator McCain as recently as March bragged about the fact that he is a deregulator. On the other hand two years ago I said we’ve got a subprime lending crisis that has to be dealt with, I wrote to Secretary Paulson, I wrote to Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke and told them this is something we have to deal with and nobody did anything about it. A year ago I went to Wall Street and told them we have to re-regulate.

Obama Has Doubled His Lead In National Poll

This speech from President Bush on the Economy is helping Barack Obama in the polls.  Bush is completely incoherent as always. 

The New CNN poll out today was-conducted after the VP debate-on October 3-5. The survey questioned 1,006 people. It shows that 53% of the voters support Barack Obama and 45% support John McCain.

President Bush may be part of the reason why Obama’s making gains. Only 24 percent of those polled approve of Bush’s job as president, an all-time low for a CNN survey. “Bush has now tied Richard Nixon’s worst rating ever, taken in a poll just before he resigned in 1974, and is only 2 points higher than the worst presidential approval rating in history, Harry Truman’s 22 percent mark in February 1952,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

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The Reintroduction of Sarah Palin

In an effort to reinvent herself, Sarah Palin who has been heavily protected from the media, is to do additional interviews in the weeks ahead. As Politico reports, she is headed to McCain’s cabin to prepare for the VP debate.

While she is there, John McCain is keeping Palin in safe waters by doing right-wing talk radio. As her aide puts it, “Talk radio is a convenient, powerful and effective outlet,” said the aide. Rush Limbaugh, who is the most successful at promoting right-wing propaganda notes “The McCain camp doesn’t trust me.” But, he said he would welcome a call from Sarah Palin. It’s also in Rush’s best interest to have McCain in the White House. He would keep a larger portion of his mammoth eight year contract worth $38 million dollars under the McCain tax policy.

This reintroduction comes from the car-wreck interviews with Katie Couric and at the heels of some conservatives that are begging her to drop off the ticket.

Quite the contrary, Palin, her family and aides are determined to remind voters what they so liked about the governor in the first place. After the debate and talk radio hits, the plan is to find a way to let Palin be Palin, moving her away from the pre-fab talking points and letting the down-home daughter of Wasilla be herself.

“She wants to tell her story more, and people around her do, too,” added the source. “This is a governor very much on her toes, very much fed up with inaccuracies and fictions about her own life and career.”

I watched the Katie Couric interview last night with Sarah Palin and John McCain-where both try to blame “gotcha journalism” for reporting on Palin’s support for cross-border raids into Pakistan-which Katie pointed out is a position shared by Barack Obama.

Sitting with McCain for their first joint interview a week after the widely panned sit-down with Couric, Palin interjected when the CBS anchor brought up a report about the Wasilla Assembly of God, the governor’s childhood church and one she still attends at times, seeking to pray gays away from homosexuality.

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John McCain looks like John McCan’t

He looked weak, indecisive, blatantly political-that was one of the kinder descriptions that I found today. It only gets worse. DeFrank from the Daily News describes McCain’s difficult week.

The collapse of McCain’s Hail Mary intervention capped a tumultuous week which saw the Arizona Democrat’s lead over Obama evaporate and his running mate deliver a ragged and at times impenetrable TV interview. With economic jitters playing to traditional Democratic dogma, McCain’s Big Mo suddenly reverted to his challenger.

“This is the attention-deficit-disorder campaign,” said a bewildered senior Republican operative. “They’ve had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.” In the process, McCain invited questions about his judgment and ability to work his will in Washington if elected.

“This raises the fundamental issue of how a guy who is hated by his own party can govern,” fretted a GOP mandarin who worked for several Presidents. “If he can’t control the Republicans, how can he run a country?”

But McCain ignored the first rule of high-stakes summitry: before committing precious credibility, make sure a deal’s in hand, or at least in sight. In this case McCain, who probably has more Democratic friends on Capitol Hill than Republicans, couldn’t even deliver his own side.

Moving on to how John McCain’s performance was viewed at the debate last night. From the editorial at LA Times, McCain’s nasty disposition is well noted also.

McCain revealed more of himself in that arena, wincing and grimacing during the split-screen shots while Obama was speaking.

That dynamic threaded its way through the emotional highlights of the event. Time and again, McCain, who is 72 and would be the oldest man ever elected to a first term, condescended to Obama, who is 47 and one of the youngest ever to win his party’s nomination. “He doesn’t understand,” McCain said repeatedly. Discussing Obama’s willingness to engage in talks with Iran without preconditions, McCain said: “It isn’t just naive. It’s dangerous.”

Obama declined to be belittled. Although McCain refused to address him directly — despite encouragement from moderator Jim Lehrer — Obama looked at and spoke to McCain.

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