Posts Tagged John McCain
Republicans: Obama Must Take Action in Syria So We Can Criticize Action He Took in Syria : The New Yorker
APRIL 29, 2013
REPUBLICANS: OBAMA MUST TAKE ACTION IN SYRIA SO WE CAN CRITICIZE ACTION HE TOOK IN SYRIA
POSTED BY ANDY BOROWITZ
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—A growing chorus of Republican lawmakers are demanding that President Obama take some action in Syria so that they can attack whatever action he took in Syria.
Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) laid out the situation in stark terms: “The time for President Obama to do something in Syria that we can eviscerate him for is long overdue.”
Arguing that there are a variety of options available to Mr. Obama for dealing with Syria, Sen. Graham said, “The President needs to choose one of those options so that we can immediately identify it as a catastrophic choice and demand that he be impeached.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) used an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to express impatience with Mr. Obama’s “steadfast refusal to give us something new to rake him over the coals for.”
“The American people have grown weary of my nonstop criticism of the President’s handling of Libya,” he said. “They are ready to hear me incessantly berate him for his handling of a different country.”
At the end of his television appearance, Sen. McCain seemed to draw a line in the sand, making a direct challenge to Mr. Obama: “Mr. President, we are sick and tired of attacking you for your inaction. The time has come for us to attack you for your action.”
- Republicans: Obama Must Take Action in Syria So We Can Criticize Action He Took in Syria (newyorker.com)
- GOP Congressmen Spent Sunday Morning Urging Obama To Take Action In Syria (businessinsider.com)
- Lawmakers Press Obama to Take Action on Syria (socyberty.com)
- Lawmakers: Syria chemical weapons could menace US (news.yahoo.com)
- Syria Chemical Weapons Could Menace US, Say Lawmakers (theepochtimes.com)
- John McCain Calls for Obama to Act in Syria (theroot.com)
- U.S. lawmakers weigh Syria’s chemical weapons conundrum (dailystar.com.lb)
- Lawmakers ponder role for U.S. in Syria (firstread.nbcnews.com)
- Let Me Start: Pressure mounts on Obama (tv.msnbc.com)
- McCain: Putting US troops in Syria the ‘worst thing America could do right now’ (thehill.com)
Sarah Palin: Feds ‘stockpiling bullets’ to use against us
Palin said on she wants lawmakers to ‘stop the hysterics.’ | AP Photo
By KEVIN CIRILLI | 2/27/13 9:26 AM EST
Sarah Palin says America will eventually default on its debt and claims that the federal government is “stockpiling bullets in case of civil unrest” to prepare.
“If we are going to wet our proverbial pants over 0.3% in annual spending cuts when we’re running up trillion dollar annual deficits, then we’re done. Put a fork in us. We’re finished. We’re going to default eventually and that’s why the feds are stockpiling bullets in case of civil unrest,” Palin wrote in a Facebook message Tuesday.
The former GOP governor of Alaska was referring to the sequester, the automatic $1.2 trillion cuts in federal funding that take effect Friday unless lawmakers reach a deal.
“D.C.: Cut the Drama. Do Your Job. Americans are sick and tired of yet another ginned-up crisis. D.C. needs to grow up, get to work, and live within its means,” wrote Palin, the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential running mate of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
She continued: “The real economic Armageddon looming before us is our runaway debt, not the sequester, which the President advocated for and signed into law and is now running around denouncing because he never had any genuine intention of reining in his reckless spending.”
Palin wrote that she wants lawmakers to “stop the hysterics.”
“If we ARE serious about putting our fiscal house in order, then let’s stop the hysterics, tighten our belts, and take our medicine.”
- Sarah Palin: ‘We’re finished’ (oddonion.com)
- Palin: ‘We’re finished’ (politico.com)
- Palin Lifts Bullet Stockpile Conspiracy from Debunked Email, Just for Sequester (theatlanticwire.com)
- Palin: D.C.: Cut the Drama. Do Your Job. (sarahpalinblog.typepad.com)
- Palin: ‘Cut The Drama!’ (huffingtonpost.com)
- Top conservative conference keeps Christie away, because Palin is apparently the future (dailykos.com)
- Why Maria Hutchings is the Tories’ Sarah Palin – and that’s not a good thing (mirror.co.uk)
- Honor: Sarah Palin tweets Todd Palin to donate Iron Dog race winnings to Chris Kyle Memorial Fund (twitchy.com)
- Sarah Palin Fact Checks Obama’s SOTU – He Loses #sotUGottaBKiddingMe (grumpyelder.com)
- Sarah Palin *is not* going to work for Al Jazeera (jimromenesko.com)
Thursday, at the end of a meeting in the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the Benghazi Consulate Attack Report, retiring Representative Gary Ackerman, a 15-term legislative veteran from New York, delivered what can only be dubbed a jeremiad. In it, he called out the Republican Party for governing via pretty much everything Yoda warned against in The Phantom Menace. He lamented the partisanship and political games that had come to even dominate issues of national security in Washington–something always considered verboten until the past decade or so. “The train had veered off the track,” as he put it.
Most recently, during this whole affair, the “train” in the equation has been represented by those wild and crazy guys of U.S. foreign policy, John McCain and Lindsey Graham–who’ve turned anger into a lifestyle choice. Ostensibly, at one point, their madness had to do with UN Ambassador Susan Rice, because she went on a Sunday talk show right after the Benghazi attack and repeated talking points provided by none other than the Central Intelligence Agency.
But these obviously well-informed gentlemen just couldn’t handle the truth. “She got the talking points from the Administration!” they croaked. “She’s unqualified,” they screeched! “We have more questions!” they burbled.
And they got their white whale. Rice, due to the very behavior Ackerman was decrying today, removed her own name from consideration for the position last week, announcing “I didn’t want to see a confirmation process that was very prolonged, very politicized, very distracting and very disruptive because there are so many things we need to get done as a country…”
So, were McCain and Graham playing political games, as Ackerman would say, or was their racism involved in the McCain/Graham jihad against Rice, or was it something else? There’s no doubt some of the oldest and most pernicious stereotypes hurled at African Americans in the U.S. were used against her, as her intelligence and work ethic were questioned. By none other than John McCain, mind you, who graduated 894th out of 899 students at the Naval Academy—also known as “getting in because you have the same last name as your Admiral father and grandfather.” I mean, there are proably potted plants in Annapolis that gave McCain a run for his money in class ranking.
In any case, those on the Right screamed that it couldn’t have been racism—I mean Graham and McCain both supported Condoleezza Rice for crying out loud! Why yes, yes they did.
So here’s a funny story–in the sense where “funny” means “tragic.” Condi Rice, also known as the Heckuva Job Brownie of National Security Advisors, also went on Sunday shows. In her case, it was to lie the United States into a war in Iraq, dissembling with verve about not wanting the “smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
As Ackerman noted today, these very Republicans were not so keen to investigate that particular travesty (some might even call it, what’s that term again—oh yeah, a war crime), even though not 4, but 4,000 U.S. troops are dead because of it (Ackerman was being too kind, it’s almost 4,500). This of course doesn’t even count the toll in suffering and death that has been visited upon Iraq.
The first Rice accomplished all this after being installed by George W. Bush in 2001, so she could immediately start receiving dozens of warnings about an imminent Al Qaeda attack, and studiously ignore them, while paying extra special attention to 1987’s most dangerous enemy, Russia (feel the Romnesia).
But that Rice was still worthy of support from McCain and Graham, the Laurel and Hardy of Shorja Market rug shopping. You see, she may have promoted a war based lies and fearmongering, but so were the dynamic duo, who to this day still won’t admit that war was a wonderful idea–you know like remaking Red Dawn or nominating Sara Palin to be vice president.
And that brings us back to Ackerman, and the important words this longtime Washington denizen spoke today. Ackerman was clear that we need two functioning parties for our democracy to work—and right now, as far as I’m concerned, the Republican Party comes closer every day to representing some kind of Neo-Confederate Cult, where if the South can’t rise again, their 19th Century sensibilities should give it the old college try.
What happened in Benghazi was a terrible tragedy. But you know what was even worse? Iraq. And 9/11. And frankly, Newtown, Connecticut. It would be nice if the Republican Party still had enough statesman to care half as much about preventing the next one of those massacres as they do for scoring political points in Washington.
- John McCain’s lawn: it’s dried up, bitter, and he wants you off it (mbcalyn.com)
- “Oops, He Did It Again”: How John McCain Humiliated Himself On Susan Rice (mbcalyn.com)
- Jon Stewart exposes blatant hypocrisy of McCain and Graham (rawstory.com)
- What’s John McCain bitter about today? Same thing as yesterday… (mbcalyn.com)
- John McCain can’t stop going on TV and being wrong about Benghazi (salon.com)
- McCain And Graham Defended Condoleeza Rice Over Iraq WMD Testimony (buzzfeed.com)
- Jon Stewart Tears Into John McCain & Lindsay Graham For Hypocritical Outrage Over Susan Rice (mediaite.com)
- McCain and Graham attack Susan Rice. Hypocrisy? (tv.msnbc.com)
- Scarborough: McCain’s anti-Rice effort ‘terrible’ for GOP (tv.msnbc.com)
- Republicans Attacking Susan Rice Gave Condoleezza Rice A Pass On Intelligence Failures (alan.com)
Susan Rice and the Senate’s blame game
By Kathleen Parker,
Upon closer examination, however, the real reason may be less complicated. She’s not a member of the most elite club in America, the U.S. Senate. Also, she appears to be President Obama’s first choice.
As anyone with a television knows, Rice has come under fire by the new, revised Tres Amigos — Republican Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte, plus Susan Collins of Maine. All have expressed concerns about Rice’s role in delivering the administration’s explanation following the Benghazi attack, which initially was blamed on street protests over an anti-Muhammad video but later was confirmed as a terrorist attack.
While Collins, who previously supported Rice, says she still has unanswered questions, McCain — whose understanding of qualified women candidates is legendary — has promised to block Rice’s nomination. Graham, who most certainly will be “primaried” in the next election by South Carolinians who doubt his commitment to hard-right lunacy, followed suit, as did Ayotte.
Off somewhere letting her hair grow, Hillary Clinton knitted her brow and noted that Rice has been an excellent U.N. ambassador. Which is to say, she didn’t exactly go to the mat for her female colleague, who had the audacity to support Obama for president rather than the former first lady.
In Ganglandia, it’s the New Kids vs. the Clinton Machine. How dare Rice, once a Clinton administration appointee, defect?
Clinton, a McCain buddy from their years together in the Senate, reportedly prefers another Senate pal, John Kerry, as her successor. So does McCain & Co. So, needless to say, does Kerry, whose chiseled jaw alone constitutes a diplomatic arsenal. There’s clearly no profit in Clinton, a likely presidential candidate in 2016, alienating allies and devaluing her own currency for Rice.
Even so, the opposition’s arguments are weak, chief among them that Rice isn’t qualified. This from McCain, whose vetting history includes about 80 minutes of conversation with Sarah Palin before selecting her as his running mate in 2008. McCain’s opinion about Rice’s qualifications is only slightly less compelling than his thoughts on Playtex vs. Spanx.
For the record, Rice is a graduate of Stanford University and a Rhodes scholar, who served as the assistant secretary of state for African affairs. Even this is troubling to Collins, who said that the Benghazi attack “in many ways echoes the attacks on [U.S. embassies in Africa] in 1998 when Susan Rice was head of the African region.”
Everybody brave enough to enter the public arena gets a few free passes when they utter something short of brilliant, but most of the criticisms aimed at Rice seem ungrounded in reality. To blame Rice for representing the administration’s position as provided to her at the time is missing the target, which is properly the White House.
Does Rice have an aggressive personality, as some have said? And does this pose a risk in nominating her? Yes and yes. She notoriously once flipped the bird to diplomat Richard Holbrooke during a State Department meeting.
Such an impulsive act is no recommendation, but is it emblematic or merely anecdotal? Aggression — and even occasional rudeness — is rarely considered a flaw in men. And even aggressive men learn to temper their impulses as circumstances warrant. Thank goodness Rice didn’t tell Holbrooke to go do that which one cannot do to oneself, as Dick Cheney once suggested to Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy. Or, heaven forbid, insist that we invade another country based on bad intelligence, as another Rice, who became secretary of state, once did.
The investigation into what transpired in Benghazi — bad things sometimes happen in dangerous places — is certainly appropriate. The administration’s incoherent handling of information deserves scrutiny. But Rice, barring something we don’t know, clearly has the qualifications for secretary of state.
And thoughtful Republicans might reconsider the image of white men ganging up on a highly qualified black woman as they ponder the reasons for their collapsing tent. The road to redemption ain’t thataway.
- KATHLEEN PARKER: The initiation of Susan Rice (tauntongazette.com)
- Susan Rice’s nomination process gets caught up in politics: Kathleen Parker (oregonlive.com)
- A fatuous defense of Susan Rice (powerlineblog.com)
- Republicans Blast Susan Rice for Misleading Public: “That’s Our Job” : The New Yorker (mbcalyn.com)
- Parker: The initiation of Susan Rice (denverpost.com)
- Thoughtful Republicans should reconsider ganging up on Susan Rice (seattletimes.com)
- “Appearances Are Deceiving”: Vastly Overblown, Susan Collins Is No Independent Moderate (mykeystrokes.com)
- Rachel Maddow Deconstructs the Susan Rice Conspiracy (crooksandliars.com)
- Susan Rice, the Senate and Angry Mobs (abcnews.go.com)
- Susan Rice to meet with McCain on Benghazi (cbsnews.com)
NOVEMBER 27, 2012
REPUBLICANS BLAST SUSAN RICE FOR MISLEADING PUBLIC: “THAT’S OUR JOB”
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—A trio of Republican senators today blasted U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for misleading the American public, which, in the words of Sen. Lindsay Graham (R., S.C.), “has traditionally been our job.” “Ambassador Rice has been engaged in nonstop lies and double-talk,” said Sen. Graham, one of three Republican senators who had a closed-door meeting with Rice. “If she really wants to do those things so badly, she should run for the U.S. Senate like the rest of us.”
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.) agreed with Sen. Graham’s assessment, saying of the meeting, “I heard Susan Rice spew nothing but half-truths, distortions, and complete fabrications. It felt like I was watching Fox News, except that she’s black.”
The third senator, John McCain (R., Ariz.), said that he found Ambassador Rice’s story profoundly disappointing: “Considering that the C.I.A. was involved, I thought there’d be more sex.”
- GOP Senators ‘More Disturbed’ After Meeting With Susan Rice (huffingtonpost.com)
- GOP Senators Just Met With Susan Rice About Benghazi, And It Did Not Go Well (businessinsider.com)
- Susan Rice Meeting with McCain Leads to More Questions (usnews.com)
- Libs demean Sen. Kelly Ayotte as ‘token woman’ in ‘sexist’ Rice inquiry (twitchy.com)
- GOP Senators Lend Susan Rice an Earful (hispanicbusiness.com)
- Susan Rice to meet with McCain on Benghazi (cbsnews.com)
- Rice fails to sway senators raising fuss over Benghazi – The Seattle Times (seattletimes.com)
- GOP Senators More Troubled After Rice Meeting (abcnews.go.com)
- Susan Rice To Meet With McCain On Benghazi (wibw.com)
- Susan Rice: We Didn’t Intend To ‘Mislead The American People’ On Benghazi (mediaite.com)
Republicans should look to their roots
By Anne Applebaum, Published: November 15
A Texan friend of mine heard Karl Rove a couple of days ago talking angrily about President Obama winning by “suppressing the vote.” Not long after that, she read that Sean Hannity wants to create a “pathway to citizenship” for illegal immigrants. She wrote to me that she was compiling a list: “ways in which the Republicans are now stealing Democrats’ language.”
She was right to find it amusing. But, if you step back, it’s also tragic. The Republican Party doesn’t need to steal Democrats’ language, let alone Democrats’ ideas. Like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” all the Republican leadership needs to do is click its collective heels together and start looking for answers much closer to home.
If Republican leaders really want to appeal to Hispanic voters, for example, they don’t need clever Spanish-language marketing or better slogans. Nor do they need to steal political positions from across the aisle. Instead, they could resurrect the only sensible comprehensive immigration reform bill not passed into law — a bill largely written by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). The McCain-Kennedy Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 was a grand compromise: It attempted to win support from immigrants’ rights groups, which tend to be on the left of the political spectrum, and business leaders who employ immigrants, who tend to be on the right. It created not only a sensible path to citizenship for illegal immigrants but also a “guest worker” status for people who want to work for short periods, and it enhanced border security. The Bush White Housesupported the bill, which was defeated by congressional Republicans.
Maybe it’s time for those same Republicans to take seriously something that several observers have noted recently: For millions of people on the lower end of the pay scale, health-care expenditures take a bigger chunk of income than do taxes. For Republicans, this problem ought not to come as a surprise, since their elected representatives have been discussing it for two decades. As The Post’s Ezra Klein (among others) has beautifully documented, the Heritage Foundation came up with the idea of individual mandates in 1989; Sen. John Chafee (R-R.I.) wrote a bill — with 19 Republican co-sponsors — proposing comprehensive health-care reform in 1993. In the mid-2000s, Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) told me he reckoned that bipartisan agreement on the basic elements of health-care reform already existed in the Senate: All that was needed, he told me, was the political willpower to make it happen.
Republican leaders might also consider the writings of conservative columnists and think tanks more carefully. For many years, The Post’s Charles Krauthammer has advocated a hefty gasoline tax offset by an equivalent payroll tax cut. Steve Hayward at the American Enterprise Institute has been arguing for years that “conservation” is a word with the same roots as “conservative.”
The conservative movement is a broad church, and its worshipers include even a few sympathetic foreigners. Republicans could certainly do worse than to consult their counterparts across the Atlantic.
The British Conservative Party spent 12 years out of office after the 1997 elections that brought the Labor Party and Tony Blair to power. After two attempts to win by running well to the right of Blair, David Cameron led a group of Tory “modernizers” into power by, among other things, embracing “conservative” notions of conservation and budgetary austerity — and by deciding that the state should have no role in dictating private morality: Intolerance, one once told me, is “unconservative.” One Tory minister, Iain Duncan-Smith, spent his years in the political wilderness creating a think tank, the Centre for Social Justice, dedicated to the study of long-term poverty and welfare reform. He’s now in a position to put some of its proposals into practice. So is his colleague Michael Gove, another Tory modernizer, who spent his years out of power thinking about education and is now hard at work reforming British schools.
The British Conservatives didn’t merely hire new speechwriters to carry out this change, or ape their opponents in the Labor Party. They simply looked to their history and to their roots. There is no reason the Republican Party can’t do the same: There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home . . .
- Rep. Gutierrez Introduces Republicans to Latinos, Again (crooksandliars.com)
- With Republicans onboard, can immigration overhaul pass? (kansascity.com)
- GOP senators may take lead on immigration reform (cbsnews.com)
- The GOP’s Hispanic Problem is Bigger Than They Think (businessweek.com)
- Obama’s Reelection Has Spurred a GOP Paradigm Shift on Immigration Reform (blogs.sfweekly.com)
- With Republicans onboard, can immigration overhaul pass? (thenewstribune.com)
- Rubio, McCain, Hatch ready to negotiate on pathway to citizenship (thehill.com)
- GOP, Dem senators seek immigration reform (upi.com)
- Why Republicans’ position on immigration is a political loser – in 1 chart (washingtonpost.com)
- Obama: Time to “seize the moment” on immigration reform (nbclatino.com)
Mitt Romney’s campaign insults voters
By Editorial Board, Updated: Friday, November 2, 11:34 AM
How else to explain his refusal to disclose essential information? Defying recent bipartisan tradition, he failed to release the names of his bundlers — the high rollers who collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations. He never provided sufficient tax returns to show voters how he became rich.
How, other than an assumption that voters are too dim to remember what Mr. Romney has said across the years and months, to account for his breathtaking ideological shifts? He was a friend of immigrants, then a scourge of immigrants, then again a friend. He was a Kissingerian foreign policy realist, then a McCain-like hawk, then a purveyor of peace. He pioneered Obamacare, he detested Obamacare, then he found elements in it to cherish. Assault weapons were bad, then good. Abortion was okay, then bad. Climate change was an urgent problem; then, not so much. Hurricane cleanup was a job for the states, until it was once again a job for the feds.
The same presumption of gullibility has infused his misleading commercials (see:Jeep jobs to China) and his refusal to lay out an agenda. Mr. Romney promised to replace the Affordable Care Act but never said with what. He promised an alternative to President Obama’s lifeline to young undocumented immigrants but never deigned to describe it.
And then there has been his chronic, baldly dishonest defense of mathematically impossible budget proposals. He promised to cut income tax rates without exploding the deficit or tilting the tax code toward the rich — but he refused to say how he could bring that off. When challenged, he cited “studies” that he maintained proved him right. But the studies were a mix of rhetoric, unrealistic growth projections and more serious economics that actually proved him wrong.
This last is important — maybe the crux of the next four years. History has shown that it’s a lot easier to cut taxes than to reduce spending. Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush promised to do both, managed to do only the first and (with plenty of help from Congress) greatly increased the national debt.
Now Mr. Romney promises to reduce income tax rates by one-fifth — for the rich, that means from 35 percent to 28 percent — and to raise defense spending while balancing the budget. To do so, he would reduce other spending — unspecified — and take away deductions — unspecified. One of the studies he cited, by Harvard economist Martin Feldstein, said Mr. Romney could make the tax math work by depriving every household earning $100,000 or more of all of its charitable deductions, mortgage-interest deductions and deductions for state and local income taxes.
Does Mr. Romney favor ending those popular tax breaks? He won’t say. But he did take issue with Mr. Feldstein’s definition of the middle class: Mr. Romney said he would protect households earning $250,000 or less. In which case the Feldstein study did not vindicate the Romney arithmetic — it refuted it. Yet the candidate has continued to cite the study.
Within limits, all candidates say and do what they have to say and do to win. Mr. Obama also has dodged serious interviews and news conferences. He has offered few specifics for a second-term agenda. He, too, aired commercials that distorted his opponent’s statements.
But Mr. Obama has a record; voters know his priorities. His budget plan is inadequate, but it wouldn’t make things worse.
Mr. Romney, by contrast, seems to be betting that voters have no memories, poor arithmetic skills and a general inability to look behind the curtain. We hope the results Tuesday prove him wrong.
- Wow. The Washington Post flat-out savages Romney today – says his only consistency is “contempt for the electorate” (thedemocraticstrategist.org)
- Mitt Romney faces the wrath of the Washington Post (jaypinho.com)
- WaPo eds: Romney insults voters (politico.com)
- Many Americans Believe There Is No Discernible Real Difference Between Romney and Obama (21stcenturyscreenshots.wordpress.com)
- Mitt Romney’s Latest Lie: Tells Audience Seniors Won’t Get To See Doctors (alan.com)
- Presidential election: Mitt Romney may win the race because he ignored conservatives’ advice. – Slate Magazine (mbcalyn.com)
- Boston Globe endorses Barack Obama over former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (boston.com)
- Well, Mitt Romney’s got at least one new endorsement…. (updates.jezebel.com)
- Harry Reid Dismisses Mitt Romney’s ‘Fantasy’ of Bipartisanship (rollcall.com)
- Gay Radio Host Suggests Gay Mitt Romney Supporter Would Be Better Off Killing Himself (mediaite.com)
Why Americans Who Love Authority Are More Likely to Vote Republican
Question authority? Obama’s your man. Uncomfortable with ambiguity? It’s Mitt — or so says election data.
October 16, 2012
It’s a truism in American politics that President Obama has a hard time appealing to white working-class voters, the assumption being that whether you support or oppose the president is a function of race and class (and, to a lesser degree, geography, since Southerners are less likely to vote for Obama).
But this demographic view of voting behavior, while not entirely wrong, fails to capture the nature of support for Obama among whites, and misses a crucial dynamic among the electorate more broadly. To a large extent, it is not class or education that explains political preferences. It is personality; specifically, the degree to which white voters believe in order and hierarchy. In fact, it turns out that plenty of less well-educated whites who tolerate ambiguity and disdain hierarchy are highly supportive of the president. Conversely, many well-off, college-educated whites who dislike ambiguity and embrace hierarchy oppose the president.
How do we know this? For the past two decades, pollsters have been asking people what values they think are most important to instill in children. Is it more important for kids to develop a sense of independence or to respect their elders? To be curious or to display good manners? As we spelled out in our book,“Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics,” studies have repeatedly shown that answers to child-rearing questions reflect fundamental personality differences that, in turn, have become perhaps the most important explanation for our polarized politics.
These personality differences tell us who supports gay marriage and who doesn’t, who favors immigration and “amnesty” and who opposes them, as well as differences on a host of other issues. Individuals who cherish independence and curiosity tend overwhelmingly to be authority questioning, whereas those who most value respect for elders and good manners tend to place a premium on order and hierarchy. White respondents’ answers to these questions illuminate powerfully their views about politics. It turns out that whether white Americans support Obama or not, vote Democratic or Republican, has more to do with how they think about raising children than with their socioeconomic status.
To flesh this out, we looked at data from two different election cycles: 2008 and 2010. The results were striking. In 2008, among whites voters, those most comfortable with questioning authority supported Obama by more than 3-to-1, while those more disposed toward authority and order preferred Sen. McCain by a 2-to-1 margin. Among whites with a high-school education or less who were most authority questioning, however, 76 percent supported Obama, whereas among college-educated but authority-minded whites, only 18 percent supported the future president.
Data from the 2010 midterm elections reveal the same picture. Again, about 75 percent of the most authority-questioning voters cast ballots for Democratic House candidates. By contrast, more than three-quarters of those placing the highest value on authority voted Republican. As in 2008, personality trumped education levels in explaining partisan voting. Among whites with at least a college degree and who scored low in authority-mindedness, more than 90 percent voted for Democratic candidates. But, if those same highly educated whites were predisposed to be authority-minded, 80 percent voted for Republican candidates.
The same basic story holds when we look at income. In fact, there is no difference in support for President Obama among white voters who differ in income but share the same personality type. Low-income whites who say they want kids to question authority are as supportive of President Obama as high-income whites with the same psychological disposition. Conversely, high-income whites who prefer order and authority feel just as negatively toward the president as do low-income whites with the same personality type. To be crystal clear, neither income nor education explains white political preferences as well as how people think about raising kids.
Why does this matter? There is a strong tendency in American politics, extending back 30 years or more, to view all white working-class voters as cut from the same cloth – uniformly predisposed to social conservatism and uncomfortable with cultural change. Then Sen. Obama was himself guilty of this sort of reductionism in 2008 when he made comments about bitter working-class voters clinging to their guns and religion. This cohort is said to have been especially uneasy with a biracial president who embodies a complex and changing world. But this isn’t really a problem for white working-class voters as such. Instead, it’s a function of the same broader dynamic that has divided the parties over the past generation and has contributed to such stark political polarization. Our political chasm is defined as much as ever by fundamental personality differences among the parties’ base voters. The white working-class meme, while true to a point – because less-educated whites do tend to be more authority-minded – obscures the deeper realities of our political divide. It’s not socioeconomic status, per se, that explains white voters’ political preferences. It’s personality type. White voters who believe, first and foremost, that children should obey authority don’t dislike Obama simply because they disagree with his policy positions. They reject his entire perceived outlook on the world. Whether they are rich or poor, educated or not, has relatively little effect on that reality. Pundits should have a clearer understanding of this fundamental truth as they take stock of the presidential campaign in its closing weeks.
- Beyond God and Guns: Why the GOP May Lose the White Working Class | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- Obama to Congress in Weekly Address: Get Back in Town and Pass Some Bills | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- 8 Falsehoods, Lies and Misstatements From Romney Fundraising Video | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- How your personality predicts your vote (salon.com)
- 10 Rankest Hypocrisies of Mitt Romney and the Republican Party | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- Advertising on Television Rockets, as Super PACs Pour in the Dough: Total Spending $5 Billion | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- 10 Conservatives Who Have Praised American Slavery | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- Paul Ryan and Allies Dance on Grave of Slain U.S. Diplomat at Right-Wing Confab | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- Media Hacks: Why Our National Press Corps Is Failing the Public Abysmally | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- An elderly white voter hugged me.. she’d never seen a black American Republican before (thesun.co.uk)
Talk about broken election promises. Four years ago, after moderating his 11th debate, Jim Lehrer, the highly respected PBS veteran, said he would retire. Wednesday night in Denver he broke that promise, and the result was one of the most poorly moderated presidential debates in U.S. history.
Lehrer, 78, said he decided to take the helm once more after the Commission on Presidential Debates accepted a format he lobbied for: a format with few formal questions, in which the candidates challenge each other. It doesn’t work. The candidates don’t care to do it, and the moderator didn’t help.
Making matters worse, neither candidate spoke directly to camera. The audience at the University of Denver may have enjoyed it, but for tens of millions watching on TV, it was awkward and unsettling. Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney addressed most of their comments to the moderator rather than the home audience, meaning they were often looking off to the side. Only in his closing remarks did Romney wisely speak directly to viewers at home.
Lehrer supported the idea of cutting the number of questions from nine to six. Even at that, he was so unable to control the process that there was barely time for the final question.
Worse, Lehrer chose a style of questioning that is both unfair and usually a roadblock for the candidates. “What are the major differences between the two of you on jobs?” was his first question of the night. Almost all of the questions that followed asked about the “differences” – on education, on social security, etc. Candidates should never be asked to define their opponent’s positions, only their own. It’s up to the moderator to identify the differences, and Lehrer was unable or unwilling to do it.
“Do you have a question for President Obama?” Lehrer asked Romney early on. It was exactly what Lehrer asked John McCain in ’08. McCain said, “No.” Romney didn’t even bother with that; he simply delivered several minutes of talking points.
Lehrer said on a recent PBS broadcast that he favors a free-wheeling format in which the candidates question each other. They don’t like that, which is why, for example, Romney was never asked about his “47 percent” remark in which he said people who don’t pay federal income tax consider themselves victims, and Obama was never asked about his remark that if he didn’t turn the economy around he’d be a one term president.
The event was such bad television that many Americans, including the prized “undecided voters,” probably gave up and changed the channel. For those who stuck with it, Romney was the apparent winner – but more on style points than hard facts, most of which were never challenged by the president or the moderator.
The co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., told me two weeks ago that his group relied on Lehrer and Bob Schiefffer, 75, as moderators because they were impartial journalists who could be counted upon to interrupt when necessary and make the candidates stick to the facts. The CPD will now have to rethink the process of selecting moderators.
As to the content, much was written before the debate that Romney practiced far more than the president. It showed, particularly in the closing arguments, as Romney painted a clear picture of how his administration would differ from Obama’s, while the president seemed to be winging it. That ad-lib style hurt Clint Eastwood at the GOP convention and it hurt Obama in Denver.
Thanks to the hype, many Americans probably tuned in expecting a raft of “zingers” from Mitt Romney. There were few if any. Voters might have hoped to see the candidates go after each other. They really didn’t. Pundits prepared long lists of possible questions. None was asked.
There are still two more presidential debates, one on foreign affairs, the other using the so-called “town hall” format in which the questions come from undecided voters, selected by the Gallup Organization. Frank Fahrenkopf told me, “The public loves town halls, but the media hates them.”
After watching Jim Lehrer in Denver, even media know-it-alls might find themselves looking forward to giving the public a shot.
- PBS takes a bullet – Salon.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Jim Lehrer On Debate Moderating: My Job Was To ‘Stay Out Of The Way’ (huffingtonpost.com)
- Tough Reviews for Lehrer as Moderator (abcnews.go.com)
- Tough reviews for Jim Lehrer as debate moderator (kansascity.com)
- Jim Lehrer Biggest Loser in Debate? (abcnews.go.com)
- Dan Rather On Jim Lehrer’s Debate Moderation: ‘Not One Of His Better Nights’ (VIDEO) (huffingtonpost.com)
- Media piles on moderator Lehrer (politico.com)
- Jim Lehrer Lost the Presidential Debate (theatlanticwire.com)
- Jim Lehrer at Debate: Who Needs a Moderator? (newsy.com)
- Reviewing the debate on TV: Paging Jim Lehrer … (usatoday.com)
Do U.S. presidential debates matter?
By Nick Thompson, CNN
updated 6:10 AM EDT, Thu October 4, 2012
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will face off three times in person ahead of the 2012 U.S. presidential election on November 6.
Obama and Romney match wits
· Obama, Romney to debate domestic and foreign policy over three debates
· Telegenic John F. Kennedy outshined Richard Nixon in first debate in 1960
· Romney emerged victorius from primary season that included nearly 20 debates
· Then-candidate Obama easily handled Republican John McCain in 2008 debates
(CNN) – After months of talking about each other and their policies, the world finally got to see Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney go toe-to-toe on the same stage in the first of three televised debates ahead of the U.S. election.
Unlike other countries, such as the United Kingdom, where the prime minister must defend his policies under televised duress from the opposition nearly every week, face-to-face showdowns between the two men fighting for the White House only happen every four years.
And while debates rarely swing the outcome of an election, a gaffe — or a silver-tongued swipe at the opposition — under the bright lights can alter the perception of the two contenders, for better or worse.
What’s the history of U.S. presidential debates?
Presidential debates are a relatively recent phenomenon. The first televised debate was between Republican Richard Nixon and Democrat John F. Kennedy, on black-and-white TV in 1960.
Many people listening on the radio to that first of four Nixon-Kennedy debates thought Nixon had won – but on live TV, a tan and youthful-looking Kennedy trounced a sweaty, haggard Nixon (who’d recently suffered a staph infection) in the appearance department. While Nixon improved in later debates, Kennedy went on to win the election.
There were no debates again until Jimmy Carter took on Gerald Ford in 1976. Since then, the Republican and Democratic hopefuls have matched wits in a series of (usually three) debates every election year – and twice, in 1980 and 1992, an independent candidate has joined the duo onstage.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter refused to take part in the first debate with Ronald Reagan because John Anderson, an independent candidate, had been invited to take part. Carter’s boycott led to a dramatic decline in the anticipated viewershiip for that depate. The second was cancelled, and Anderson was wiped off the program for the third round several weeks later.
What are the debates about?
In recent election cycles, the three debates have consisted of a domestic policy debate, a foreign policy debate, and a general debate in a town hall format, where members of the audience also offer up questions. Vice presidential candidates also face off in a single debate in the run-up to the election.
Generally speaking, candidates are asked questions by a moderator, who in recent years has come from one of America’s major broadcast news networks. Candidates then have a set period of time for responses and rebuttals.
A coin-flip determines the order of answers at debates. Tonight Obama will answer first, but Romney will have the final word.
The dates and sites for the debates, which typically take place at universities across America, are chosen from a list of applicants by the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates.
Do debates even matter to the public?
While the debates offer Romney and Obama a chance to expand on their views and rebut each other’s plans directly, experts say that the vast majority of Americans have already decided who they’re voting for along party lines.
But although debates aren’t typically seen as deciding an election’s outcome, there have been a few exceptions over time.
Kennedy’s telegenic dominance of Nixon during the first televised debate helped swing momentum in the Democrat’s direction in 1960.
In a 1980 debate, facing a barrage of assertions and accusations from incumbent Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan coolly replied with a smile: “There you go again.” His famous retort momentarily took the wind out of Carter’s sails. After entering debate season behind in opinion polls, eventual winner Reagan left the podium with the advantage over Carter.
Sometimes it’s not the debate that hurts a candidate – it’s the post-game review. In 2000, cameras caught a visibly annoyed Al Gore sighing and shaking his head when George W. Bush spoke.
The clip was played over and over again and lampooned on television, to the point that “people began to project onto Gore a personality trait of just annoyance and irritation of people in general,” according to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. A clear favorite before the debates, Gore lost his lead during the debate season. He eventually lost the controversial election after the Supreme Court ruled in Bush’s favor.
Are Romney and Obama any good at debating?
As mentioned above, American politics don’t involve many head-to-head debates between Republicans and Democrats, but both candidates are seen as more than competent debaters.
Obama handled Republican John McCain in all three contests four years ago, says debate coach Todd Graham, staying on track in his arguments, showing poise, and refusing to take attacks on his policies personally.
Obama’s quick wit may have backfired on him during a 2008 Democratic primary debate. He responded to Hillary Clinton saying he was likeable with, “You’re likeable enough, Hillary.” The audience laughed, but many viewers saw the remark as a mean-spirited swipe.
Graham says despite Obama’s reputation as a great orator, his debate performances have not lived up to the standards of his speeches – and that at times the president can be awkward and long-winded in his debate answers.
Romney is currently the better-practiced of the two, having emerged victorious from a Republican primary season that featured nearly 20 debates. Graham says Romney is consistently solid, has great opening lines to questions, and has a firm grasp of the issues.
Romney’s biggest weakness, according to some experts, is that he often comes across as fake. Graham says Romney’s broad smile and “thank yous” following heated answers make it seems like “he’s practicing his speeches,” not debating his opponent.
Are debates about great politics or great theater?
Long stretches of presidential debates involve dry policy speeches, but it’s usually a single gaffe or clever one-liner that comes to define a debate in the annals of national memory.
Reagan was already the oldest president in history in 1984, and when asked during a debate about whether age would be an issue for him, the 73-year-old famously replied: “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” Even Democratic challenger Walter Mondale, then age 56, had to laugh.
Sometimes body language matters more than words in a debate. In 1992, President George H. W. Bush took a glance at his watch while an audience member was asking a question – a move that made Bush, whose re-election hopes were rapidly slipping away, seem uninterested in the concerns of the public.
John McCain sparked controversy when he referred to Obama as “that one” during the second 2008 presidential debate. At a dinner attended by both senators several days later, Obama joked that his first name was Swahili for “that one,” according to the New York Times.
Vice presidents and their counterparts have delivered just as many memorable lines as their bosses have over the years. Lloyd Bentsen’s sharp “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy” reprimand of Republican vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle in 1988 remains one of the all-time greats — along with Perot running mate James Stockdale’s “Who am I? Why am I here?” debate opener in 1992, which drew guffaws from the audience.
A bad enough gaffe can help derail your campaign long before the first primary votes are cast, as Republican Rick Perry showed in late 2011.
At a primary debate in Michigan, Perry became the first candidate in history to say “oops” during a debate after forgetting the name of the third government agency he’d pledged to cut.
When pressed for an answer, Perry said: “The third agency of government I would do away with, the Education … uhh the Commerce, and, let’s see. I can’t. The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.”
After the debate, Perry owned up to the gaffe as only a Texas governor could: “I’m sure glad I had my boots on because I sure stepped in it out there.”
- U.S. Presidential Debate–an Observation on about 15 Minutes (leiterreports.typepad.com)
- Factbox: Quotes from first U.S. presidential debate (news.yahoo.com)
- LIVE at 8:30 p.m.: U.S. Presidential Debate (livenews.thestar.com)
- Japan’s Nikkei snaps four-session losing streak in reaction to U.S. presidential debate – Reuters (al.com)
- U.S. Presidential Debate livestream: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney face off in Denver (news.nationalpost.com)
- Follow our live coverage of the first U.S. presidential debate (theglobeandmail.com)
- Recap: A play-by-play of the first U.S. presidential debate (theglobeandmail.com)
- Do U.S. presidential debates matter? (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- YouTube to live-stream U.S. presidential debates for first time (earththreats.com)
- How To Watch The U.S. Presidential Debates Online (readwriteweb.com)