Paul Krugman on The Real Referendum:
Voters are, in effect, being asked to deliver a verdict on the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society, on Social Security, Medicare and, yes, Obamacare, which represents an extension of that legacy. Will they vote for politicians who want to replace Medicare with Vouchercare, who denounce Social Security as “collectivist” (as Paul Ryan once did), who dismiss those who turn to social insurance programs as people unwilling to take responsibility for their lives?
If the polls are any indication, the result of that referendum will be a clear reassertion of support for the safety net, and a clear rejection of politicians who want to return us to the Gilded Age. But here’s the question: Will that election result be honored?
I ask that question because we already know what Mr. Obama will face if re-elected: a clamor from Beltway insiders demanding that he immediately return to his failed political strategy of 2011, in which he made a Grand Bargain over the budget deficit his overriding priority. Now is the time, he’ll be told, to fix America’s entitlement problem once and for all.
E.J. Dionne Jr. on Defining the debate game:
Paradoxically, Obama’s advantages over Romney create the president’s biggest debate challenge. He does not want to take great risks because he doesn’t have to. Above all, he wants to avoid a major blunder that would dominate the post-debate news and replace Romney’s problems and mistakes as the principal elements in the media’s narrative.
Yet concentrating too much on avoiding mistakes could itself prove perilous. An excessively cautious performance could give Romney an opening to take over the debate and make the president look reactive. If Romney showed one thing in the primaries, it is that he can be ferocious when faced with the need to dispatch an opponent. Recall the pummeling Romney gave Newt Gingrich in a Jan. 26 debate before the Florida primary.
Charles Krauthammer Jr. offers the same tired old rant without even dressing it in new clothes:
Obama seems not even to understand what happened. He responded with a groveling address to the U.N. General Assembly that contained no less than six denunciations of a crackpot video, while offering cringe-worthy platitudes about the need for governments to live up to the ideals of the United Nations.
The United Nations being an institution of surpassing cynicism and mendacity, the speech was so naive it would have made a fine middle-school commencement address. Instead, it was a plaintive plea by the world’s alleged superpower to be treated nicely by a roomful of the most corrupt, repressive, tin-pot regimes on earth.
Yet Romney totally fumbled away the opportunity.
Keli Goff asks Will Romney Reach out to Racists in Debates?
Now the Romney campaign finds itself at a crossroads. With just over a month to go before the election, the question becomes: Will he be willing to do what McCain wasn’t, in order to win at any cost? Will he give in to the temptation and begin lacing his ads and language with messages to appeal to those who miss the days of the Southern strategy — and the days of a white Republican president?
We’ve already seen him begin flirting with the racially inflammatory line by making a joke about his birth certificate that many saw as a reference to the manufactured controversy surrounding the president’s birth. Romney’s language in the debates will confirm whether or not he is willing to cross that line in the quest for victory.
Michael Kinsley on The unsuccessful ethic of success:
If, as seems possible, Mitt Romney is not elected U.S. president on Nov. 6, he will not be the first presidential candidate to run on the issue of competence and then lose because he ran an incompetent campaign. He will not even be the first governor of Massachusetts to do so.
In 1988, Michael Dukakis, who was ahead in the polls just after the Democratic convention, declared in his acceptance speech: “This election isn’t about ideology. It’s about competence.” Then he proceeded to blow his large lead and lose to George H.W. Bush, who turned out to be a tougher old bird than anyone suspected.
It would be hard to think of two politicians more different than Dukakis and Romney. […]
Even if Romney wins the election, because of some unpredicted development between now and Nov. 6, the judgment on his campaign is fixed: It has been terrible. Despite his success in business, he’s a lousy politician. And if he loses the election, that will be a comment not just on his campaign strategy but also on his whole way of thinking.
Carl Hiaasen checks out the long reach of a couple of meddlesome sibs in Billionaire Koch brothers try to buy state’s court:
The new stealth campaign against three Florida Supreme Court justices is being backed by those meddling right-wing billionaires from Wichita, Charles and David Koch.
They couldn’t care less about Florida, but they love to throw their money around.
Last week they uncorked the first of a series of commercials from their political action committee, Americans for Prosperity. The targets are Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince.
They were three of the five-vote majority that in 2010 knocked down a half-baked amendment slapped together by state lawmakers seeking to nullify the federal Affordable Health Care Act.
The Florida Supreme Court upheld lower court decisions in finding that the proposed amendment contained “misleading and ambiguous language,” the hallmark of practically everything produced by this Legislature. Stoned chimpanzees have a keener grasp of constitutional law.
Elizabeth Kolbert shakes her head over the lack of interest over climate change in the presidential contest:
You might have thought that with the Arctic melting, the U.S. in the midst of what will almost certainly be the warmest year on record, and more than sixty per cent of the lower forty-eight states experiencing “moderate to exceptional” drought, at least one of the candidates would feel compelled to speak out about the issue. If that’s the case, though, you probably live in a different country. Remarkably—or, really, by this point, predictably—the only times Mitt Romney has brought up the topic of climate change, it has been to mock President Obama for claiming, back in 2008, that he was going to try to do something about it.
Next week, Romney and Obama will meet for their first debate, in Denver. There’s no particular reason to believe that they will be asked about climate change, but here’s hoping—because by the time of the 2016 debates, the Arctic sea ice may already be history.
Robert Robb says Romney must improve economic pitch:
I think that the only thing that matters in the first debate is whether Romney can convince about 5 percent to 8 percent of the electorate currently skeptical that he can reasonably be expected to do better on the economy. If he can, the race returns to within the margin of error and becomes a turnout slugfest.
To do that, Romney needs a better case than he has mounted so far, and it will be difficult to come up with one at this late date.
Romney’s pitch so far has been: Obama’s economy is bad. I’m a successful businessman who knows how the economy works and can fix it.
Among swing voters, however, Romney’s business experience is seen as much as a negative as a positive.
David Moberg urges a tougher stance from Democrats in “Going Nuclear” on Class:
[S]upport for Obama does not follow class lines. Overwhelmingly, African-Americans and Latinos, who are disproportionately working class, say they will vote for Obama. But in the NBC poll, only 34 percent of white registered voters without a college degree say they will vote for Obama, which would be—if it holds—the lowest percentage for that group of voters for a Democratic presidential candidate since George McGovern’s 1972 loss.
Those white working-class voters would personally benefit from a more progressive tax system, more support for education and protection of the Social Security system. And should Obama lose because many white working-class voters failed to cast ballots in their own interests, it would raise the urgent question of why the Democrats have failed to make their case to the white working class, especially when polls on issues show strong majorities open to a progressive economic message that is relevant to their lives. It’s not too late for Obama, even now, especially against Romney and Ryan, the candidates of the 1%.
Sadhbh Walshe follows the money in How lawmakers and lobbyists keep a lock on the private prison business:
The private prison companies insist that their lobbying and campaign donations are above board and legally compliant. They are corporations in the business of making profit, and so you cannot really blame them for doing whatever it takes to achieve that end.
It is their political enablers, the lawmakers who accept millions of dollars from these corporations, who ought to be doing some serious soul-searching. Of all the public services to be outsourced, incarceration, where the state deprives a person of their liberty and assumes responsibility for his or her mental and physical well-being, is not one to be auctioned for campaign contributions.
James Joyner ponders why America’s Scandalous Drone War Goes Unmentioned in the Campaign:
Despite the increasing intensity with which this issue is being debated in foreign policy wonk circles, the discussion has been all but absent in the ongoing presidential campaign. Terrorism is not among the twenty-six “issues” discussed on Mitt Romney’s website and the treatment of “Afghanistan & Pakistan” doesn’t mention the drone policy. To the extent that the issue is getting any traction on the domestic political front, it’s coming from the likes of Glenn Greenwald and others on the president’s left. One suspects that’s just fine with Obama, whose ability to tout the fact that “we got bin Laden” has put him in the unique position among Democrats of having the edge on national security issues.
Indeed, Obama has shrewdly—some might say cynically—positioned himself to the right on foreign policy, thereby insulating himself from the “weak on defense” canard that has plagued his party going back to the days of George McGovern.