Wolraich: Obama at the Gates of... Gates
Dr. C: In Praise of Writing Binges
Maiello: Gatsby Doesn't Grate
Obama lost the first debate on style---low energy, low engagement, and not parrying Romney's staccato speech and rote memorization of soliloquy and facts. I think Obama's deficiencies in style are the easiest things to correct in tomorrow's debate. What seems more important are the structure and forethought in specific attacks on Romney and how not to have internally competing strategies.
There is always the possibility that Romney would shape-shift again and perhaps introduce something completely from left field---how about, for example, a program to refinance student loans, or a new kind of health care guarantee? Or attempt to shift the debate to the Benghazi tragedy. I hope that the Obama team has already gamed some of these possible outliers. But my guess is that Romney will double down on his attacks on Obama's record, try to exploit his newfound Daddy-will take-care-of-business role, and further muddle the arguments on tax reform, Medicare and "Obamacare."
I view the Biden debate as kind of a tag team effort, especially with respect to the abortion issue---which I regard as one of the three essential attack lines. Ryan's statements on abortion put on display the stark realities, maybe for the first time, of restricting abortions to "exceptions" of rape, incest and health of the mother. The burden of proof would be shifted inexorably to the woman seeking an abortion---guilty until proved innocent---how does that square with our constitution?
And what doctor is going to perform a procedure for which he might be criminally liable---an intimidation of the medical profession which is exactly the purpose of the "exception" language.
I suggest that the second line of attack on Romney's should be his campaign strategy of withholding information---for example, 1) on Romney's personal income taxes, 2) exactly what deductions would be part of his tax plan, 3) exactly how do you pay for the elimination of preexisting conditions. This attack line gets at Romney's hypocrisy and flip flopping without actually saying so. Any frontal attack on hypocrisy, flip flopping and lack of Presidential caliber should, imo, come at the next debate, the foreign policy debate, not this one. The problem with using the flip flop attack in tomorrow's debate is that it conflicts with the new powerful and essential argument on abortion---that you better believe what Romney is saying to you---he means what he says, women!
The third line of attack in my scenario is Romney's claim that he is a job creator and the attendant claims that a top down strategy of cutting taxes and eliminating regulations will create jobs. I'm surprised that there has not already been a frontal attack on Romney's job creation claim earlier in the primary campaign that he created 100 K jobs. David Stockman has provided perhaps the first succinct analysis of Romney's record at Bain in a pre-published chapter of his new book ---Deformation--(accessible at the Daily Beast). For example, when Bain sold Staples, it had 1100 employees. Today, Staples has 90 K employees, 40 K of which are part time. Romney's claim that he created 100 K jobs is weak and is only supported by the Staples example which in itself is disingenuous. When Romney responds to the 100 K jobs attack, especially if he refers to the Staples example, the stage would be set for a succession of Bain attacks, many of which are so well facilitated by Stockman's research. (Many here would agree with Stockman's tie-in to exuberant Fed policies.)
A suggestion for Obama's opening attack:
"We are in an economic recovery. The question is how to make it better, not kill it with failed policies of the past. Governor Romney would have us elect him without any facts being provided. He is attempting to sell you a used car with no information on the lights, brakes and air conditioning. He has given no facts on which deductions he would eliminate in order to pay for his tax cuts, No facts on how he would pay for the elimination of preexisting conditions, and breathtakingly incomplete facts about his own tax returns.In a presidential election a man's tax returns tell us much about his personal behavior that we otherwise wouldn't know. To make his election argument even more incomplete, the Governor has a weak job performance record as Governor of Massachusetts. And to top it all off---my opponent has made the fantastical claim that he created 100 K private sector jobs---a claim which he has never substantiated."