Vox Pop

The Prospect's politics blog

12 Million Jobs and a Unicorn!

(Bluegal)
Mitt Romney’s entire presidential campaign is premised on the idea that—as a former businessman—he is best qualified to fix the economy. It went unnoticed, but while talking tax reform, President Obama pushed against that with an effective attack on the shaky numbers behind Romney’s tax plan: Now, Governor Romney was a very successful investor. If somebody came to you, Governor, with a plan that said, here, I want to spend $7 or $8 trillion, and then we’re going to pay for it, but we can’t tell you until maybe after the election how we’re going to do it, you wouldn’t take such a sketchy deal and neither should you, the American people, because the math doesn’t add up. Since then, “sketchy deal” has become something of a catchphrase for the president; to wit, in an Iowa speech yesterday, he used it to contrast Romney’s plan with “deals” of the past: Romney still benefits from a presumption of competence, and Obama would be well-served by hammering on the essential vapidness of Romney’s...

Jen Rubin: The Beltway's Waldorf and Statler

Secretary Hillary Clinton took responsibility for the situation in Benghazi on Monday , noting to the press that the “president and the vice-president wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals.” There are a number of appropriate reactions this statement. One could assume it’s a bit of politicking during election season, an attempt to take the heat off the president and help his re-election bid. One could see it as a diplomatic move, aimed at quelling tensions in the Middle East. One could take it at face value. Or, one could lose her ever-loving mind and accuse Clinton of betraying feminism. The last option was the one chosen by WaPo's Jennifer Rubin, whose writing has become synonymous with “mindless partisan bleating.” Rubin responded to Clinton on Twitter with some creative uses of punctuation: First Bill humiliates her and now Obama does.. Hillary no feminist, more like doormat — Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) October 16, 2012...

The Big Finish

All across America on Tuesday night, a little after 10:30, Democrats were leaning forward in their seats, rubbing their hands in eager anticipation while Republicans covered their eyes and winced over what was about to happen. Mitt Romney, after spending the night treating his opponent, the moderator, and the truth with ugly contempt, had just done the nicest thing you could imagine: He’d offered President Obama a kind invitation to close the festivities by invoking the Republican’s most devastating blunder of the campaign, his “47 percent” remarks at a fundraiser in Boca Raton last May. Not once, but twice, Romney had used his own closing moments to claim that he cares about “100 percent” of Americans. Obama graciously accepted the gift, turning his final answer into the piece de resistance of an evening when he hit every note he needed to hit—and turned the confident Romney of Denver into a caged animal, prowling the stage with a fierce scowl and bickering with the moderator rather...

It's All In the Words

Flickr/Pierre Metivier
When Barack Obama and Mitt Romney got into their little back-and-forth over Benghazi last night, I tweeted that it would probably going to get more press attention than anything that happened in the debate, yet of all the topics they addressed, it may be the least relevant to which of these two would make a better president. And here we are. Think about this: the argument isn't about what sort of policy we should be pursuing toward Libya, or how we can address anti-Americanism or terrorism, or what sort of security our embassies and consulates should have. Instead, it's about which words Obama said on which day . Seriously. And you wonder why people are cynical about politics. All along, Republicans have been acting as though within hours of the attack, had Obama said, "This was a terroristic terror attack, full of terrorizing terror," then ... what, exactly? The perpetrators would have turned themselves in? Potential al-Qaeda recruits would have said, "Hold on—this is a terrorist...

No, Candy Crowley Did Not Show Any Favoritism

Candy Crowley questions President Obama during last night's debate
Before last night's debate, both the Obama and Romney camps expressed their concern that moderator Candy Crowley might go rogue and act like something resembling a journalist, not merely keeping time and introducing questioners but interjecting to get clarifications and ask follow-ups. Once the debate was over, it was only conservatives complaining about her. Some found her biased from start to finish, but all criticized her for her intervention on the somewhat absurd question of what words President Obama used and when to describe the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. But a close look at what went on in the debate reveals that Crowley was actually judiciously even-handed, and if anything, may have done more favors for Romney. Before we discuss how, here are some of the reactions from the right: "We're done with the second presidential debate, but it was apparent 45 minutes in that between the questions Crowley chose and her handling of who was allowed to speak and when, that...

Romney Decides to Make Stuff Up on Abortion

Mitt Romney is no stranger to shifting positions on reproductive rights, but even for him, his latest move is audacious. In an ad released today, he simply denies that he’s ever held conservative positions on contraception and abortion: If you can’t watch videos, here’s what the narrator says: “You know, those ads saying Mitt Romney would ban all abortions and contraceptions seemed a bit extreme, so I looked into it. Turns out, Romney doesn’t oppose contraception at all. In fact, he thinks abortion should be an option in cases of rape, incest, and to save a mother’s life.” It’s hard to definitively say that this isn’t true, because Romney has been intentionally vague about where he stands on these issues. His website says that he is “pro-life,” “believes the right next step is for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade ,” and supports the “Hyde Amendment,” which bars the use of federal funds for abortion. There’s no mention of exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother...

Obama Said Knock You Out

(Sipa via AP Images)
What made the first presidential debate so shocking—and what sent liberals into complete panic—was the fact that, for the first time in four years, President Obama had to face an equal—and he didn’t seem to know how to respond. He looked less like the president, and more like another politician, who might not be ready for another four years on the job. Last night’s town hall-style debate gave Obama a chance to sound presidential again—and he took it. On every subject—and especially foreign policy—Obama sounded like someone who was proud of his record, ready to defend it, and eager to continue the fight for another term. For the first time in a long time, Obama defended the core policies of his administration, while offering a portrait for the next four years, if he’s re-elected. As he said to one audience member, “The commitments I’ve made, I’ve kept. And those that I haven’t been able to keep, it’s not for lack of trying and we’re going to get it done in a second term.” Before the...

A Binder Full of Beers

(Sipa via AP Images)
Monica Potts F or Republican supporters of Mitt Romney in Denver—site of Romney’s triumph in the first debate over the president two weeks ago—Tuesday night’s town hall was marked with energized anticipation. Romney had rescued them from a lackluster summer, and they were ready to celebrate even before moderator Candy Crowley introduced her first Town Hall participant. Around 50 people came to The Tavern downtown straight after work for a debate-watching party held by the Romney campaign. It began at 7 p.m. for those of us in Denver, which meant one thing to these voters: Happy Hour. Susan Rutherford and Brian Wong, friends who both work for a health-care company based here, sat in the middle of the bar eating appetizers across from a wall of seven flat-screen TVs, all turned to Fox News. Rutherford said the first debate had not only energized voters, but probably tilted more undecided voters into the Romney camp as well. “They saw more of the truth of who Romney is,” she says. “I...

Wed, Oct. 17 Electoral Vote Predictor

Supreme Court Refuses to Block Early Voting in Ohio With a one-sentence decision reading "The application for stay presented to Justice Kagan and by her referred to the Court is denied," the U.S. Supreme Court has extricated itself from a case that increased the chances that President Obama would win Ohio and the election. Briefly recapping the situation, early voting has already started in Ohio. However, the Republican Secretary of State, Jon Husted, decided to close the polls on the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before election day except for military families. They would be allowed to vote then, but nobody else would. The Obama campaign took the state to court on the grounds that there was no valid reason to allow one class of voters to get three extra days and not others. Husted knew very well, of course, that the majority of people who vote the weekend before the election are Democrats, many of them lower-income voters who can't take off from work on election day. The Sixth...

A Bumper Crop of Pot Referenda

(Flickr/Torben Bjørn Hansen)
In the halls of state legislatures, few folks laugh at the exploits of Cheech and Chong or Harold and Kumar. There is a bipartisan consensus that marijuana laws are political kryptonite, as if touching the topic of drug legalization, even medicinally, might prompt immediate backlash. The lack of mainstream support is surprising, given that sizeable groups in both parties have long clamored for an end to the “War on Drugs.” Some drug war critics point to the costs, both societal and budgetary, associated with imprisoning millions of people for a crime that doesn’t seem to hurt anyone. Others like the fiscal possibilities for marijuana legalization: If pot is legal, it will be taxable, and at a time when state governments are starved for cash, any possibility for new revenue is an opportunity. Though mainstream lawmakers remain reluctant, citizens seem to be warming to the idea of marijuana as something other than an illegal substance. (Maybe stoner movies have had some success.) A 2011...

The Town Hall Debate: A Binder of GIFs

Why does the Republican always win the coin toss? Mitt promises a job to a soon-to-be-college-grad. Mitt says that Obama bankrupted the auto industry. Obama decides to show up this time. The candidates both love "clean" coal. Mitt makes "middle-class tax cuts" sound better than Obama does. Obama tries to parse Mitt's deficit math. Apparently, our economy is on "the road to Greece"? Obama on the way back to his stool: Mitt's "binders full of women": Every woman watching: Mitt says the time-keepers are broken. Candy shuts him down. Mitt says "every woman in America should have access to contraceptives." OMG CHINA IS SO SCARY. Mitt refers to "undocumented illegals." But Obama also says he's into deportation. Obama owns his answer about recent terrorism in Libya ... ... and Candy's fact-check backs him up. Obama calls for a comprehensive gun-control strategy. Mitt's answer to gun violence: marriage. Obama to Romney: .

Stop Gun Violence: Get Married

Anthony Behar/Sipa USA (Sipa via AP Images)
During tonight's second presidential debate, when asked what he would do to limit the availability of assault rifles and stem gun violence, Mitt Romney said he would “change the culture of violence.” How would he do that, you wonder? We need moms and dads helping raise kids. Wherever possible, the — the benefit of having two parents in the home — and that's not always possible. A lot of great single moms, single dads. But gosh, to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone — that's a great idea because if there's a two-parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically. The opportunities that the child will — will be able to achieve increase dramatically. So we can make changes in the way our culture works to help bring people away from violence and give them opportunity and bring them in the American system. Of course, gun violence does not correlate with marriage rates. Via Andrew Seaman at Reuters, Matthew...

Game, Set, Obama

(AP Photo/David Goldman) President Barack Obama laughs as he talks with audience members after the second presidential debate at Hofstra University. President Obama did what he needed to do tonight. He took the debate to Mitt Romney. He was relaxed, even jaunty, as he scored one point after another. He seemed to be enjoying himself at Romney’s expense. He looked more comfortable and commanding as the debate wore on, while Romney looked more stiff, edgy, and salesman-like. Obama needed to remind voters that Romney is a very rich man out of touch with regular people, and he did that well. He got in Romney’s face and he got under his skin, but stopped just short of being overly aggressive. You could tell right from the beginning that this was a very different Obama. When Romney touted his five-point plan to fix the economy, Obama responded scornfully, “Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan, he has a one-point plan” and that plan is more tax breaks for the very rich who are...

Advantage Mitt?

Everyone knows that Mitt Romney is stiff and awkward, which is why everyone also knows that he’ll do poorly at tonight’s town hall debate. Of the two candidates, Barack Obama is supposed to be the one who is friendly and personable with ordinary people. Even with his poor performance two weeks ago, the assumption is that Obama will benefit from the change in format. But will he? The fact is that there are serious pitfalls for the president tonight. The first, of course, is that if he doesn’t do well, he'll give Romney a chance to solidify his gains with another solid win. There’s also the chance that he overcompensates for his initial loss, and is too aggressive against the Republican nominee. In which case, he comes across as unpresidential—and a little bit desperate. Romney, on the other hand, doesn’t need to do much to come out ahead. He's already proven that he can go head-to-head with Obama; tonight's task is to show that he can “connect” with voters in a way that’s escaped him...

Bums on the Bus

Courtesy Faith in Public Life
Yesterday, the Nuns On the Bus—the summer’s most devout media darlings, who gained notoriety for their two-week, nine-state bus tour to protest Congressman Paul Ryan’s proposed budget plan—got a rude surprise in Marietta, Ohio. In the midst of a five-day bus tour of the state to protest proposed cuts to social services, the sisters were greeted by a group of Romney-Ryan supporters toting signs with slogans proclaiming, “Bums on the Bus: You Are Not Catholic,” and “Romney/Ryan, Yes; Fake Nuns, No,” ostensibly taking issue with the nuns’ focus on affordable healthcare and income inequality instead of pro-life issues. Sister Monica McGloin (who is pro-life), a Dominican Sister of Hope from Cincinnati participating in the bus tour, had this to say on-site in response to the protestors: Pro-life for us means that we do concern ourselves with living wage, just wage, access to healthcare, education, food, housing, care for our seniors, Medicare and other kinds of healthcare programs that are...

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