Election 2012

Salad Days for the Gun Industry

Time to stock up! (Flickr/ElCapitanBSC)
This week's town hall debate featured only one really surprising question, on gun violence. In any other election one might have expected a question about this topic, but both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have been completely silent on the issue, so in all likelihood neither one of them expected it. And they gave answers that should have warmed the heart of any gun advocate. Obama, whose action on guns has consisted of signing two laws expanding gun rights (you can now take your guns into national parks and on Amtrak), said that "what I'm trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally." When his turn came, Romney gave his nod to the standard pro-gun line, "I'm not in favor of new pieces of legislation on guns," and went on to say that the real problem is single-parent homes. So if you're a gun advocate, these are really the best of times. On one hand, you have a president who has not and will not do anything to restrict gun rights. Yet on...

Gallup Gulp

Undoubtedly, there are some liberals panicking over the latest Gallup tracking poll, which shows Mitt Romney with a seven-point lead over President Obama, 51 percent to 44 percent. Before confining themselves to despair, however, liberals should remember a few things: First, individual polls aren’t accurate measures of the state of the race. As more and more polls are released—and there is more and more noise—it’s important to pay attention to averages . Even something as crude as the Real Clear Politics average—which brings together the most recent polls—is useful in reducing the influence of outliers. Second, Gallup is a well-regarded survey outfit, but that doesn’t mean its polls are perfect. This isn’t to say that Gallup is “skewed,” but rather that Gallup has had erratic results over the last few election cycles. In 2010, for example, Gallup showed Republicans leading on the generic ballot by 15 points; the actual margin was 6.8 points. Similar disparities were seen in the 2008,...

And On to the Next Pseudo-Issue We Go

He's ready to deliver. (Flickr/Just a Prarie Boy)
So remember how the question of whether Barack Obama said the right words at the right time about the Benghazi attack was the most important thing happening in the world and a burgeoning scandal that we absolutely had to get to the bottom of lest Americans' faith in our democratic system be destroyed? Eh, not so much : In the post-debate spin room Tuesday night, Romney campaign aides and surrogates tried to make up for a botched exchange on the Libya attacks by promising to aggressively prosecute President Obama's handling of the situation — but 36 hours later, no such prosecution has materialized. Instead, Mitt Romney spent the next day on the stump criticizing the president for his lack of a second-term agenda, and conspicuously avoiding the Libya issue. Asked why the issue was absent from Romney's public remarks, senior adviser Kevin Madden told BuzzFeed the campaign decided to focus their post-debate Virginia swing on exposing Obama's lack of specific proposals, and challenge him...

What Mitt Romney Will Actually Do On Abortion

Flickr/OZinOh
During Tuesday's debate, Mitt Romney did a sneaky little pivot on the issue of contraception coverage that surely went over the head of most of the people watching. What Romney supports is a Republican bill, the Blunt amendment, that would allow any employer to refuse to include coverage for contraception in employees' health insurance. For many women, that would mean they would be shut out of getting contraception through the plans that, we should note, they paid for themselves (insurance coverage isn't a favor your employer does for you, it's part of your compensation that you get in return for your labor, which means you paid for it). But when it came up in the debate, Romney said this: "I don't believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not. And I don't believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care of not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives. And—and the—and the...

"Don't Worry, He's Lying!"

Yesterday, I did an online debate with Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights , for New York magazine. We went through a wide range of topics, but one thing we stuck on—for a while—was the issue of Mitt Romney’s political commitments. Bissinger refused to believe that Romney is the conservative he’s campaigned as for the last 18 months, and he insisted Romney would be more moderate than he’s appeared if elected president. Here’s the nut of his argument: [T]ake a look at Romney’s record as Mass governor. He was not some crazoid conservative. He crossed party lines. He provided the template for Obamacare, for God’s sake. Romney has at least shown some ability to cross lines, however weak. Obama has not. He is not politically adept. He is not good at crossing the aisle. I can only go on what I have read, but he does not like politics and all the gab and bullshit. Politics is gab and bullshit. So I think Romney has a much better chance of appealing to Dems than Obama will ever have...

Voting While Trans

(AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Here’s the thing I loved about talking with Mara Keisling this week: her flat-out declaration that transpeople are winning their civil rights and cultural acceptance battles. I’m crazily Tiggerish on lesbian and gay issues: we’ve come so far so unbelievably fast, over my lifetime, that some days I bounce with glee. But given that the trans part of the LGBT coalition got started about 15 years later and has had very different challenges, I was still an Eeyore about their efforts. So it made my day to hear Keisling, the National Center for Transgender Equality executive director, declare a coming victory. “Science is on our side, first of all,” she explained. “Common sense is on our side. Decency is on our side. When you get that combination, you win every time.” But of course, winning is not the same as has won— which is why we were discussing the right to vote, and whether transpeople will be able to exercise it this year. Until NCTE launched its “ Voting While Trans ” initiative, it...

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...

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