Averting a Nightmare

Tomorrow is D-Day. The decision will be made, after a marathon campaign season. I will be speaking at a local Republican Club on Wednesday evening, giving my analysis of the election results. I hope it will be a joyous analysis.

If you have been watching any of the final campaign events, you should have no trouble spotting the difference between the candidates at this juncture. Obama sounds pugnacious, angry, even a little resentful. He resorted to the word “revenge” when calling upon his followers to vote. Revenge? For what? Romney is not in power. He hasn’t done anything for which one should seek revenge. That comment showcased a petty incumbent who seems offended that anyone would even dare to knock him off his perch.

Romney, on the other hand, has been quite winsome in his speaking, exuding optimism for the future and a quiet confidence that he will be able to get the job done. His crowds, unlike Obama’s, have been huge and enthusiastic. He’s now even foraying into formerly forbidden territory, making stops in Pennsylvania. Polls show he has pulled even in states like Ohio, Michigan, and Iowa. He’s slightly ahead in Wisconsin and making it a tight race in Minnesota, of all places. It may be somewhat clichéd to talk of momentum, but it is clearly visible on the Romney side.

Obama has so much to answer for—from a terrible economy to a government takeover of healthcare that threatens religious liberty, from a futile stimulus that spread its money to his cronies in the unions and green industries to a foreign policy that is unraveling. Libya is not going away, no matter how he tries to ignore it. Even with all the help he’s received from an obedient media, the word is getting out that his sympathies for Muslim extremists led to inadequate security and death. The word is getting out that he failed to protect our diplomats. The mainstream media no longer holds a monopoly on the news:

Charles Woods, the father of Tyrone Woods, one of the slain ex-Navy seals who gave his life to save others, has spoken out frankly about how the president’s inaction is responsible for his son’s death. Does anyone remember when Cindy Sheehan tried to make life miserable for George Bush when her son was killed in action? Recall how she became a media celebrity? Not so Charles Woods.

Evangelicals, despite Romney’s Mormonism, have rallied to his side because of Obama’s war on Biblical morality, from abortion on demand to same-sex marriage to trying to force Christian organizations to violate their deeply held beliefs with an Obamacare mandate. Obama has tried hard to accuse Republicans of a war on women. Nothing could be more hypocritical:

This may be the most important presidential election in American history because we’ve never before had a president so eager to transform America into a socialist utopia. If he succeeds in holding on to his office, the next four years will be nightmarish for those of us who want righteousness to prevail. The nightmare needs to be averted. I believe it can be. I pray it can be.

The Senate: The Key to a Genuine Victory

Most of the polls are looking good for Romney five days away from the election. Perhaps the most encouraging are the polls taken of the early voters. Gallup has Romney ahead nationwide 52-45 among those voters. This is particularly positive since the Obama strategy was to get early voters out in mass. Maybe he has, but Republicans seem to be doing even better at it.

There are some polls that are still putting Obama ahead in key swing states, but the internals of those polls show the continuing oversampling of Democrats. For instance, one poll says Obama is four points ahead in Pennsylvania, but when you look at the sample, you see it gives a +13 for Democrats. That’s rather ludicrous. Even in 2008, Obama won Pennsylvania by only +7. Are we really supposed to believe the Democrat turnout will be that high this year? Are we supposed to ignore the renewed enthusiasm on the Republican side?

Of course, even if Romney should triumph, that victory would be severely diminished if Republicans don’t take both houses of Congress. It’s nearly unanimous among analysts that they will maintain control of the House, but the real struggle will be for the Senate. If Romney’s win is large enough, his coattails will probably pull enough Republicans into the Senate to allow them to become the majority. If the opposite should happen, we will once again be stuck in a gridlocked situation—the Senate, controlled by Democrats, will balk at any and all changes the administration might want to make.

So the key to a genuine victory is to take not only the presidency but the Senate as well.

It’s worth pointing out that we have strayed from the original intent of the Founders for how our senators are chosen. The Constitution arranged for the state legislatures to choose the senators, not the people at large. The people already had their representatives in the House. The purpose of the Senate was to establish a body that would represent state legislatures and the laws passed at the state level.

During the Progressive Era [did it ever really end?] reformers agitated for a popular vote for senators, claiming it would be more democratic and that it would prove a remedy to the corruption that sometimes came to the forefront via state politics. The progressive faith in the intelligence and honesty of the people as opposed to the state legislatures [who, by the way, were elected by the people] led them to think that corruption would be contained if the people chose the senators instead. Is anyone really going to argue that corruption has been curbed by this alteration?

When the Seventeenth Amendment—direct election of senators—was ratified in 1913, the state legislatures lost their representation at the national level. No longer would senators have to answer to the state legislatures for their actions. No longer did they have to pay much attention to laws passed by those legislatures. They were no longer accountable to the legislatures but to the people. The job of senator changed from being a representative of state laws to being a representative of the people, even though the people already had their direct representatives in the House.

Some may say, “So what?” Why worry about a technicality like that? Well, it’s much more than a technicality. Let me offer a couple examples of how this has changed the course of the nation.

First, we have seen a slew of legislation emanating from Congress that puts the burden on the states to come up with funding for various initiatives. These laws are referred to as unfunded mandates. Now, if a senator had to answer directly to his state legislature for his actions, how many unfunded mandates do you think would pass Congress?

A more pernicious example has to do with the confirmation of justices to the federal courts, up to and including the Supreme Court. The Senate is the tribunal that considers presidential appointments to the courts. Senators, when considering judges, don’t have to take into account their state laws before voting on their confirmation. In 1973, forty-four states had restrictions on abortion. One Supreme Court case—the infamous Roe v. Wade—in one ruling wiped out all forty-four of those state laws. The Court declared abortion a “right” that applied nationwide. If the senators had to answer to their state legislatures and were responsible for protecting their state laws, they might have given greater scrutiny to candidates for the courts. They might have rejected some whose background and judicial philosophy would have led to the overturning of those laws restricting abortion.

In a very real sense, the Seventeenth Amendment is partially responsible for the slaughter of approximately 55 million babies since 1973.

I would like to see the Seventeenth Amendment repealed and balance restored to the federal system. I would argue for returning to the original intent of the Founders. Give back to the states the representation they have lost in the Congress.

One more point: if state legislatures still chose their senators, there would be no drama this year. Republicans control the majority of the fifty state legislatures, and they would be sending Republican senators to Washington, thus providing the margin needed to take control of the Senate.

The decisions we make in the past sometimes come back to hurt us in the present. Now we’ll just have to wait and see what transpires next Tuesday, but it would have been so much easier if we had never challenged the wisdom of the Founders in the first place.

When Winning Is All That Matters

According to some accounts, President Obama was shocked that people thought he lost the first debate. He left the stage thinking he had won. He was probably the only person on his team who thought so. It testifies to the bubble he seems to live in. Ever since that seminal event, the polls have been moving in Romney’s favor. I wonder if it has yet occurred to Obama that he might actually lose this race?

If he’s going to pull this out, he’s going to need an even greater turnout than in 2008, but none of the data support that expectation. Where is he going to find those extra votes?

Perhaps one of his followers can come up with an ingenious plan to increase his vote total:

While that scenario may sound far-fetched, I urge you to watch carefully in these closing days before the election. You might be amazed by the depths to which the Obama campaign is willing to sink. I hope I’m wrong, but I must admit that one of my concerns is the various strategies they may be concocting at this moment to ensure reelection. We need to be alert to fraudulent means, old or new. For some people, “winning” is all that matters, and morality is seen as a mere encumbrance to be tossed aside. Watch, yes. And pray this election will be free of any taint of dishonesty or trickery. The future of this nation is in the balance.

Contrasts & the Undecided Voter

Now that all the debates are over, voters should have a good idea of where the candidates stand and what’s important to them as we draw close to election day. The contrasts couldn’t be much clearer:

President Obama has done his best to project an image of success over the past four years. It hasn’t been easy; he’s had to avoid providing all the facts to do so:

He started receiving so much flak, even from his supporters, about not laying out his agenda for a second term that his people finally threw together some glossy pictures and vague generalities in a brochure and called it his “plan.” When you examine it, though, it looks kind of familiar:

Repackaging is not the same as having new ideas. Not that new ideas are always good ones, of course, but when one’s “new” ideas are those that have depressed the economy for four years already, perhaps it’s time for new thinking.

Speaking of thinking, there are still voters out there thinking over the choice before them. I’ve always been fascinated by undecided voters who have trouble figuring out which candidate should get their support, especially this late in the game. Just what more do they need to know? Have they even been paying attention? Why is it so hard to tell the difference between the two visions being offered? What does this say about the undecided voter’s own worldview? Frankly, this can be rather annoying waiting for them to make up their minds:

If they don’t know by now which candidate they support, might I suggest taking a long vacation and letting informed voters make this big decision? There’s a lot at stake here.

Battle of the Strategies

It was a battle of strategies last night in the final presidential debate. The Obama strategy was clear from the start: get in Romney’s face, get under his skin, push him into making a mistake by appearing to be a warmonger, and “win” by being the aggressor. The Romney strategy took longer to decipher, but it gradually came into focus: avoid getting into the tangles of details about who knew what when on Libya, appear knowledgeable about foreign affairs, stay above the fray and be presidential, critique the president where necessary but cast a vision for American leadership in the world. Oh, and along with all that, keep bringing the subject—even in a foreign policy debate—back to the horrible economy, which has to change if we are going to maintain a strong presence in the international realm.

How well did each strategy work?

Obama started strong and was the attacker throughout. Every exchange—and I do mean every—included sharp rhetoric attempting to label Romney a reckless, flip-flopping politician who would probably lead the nation into disaster in dealing with other countries. That part of the strategy was reminiscent to me of what Jimmy Carter tried to do with Ronald Reagan in 1980. Obama also repeated lines from the two earlier debates: Romney lies about his policies, Romney lies about Obama’s policies, Romney lies about . . . well, fill in the blank.

The split-screen that dominated the visuals throughout the debate didn’t increase Obama’s likeability factor. He looked permanently pugnacious; some commentators called his facial expression the Death Stare. It was almost unnerving to viewers, practically oozing condescension. The condescension reached its apex with two comments in particular. The first was when Obama sarcastically congratulated Romney for recognizing Al Qaeda is a threat [this coming from a president who is hesitant to call any terrorist act a terrorist act]; the second was when he lectured Romney on the size of the navy, “explaining” to him that we don’t need as many ships now because we have the type of ships on which planes can land. And we don’t need as many horses and bayonets as in 1916. He was practically dripping with disdain for Romney. Pure egotism.

And then there were those constant interruptions. Apparently Joe Biden rubbed off on him. He didn’t want Romney to be able to complete his comments; Obama broke in continually to try to disrupt Romney’s thoughts.

More than one commentator noted that if a person didn’t know which candidate was the incumbent president and which was the challenger, he would probably conclude Obama was the one challenging for the job. The challenger in any debate is widely perceived as the one currently on the losing end who has to do whatever he can to catch up. Ever since that first disastrous debate for him, Obama has truly been playing catch up. All the polls are trending toward Romney. So last night was a last-ditch effort to paint himself as The He-Man. Instead, he enacted the part of The Bully.

Romney did not begin confidently. He appeared a little wobbly. It took a few rounds of questions before he got on track, but once he did, I believe he accomplished what he set out to do. By the end, he clearly came across as presidential, informed on the issues, and able to parry all the personal attacks without allowing Obama to rattle him. He maintained his composure and came across as the grownup in the debate. Further, his closing statement was little short of marvelous, appealing to optimism for the nation’s future. Again, he was partly Reaganesque in his approach.

Would I have preferred a more aggressive Romney? Well, my emotions would have been more satisfied if he had lambasted Obama more than he did. I would have liked to have heard a litany of Obama’s failures in the Libyan situation. I would have counseled him to have been stronger on that. Yet I know most voters are not clued in on Libya and don’t care that much about it. To have become entangled in a timeline of events there would have taken time away from the overall foreign policy vision he was trying to cast.

Romney was strong on Israel and pointed out Obama’s failure to visit that country during his entire first term, even though he had been in the region and spoke in Egypt. He also correctly criticized the president for his ongoing apology tour, a remark that made Obama bristle.

So, when it comes to style, what we saw was a focused Romney who exuded calmness vs. a combative Obama who, to me, continues to manifest peevishness and an always-simmering condescension.

On the substance, Chris Wallace of Fox News—and not Wallace and Fox only—called out Obama afterwards for some obvious inaccuracies in his distortions of Romney’s stances, particularly on the number of troops that should have been left in Iraq and on the auto bailout. While he may have scored points in the debate for making such statements, this is another case of perhaps “losing the week” after the debate as his distortions become the center of attention.

When it comes down to who should be considered the winner of a debate, shouldn’t truthfulness be the primary criterion? If so, Romney won big. His strategy was sound, and he carried it out effectively. Prediction: this debate will not help Obama at all; the polls will continue to trend in Romney’s direction.

Nearly everyone is saying this will be a close election. It might be. But there’s also the real possibility it could be a blowout for Romney. Stay tuned.

The Latest Triviality & Frivolity

We seem to be in a theater of the absurd. First, it was Romney’s dog on the top of his car. A couple of weeks ago the cry was “Save Big Bird.” Now Romney is condescending to women because he talked about seeking out women to fill some of his cabinet posts when he was governor of Massachusetts and as he collected resumès, he said he had a binder full of women. How awful! How insensitive! Actually, how surreal that anyone would make a big deal of this. He obviously meant a binder full of women’s resumès from which to choose the best to serve in his administration. The whole point of his comment at the debate was to show how eager he was to give key, responsible positions to women who have demonstrated their competence. Somehow, the Left seeks to turn this into a scandal of monstrous proportions. 

Guy Benson, a commentator at Townhall, believes this “may represent the pettiest and most trivial chapter of this entire campaign.” He thinks it shows the kind of desperation that emanates from a campaign that is beginning to panic. He continues,

As a person who enjoys at least a modicum of brain activity, I’m not exactly sure how to react to this. It’s so trifling, so frivolous that it shouldn’t merit any discussion whatsoever. But here we are. The leader of the free world and his campaign have decided to elevate it as an issue.

I know why. Some new polls are showing Romney closing the gap for the women’s vote.  In some states, he has overtaken Obama for the allegiance of women voters. Democrats thought they had that wrapped up, what with their “war on women” theme. Now they are running scared. Apparently all they can think to do is to be ridiculous and hope it somehow resonates. Well, it is resonating all right, but not in the way they hoped:

So many things seem to be going wrong for them all at once. Rumors are now swirling that they are thinking seriously of shifting funds away from states like Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia, seeing them as trending Romney and unlikely to reverse direction in the last two weeks of the campaign. And the Libya situation is the albatross that seems to keep growing. As I mentioned yesterday, when asked at the debate about the security problems at the consulate, he didn’t answer, but instead went into a diatribe of accusation: how could anyone think he and his people would ever politicize the murder of diplomatic personnel? He was absolutely indignant over the suggestion. Yet to many, there is a sneaking suspicion—which is becoming less sneaking and more than a mere suspicion—that politics rules even in a tragedy like that:

I must return also to the vice presidential debate. I’ve already chronicled some of Joe Biden’s most hilarious moments that evening, but there was one I apparently missed. I remember hearing it in the background while I was reading commentary on the computer, but it didn’t hit me at the time that he said Syria was five times larger than Libya. Hmmm.

This comedy of errors represents the executive branch of our government. But it doesn’t have to much longer:

Considering the current polling trends, that wish may come true.

A Meditation on Disinformation, Taking Responsibility, & Apologies

Polling since the second debate has been fascinating. While every “snap” poll gave the overall debate to Obama by small margins, those same polls show that Romney won in basically every category, from how to handle the economy to taxes to security. In some cases, the numbers weren’t even close. How then did Obama gain a “victory” when the particulars show differently? It all comes down to perceptions. Since he was aggressive, he won points for that, but it seems the voters don’t really believe he has any solutions.

If not for the Libya stumble at the debate, the overall number might have been different. Romney didn’t handle that question well, focusing as he did on the president’s Rose Garden statement when he should have stuck exclusively to the trail of evidence from September 11 through the  couple of weeks that followed the terrorist attack. Of course, it is increasingly clear that Obama had some inside help from the moderator, Candy Crowley:

No moderator should ever interrupt a candidate with a presumed “fact check,” particularly when the fact check is inaccurate itself. Crowley as much as admitted afterward that Romney was essentially correct in his statement that Obama never specifically acknowledged the Libyan murders to be a terrorist act. He spoke about acts of terror in general, but the main thrust of his statement that day was on the so-called provocation of the anti-Muslim video on the internet. He continued to spread that disinformation for at least two weeks, culminating in his UN speech on September 25.

After the debate, Obama went up to the man who raised the question of the security status at the Libyan consulate and told him that the reason he didn’t call it terrorism from the start—which, by the way, reversed what he said in the debate—was that he wanted to get all the facts first, and that he was sensitive to not spreading disinformation. Huh? From September 11 through at least September 25, he was the master of disinformation. Even now, he has found it difficult to boldly declare the event a terrorist attack. This is reminiscent of the way he handled the Ft. Hood massacre. Anytime there’s evidence of Islamic radicalism behind an act, he instinctively recoils from “pre-judging.”

Did anyone notice that he never really answered the question the man asked him at the debate? It had to do with the lack of security at the consulate on the president’s watch. Obama avoided addressing that directly, and then when Romney critiqued him for the security lapse, the president’s rejoinder was to become indignant and deliver a “how dare you accuse me of not caring about our embassy personnel” diatribe. It was a forceful statement, to be sure. It was also devoid of any facts to back up his indignation. He chose bluster over substance.

The question remains: why was security so lax?

Hope can only go so far.

Finally, just prior to the debate, someone stepped up and took responsibility, at least technically.

Quite conveniently, Hillary Clinton said she was accountable for the security problem, not the president. I do agree that it was her task to look out for the safety of our diplomatic personnel, but whose orders was she following? It’s always nice when underlings take the entire blame, but it never relieves the one in charge of ultimate responsibility no matter how much he may want to pawn it off on others.

I suggest that President Obama now undertake another apology tour, only this time it should be directed to those who actually are owed an apology:

We apologize also, Mr. President. Please forgive us for putting someone in the highest office in this land who combines a radical ideology with massive incompetence. You weren’t qualified for the job you now hold and we are responsible for placing you there. On November 6, we would like to deliver that apology to you in person—on a massive scale.