Saturday, August 04, 2012

Race for the White House

94 Days Until Election Day

I better set a time limit for myself today, as I have to finish this post pretty quickly. These paragraphs are likely to be extremely disjointed and unfocused.

For another week, the Olympics and Chick-Fil-A took up major headlines (with the latter perhaps being an example of enthusiasm among non-left wingers that might be seen at the ballot boxes this fall) but a lot went on in politics as well. We continue to get closer and closer to the day that Mitt Romney unveils his runningmate, in what looks like will be a large tour of the swing states, but that is probably not going to happen until after the Olympics, as none other than Rafalca Romney is competing on behalf of the United States in the Equstrian dressage competition. Liberals absolutely hate that, but I think that's pretty dumb of them of course. People should put politics aside, to support all U.S. athletes and competitors duing the Games. If I can support the concept of LeBron James getting a gold medal, MSNBC and all the rest ought to be pulling for Rafalca.

On a more serious note, the monthly economic numbers came out yesterday and while Barack Obama (who turns 51 today) is going to point to the fact that the economy seemingly gained more jobs than anticipated, the report is still quite mixed, at best, for the White House, as the unemployment rate inched up to 8.3 percent. During the debate over the stimulus package in the summer of 2009, Obama had promised that unemployment would be at 5.6 percent right now.

To be brief, the fundamentals of the race are largely unchanged after this past week. The election between Obama and Romney remains very close, both nationally, and in the key swing states. Anybody who thinks otherwise, or who thinks either candidate is as of this day poised to "win huge" is kidding themselves. What happens, perhaps in the final 25 days of the campaign, will ultimately decide the winner. Before that, we will have much to delve into surrounding the conventions which will kick off at the end of this month for Republicans and Democrats, the week after. It was just announced that Bill Clinton will play a big role at the troubled donkey confab, and will formally nominate Obama for a second term. I went on the record four years ago to say that Clinton probably gave the best speech of the convention in 2008 for Democrats, but one has to also remember that it was not exactly a big hit the last time he nominated a Presidential candidate at the convention, back in 1988. It was also announced that Joe Biden will accept his nomination on Thursday night (Democrats are just holding a three day convention this year), right before Obama accepts his. While that setup is a a step back to convention protocol from the past, it also seems to indicate that Biden is not really going to be given much time to say much from the podium. That is probably a good thing for them.

If I may, let me take a moment to acknowledge that it should not be a controversial or disputed statement for me to say that the mainstream media in the United States (with some certain exceptions of course) is absolutely rooting for and either consciously or subconsciously pushing Obama for another four years.

One of the ways this may be done is from polls. I am not somebody who discounts or wants to "trash" polls that I do not like. I think they are by and large a useful scientific exercise that are important to all political professionals and those with interest in elections. However, it is also true that polls can be manipulated or can be off target if they are not sampled or weighted properly.

In recent weeks, and especially in the past week, many Democrats have been giddy over polls showing Obama leading Romney by larger than expected margins, nationally in one case, and in three swing states in a poll from another firm. The margin of the Obama leads were certainly not wide enough to declare at this point of the game that Romney could not easily catch up before too long, but looking into the numbers indicates that Democrats, and those who admitted voting for Obama in 2008, appear to have been way oversampled in all cases. Whatever one feels about the "enthusiasm gap" debate this year, it is highly unlikely that Democrat turnout is going to be way up from 2008 and Republican turnout will be down. These polls from Pew regarding the national race and from Quinnipiac regarding the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania used a sample that was significantly more pro-Obama than even the actual electorate that gave him a solid 2008 victory. Whether that kind of manipulation of the polls was intentional or not, it is of course noteworthy that the media just reports on the horse race aspect of the polls, without doing their own research on the statstics available to see if there might be anything wrong with the sample or not.

Over the past week, we have seen media bias in the assertion that Romney had a "disastorous" trip overseas filled with "gaffes." Last Saturday, I discussed the issue of what Romney said regarding the London Olympics and conceded he had managed to get off message (while also applauding his candor.) It might be one thing if somebody wants to be so partisan as to consider that a "gaffe" of international proportions, but there was absolutely nothing said by Romney during his visits to Israel or Poland that even come close to qualifying as "gaffes."

In both places, I thought he gave wonderful, pro-American speeches, heavy on specifics, that demonstrated his committment to the alliances we share with those two great nations as well as the principles of freedom and liberty. Romney spoke of those, first in Israel, and made it clear that he believes Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish State and that America must always stand by it. He also talked about how Israel's economic, political, and religious freedom were part of a "culture" that has allowed them to flourish, despite so many obstacles in their way. For obvious reasons, those statements upset elements in the Palestinian authority, and they cried "racism", as they usually do. Not exactly a huge surprise there. However, just because they might be upset, does not believe Romney said anything wrong or committed a "gaffe." I think it means he did everything right.

I am not even sure what Romney might have said in Poland to piss the liberals off (besides Romney being endorsed by Lech Walesa, the former President of the country and human rights activist who actually once earned a Nobel Peace Prize), but they claim that it was filled with "gaffes" too. After Romney had laid a wreath at a holy Polish site to their war dead, reporters in a most undignified manner shouted out questions at Romney along the lines of "what about your gaffes!" That was about the most disrespectful act of political journalism to ever be captured and I completely understand why a Romney aide responded by telling the reporters to "kiss my ass",while also imploring them to show respect.

As I try to wrap this up, I could probably go on forever in discussing another story this week in which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada (who like Romney is a Mormon) inserted himself into the political debate about Romney's taxes by saying that he had been told by a source from Bain Capital, (that he would not reveal and that he first admitted had no way of knowing if he was telling the truth or not) that Romney had not paid any taxes for 10 years.

Later on in the week, Reid went to the floor of the Senate and went even further saying "word was out" that Romney had not paid any taxes, and the only way he could disprove it was by releasing his taxes, though Reid said he was certain that Romney had not paid taxes, while also continuing to not give any information in regards to who the source was. I do know that it is a fact that some of Obama's largest campaign bundlers are employees of Bain Capital, but we still have no idea who Reid might have talked to and how they would have this kind of knowledge about Romney.

Even worse, Reid said that Romney's father, the late Michigan Governor George Romney must be "so ashamed of his son." That sort of thing, bringing somebody's dead parent into a political discussion is about as classless as it gets, and perhaps a new low in Presidential politics. While many will not admit it openly, I think that even liberals probably recognize how completely out of bounds Reid was this past week, both in terms of the "dead Dad shame" and by the whole business of relying on unsubstantiated rumors that he was unwilling to defend beyond saying "word was out", just because he had said so.

I am not a watcher of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" but I know it is a popular program among young, typically left leaning viewers. Stewart himself is an unabashed liberal, but even he was outraged by what Reid did this past week, and I caught a segment of his show on YouTube in which he forcefully ripped into Reid for those statements. I will have to acknowledge and salute Jon Stewart for doing that, and wish that more on the left would be willing to do the same. I know that my side is not perfect, but I have criticized those on the right who have gone too far (such as I frequently have on my blog over the phony "Birther" issue) but I can never remember an example when an elected official, let alone a Senate Majority Leader, would go to the floor of the Senate, to peddle unsubtantiated rumors in the way that Reid had done.

Of course, Reid, who has a long reputation of being a dirty political fighter, is just trying to keep the tax issue alive, thinking it has hurt Romney already and wanting that to continue. There really is not much more Romney can do to respond, other than saying, as he had, that he has paid taxes every year and that Reid should "put up or shut up" regarding his source.

There could be implications to what Reid has said that last long after the election, regardless of which candidate wins, but for now, everything will continue to be viewed through the prism of campaign politics. It has been dirty and is likely to get even worse, especially if Obama and his supporters sense that amid a deeply troubled economy, the election will be slipping away from them.

Against those forces, and the mainstream media, Mitt Romney is going to need all the defenders he can get. It certainly cannot hurt that last night, Clint Eastwood, of "Go Ahead Make My Day" fame endorsed him.