Debate night

Tonight is the second of the presidential candidate debates, this one in a “town hall” format, with undecided voters posing the questions.  We now see that the debates do matter, as Mitt Romney’s good performance and Barack Obama’s bad performance put the Republican back into contention.   Do you think this town hall format will be to Obama’s advantage, since Romney is often awkward among the masses?  Obama said he was “too polite” in the first round, so do you think his being impolite will play well this time?

You will notice that when we live-blogged the debates–not just me, but also you readers and commenters–we picked up on the same themes that the pundits later made a big deal of.  I think we owe it to the country to do it again.

This time I’ll let you come up with the catch-phrases for our not-necessarily-alcoholic drinking game.  What lines from each candidate can we expect to hear over and over?

Be back here at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time  (that’s 8:00 p.m. Central, 7:00 p.m. Mountain, and 6:00 p.m. Pacific) to help with the live-blogging.

Obama vs. Clintons

A feud is erupting between President Obama and Bill & Hillary Clinton.  As we saw during the Vice Presidential debate, the Obama administration is trying to blame the debacle in Libya on our intelligence agencies and the State Department.  Bill, having given Obama a big boost with his convention speech, is furious that Obama is trying to throw Hillary under the bus.  An account of the feud and what it might do from Tony Lee:

A nasty rift has opened up between President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the fallout from the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Libya that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens. This feud may undermine and threaten Obama’s reelection chances.

Obama and Clinton both do not want to be held responsible for the negligence before and the cover-up after the Libya attacks. Clinton biographer Ed Klein on Friday reported that Bill Clinton, sensing Obama’s political team wants to pin legal and political blame on the State Department and Hillary Clinton, has been working on doomsday and contingency scenarios “to avoid having Benghazi become a stain on her political fortunes should she decide to run for president in 2016.”

“If relations between Obama’s White House and Hillary’s State Department rupture publicly over the growing Benghazi scandal, that could damage the Democratic ticket and dim Obama’s chances for re-election,” Klein writes.

According to Klein’s sources, Bill Clinton has assembled an informal legal team in case there are cables or other evidence that would legally implicate Hillary. Klein also told The Daily Caller that Bill has even considered advising Hillary to resign if the Obama administration tries to make her the “scapegoat.”

On Friday, there were signs the White House was preparing to do to throw Hillary Clinton and the State Department under the bus.

White House press secretary Jay Carney, when asked if Obama and Biden had “never been briefed” about the fact that more security was needed in Libya, essentially blamed the State Department, saying, “matters of security personnel are appropriately discussed and decided upon at the State Department by those responsible for it.”

Carney repeated a variation of this line throughout the press briefing.

Carney’s comments came a day after Vice President Joe Biden not only contradicted State Department officials but himself threw the intelligence community under the bus when he said the Obama administration did not know U.S. interests in Libya needed more security before the attacks and that the intelligence community changed its story after. . . .

Klein writes that the long-simmering feud between Obama and the Clintons has only gotten worse after the Democratic National Convention. The bad blood between Obama and the Clinton family dates back to the 2008 Democratic primary, and Obama’s advisers had to convince Obama to give Clinton a prominent role at the convention.

Klein writes “the latest quarrel began when Clinton heard that Obama was behaving so cocky about his first debate against Mitt Romney that he wasn’t taking his debate prep seriously.”

Clinton offered to give Obama some advice, and Obama brushed him off.

Klein writes “the former president was dumbfounded that Obama had ignored his offer, and his hurt feelings quickly boiled over into anger.”

“Bill thought that he and Obama were on friendly terms after the convention,” a source told Klein. “He couldn’t believe that the White House didn’t even extend him the courtesy of a return phone call. He concluded that Obama’s arrogance knows no bounds.”

There is no love lost between Obama and the Clintons, and they could mutually destroy their political futures in the days ahead. Team Obama could destroy Hillary Clinton’s 2016 prospects by scapegoating her for the Libya attacks. But Hillary Clinton, by potentially resigning or pointing to evidence that implicates Obama and Biden, can just as easily torpedo Obama’s chances at getting reelected.

via Libya Fallout Gives Rise to Obama-Clinton Feud.

Look for this to come out in some way in tomorrow’s presidential debate, which is supposed to focus on foreign policy.

Constructivist politics

Postmodernists, who believe that truth is relative, reject such retro concepts as logic, evidence, and reason, all of which assume that truth is objective.  Instead, postmodernists practice what they call “constructivism.”  Truth is not something we discover; rather, truth is something we “construct.”  Thus, argumentation involves “de-constructing” other people’s truth claims (showing them to be nothing more than impositions of power) and constructing “plausibility paradigms” to advance your own power-agenda.  And, since truth is inherently personal, another way to argue is to attack the person who holds to that truth.

We all need to understand this, especially in today’s political climate.  Both sides do it.  The very notion of “spin”–which is openly recognized to the point that TV networks set up “spin rooms” and both sides openly acknowledge having “spin doctors”–is an open acknowledgement of postmodernist techniques.  What matters is not overall truth but cherry-picking facts and then giving them an interpretation favorable to the power agenda of one side or another.  For postmodernists, interpretation is more important than information.  A successful argument is a construction of reality that wins over–indeed, that imposes itself on–other people

Here is a particularly blatant example of political constructivism, from the Washington Post in an article on President Obama’s post-debate campaign speech:

Obama said that when he reached the debate stage “I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney. But it couldn’t have been Mitt Romney,” Obama said, adding that the “real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy. The fellow on stage last night said he didn’t know anything about that.”

The Mitt Romney everyone saw onstage giving his views from his own mouth is not the real Romney.  The real Romney is the one we have been constructing in our campaign ads.

And notice how the fact cited here comes from an elaborately spinning interpretation:  It is claimed, perhaps accurately (a matter for old-school analysis), that Romney’s economic plan doesn’t add up and is off by $5 trillion.  The Democrats then use this number in different ways.  Here Obama calls it $5 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy.  In the debate and in campaign ads he takes it as a $5 trillion tax increase on the middle class.  This is because for his numbers to add up, he would have to get the $5 trillion from somewhere, so he would have to raise taxes on the middle tax.  Notice the movement  from “would have to” to “will.”  Romney will raise your taxes.

Never mind the Republican belief in supply-side economics and that Republicans from the time of Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush never raise taxes to this magnitude, preferring instead to just let shortages add to the deficit.

Never mind that Romney said in the debate that he would not raise taxes by $5 trillion.  Furthermore, that he would not cut what the wealthy are paying now.

No, this is not his real position.  His real position is what we say it is, the way we have constructed it.

 

via Obama challenges Romney’s candor morning after 1st debate, says rival owes people ‘the truth’ – The Washington Post.

Post-debate poll

 

Comparison of Registered Voters' Presidential Preferences, Before and After First Presidential Debate, 2012

 

Romney Narrows Vote Gap After Historic Debate Win.

Judge the debate

Read our live-blog commentary, below.  It was a cool exercise, interacting with each other and with the topic in real time.  Now, recollecting the debate in tranquility, what do you think about the debate as a whole?   Who will be helped, and who will be hurt?  What were the notable moments?  And, for the bottom-line question, who won?

In which we live blog the debate

Greetings, all of you Cranachers of every political persuasion.  In this experiment in real-time online interaction and discussion, I will post comments on the first presidential candidate debate as it unfolds and invite you to do the same.  Or you can just read what we are all saying.

To follow the discussion you’ll need to hit “refresh” frequently so as to see the latest comments.

What will happen if we have several hundred people trying to comment at once?  I have no idea.  That’s why we call it an experiment.  I doubt that we’ll crash the whole internet, so don’t worry about it.

It’s fine to interact with other people’s comments, but do that briefly and not as long arguments or digressions.  Try to keep the thread in synch with what is happening on television.

If this works, we might try other real-time Cranach get-togethers.

(After the debate, sleep on it, and we’ll discuss our overall impressions–including our views of “who won”–tomorrow.)

In the meantime, as the candidates take their places, let’s begin. . . .

 


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