Winners and Losers

The Vice Presidential Debate: Joe Biden Was Right to Laugh

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

October 12, 10:45 AM ET

Biden did absolutely roll his eyes, snort, laugh derisively and throw his hands up in the air whenever Ryan trotted out his little beady-eyed BS-isms.

But he should have! He was absolutely right to be doing it. We all should be doing it. That includes all of us in the media, and not just paid obnoxious-opinion-merchants like me, but so-called “objective” news reporters as well. We should all be rolling our eyes, and scoffing and saying, “Come back when you’re serious.”

The load of balls that both Romney and Ryan have been pushing out there for this whole election season is simply not intellectually serious. Most of their platform isn’t even a real platform, it’s a fourth-rate parlor trick designed to paper over the real agenda – cutting taxes even more for super-rich dickheads like Mitt Romney, and getting everyone else to pay the bill.

Sometimes in journalism I think we take the objectivity thing too far. We think being fair means giving equal weight to both sides of every argument. But sometimes in the zeal to be objective, reporters get confused. You can’t report the Obama tax plan and the Romney tax plan in the same way, because only one of them is really a plan, while the other is actually not a plan at all, but an electoral gambit.

The Romney/Ryan ticket decided, with incredible cynicism, that that they were going to promise this massive tax break, not explain how to pay for it, and then just hang on until election day, knowing that most of the political press would let it skate, or at least not take a dump all over it when explaining it to the public. Unchallenged, and treated in print and on the air as though it were the same thing as a real plan, a 20 percent tax cut sounds pretty good to most Americans. Hell, it sounds good to me.

The proper way to report such a tactic is to bring to your coverage exactly the feeling that Biden brought to the debate last night: contempt and amazement. We in the press should be offended by what Romney and Ryan are doing – we should take professional offense that any politician would try to whisk such a gigantic lie past us to our audiences, and we should take patriotic offense that anyone is trying to seize the White House using such transparently childish and dishonest tactics.

I’ve never been a Joe Biden fan. After four years, I’m not the biggest Barack Obama fan, either (and I’ll get into why on that score later). But they’re at least credible as big-league politicians. So much of the Romney/Ryan plan is so absurdly junior league, it’s so far off-Broadway, it’s practically in New Jersey.

Paul Ryan, a leader in the most aggressively and mindlessly partisan Congress in history, preaching bipartisanship? A private-equity parasite, Mitt Romney, who wants to enact a massive tax cut and pay for it without touching his own personal fortune-guaranteeing deduction, the carried-interest tax break – which keeps his own taxes below 15 percent despite incomes above $20 million?

The Romney/Ryan platform makes sense, and is not laughable, in only one context: if you’re a multi-millionaire and you recognize that this is the only way to sell your agenda to mass audiences. But if you’re not one of those rooting gazillionaires, you should laugh, you should roll your eyes, and it doesn’t matter if you’re the Vice President or an ABC reporter or a toll operator. You should laugh, because this stuff is a joke, and we shouldn’t take it seriously.

Biden Leaves Door Open for Cutting Social Security and Medicare

By: Jon Walker, Firedog Lake

Friday October 12, 2012 8:28 am

One of the remarkable things about the first presidential debate and the VP debate last night is how much rhetorical effort the Obama team has put into leaving open the possibility of cutting Social Security and Medicare.

The language continues to be weaselly but the implication is clear. The Obama team is open to cuts, like reduced benefits and raising the retirement age. Their only red line is privatization.

Democrats had the option to make this election a clear choice between them pledging to fully protecting these very popular programs and the Republican plan to voucherize them. Democrats have not done that.

Instead, they have made it a choice between a Democratic candidate who is very open to “modestly” cutting these programs and a Republican candidate who wants to privatize them. The Obama team seems to be banking on the fact that merely being less terrible on Social Security will be good enough.

In the middle of a very tight election the Obama team is refusing to do something that would be very popular and could easily move voters, making an unequivocal promise not to cut benefits. Obama has chosen not to use this proven political weapon.

Effectively, Obama has decided he would rather lose the election with his vague message on entitlements than win the election, if it means using tactics that would significantly restrict his ability to cut Social Security in his second term. This should make any actual liberal very nervous.


    • Edger on October 13, 2012 at 12:36 am

    Romney is an ambitious businessman but not a very good politician…. Romney’s greatest success in life was his tenure as CEO of the Bain Capital hedge fund, which is not the best experience to have when campaigning for voters whose lives have been ruined by the actions of corporate America.


    Unlike Romney, Obama is a very good politician. He excels at garnering support from voters by telling them what they want to hear while simultaneously doing things those same people wouldn’t want him to do.


    He has spent so much time agreeing with Republicans in private that he forgot he was in public with more than 60 million viewers who were under the naive impression that the two parties are very different.


    Obama cannot even muster support for Democratic low-hanging fruit like Social Security. When the moderator asked the president if he saw a difference with his opponent on Social Security he happily replied, “You know, I suspect that on Social Security we’ve got a somewhat similar position.” Those words may have been shocking but they were true. It is Obama who appointed a deficit reduction commission which called for cuts to entitlement programs.

    The president floundered uncharacteristically because he forgot that his audience wasn’t made up of the Republicans he is so anxious to please…

    10/10/2012, Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report

    Romney “works” for Obama. His entire campaign performance is designed to get Obama re-elected.

    He’s already getting all the policies of any republicans wet dream from Obama, without even having to get up in the morning and show up at the office.

    From his or any republicans perspective, why would he want to fuck up what he thinks he wants when he’s already got it and he can let Obama take the blame?

    The whole two party system is a set up. A con job. A circus show put on to fool people into thinking they’re making a choice.

    A suckers game.

    Like a football game where the team owners rake in the millions while they couldn’t care less which team the marks in the audience wave pom poms for, as long as they show up and buy tickets.

    Rah. Rah. Sis. Boom. Bah. Humbug.

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