Mile-High Rhetoric

Debating in Denver

A complicated truth is often less useful to a politician than a simple half-truth delivered with confidence. It helps if the politician delivering the half-truth appears wholly convinced of it himself. In this year’s first presidential debate, Mitt Romney told a great many half-truths about his platform and his record, but he told them all with stunning self-assurance. No one seemed more stunned than Barack Obama.

This clearly wasn’t the Romney he had been expecting, the one who had faithfully repeated right-wing boilerplate for most of the campaign. The Romney who showed up at the debate in Denver appeared to be a nonideological technocrat whose chief concern was the suffering of the unemployed. He floated like a butterfly above demands that he be more specific about his plans, passing his vagueness off as proof of his statesmanship: unlike Obama, he wouldn’t try to dictate policies to Capitol Hill, but would negotiate with lawmakers of both parties. (Never mind the strategic refusal of Republicans on Capitol Hill to negotiate with Obama about anything, or Romney’s willingness to be both demanding and very specific about his favorite policy: tax cuts.) Romney stung like a bee, castigating the president for his failure to curb the nation’s growing debt. (Never mind Romney’s support for the Bush administration’s unfunded wars and tax cuts, which caused much of that debt.)

Obama tried in vain to point out that Romney couldn’t possibly keep all the promises he’s been making: to cut taxes for the rich without adding to the deficit or raising taxes on the middle class; to repeal the Affordable Care Act while preserving its guarantee of coverage for people with preexisting conditions. Again and again, Romney insisted he could have it both ways, and promised to provide all the details once elected. It’s not easy to keep up with a candidate who is willing to say anything he thinks voters want to hear—and who seems to believe whatever he happens to be saying at the moment, even if it contradicts what he’s said before.

But what does Obama stand for? In Denver, the answer was neither as clear nor as compelling as it needed to be. Like his opponent, the president offered a vague plan to spur economic growth, failing to mention that for the past thirty years growth has not always benefited the average American. Median income has stagnated even as GDP has gone up. It should be clear by now that growth is no longer a reliable indicator of economic health, if it ever was. Too much of the nation’s wealth is now frozen at the very top; if it is going to trickle down to the rest of the country, the government will have to apply some heat. That would mean a more progressive tax code and more rigorous regulation of the financial industry.

Obama spoke as vaguely—if not quite as disingenuously—as Romney about helping the “middle class,” a category that now seems to include just about everyone. While reaffirming his pledge not to renew the Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans, the president chose not to acknowledge something else he and most voters must know: that the federal government cannot responsibly solve its long-term fiscal problems unless some of those who consider themselves middle-class pay more in taxes. Obama’s conservative critics are right about one thing at least: There aren’t enough millionaires and billionaires in the United States to foot all the bills. People who make more than $100,000 a year—doctors and lawyers and, yes, some successful small-business owners—will also have to pitch in.

It was indicative of the debate’s tone and skewed parameters that, while both candidates had a lot to say about high- and middle-income taxpayers, neither said much about low-income Americans—a.k.a. the poor. President Obama never used either of those terms, while Romney used them only to defend himself against the widespread suspicion that the interests of those he has described as the “47 percent” are of little interest to him. His rhetoric on this point suggested a new class-based version of federalism: Washington will take care of the middle class, while the states are left to deal with the poor however they see fit. According to Romney, his plan to reduce federal spending for Medicaid should be understood not as a refusal to make adequate provision for those in need but rather as a tribute to states’ rights.

The president could have contested this point—along with many others—but throughout the debate he seemed strangely reluctant to dwell on the cruel logic of his opponent’s agenda. With the presidency hanging in the balance, he chose to maintain his presidential reserve when what the occasion really demanded was some democratic candor. If he doesn’t provide it, no one will.

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I don't think I have ever seen a more one-sided article or share of articles.  Did you actually watch the same debate that we all did?  Most every commentator elsewhere has voiced their opinion that Romney clearly won the debate, and won not just on ability but content as well.  I am deeply dismayed with the absolute lack of ability and even care on the part of our current "president."  I think you editors edit a Christian magazine.  Then why do you espouse non-Christian candidates, and support a party that wanted God removed from their platform.  

Your magazine clearly does not espouse the standard of good journalism: to allow both sides of the story to be fully heard, and to defend Christian principles.  As a seminary grad, I am decidedly cancelling my subscription to your "magazine" as of today.  

 

To focus on the alleged mis-truths of Romney and ignore the poor debate performance of Obama is as sad as ignoring the lack of honesty on Obama'a part.  As a Christian magazine the concept of social justice should bring a more socially just objective effort to look at and report on the election with at least an effort of objectivity.  

IT SEEMS THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE UPSET OVER THE ARTICLE. WELL,LIVE WITH IT.

THE PRESIDENT GOT SPANKED WITH A BUNCH OF LIES.PURE AND SIMPLE.

 THE ARTICLE POINTED OUT THAT THERE WERE TWO WARS NOT PAID FOR UNDER BUSH. AND BY THE WAY,MITT NEVER SERVED IN THE ARMED SERVICES BUT HE WANTS TO KEEP SENDING OUR YOUNG OFF TO WAR AND SOME WILL GET KILLED. HE EVADED THE DRAFT JUST LIKE DICK CHENEY. AND NEITHER OF WILLARDS BOYS ARE IN THE MILITARY.

MITT COULD CARE LESS ABOUT THE COMMON PERSON. JUST LOOK AT RYAN'S BUDGET. HE CUT TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FROM THE BUDGET FOR FIRST RESPONDERS. AND YES, I AM A FIRST RESPONDER. RYAN SAYS WE DO NOT NEED THE MONEY. THE RICH NEED ANOTHER TAX CUT. WELL,THE LAST TAX CUT UBDER "W' DID NOT LEAD TO MORE AND MORE JOBS.

 THE WAY RYAN IS ATTACKING PROGRAMS FOR THE POOR HE IS NOT A GOOD EXAMPLE OF CATHOLIC TEACHINGS. UNDER THE OLD ABCC HE WOULD BE A BAD CHOICE FOR CATHOLICS TO VOTE FOR HIM.THE OLD BISHOPS WOTTIED ABOUT THE POOR AND SICK.BUT NOW WITH THE ULTRA-CONSERVATIVES TAKING OVER THE ABCC ALL THEY WORRY ABOUT IS ABORTION. YOU CAN NOT WORRY ABOUT ABORTION AND TAKE AWAY FOODSTAMPS FROM PEOPLE WHO NEED THEM.

 ABORTION IS WRONG,BUT LET SOMEBODY STARVE SO THAT HE CAN GET ANOTHER TAX BREAKN IS EVEN WORSE.

 WE,AS CATHO;ICS MUST LOOK AFTER OUR FELLOW MAN,WOMAN,CHILD.

GOD HELP AMERICA IF MITT IS ELECTED AND REPUBLICANS/TEA PARTY CONTROL ANY HOUSE.

I am very concerned by this oft-repeated thought that there aren't enough millionaires and billionaires from whom to raise more tax revenue. A fair, progressive tax rate (we need more brackets!) and closing loopholes for the very wealthy will certainly help, though yes, it won't be enough...on it's own. What we need is a suite of reforms, a constellation of changes that would include ending subsidies for industries that harm public good, like big oil. We could end big agricultural subsidies, too. We had better jump on placing a rising fee on carbon emissions for a multiple of reasons, including raising a great deal of revenue while spurring a green economy and dealing with carbon pollution. We also should tax corporations more fairly! So many do not pay their taxes at all, or pay more to their lobbyists to "capture" government functions than they do in taxes. The global elite have stashed over 21 Trillion dollars in secret tax havens. That extraction and hoarding of wealth leaves in its way a devasted and dying planet, and devasted and dying people. It's time to end the con job and start thinking about ethical, workable ways to manage our economy.

It would seem that many pundits and public commentators are more excited about grading the "performance" of a candidate than analyzing the truth and veracity of his/her claims. Seems also likely that perfidity and damnable lies trump honesty and truthfulness. We need help in discerning who is lying and who is not, at least whose proposals are indeed the most plausible. This is not a beauty pageant, nor is it a referendum on the morality of caring for those who are suffering the most. It is in fact a practical and sensible discussion about what will work and what will be fair.

Mitt sold many people, including pundits, that old thrice wrecked car of trickle down econ by putting a moderate sheen of cheap glossy paint on it and lots of sawdust in the old transmission. Any one who does not know what Pres. Obama stands for, and the direction he will try to steer the nation toward in a second term, is not paying attention. The history of this Nation is replete with Government spurred innovation and economic advacement. Look up REA, CCC, USDA. My Father was a hard working FDR Democrat farmer who, with the help of a lot of public investment in infrastructure rose from 19th cen. horsefarming to heatpumps and hydralics in 35 years. American farming is now lasers, computers , and GPS. Now who invented GPS? YOU DID NOT BUILD THAT! But our subsidized oil companies cannot keep thir refineries safe, the explosions and burnings of which have caused the most recent inflation in fuel prices.Pay attention folks and take a little time away from something useless and self educate. 

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