Well, it’s all over but the voting and in my not terribly humble opinion, President Obama will win in a canter. As Winston Churchill said about prognosticators, I must not only be able to make accurate forecasts but be able to explain afterwards why they didn’t happen. I’m surprised that Mitt Romney did as well as he did – indeed if he gets wins in a few key states such as Ohio and Florida, I’ll likely be eating crow on November 13…
As I have mentioned on these pages before, in golf parlance, this election is match play not medal. It’s the number of delegates one wins on the Electoral College that counts each state electing delegates in accordance to the seats allotted to them by the voters. Obama could have a majority of votes and lose if Romney’s votes are in the right places. This happened as recently as Bush v Gore in 2000.
Much turns on the Debates. They do not impact the vast majority who are committed Republicans or Democrats. It’s the «floating» votes, perhaps 10-15% who decide the winner add to that vote may or may not be added a new young vote as represented by the «Occupation Revolution». As I said to the group who occupied the Vancouver Art Gallery, "you folks will travel 500 miles to protest but won’t cross the street to vote". If some of these youngsters abandon their nihilism and actually vote it can only help Obama.
There was one surprise in the debates – Obama missed, and badly missed, two key points.
1. He allowed Romney to get away from the fact that the economic problems came about as a direct result of George W. Bush who was notable for his absence during the campaign, unlike Bill Clinton whose support was key to Obama’s campaign. Obama took with little complaint Romney’s shots about the increase in deficits during Obama’s term when he could have – and I think should have – made it clear that he inherited one hell of a mess from George W. Bush.
2. Romney kept noting that when he was Governor of Massachusetts, he worked well with a legislature that was 87% Democrats. I bellowed into the TV «remind Romney and the nation that this was because the members were reasonable people being Democrats while he, Obama, had to deal with Republicans know towing to the Tea Party, quite a different thing»!
The first debate was a catastrophe for Obama because he allowed Romney to get away with such things as I just mentioned. Suddenly Romney was seen as a real candidate which had as much to do with Obama’s horrible performance than anything Romney said. Romney looked presidential while Obama looked like he was running for mayor of a small town. Had I been predicting to you then, I would have said Romney would win. As Obama said, «Governor Romney had a good night while I had a bad night». He also observed that there were two debates to go but the momentum belonged to Romney.
In Debate # 2 went to the President. He re-discovered his tongue although the winning moment came when Romney tried to pin the murder of the US` Ambassador in Libya on him and was badly caught out as making a disgraceful accusation that CNN and others exposed as utterly unwarranted. At that point, the election was a toss-up and Obama gave considerable hope to his supporters. He scored point after point making Romney looking much like a kid being told to sit in the corner and wear a dunce cap.
I pause here to note that Obama’s fact finders were noticeably better than Romney’s throughout the debates. Sadly, appearances make a difference and someone should have plastered down that roaming hunk of hair and got Romney to give up the sneer with which he watched the president.
The key point – perhaps for all the debates – came when Romney alleged that the US Navy had fewer ships than in 1916 letting Obama nail him thusly «I think Gov. Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example. And that we have fewer ships that we had in 1916. Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed.
We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so, the question is not a game of Battleship where we’re counting ships, it’s what are our capabilities?
It certainly was a «gotcha» of the first order! This remark did more than just embarrassing for Mr. Romney – it was a defining moment because it showed Obama to be more «presidential, by far, than his opponent This is the advantage a sitting president has if he plays his cards right- to look as a man in command with all the facts at his grasp.
I don’t want to be too critical of Romney – he’s come a long way and is by no means out of the race. There are plenty of tripping points and tipping points ahead. Obama must be careful while Romney must take risks, and this is really the point – out of the debates and all the cuts and thrusts, little wins and big ones there was a victor. The public want someone who looks and acts presidential – that is the lasting impression both me wanted to achieve but only President Obama accomplished this. The prize is now his to lose.
The vice presidential debate doesn’t usually amount to much but it seemed to me that the Democrats did accomplish something. While the Republican candidate Paul Riley didn’t look like Sarah Palin he didn’t look like the man to take over either. Joe Biden, if only by comparison, looked like he could start answering the phone in the Oval Office if the tragic beed arose.
For many years the Republicans have gotten away with appalling VP options – Spiro Agnew, Dan Quayle and the aforementioned Palin come quickly to mind. Riley clearly is the darling of the Tea Party so only appeals to those who support Romney anyway.
This is not easy to say but Americans are concerned about Mr. Obama’s longevity for he is not only a candidate for assassination as all presidents are, he is also black. Obama and the Democrats know that the public are more concerned with succession than ever before. Mr. Biden looked like a better candidate if, God forbid, something happens to President Obama while Riley looks like the part of the Republican Party Mr. Romney wants to distance himself from, rather than a firm hand on the tiller of the ship of state.
All of this from a west coast Canadian who, admittedly, sees the race much differently than the average voter, if such exists. I see Romney as a rich kid who made his money not be creating industry and jobs but flipping paper. His call for a trade war with China on his first day in office scarcely shows the wisdom needed from the leader of the world in trade but more like George W. Bush waving his six-shooter.
Obama must bear criticism for not getting the US economy in better shape but if the bottom line is «who looked best as a president in these times?», empty the piggy bank and bet it all on President Obama.