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Last night, Jon Stewart opened the show with coverage of the Democrats' initially poor response to the GOP's "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" line of attack.

DAVID PLOUFFE: Listen, George, I think the American people understand that we got into a terrible economic situation.
No!  No they don't!  The American people don't understand that.

Here's what the American people understand.  That getting a free sandwich is a good reason to buy ten other sandwiches.  That's what we understand!  

Here's what we, the American people, understand.  Angels are real.

Here's what we, the American people, understand.  That Malcolm X was the leader of the X-Men.

So I would urge you to stop with the whole Jackie Mason "well, if the people understood, maybe they go this way... (mumbles) they understand the four years", and just say, "Yes!!  We're better off!  Sure, why not?  Are we?  Yes!  Of course!"

Because here's what your nuanced reasoning is going into the Octagon against.

CHUCK NORRIS (9/1/2012): Hi, I'm Chuck Norris, and this is my wife Gena.
(confused laughter)

Is he going to yell at an ottoman?

9/1/2012:

CHUCK NORRIS: Our great country and freedom are under attack. ... Our country as we know it may be lost forever if we don't change the course our country is headed. ... We can no longer sit quietly or stand on the sidelines and watch our country go the way of socialism, or something much worse.

GENA NORRIS: We will preserve for our children this last best hope for man on earth (Daily Show audience gasps in shock), or we will sentence them to take the first step into 1,000 years of darkness.

(shocked audience laughter)

....

Democrats, how do you get caught flat-footed on the better off question?  It's been the most important question an incumbent has faced ever since Ronald Reagan laid out Jimmy Carter with it in 1980!

RONALD REAGAN (10/28/1980): Are you better off than you were four years ago?
And the answer to that question is, of course, we have, and will always only be better off under the leadership of Ronald Reagan.  Study your history, people!

It's all there.  (audience laughter and applause)

For God's sakes, Democrats, do you even remember Obama used to be the challenger?

BARACK OBAMA (10/11/2008): I don't quote Ronald Reagan that often, but let me ask you a simple question.  Are you better off than you were four years ago?
You guys even have meetings??
Video and transcript below the fold.

Obviously, last week we were in Tampa with the Republican National Convention, we are slowly working our way back home.  Of course, the theme of last week's convention...
CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE MIA LOVE, R-UT (8/28/2012): We're not better off than we were four years ago.

CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE JOHN ARCHER, R-IA (8/28/2012): Hope and change were elected four years ago.  And where has that gotten us?

MITT ROMNEY: This President cannot tell us that you're better off today than when he took office.

Sure he can, he can say whatever the fuck he wants, I think.  He's the President.  Still a free country.  Until Obama gets re-elected and — oh my God, I fell into the trap!!  They got me again!

The big set piece of the Republican convention?  "Are you better off?  No!"  Now the next stage of the scripted dance is journalists get in the face of prominent Democrats and badger them to elicit a resounding "Yes!"

9/2/2012:

BOB SCHIEFFER: Can you honestly say that people are better off today than they were four years ago?

GOVERNOR MARTIN O'MALLEY, D-MD: No, but that's not the question of this election.

See?  It's just a scripted dance where everybody... wait a second.  Did you, the Democratic Governor Maryland, Martin O'Malley, just say, and I'm going to check this quote very quickly, "No?"

All right, one surrogate down, bring in the big boys, the President's campaign team.  On Axelrod!  On Cutter!  On Plouffe!

9/2/2012:

CHRIS WALLACE: David, can you honestly say that the average American is better off today than they were four years ago?

DAVID AXELROD: Here's what I can say, Chris.  I can say that we're in a better position than we were four years ago

....

STEPHANIE CUTTER: I just want to remind you what was happening four years ago at this time.

....

DAVID PLOUFFE: Listen, George, I think the American people understand that we got into a terrible economic situation.

No!  No they don't!  The American people don't understand that.

Here's what the American people understand.  That getting a free sandwich is a good reason to buy ten other sandwiches.  That's what we understand!  

Here's what we, the American people, understand.  Angels are real.

Here's what we, the American people, understand.  That Malcolm X was the leader of the X-Men.

So I would urge you to stop with the whole Jackie Mason "well, if the people understood, maybe they go this way... (mumbles) they understand the four years", and just say, "Yes!!  We're better off!  Sure, why not?  Are we?  Yes!  Of course!"

Because here's what your nuanced reasoning is going into the Octagon against.

CHUCK NORRIS (9/1/2012): Hi, I'm Chuck Norris, and this is my wife Gena.
(confused laughter)

Is he going to yell at an ottoman?

9/1/2012:

CHUCK NORRIS: Our great country and freedom are under attack. ... Our country as we know it may be lost forever if we don't change the course our country is headed. ... We can no longer sit quietly or stand on the sidelines and watch our country go the way of socialism, or something much worse.

GENA NORRIS: We will preserve for our children this last best hope for man on earth (Daily Show audience gasps in shock), or we will sentence them to take the first step into 1,000 years of darkness.

(shocked audience laughter)

(meekly) Happy Labor Day, everybody!  (audience applause)

Wow!  Now I may not agree that the state of the country is... quite that dire, but I just think Chuck Norris just pitched the perfect premise for an awesome Chuck Norris comeback film.  "One man stands between America and 1,000 years of darkness.  And that man is 72.  Chuck Norris is Texas Ranger's Walker!

Democrats!  Democrats, how do you get caught flat-footed on the better off question?  It's been the most important question an incumbent has faced ever since Ronald Reagan laid out Jimmy Carter with it in 1980!

RONALD REAGAN (10/28/1980): Are you better off than you were four years ago?
And the answer to that question is, of course, we have, and will always only be better off under the leadership of Ronald Reagan.  Study your history, people!

It's all there.  (audience laughter and applause)

For God's sakes, Democrats, do you even remember Obama used to be the challenger?

BARACK OBAMA (10/11/2008): I don't quote Ronald Reagan that often, but let me ask you a simple question.  Are you better off than you were four years ago?
You guys even have meetings??  You know what, all right.  You didn't see it coming for the weekend news shows.  It's fine, not gonna matter.  It's like the SATs, you just take 'em again.  And oh, what a difference a good night's sleep can make.
9/3/2012:

NATALIE MORALES, TODAY SHOW: Are we better off today than we were four years ago when President Obama was elected?

STEPHANIE CUTTER: Absolutely.

....

GOVERNOR MARTIN O'MALLEY, D-MD: We are clearly better off as a country because we're now creating jobs, rather than losing them.

Ohh, better off!
The Daily Show correspondents then interviewed DNC delegates to come up with a catchy slogan for Obama this time around, which seems to, ahem, be harder this time around, along with a music video.
Then they reported about the city of Charlotte itself, and had a debate over how good its barbeque is.
Meanwhile, Stephen looked at how unenthused RNC chair Reince Priebus seemed to be about Mitt Romney, before doing another Better Know a District segment profiling Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), who, ah, didn't seem to know that slavery was over by 1898.
Stephen then looked at Paul Ryan's lie about his marathon time.
Stephen talked with conservative writer Reihan Salam, while Jon talked with Tom Brokaw, which went long.  Here's the unedited interview in two parts.
Part 1
Part 2

Originally posted to BruinKid on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Electronic America: Progressives Film, music & Arts Group.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Whatever Plouffe's Good At, He Needs to Spend (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pithy Cherub, NM Ray, wonmug, BruinKid

    every second at it and never speak in public again.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 05:34:26 AM PDT

    •  He an just start lying. (3+ / 0-)

      Are we better off!

      "yes, Barack Obama is proud that every voter now has a pony.l

      Of course, Republicans can lie and get away with it, Democrats would be challenged.

      AND WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT HEALTH CARE IN 2011? -- Susan from 29

      by voracious on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 06:03:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, we are MUCH better off. That's not a lie. (6+ / 0-)

        Back in Sept. 2008, this country was spiraling into an economic abyss. There were massive layoffs, the banks were crashing, trillions of dollars in wealth evaporated overnight. Barack took the steps needed to stem the bleeding, then get people back to work...and in the process killed Osama Fucking Bin Laden and provided universal health coverage and ended the Iraq War.

        No, it hasn't been a fast or pretty process, but don't let the GOP drag us this country into the depths of hell and then expect heaven overnight.

        •  Trouble is that low information voters (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BruinKid

          didn't know any of it was happening before 2009 when they could Blame the Black Guy.

          The founding fathers knew of the mutually corrupting influences of Church and state, wisely sending them to opposite corners.

          by emidesu on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 07:47:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's why we tell them now. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            emidesu, BruinKid

            none of this "Well, errrr, no they aren't better off, but kinda sorta they are." Obama practically had to move mountains to save this country from near depression and the gop stood in the way the whole time trying to prolong the misery for their own electoral goals.

            Bush and crew drove us off a cliff with their dumbass economic policies - during his administration - and now Romney wants to double down on it. Bullshit. Blame the black guy all they want, but at least get the truth out there.

  •  An education system thats in the toilet (10+ / 0-)

    Rampant corporatism invading every open channel in the brain - makes perfect sense why Americans' "don't do nuance."

    What chance do they have?

    "Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness."

    - Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate

    by Tirge Caps on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 05:39:19 AM PDT

  •  Oh God, Yvette Clarke. (7+ / 0-)

    Making fence posts look eloquent since 2006. Somebody, please primary this woman.

    Fuck me, it's a leprechaun.

    by MBNYC on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 05:41:33 AM PDT

  •  that's why Americans will never understand Cricket (7+ / 0-)

    (the game) because it's nuanced and Americans don't do nuance .. we have to have a big hammer

    Thanks for this bruinkid

    Bumper sticker seen on I-95; "Stop Socialism" my response: "Don't like socialism? GET OFF the Interstate highway!"

    by Clytemnestra on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 05:46:08 AM PDT

    •  That said (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      glorificus, Clytemnestra, BruinKid

      my Republican insider-wannabee friend isn't talking US politics this morning.  He's talking David Cameron and Boris Johnson.  

      Romney: The guy that laid off your father. Ryan: The guy that thinks your father should starve because he couldn't keep a job.

      by Liberal Protestant on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 06:29:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The concrete is hardening in presidential race now (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Liberal Protestant, BruinKid

        Unless Rmoney pulls off a miracle in the debates, or unless Bibi bombs bombs Iran, the narrative of the presidential election is largely set by this point.   Team Obama would have to really screw up and/or a major external event would have to occur for this race to materially change.

        The big unknown at this point is in the Congressional races.  I'm assuming that we will still have to endure Speaker Boehner and ML Cantor next year.  I'm hoping that Reid remains ML w/ a majority similar to what he has now.   I currently see little evidence of House gains big enough to shift control, and the success of 2006 always made significant Senate gains a virtual impossibility.

        There will be major distress as the impending re-election of the Kenyan Muslim Socialist starts to dawn on the GOP base.  Perhaps there will be intraparty bloodletting and/or discouragement that could have a downballot impact.   My suspicion, however, is that the Beltway landscape will, in January, look a lot like how it looks now.

        Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

        by RFK Lives on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 06:52:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The main thing I learned at the RNC (4+ / 0-)

          is that Sheldon Adelson wants to bomb, bomb Iran.  After all, that material on Romney's ability to deliver returns for his investors was meant to reassure Adelson and the Kochs, and Romney's hawkish speech showed what that return would be.

          Romney: The guy that laid off your father. Ryan: The guy that thinks your father should starve because he couldn't keep a job.

          by Liberal Protestant on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 07:02:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Adelson bought a series of political junk bonds (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Liberal Protestant, wonmug, BruinKid

            IIRC, he invested ~$10mm in Newt, which went for naught.  I'm not sure how much he gave to R&R, but it looks like that investment will be equally wasted.

            I've felt all along that Willard got played by Bibi during his visit so that pressure could be placed upon the incumbent WH.  This op-ed in today's NYT about Obama and Israel confirms those suspicions:

            Ask any senior Israeli official involved in national security, and he will tell you that the strategic relationship between the United States and Israel has never been stronger than under President Obama. “I can hardly remember a better period of American support and backing, and Israeli cooperation and similar strategic understanding of events around us,” the defense minister, Ehud Barak, said last year, “than what we have right now.”

            That cooperation has included close coordination by intelligence agencies — including the deployment of cyberweapons, as recent news reports have revealed — to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

            Mr. Romney conveniently neglects to mention that Mr. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, diverted American attention from Iran — the greatest threat to Israel’s existence — to Iraq, even helping to put a pro-Iranian leader in power in Baghdad. In contrast, through painstaking diplomacy, Mr. Obama persuaded Russia and China to support harsh sanctions on Iran, including an arms embargo and the cancellation of a Russian sale of advanced antiaircraft missiles that would have severely complicated any military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Mr. Obama secured European support for what even Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called “the most severe and strictest sanctions ever imposed on a country.”
             

            Reports of rifts between the WH and Israel are clearly overblown.  Willard got used, and he was too blind to see that he was being used.   A tinfoil hat interpretation would be that Adelson isn't actually pissing away a small fraction of his fortune--maybe he just wants to pressure the WH, too.

            After taking that hat off, I wonder how Koch, Adelson, et al will feel about tossing in millions next time if this election ends the way it appears to be headed.  The Kochs will likely continue to buy state govts--they've gotten a strong return on that investment.  Whether they'll want to continue to invest in national elections may be a closer call.

            Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

            by RFK Lives on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 08:19:30 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Or it could just be (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GeorgeXVIII, jayden, pademocrat, BruinKid

      that cricket is dull and lasts way too long to care.

      "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

      by newfie on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 07:12:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  no actually I think it's pretty interesting (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        newfie, BruinKid

        I had to buy a book and learn about it (hubby plays cricket) ... but it was through the book I learned about the nuance of the game

        but I do agree, for me, the American, it's is toooo long and can get booring if you are watching ... playing is a different matter

        Bumper sticker seen on I-95; "Stop Socialism" my response: "Don't like socialism? GET OFF the Interstate highway!"

        by Clytemnestra on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 08:27:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Playing is alway different. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Clytemnestra, BruinKid

          I don't have much care for baseball either.  American football is fine as long as you aren't present for the game - amazing how much time is spent standing around - that is on the professional level.  

          Hockey is where it's at for me.  Both playing and watching.

          "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

          by newfie on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 08:35:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Chuck Norris's use of the Apocalypic (10+ / 0-)

    The main message of Chuck's insane rant was that when evangelicals stay home, evil prospers.  Evangelicals staying home (supposedly they weren't impressed with Palin's evangelical cred) gave BHO his victory in '08, and DIRE THINGS WILL HAPPEN if they don't turn out this time to rid the country of EVIL.

    The 1000 years of darkness is the reign of the AntiChrist.  Yep, Chuck is that batshit insane.

    We do not forgive. We do not forget. The whole world is watching.

    by Tracker on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 06:03:17 AM PDT

  •  Democrats need to appeal to emotions first. (10+ / 0-)

       Like first impressions, people listen to the first few lines of any dialogue and make judgements based on that. Is this something that helps them feel better or not. They want to hear positive answers FIRST,second, possibly third... and then you can bring out the facts.
        Research has  shown that people react more to how you present something, then the actual content. Reagan knew this.

    "A lie makes it halfway around the world before the truth gets it shoes on." Mark Twain

    by pipercity1 on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 06:08:28 AM PDT

  •  How about-- (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mistral Wind, jayden, BruinKid

    "Romney: "Wanting Americans to be worse off since 2008."    

  •  To be honest, Jon doesn't understand nuance either (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    YuccaPete, CanyonWren

    And it's one of the reasons I've pretty much stopped watching his show over the last few years. He's always looking for a silver bullet for complex issues like the economy, healthcare reform, and climate change.

    •  Or, maybe he's just appealing to American (5+ / 0-)

      emotional simplicity.

      Republicans...What a nice club...of liars, cheaters, adulterers, exaggerators, hypocrites and ignoramuses. Der Spiegel -6.62, -6.92

      by CanyonWren on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 07:01:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Or maybe (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jayden, BruinKid

        he's just trying to be funny.  Much easier to be funny when you keep it very simple.

        "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

        by newfie on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 07:18:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, that much is obvious. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BruinKid

          Pardon the pun.

          Republicans...What a nice club...of liars, cheaters, adulterers, exaggerators, hypocrites and ignoramuses. Der Spiegel -6.62, -6.92

          by CanyonWren on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 07:41:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  LOL!! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CanyonWren, BruinKid

          I think sometimes people forget that TDS is a comedy show first and foremost! Stewart is an equal-opportunity rib tickler. Yet he still manages to make some very salient points through the jokes on a regular basis.


          Not this mind and not this heart, I won't rot • Mumford & Sons

          by jayden on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 07:52:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That he does. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BruinKid

            People also forget how much easier it is to explain nuances that they do not fully understand versus how easy it is to poke fun at those nuances.  Making a joke does not require accuracy.  It does not require understanding (in fact it thrives on ignoring understanding).  The more words used to explain merely gives you more to take out of context and make funny.

            Not to take away anything from the art of comedy.  There is a definitive skill set for this that not everyone has and certainly not everyone has to the same degree.  But side by side comparisons - far easier to make fun of something that people don't fully understand than it is to explain it.  And the humor cuts both ways.  It can be good-natured or it can be mean spirited and ill-intended.

            "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

            by newfie on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 08:17:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I too have stoppes watching him (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CanyonWren

      for much the same reasons. American politics, as I've said before, strikes me as incredibly juvenile, complete with the equivalent of bullying, schoolyard taunts and "my dad can beat up your dad" levesl of discourse; and, what seems to be a complete disregard for even the most basic of logical principals. Stewart does nothing to mitigate this and even indulges in juvenalia himself on a regular basis.

      The result, IMO is that the President of the USA is coming to resemble, on a scale writ large, the principal of a suburban middle school that has nuclear weapons stockpiled in the gym.

      •  oops should be stopped. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CanyonWren
      •  LOL, perfect metaphor. I do love Jon, though (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wonmug

        and think he does a crucial thing, which is educate the youth and the middle-aged on Republican duplicity and malevolence by meeting them on their terms, which is "juvenalia" at times.  It's a 'comedy show' in name, but political analysis and critique at its heart, and an entertainer has to entertain in a way that the viewers can understand.

        Republicans...What a nice club...of liars, cheaters, adulterers, exaggerators, hypocrites and ignoramuses. Der Spiegel -6.62, -6.92

        by CanyonWren on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 08:00:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You gotta work with the Americans you got, (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    YuccaPete, johnel, jayden, wonmug, BruinKid

    not with the Americans you wish you had.

    A society of sheep must beget in time a government of wolves. Bertrand de Jouvenel

    by Little Red Hen on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 07:19:24 AM PDT

  •  barbeque is no good there imo (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, BruinKid

    maybe it was just the place i was at.

    they served me baked beans that i swear weren't even beans!

    kansas has good barbeque.  so does texas.

    -You want to change the system, run for office.

    by Deep Texan on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 07:46:54 AM PDT

  •  BTW, the answer to the question IS 'Yes" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruinKid

    And here is why:  September 15, 2008

    Ultimately, the only thing that matters with respect to preserving choice is who will be nominating the next Supreme Court Justices.

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 07:49:29 AM PDT

  •  Democrats Should Answer That Ridiculous GOP (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruinKid

    question with an unequivocal "YES, AMERICANS ARE BETTER OFF TODAY THAN THEY WERE 4 YEARS AGO." And then list the reasons why:
    The auto industry is alive today, thanks to Obama and the Democrats. The Gulf Coast is recovering from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, thanks to President Obama holding BP accountable. Osama Bin Laden is dead, thanks to President Obama's leadership. Millions of home owners with under water mortgages have saved their homes through loan modifications, thanks to President Obama and the Democrats. Millions of previously uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions are now insured, thanks to President Obama and the Democrats, etc. And then follow up the list of accomplishments with the following "President Obama can move our economy forward even faster in the next 4 years if Americans will vote out obstructionist Republicans in the House and Senate."
    Democrats need to start shouting their accomplishments from the rooftops to let all Americans know how far our economy has come under the Democrats (and how deep in the abyss the economy would be now if Mitt "let Detroit go bankrupt" Romney had been in the oval office).

  •  Between Vito Lopez and Yvette Clarke (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruinKid

    I'm ashamed to pull the Democratic lever (or whatever we do these days) here in Brooklyn. Do I really have to put up with being represented by lechers and cretins?

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