Biden succeeded, as evidenced by the fact that the lion’s share of post-debate commentary was All About Joe. Critics said he smiled too much, interrupted his opponent too often, came across as too “hot” for a medium that is all about cool. But these complaints only reinforced the fact that Biden was the protagonist of the evening. [...]
At this debate, the real Biden showed up. At the next, on Tuesday at Hofstra University on Long Island, the real Obama had better do the same.
Mitt Romney doesn’t see dead people. But that’s only because he doesn’t want to see them; if he did, he’d have to acknowledge the ugly reality of what will happen if he and Paul Ryan get their way on health care. [...]
Oh, about the voucher thing: In his debate with Vice President Biden, Mr. Ryan was actually the first one to mention vouchers, attempting to rule the term out of bounds. Indeed, it’s apparently the party line on the right that anyone using the word “voucher” to describe a health policy in which you’re given a fixed sum to apply to health insurance is a liar, not to mention a big meanie.
Among the lying liars, then, is the guy who, in 2009, described the Ryan plan as a matter of “converting Medicare into a defined contribution sort of voucher system.” Oh, wait — that was Paul Ryan himself.
At a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last Wednesday, Representative Darrell Issa, Republican of California and the committee’s chairman, talked of “examining security failures that led to the Benghazi tragedy.” He said lawmakers had an obligation to protect federal workers overseas. On Sunday, he said more should be spent on diplomatic security.
But as part of the Republican majority that has controlled the House the last two years, Mr. Issa joined in cutting nearly a half-billion dollars from the State Department’s two main security accounts. One covers things like security staffing, including local guards, armored vehicles and security technology; the other, embassy construction and upgrades. In 2011 and 2012, President Obama sought a total of $5 billion, and the House approved $4.5 billion. In 2009, Mr. Issa voted for an amendment that would have cut nearly 300 diplomatic security positions. And the draconian budgets proposed by Mitt Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, would cut foreign affairs spending by 10 percent in 2013 and even more in 2016.
In a speech this week, CBS News foreign correspondent Lara Logan ripped the Obama administration for its feckless response to the Libya attack, declaring it was time for the U.S. to “exact revenge and let the world know that the United States will not be attacked on its own soil. That its ambassadors will not be murdered, and that the United States will not stand by and do nothing about it.”T. Boone Pickens has one big idea to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Would you be surprised to learn it has something to do with natural gas?
She is absolutely right. Perhaps President Obama has some decisive action planned. Perhaps when the White House is done trying to cover up this terrorist attack, it will pivot to responding to this terrorist attack. That would be a welcome “October surprise” indeed.
But as of now, all the world sees is a president who is afraid to call an act of terror what it is, much less do something about it.
Following the debate, Cheney declared that there ”is no question in my mind when I look at Joe Biden and Paul Ryan on the stage there last night, I think Paul Ryan’s got what it takes to take over as president. I don’t think Joe Biden does.” [...]
The former Republican vice president adores the Republican vice presidential candidate because Ryan is a fresh, young Cheney.
Cheney moved to Washington as soon as he could and became a political careerist, working as a Capitol Hill aide, a think-tank hanger on and then a member of Congress. Ryan followed the same insider trajectory.
Cheney’s a hyper-partisan Republican with a history of putting party loyalty above everything else. Ryan’s an equally loyal GOP mandarin.
Cheney’s a rigid ideologue who has never let reality get in the way of cockamamie neocon theories about where to start the next war. And Ryan’s every bit as much a neocon as Cheney.
But beyond the horseshit something genuinely disturbing and scary got said last night by Paul Ryan that is, I think, easily missed and still worth brooding over. [...]
Paul Ryan did not say, as John Kennedy had said before him, that faith was faith and public service, public service, each to be honored and kept separate from the other. No, he said instead “I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do.” That’s a shocking answer—a mullah’s answer, what those scary Iranian “Ayatollahs” he kept referring to when talking about Iran would say as well. Ryan was rejecting secularism itself, casually insisting, as the Roman Catholic Andrew Sullivan put it, that “the usual necessary distinction between politics and religion, between state and church, cannot and should not exist.” And he went on to make it quietly plain that his principles are uncompromising on this, even if his boss’s policy may not seem so.
There are a lot of things to admire about Mitt Romney. His extraordinary number of both homes and khaki-clad offspring (and offspring's offspring). His impressive attempts to emulate the emotions of real human beings. And his campaign's increasingly creative relationship with the truth.Clancy Sigal has had such strong differences with President Obama that he seriously wanted there to be a third-party candidate. But a brush with death and a health-care insurance system eager to get him off its roster persuaded Sigal that voting for Obama matters.
The latest example of Romney's kinda-but-not-really truthiness? His claim that abortion legislation isn't part of his agenda.
It should be noted that Ryan had a terrific night. He was prepared, he was fluent in every policy matter and made no mistakes—crossing the credibility threshold for vice president and, potentially one day, for president. But he didn’t leave Biden bleeding, and therefore Biden has likely stopped the bleeding, at least until Tuesday when Obama faces Romney again at their second debate. [...]
It was too much to ask Biden to clean up President Obama’s debate mess from last week—but he brought the fight Democrats pine for, the passion victory requires, and he provided reassurance to the party that this campaign is not, in fact, already over. But there’s not much left Biden—or Bill Clinton—can do for Obama and if he doesn’t become as convincing as they are, then it will be over.
The reviews are in and, with the exception of a few right-wing commentators, everyone thinks Martha Raddatz did a great job moderating the vice-presidential debate Thursday. At the very least, she was better than Jim Lehrer, who ineffectually sat on stage during the first debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. But both debates have skipped over serious, important issues, and have given too little attention, or the wrong kind of attention, to others. Conor Friedersdorf noted the total absence of discussion about civil-liberties issues at the first debate, a pattern that continued Thursday night. But there are plenty more missing.
This means the program would be turned over entirely to the states. The federal government would continue to provide a share of funding, but that funding would go straight into state coffers, and states could decide how to spend it. So the question is: Once released from federal regulations, what would states do with their Medicaid money?
Romney's plan represents a massive change in our commitment to providing decent medical care for those who can least afford it.
Some states would probably try some genuinely interesting experiments, though it's unlikely we'll ever discover any magic bullets for reining in health care costs on a state level. But lots of states, especially poor states in the South, don't have much interest in experimenting. They just want to slash eligibility for Medicaid. Given the freedom to do it, they'd adopt what Ed Kilgore calls the "Mississippi model," cutting off coverage for a family of three earning anything over $8,200. For all the talk of fresh thinking and new solutions, what they really want to do is simple: They want to stop providing medical care for poor people.
The appearance, mostly in Cleveland's predominantly black neighborhoods, of billboards warning against voter fraud is constitutionally protected speech.
It is also insulting, demeaning, belittling speech—coming from people who choose to remain anonymous—and a despicable election tactic.
The billboards, posted here and in Cincinnati and Milwaukee by what has been identified only as a private family foundation, insinuate that the neighborhoods in which they are found are hotbeds of voter fraud, which, of course, they are not.
One of these myths has been thoroughly exploded (though many eminences seem not to know it). This is the notion that President John F. Kennedy got Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to back down and remove his nuclear missiles from Cuba entirely through the threat of force. In fact, as revealed by JFK’s secret tape recordings of his meetings with senior advisers (evidence that’s been available at the Kennedy Library for 25 years now), the two leaders brokered a deal: Khrushchev would take his missiles out of Cuba; Kennedy would take his very similar missiles out of Turkey. [...]Doyle McManus says what independent voters most want from the presidential candidates are some clearer answers.
For years, Khrushchev had boasted that his factories were cranking out ICBMs “like sausages.” In fact, though, he had nothing; the missile program was in total disarray. And now the Americans were calling his bluff. [...]
The resolution of the Cuban crisis may hold some lessons for crises today.
First, antagonists should stay in touch with each other. There was no telephone contact between Kennedy and Khrushchev in October 1962. But they did send telegrams back and forth, and Kennedy maintained a back channel through the Soviet embassy—even as ships and submarines confronted one another, troops were mobilized, and, in one particularly tense moment, a U-2 spy plane was shot down. Without those communiqus, the crisis might easily have escalated into war.