Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The state of the campaign

For the last couple of days the Romney campaign has had to deal with a controversy that is much ado about nothing.  At a private dinner with supporters he argued that the election was really about a small percentage of the electorate.   He said "47% of the people will vote for the President, no matter what."  He then went on to conflate that number with the 47% of Americans who pay no income tax.   The statement also argues that Obama supporters rely on government and feel they are victims.   The substance of his remarks have elements of truth but are inarticulately stated.  The entire transcript (Romney spoke for a bit more than an hour) is available here. Before you form your opinion about what he said in this setting - which was several months ago - you should read the entire transcript or watch the video.  The Videos are posted here.  (Note the recorder hides his cellphone so it cannot be seen.  Although I think this kind of thing is certainly fair game.  Also note also that at the key point in the discussion the context of Romney's remarks is interrupted.)   Romney has been dogged by the press on a number of issues - they have shown their lack of objectivity consistently since he became the nominee.

In contrast the press has given Obama almost a free pass.  Last night the President presented to David Letterman who claimed he was not political and then served up a series of softballs to Obama.  According to ABC news Obama has been unique in refusing to engage with the press - fewer news conferences and many fewer questions taken. "A Towson professor studied Obama’s aversion to his press corps in February and found that he had held only 17 solo press conferences by then, fewer at that point than Bill Clinton (31), George H.W. Bush (56) and Ronald Reagan (21), though more than George W. Bush (11).  And at impromptu encounters with the press pool, Obama took questions just 94 times — a puny number compared with Bush Jr. (307), Clinton (493), Bush Sr. (263) and Reagan (120)."   

This election should come down to the two visions being presented by the candidates - one that would expand the size and scope of government in our lives and the other which would reduce it.  As David Brooks has pointed out in the last fifty years entitlement payments to individuals have increased by 700% after accounting for inflation.  By any measure that is a huge increase.

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