O’Reilly/Stewart debate, Obama/Romney debate – what’s the diff?

I had high hopes going into last Wednesday night for President Obama, hoping that he would slam the door shut on a Romney campaign that had been sputtering for the better part of a month. Granted, having high hopes can lead to an easy let-down, but the President’s performance last Wednesday night was beyond a let-down. Barack Obama was given the opportunity to articulate and explain to the American public why another 4 years of his leadership would be better than a return to the policies so advocated by his general election opponent. Not only did President Obama not seize on that opportunity, it seemed that when the opportunity presented itself, he punted on each potential chance. I remember seeing him walk up to Mitt, his looking straight at Governor Romney, and thinking that President Obama was of focused mind – ready, willing, and able to take down his interlocutor.

Well, damn it, I was wrong. I can only describe what I saw as this: either President Obama is sick or he is sick of being President. I can’t tell which. When Governor Romney laid poor policy on the table, for example taking small nips out of the budget by slashing federal funding of public broadcasting, President Obama didn’t bother to rally a response. When Romney contorted himself into a corner on health care reform, refuting positions he’d only recently campaigned on, the President took no chances. He kept his mouth shut.

Fine. Keep your mouth shut. I’m not going to keep my mouth shut.

Mitt Romney, your plan to cut federal funding to public broadcasting is a pander to segments of people that think that we spend loads of money on it. However, when it comes down to it, funding for public broadcasting is a drop in the bucket compared to defense, social security, and medicare. A tiny line item that provides a valuable service, giving us quality, informative programming when the private market is so brutally failing to do so.

Mitt Romney, I’m not sure what you mean when you say you’re going to repeal Obamacare. And then you say that you’re going to keep parts of it. And then you and the President are practically making out on stage when you admire your work. I don’t believe you for a minute and how it is that you got jammed down the gullet of Republican voters remains beyond me.

*Sigh*

Well, the real debate to watch last week was The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium 2012, pitching Fox News Channel host Bill “Papa Bear” O’Reilly against The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’s Jon Stewart. There was actually substance by and large to what they were arguing. The one thing I could not stand was O’Reilly’s repeated use of small placards, as if making the things he were saying true. The placards didn’t convey any information, just made use of pictures to make a point without giving context or adding missing information.

For me, nothing better illustrates the idiocy like the following picture:

Image

In case you can’t see, underneath “Robin Hood On Steroids” are subtitled photographs of Cuba, Sherwood Forest, and Mao Zedong. It doesn’t explain anything – it just adds scary ideas: Cuba is bad, Mao is bad, therefore anything I call socialistic income redistribution is bad. What makes the whole business completely farcical is O’Reilly’s repeated statements of support for Social Security. Social Security is income redistribution. Most of us will never see as much come back to us as we put in? Why? Because it is social insurance to provide a safety net to those who need it. People will get social security as a pension-esque product when they retire, but there are also survivor’s benefits for kids whose parent(s) die(s) unexpectedly. It is protection. It is income redistribution. It is a socialist program. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you a load of BS.

Also, I find the debate on disability that JStew and Papa Bear have to be very interesting, but Jon’s bringing up of Bill’s dad is unfair. (You need to watch this.) Bill claims repeatedly that federal disability claims have gone up massively under Obama, with the implication that Obama is making it easier to make claims and get fraudulent items paid, etc. Jon comes with a partial rebuttal – but I think he misses a critical point. More people are filing for disability because many people went from having full-time jobs that would have a benefits package including disability insurance to having part-time jobs that offer practically no benefits. This is the key point to me. We need to improve the quality of jobs available.

What are your thoughts? Did you watch either debate?

-R

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