Category Archives: 2012 Presidential

Michele writes once more to me, her “cherished friend”

Not to mention, “immensely loyal supporter.” Which would come as a surprise to a lot of people.

I received this this morning from Michele Bachmann:

Dear Friend,

As a most cherished friend and an immensely loyal supporter, I’m writing you today to say THANK YOU for all you have done both for me and my campaigns.

As a special thank you, I have prepared a personal video just for you that I hope you will view right now. I’m excited to share this important breaking news about a decision I have made with you first.

After watching the video, I hope you will provide me your feedback or leave a comment.

Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your continued support. I look forward to working with you in my future endeavors.


As I’ve mentioned in the past, Rep. Bachmann has for some time assumed a certain intimacy with me. I was particularly disturbed when I would get those “Are you free to talk tonight?” emails. It was like she thought we were married, or at least seriously dating.

I suppose I got on the list from my contacts with Wesley Donehue’s outfit, since they worked with her presidential campaign.

Maybe it’s over now. Do you think? Surely I won’t hear from her any more. Will I?

‘Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi!’

There’s a scene in “Bananas” in which Woody Allen’s character is discussing the economy of his new, adopted country, and when he’s told that bananas are its greatest export, he cries, “Bananas, bananas!” in a tone that conveys that he’s heard enough about that particular fruit. (I tried to find a video clip of that, but couldn’t. And is it my imagination that that movie used to be available on Netflix, but is not now?)Woody-Allen

There were times in recent months when many of us would have a similar reaction to Lindsey Graham’s (and John McCain’s, and Kelly Ayotte’s) repetition of the word, “Benghazi.”

Subsequent events have indicated that further inquiry into what happened there last Sept. 11 is at least worth further investigation. There should be bipartisan agreement on that much. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that any investigation that involves the Congress will be tainted by consideration of the 2016 presidential election, and the anticipated candidacy of Hilary Clinton.

For that reason, I though it particularly unfortunate that Lindsey Graham should say, just as everyone is finally paying attention, the following:

If it had been known by the American people seven weeks before the election the truth about Benghazi, I think it would have made a difference in the election…

No, it wouldn’t have. You still would have had Barack Obama going up against Mitt Romney, and the outcome would have been the same. It’s hard to imagine any sort of statement that might have been made about Benghazi. I mean, really, what would it have been? Are you saying the president should have said, “I’ve done a rotten job of protecting the American people, because I just don’t care. I could have saved the ambassador, but I personally decided not to, because I just didn’t like him. And I’ll do it the same way next time…”

It was a terrorist attack in a politically unstable place where there are tremendous numbers of weapons circulating, and it ended tragically. It should cause us to review consulate security across the globe. That’s the “truth about Benghazi,” and if the administration had said that on day one, and continued to say it through the election, I see no way it would have affected the election outcome.

Anyway, you and your fellow senators were being heard as you cried in the wilderness about this topic, before the election. But you were being dismissed by some as Republicans who were trying to wring electoral advantage from the tragedy. So… why would you want to give credence to that by saying something like this?

Missing the point about the wicked Lowcountry

Last night before the results were in, a friend shared with me this Facebook update from John Dickerson of CBS and Slate:

If Mark Sanford wins tonight it will mark a real evolution for South Carolina as a state where values voters play a big role. Sanford, Gingrich’s win in the SC GOP primary. This is not the state where George Bush spoke at Bob Jones in 2000.

No, no, no. Apples and oranges. As I responded:

It’s the Lowcountry. Stuff like that never mattered as much in the Lowcountry. Bob Jones is in the part of the state where they think Charlestonians are all heathens.

I could have added, “drinking, swearing, gambling, fornicating heathens,” but it was a text, so I kept it short.

The Calvinist/fundamentalist part of the state, where Bob Jones is, is the Upstate. It’s like confusing Maine and Florida, only on a smaller scale. Charleston is where the hell-raisers live, and let live. It has always been thus.

Mr. Dickerson compounded his error with a piece in Slate this morning headlined, “Paris, South Carolina:”

South Carolina conservatives may still say a candidate’s sins matter, but they aren’t voting that way. In fact, if you weren’t privy to the state’s strong social conservative history, you could almost mistake South Carolinians for city folk—people who vote for experience, policy, and political leanings and show a sophisticate’s relativism toward personal moral failings. These days, South Carolinians seem almost Parisian when they enter the voting booth.

It’s a clever angle. And accurate, in that Charleston is, indeed the Paris of South Carolina. The difference is that South Carolina isn’t France.

It’s true that the values voters don’t have the impact statewide that they did back in the early 90s. The two strains of libertarianism (economic, not cultural) — the Club for Growth types who love Sanford, and the more populist Tea Party types who love Nikki Haley — have crowded them out to a great extent.

But they’re still here. And just because Sanford won in the Lowcountry doesn’t mean their influence isn’t still felt. Maybe he would have won in another part of the state. But winning down there doesn’t prove it.

The Gingrich angle that Dickerson brings up is indeed intriguing. But I don’t think that’s a good example. South Carolinians had a fit and broke with their history of choosing the eventual nominee because Gingrich at that moment was coming across as the guy who most wanted to rip out Barack Obama’s throat with his teeth. It was a weird moment. He appealed to something dark and visceral and atavistic in the SC electorate, something that for me hearkened back to Tillmanism. There was that, and the fact that a lot of establishment Republicans didn’t want Nikki Haley’s candidate to win.

I don’t think the two instances mark a trend away from family values. But yeah, Charleston is Paris if you like…

Lesson (too late) for Romney: Always thank the servers

47 percent

HuffPost has been talking to the bartender who shot the infamous “47 percent” footage that did so much to undermine Mitt Romney last year.

Here’s what he said about how it happened:

The man, who tended bar for a company that catered to a high-end clientele, had previously worked at a fundraiser at a home where [Bill] Clinton spoke. After Clinton addressed guests, the man recalled, the former president came back to the kitchen and thanked the staff, the waiters, the bartenders, the busboys, and everyone else involved in putting the event together. He shook hands, took photos, signed autographs, and praised the meal—all characteristic of the former president.

When the bartender learned he would be working at Romney’s fundraiser, his first thought was to bring his camera, in case he had a chance to get a photo with the presidential candidate. Romney, of course, did not speak to any of the staff, bussers or waiters. He was late to the event, and rushed out. He told his dinner guests that the event was off the record, but never bothered to repeat the admonition to the people working there.

One of them had brought along a Canon camera. He set it on the bar and hit the record button.

The bartender said he never planned to distribute the video. But after Romney spoke, the man said he felt he had no choice.

“I felt it was a civic duty. I couldn’t sleep after I watched it,” he said. “I felt like I had a duty to expose it.”

As Huffington suggests, Obama owes Clinton on this one…

Did the ‘war on women’ meme even work?

Ralph Reed (answering the question, What ever happened to that guy?) had an op-ed piece in the WSJ today (“Round Up the Usual Social Conservative Suspects“) bemoaning — as you would expect him to — that once again, social conservatives are being blamed for a Republican defeat.

The main thrust of his piece is that the GOP would push the culture warriors away only at its peril.

Nothing new there. What interested me was this one paragraph in which he was speaking not about Republicans, but about Democrats:

Despite the Obama campaign’s accusation of a Republican “war on women,” Mr. Obama actually won women by a narrower margin than he did in 2008; he lost married women by seven points. Nor did single women—who went heavily Mr. Obama’s way—vote on reproductive issues. Forty-five percent of single women voters listed jobs and the economy as their most important issues, while only 8% said abortion.

That was welcome news to me, given my repeated complaints about the Dems overemphasizing Kulturkampf stuff this year. (I would like very much for the president’s victory to be because of other factors, and for both parties to know that, and in the future act accordingly, so that I don’t have to be quite so appalled at the tenor of campaigns to come. And on the immigration front of the Kulturkampf, there are actually some signs that some Republicans learned something.) Of course, considering the source, I immediately wondered how accurate his characterization was.

That led me to this interesting 2012 exit polls graphic at the NYT site (if you don’t get anything else from this post, go check that out). While the words on the graphic seem to contradict Reed, saying, “Mr. Obama maintained his 2008 support among women,” when you call up the actual numbers (just scroll your cursor over the blue and pink bubbles), you see a slight drop — although it’s only one percent, which is well within the 4 percent margin of error.

But in looking further at the numbers, I saw something that I had forgotten about, if I ever knew — that in 2008, President Obama edged out John McCain among men — the only time the Democratic nominee has done that in the last four presidential elections. Maybe, if they believe their “war on women” meme worked, Democrats should have claimed the Republicans were conducting a “war on men” as well.

I knew without looking that Reed was accurate in saying Obama won among single women and lost among married ones. As for what he said about single women caring far more about the economy than abortion — well, that makes sense (think about it — I would expect pretty much every broad demographic group to cite the economy as a bigger issue than abortion), but I haven’t found data that back it up. Has anyone seen that subset analyzed along those lines? I have not.

I have always believed that we don’t look hard enough at exit polls after elections. Yet in the polling world, that’s where the substance is. Ahead of the election, political junkies mainline polls in their desperate desire to know what might happen. Exit polls are the only kind that tell you what the actual voters who actually showed up were actually thinking on Election Day. Maybe you have to allow a bit for a Democratic bias (Republicans are more likely to refuse to participate in exit polls), but it’s still valuable stuff.

Romney campaign, other Republicans still blaming Christie

Gov. Christie on SNL over the weekend.

There’s an interesting NYT story today about how Chris Christie got a chilly reception at the Republican Governor’s Association meeting in Vegas. It also goes into just how much the Romney campaign people blame him for their loss. Some experts:

But in the days after the storm, Mr. Christie and his advisers were startled to hear from out-of-state donors to Mr. Romney, who had little interest in the hurricane and viewed him solely as a campaign surrogate, demanding to know why he had stood so close to the president on a tarmac. One of them questioned why he had boarded Mr. Obama’s helicopter, according to people briefed on the conversations.

It did not help that Mr. Romney had not called Mr. Christie during those first few days, people close to the governor say.

The tensions followed Mr. Christie to the annual meeting of the Republican Governors Association in Las Vegas last week. At a gathering where he had expected to be celebrated, Mr. Christie was repeatedly reminded of how deeply he had offended fellow Republicans.

“I will not apologize for doing my job,” he emphatically told one of them in a hotel hallway at the ornate Wynn Resort…

Inside the Romney campaign, there is little doubt that Mr. Christie’s expressions of admiration for the president, coupled with ubiquitous news coverage of the hurricane’s aftermath, raised Mr. Obama’s standing at a crucial moment.

During a lengthy autopsy of their campaign, Mr. Romney’s political advisers pored over data showing that an unusually large number of voters who remained undecided until the end of the campaign backed Mr. Obama. Many of them cited the storm as a major factor in their decision, according to a person involved in the discussion.

“Christie,” a Romney adviser said, “allowed Obama to be president, not a politician.”…

Gee, folks, do you think it could be, as this story suggests, something as simple as the fact that Obama was taking an interest in what was happening in New Jersey, and his opponent was not?

We knew this was coming, didn’t we?

After the 2008 election, Jim DeMint and others cried that the reason Republicans lost is that they just weren’t right-wing enough, and they should never have nominated an iconoclast like John McCain.

It was patent nonsense, but the GOP listened, and so we got the Tea Party madness, and Nikki Haley, and Sarah Palin as a national celebrity, and a presidential nominating process that a year ago was letting the flake of the week take turns leading the pack.

It was inevitable, of course, that someone would say after Tuesday that despite all that saturation in ideology, Romney’s problem was that he just wasn’t right-wing enough (and remember, four years ago, Romney was the preferred candidate of people like DeMint). And in this release, someone did:

The Real Reason Romney Lost

Now that Mitt Romney lost to one of the most unpopular presidents in U.S. history, the question many are asking is why?

Political pundits on the Left and Right are claiming that Romney appealed too much to the “extreme Right fringe” and was not “moderate enough.”  The truth is that the exact opposite is true.

It is virtually impossible to win a national presidential election without your base on election day as 1976, 1992, 1996, and 2008 all demonstrated. Unfortunately, the GOP elites thought the pro-family/pro-life Christian base would hold their proverbial noses and vote for their candidate regardless.  They were wrong!

Fast forward to 2012 and many of us warned that if the GOP once again nominated an establishment approved liberal like Romney that it would assure 4 more years of the Obama in the White House since, again, it’s virtually impossible to win without your base on election day.

But once again, the elites who run the GOP (Reince Priebus, Karl Rove, The Bushies, the folks over at Fox News, the Weekly Standard and National Review) rammed yet another establishment liberal RINO down our throats who was, from the very beginning, destined for defeat.

Obama’s base turned out Tuesday night.  Romney’s  didn’t.  And why should they have?  After all, in just the past few months, Romney did virtually everything possible to snub the very same Evangelical conservative GOP “Values Voters” base ( whose support he would need in every one of the key swing states he lost last night) by:

  • Refusing to sign the Susan B. Anthony and Personhood U.S.A pro-life pledges.
  • Reaffirming his opposition to bans on homosexual scoutmasters.
  • Opposing 100% pro-life, pro-family, across the board conservative Senatorial candidate, Todd Akin.
  • Running pro-abortion ads in key pro-life swing states.
  • Stating that “abortion legislation” and Chick Fill-A was not “part of his agenda.”

Santorum was right when he said that Romney was the “worst Republican in the country to run against Obama.”

Having lost his own senate re-election bid by 18 points in 2006 by snubbing his own base (by supporting uber-liberal Arlen Specter over conservative primary challenger Pat Toomey), Santorum was all too familiar with what happens when your base stays home on election day.

The GOP elites should have listened to Santorum.

So, how do we stop perpetually repeating this mistake every 4 years you ask?  Simple.

Christian and conservative leaders and grassroots citizens must make it clear that we will, under no circumstances, compromise our core moral and spiritual beliefs.  We will not support godless liberals like Romney for public office no matter how many time the liberal GOP inside-the-beltway elites tell us our 100% pro-life, pro-marriage, pro- rule of law Constitutional conservative Christian candidate isn’t “electable.”

When we set the standard based on God’s authoritative Word and tell those running to represent us that if they don’t meet that standard that they will not get our support, I believe we will get candidates who truly represent us.

There are obviously millions of Christians and conservatives who don’t subscribe to the utilitarian-secular-humanist and anti-Biblical “lesser of two evils” construct and they refused to cast a vote for the most radically pro-abortion, pro-homosexual governor in the history of the Republic regardless of who his opponent was.

If the GOP is serious about reversing course in the next election they may want to run actual candidates whom the base will actually turn out for on election day.

Because, as Romney proved, you don’t win without your base on election day…

That email, by the way, came from one Annie Fischer, who appeared to be writing on behalf of one Gregg Jackson, author of a book entitled We Won’t Get Fooled Again.

But despite that title, there appear to be certain people who will keep getting fooled over and over, continuing to believe unlikely propositions despite evidence to the contrary.

Stepping back from the fiscal cliff?

Well, here’s an encouraging post-election development:

Quickly pivoting the political conversation from President Obama’s reelection to Washington’s looming budget battles, House Speaker John A. Boehner on Wednesday offered a potential path to compromise, saying Republicans are “willing to accept new revenue” to tame the soaring national debt and avert an ugly battle over the approaching “fiscal cliff.”

With Obama’s decisive electoral victory and Republicans’ hold on the House, with a slightly smaller majority, Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday’s election amounted to a plea from voters for the parties to lay down their weapons of the past two years and “do what’s best for our country.”

“That is the will of the people. And we answer to them,” Boehner said at an afternoon news conference at the Capitol. “For purposes of forging a bipartisan agreement that begins to solve the problem, we’re willing to accept new revenue, under the right conditions.”…

Last night, I was hearing that it appeared unlikely that House Republicans,  having held onto their power, would be any more willing to talk compromise than they have since 2010.

So this is good news. We may be able to arrive at a reasonable solution — although I’m sure the end product won’t be pleasant or fun for anyone involved, including us, the people.

But here’s the tough question: Can Boehner back this up, or will Eric Cantor be explaining to him right about now that he’s not allowed to do this?

This was the year for The State to endorse Obama

A couple of weeks ago, in a column explaining why The State would not endorse in the Senate District 23 race between Jake Knotts and Katrina Shealy, after stating well why both candidates were unacceptable, Cindi Scoppe concluded:

One other thing has changed since 2008: Then, our editorial board endorsed in all elections; we no longer have the capacity or the compulsion to do that. Still, we felt like we had to try to do that in such a high-profile, high-stakes race as this. Unfortunately, we don’t see any way we can endorse Mr. Knotts, and we don’t feel comfortable endorsing Ms. Shealy. Starting next week, we will be making endorsements in some of the other high-profile local races.

She might have said that a different way. She could have put it, One other thing has changed since 2008: Brad Warthen is not the editorial page editor any more.

Apparently as a result, no one seems to be saying, as I so often did to the chagrin of my colleagues, The voters don’t get to vote none of the above. ONE of these people will hold that office going forward, and if we won’t belly up and say which one that should be, or at least which is the lesser of evils, then what business do we have expressing opinions on public issues the rest of the time? My point, to elaborate, was that in a representative democracy, most of the issues we opined on were things most of our readers had no direct say in. But they do have a decision to make at election time, and it’s a cop-out for an opinion page not to express an opinion on that choice.

That said, there were rare times when I gave in to the temptation to endorse neither candidate. We did it once in the lieutenant governor’s race in the 90’s. That was partly to express disappointment with the candidates, but also our way of saying how little it mattered who the lieutenant governor was. We did it one or two other times — in fact, we could very well have done it in one of Jake Knotts’ many previous contests. I don’t have the archives in front of me to check now.

And Cindi might have talked me into taking this non-position this time. She certainly presented a compelling case. Last time, I insisted we make a choice, and we held our noses and went with Jake (something we had never thought we would do in any previous election year) as a protest against the Mark Sanford-surrogate campaign Ms. Shealy was running. This time, as Cindi explains in detail, there are more reasons than ever, compelling ones, to militate against picking Jake even as a protest vote.

So I didn’t write this post then. Maybe the board was right on that one.

What brings it back to mind is The State‘s decision not to endorse for president, which I was sorry to see.

The endorsement for president is a different sort of animal. With most endorsements, the editorial board is writing about candidates that readers know little about, aside from what they read in The State and a handful of other SC publications. So the fact-finding, the interviews, that we conducted gave us access to information that the readers probably didn’t have. Even when voters disagreed with our endorsements, we could tell ourselves that the endorsement presented arguments they probably didn’t encounter anywhere else, and gave them grist for making a better-informed, better-thought-out decision. (It was also good for us as editorialists, forcing us to confront and understand the issues involved on a deeper level, which helped us do a better job going forward, beyond the endorsements themselves. You have to examine something more closely, and think about it a lot harder, when you’re going to take a position and share it with the world. Not taking a position allows you to kick back and not dig as deeply.)

With president, there was little likelihood that we’d add any thoughts that readers hadn’t encountered a thousand times elsewhere. And there’s a school of thought that holds that because of that, newspapers shouldn’t bother with presidential endorsements. I was at a rare meeting of Knight Ridder editorial page editors in San Jose in 2005 when Tony Ridder, president of the now-defunct company, argued that we should not endorse in those races — all it did was make half the readers mad, and it was a distraction from our franchise, which was local news and commentary. I, and I suspect most of the editors there (I was never interested enough to check), ignored him on that point. It was all well and good for someone sitting in California to look at things that way. But as an early-primary state, presidential elections loom especially large in South Carolina politics, and for the editorial page of this state’s largest daily — its capital city daily — to shy away from opining about it would be an insupportable cop-out.

It’s true that it does make a lot of readers madder at you than anything else you might do in a four-year period. But it also gives them a gauge by which to judge your opinions on the races they know far less about. The important thing actually wasn’t which candidate we endorsed. It was the reasoning we used to back it up. A fair-minded reader who was voting against the candidate we endorsed could still look at an endorsement and see how the board worked its way through a decision regarding which the reader has a vast amount of information. That would indicate to him or her how much to trust our thinking on races about which the reader knows next to nothing.

I know, you’ll say that partisans wouldn’t care about the reasoning — they would either give us a pat on the back for agreeing with them, or curse us for going the other way. But I submit that such true believers can’t be reached in any case. The only people who can be reached with reason are the kind who come to each race with an open mind, and carefully weigh all the legitimate pro and con arguments.

There are a lot of people like that, fortunately, and they tend to value endorsements. I learned that the one year when I didn’t provide a recap of all our endorsements on Election Day. It was early in my tenure as editor. I was trying to be humble. I was trying not to appear to “tell people how to vote” right at the moment of decision. The readers got quite upset. It’s not that they planned to go in and vote a straight State editorial board ticket. It’s that the list reminded them of the arguments we had presented, and reminded them whether they agreed or not. It was a very pure case of endorsements doing what they should do, make people think a little more about their decisions, and remember the thought processes they’ve gone through during the campaign.

Well, today, you’ll notice that list says nothing about the presidential race. Because The State didn’t make a decision.

You might not care a bit, but I was sorry to see it.

Not being privy to whatever discussions there were on this subject at The State, I can’t tell you why that happened. The paper offered no explanation. At no time did it say (unless I missed it, and I’m hoping someone will point it out to me now), we’re not endorsing in this one, and here’s why. All we got was this unusual piece that simply said whoever the new president was, he should “embrace pragmatism.” There was nothing in the piece that I disagreed with, except for the part when it failed to make a decision.

Taking a step back: The people who have gotten mad at The State over presidential endorsements over the years have been Democrats. That’s because, in my long association with the newspaper (and from what I could tell, for a generation before that), the paper never endorsed the Democrat in the general election. Not once.

This causes many Democrats to this day to call The State “a Republican newspaper.” Which is ridiculous, because over time, the paper had a very slight tendency (just over 50 percent) to pick Democrats overall. Not on purpose — each endorsement decision was made individually on the basis of the candidates and issues in that race — but that’s the way it worked out over the long haul. But partisans tend to embrace whichever facts “prove” that a newspaper is against them, so Democrats clung to their belief that we didn’t even consider their candidates for president. (Just as Republicans viewed each endorsement of an SC Democrat as proof positive that we were Democrats.)

Which absolutely wasn’t true. We considered them very carefully (in the four cycles when I was involved, in any case), but in the final analysis, we always ended up with the Republican. In each race, the reasons were different, but if you wanted me to give you a simple explanation, it’s that the national Democratic Party has a tendency to field candidates who are considerably different from the South Carolina Democrats we so often backed over the years.

But yeah, our record was pretty monolithic. And in the back of my mind, I had long hoped that sometime before my career at The State ended, we would actually endorse a Democrat — just to shut up the members of that party calling us Republicans. I wouldn’t ever have put my finger on the scale to make that happen. It would always depend on our honest assessments of the candidates on the ballot at the time. But surely it would have to happen sometime, right?

In  2008, it came closer than at any other time in my experience — ironically, in what would prove to be my last election at the paper, although I didn’t know it would be. For the first time, both parties endorsed the candidates we preferred from their respective fields. We had enthusiastically endorsed both John McCain and Barack Obama in their primaries. And they both  went on to win. As I wrote a number of times on my blog and in the paper, this was the win-win election — I truly believed that the country wouldn’t lose either way it went.

But of course, only one of them could be president, so we had to choose (by my book, anyway) just as all American voters had to do. For the board as a whole, it was not an easy decision. I liked Obama, but preferred McCain. The publisher, Henry Haitz, clearly preferred the Republican. Warren Bolton was strongly, passionately for Obama. Cindi Scoppe never made up her mind, as far as the board was concerned. If I recall correctly, she wrote a column at the time about her indecision. I know Warren wrote a column expressing his dissent, because I urged him to do so, and was happy to run it, including on my blog. I felt good enough about Obama that I thought it a good thing to express that point of view. But as a board, we were for McCain.

That ancient history is about all I have to go on in trying to figure out what happened this time. All of those same people are on the board, and there is only one other factor, who is a total wild card to me — Executive Editor Mark Lett now has the editorial staff under his division, and I have seldom if ever known an editor more publicly guarded in his opinions. Since Warren and Cindi write about metro and state issues, respectively, I can’t go by any pattern of their columns to track their opinions on the national scene since 2009. Mike Fitts and I were the ones who wrote about national politics, and we’re both gone. Actually, the answer to my question as to why The State lacked the confidence, or the will, or whatever, to endorse this time may lie in that simple fact. But I don’t know that.

What I do know is that were I still there, I would have been pushing for an Obama endorsement this year. Pretty much all the reasons we liked him in 2008 are still present, and some of the things I merely had to take on faith back then (given his light resume, which was a big reason why I preferred McCain) have been borne out in action. To give an example of that: I never saw Obama as the kind of antiwar candidate that many in the Democratic base saw. Sure, he was going to get us out of Iraq, but George W. Bush was headed in that direction, too. (The big difference is that he wouldn’t have gotten us into Iraq, but that was irrelevant by the election of 2008.) I had heard what the man actually said, and he talked like a guy who was going to pursue the War on Terror fairly aggressively, especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

What I didn’t realize was that he would go after terrorists with a deadly zeal that outdid his predecessor. Nor could I have predicted how deftly he intervened in Libya to rid us of a dictator who had been a murderous thorn in the side of this country since Obama was in grade school. Do I have beefs with him on foreign policy? Yes. I don’t like the timetable for departure from Afghanistan any more than Mitt Romney does. But I also recognize the political realities that led him to make that commitment — not unlike those that had his predecessor headed for the exit from Iraq before Obama took office.

And count me among those who think the series of decisions the president made leading up to the death of Osama bin Laden add up to what Joe Biden would call a BFD. The more I read about it in the weeks after it happened, the more I wondered where that instinct for leadership in such a situation came from. It would have been very easy to cop out in one way or another on the Abbottabad raid. But Obama made the right calls at each step. That acid test told me a lot. It impressed me.

On domestic policy… well, I have long seen the biggest domestic challenge (next to our current economic woes, perhaps) to be the mess of a health care nonsystem we have in this country, which gives us worse outcomes and lower life expectancy than those enjoyed by other developed nations. As far from perfect as Obamacare is, at least this president has done something, and it’s too early to assess how well it will work. And his opponent’s platform is to undo it, even though he knows, from his experience in Massachusetts, that in its essentials (particularly in the one thing the GOP base hates most, the mandate), it’s the way to go.

As for directing the economy — well, count me among the skeptics who doubts how much a president, whether named Bush or Obama or Romney — can do to direct, or dramatically affect, the economy. I have no idea — and little faith in the opinions of people who are sure one way or the other — whether the stimulus helped (in preventing things from getting worse) or hurt. But I think we would have had a stimulus of some kind no matter who had been in office. If I have a beef with Obama on the stimulus, it’s that he didn’t exert more leadership in the Congress to direct the money more toward strengthening the nation’s infrastructure.

On fiscal policy — Obama is the grownup who is willing to talk about both spending cuts and tax increases to deal with the deficit. The post-2010, Tea Party-infused GOP is not. I may not be sure about the effect of the stimulus, but I have a really good idea who precipitated the lowering of this nation’s credit rating, and it wasn’t Barack Obama.

As for Mitt Romney, we never even came close to endorsing him in 2008, and I haven’t seen anything from him since then that has significantly changed that assessment. I don’t think he would be a horrible president, but I don’t think he would be as good at it as Barack Obama has been — something I wasn’t all that sure about four years ago, given the president’s lack of executive experience.

A terrible thing happened to the GOP in 2011-12 — no one better than Mitt Romney ran for the nomination. That is to say, Jon Huntsman did, but didn’t last until the SC primary. The State knows this as well as I do, which is why Romney wasn’t the paper’s first choice among that lackluster field — although when Huntsman got out, the paper reluctantly settled for him as the least objectionable. So did I, if you’ll recall — and there is no question that among the candidates still seeking the Republican nomination at that point, he was the best. It’s just that that was a very low bar.

Unlike many, I’m not bothered terribly much by Romney’s vacillation on hot-button issues that are terribly important to partisans, but apparently not to him. I actually think he is a decent man, who honestly believes he has the skills to “manage” the country. And I think he would do his best. And frankly, aside from one or two issues such as Obamacare (where I vehemently disagree with him), I actually think we’d see more continuity in a Romney administration than most people think — just as we did in the transition from Bush to Obama.

But he does not inspire confidence, particularly in the supremely important area of foreign affairs. Not only do I worry about his inexperience (as I did with Obama four years ago, only to be generally pleased), he has given us reason to worry with his amateurishness when he has attempted to assert himself internationally.

Back to my original topic: Though I’m no longer in that role, I still, from long habit, tend to view these things as an editorial page editor. And from the moment no better candidate than Mitt Romney emerged on the Republican side, that vestigial part of my brain has known that this would be the year to endorse the Democrat. Next time, we would like as not have gone with a Republican again, but this time was the Democrat’s year.

But… here’s a news flash… I’m not the editorial page editor any more, and those left behind made a different decision. That was theirs to make, and not mine. But I was disappointed to see it. As the months marched on toward this day, I wondered, Are they gonna DO it? But they didn’t. That was a letdown.

Peggy Noonan is going with her gut on this

Last night was the annual Cardinal Bernardin lecture over at USC, and on my way in to hear Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta speak, Florence attorney and longtime USC Trustee Mark Buyck asked me what was going to happen in the presidential race. I told him what I said in this post, that it looked like Obama, at least in the Electoral College.

He said I should go read what Peggy Noonan had posted on her blog.

So I did. And in what Business Insider called “The Most Anti-Nate Silver Column Imaginable,” she basically argued that we should ignore the numbers and go with our gut. And her gut was telling her that Mitt Romney is going to win:

But to the election. Who knows what to make of the weighting of the polls and the assumptions as to who will vote? Who knows the depth and breadth of each party’s turnout efforts? Among the wisest words spoken this cycle were by John Dickerson of CBS News and Slate, who said, in a conversation the night before the last presidential debate, that he thought maybe the American people were quietly cooking something up, something we don’t know about.

I think they are and I think it’s this: a Romney win.

Romney’s crowds are building—28,000 in Morrisville, Pa., last night; 30,000 in West Chester, Ohio, Friday It isn’t only a triumph of advance planning: People came, they got through security and waited for hours in the cold. His rallies look like rallies now, not enactments. In some new way he’s caught his stride. He looks happy and grateful. His closing speech has been positive, future-looking, sweetly patriotic. His closing ads are sharp—the one about what’s going on at the rallies is moving.

All the vibrations are right. A person who is helping him who is not a longtime Romneyite told me, yesterday: “I joined because I was anti Obama—I’m a patriot, I’ll join up But now I am pro-Romney.” Why? “I’ve spent time with him and I care about him and admire him. He’s a genuinely good man.” Looking at the crowds on TV, hearing them chant “Three more days” and “Two more days”—it feels like a lot of Republicans have gone from anti-Obama to pro-Romney.

Something old is roaring back. One of the Romney campaign’s surrogates, who appeared at a rally with him the other night, spoke of the intensity and joy of the crowd “I worked the rope line, people wouldn’t let go of my hand.” It startled him. A former political figure who’s been in Ohio told me this morning something is moving with evangelicals, other church-going Protestants and religious Catholics. He said what’s happening with them is quiet, unreported and spreading: They really want Romney now, they’ll go out and vote, the election has taken on a new importance to them.

There is no denying the Republicans have the passion now, the enthusiasm. The Democrats do not. Independents are breaking for Romney. And there’s the thing about the yard signs. In Florida a few weeks ago I saw Romney signs, not Obama ones. From Ohio I hear the same. From tony Northwest Washington, D.C., I hear the same.

Is it possible this whole thing is playing out before our eyes and we’re not really noticing because we’re too busy looking at data on paper instead of what’s in front of us? Maybe that’s the real distortion of the polls this year: They left us discounting the world around us…

Now, on a certain level I have to sympathize with Peggy on this. After all, I’m the intuitive type, and have no great love of numbers. And more often than not, my own gut has been right when it comes to knowing who will win an election. It’s been right ever since the first statewide race I covered in Tennessee, the gubernatorial contest between Lamar Alexander and Jake Butcher in 1978. All the top political writers at the big papers were saying it was a dead heat, too close to call.

But I had accomplanied each of both candidates, practically 24/7 (we used to really cover campaigns in those days), for a week each late in the race, and Alexander acted like a winner, and crowds reacted to him that way. And Jake Butcher was pathetic. I remember Speaker Ned Ray McWherter walking him around his district to introduce him to constituents, and he looked like a lost child.

I was right. And I was right that day Sarah Palin campaigned with Nikki Haley, and I saw how Nikki had hit her stride at just the right moment, and was convinced she had the nomination.

I have also been very wrong. In the primaries early in that same gubernatorial campaign, I traveled with Roger Murray, a Democrat who was getting tremendous positive reactions everywhere he went. Voters kept telling him he had done the best job in the multi-candidate debate just before this tour, and I believed that meant he was going to win. He wasn’t even in the top two.

But I was just a kid then — even months later, in the general, I had gained a lot of savvy I lacked during the primaries — and it was a valuable lesson, learning to discount the effect of being in the bubble. I haven’t been that spectacularly wrong since.

All that said, while I may not love numbers, I respect them, while Peggy Noonan seems to be wishing them away. “The vibrations are right.” Really? We’ll see, very soon.

What do you think will happen tomorrow?

A graphic that ran with the Post/ABC results.

Someone asked me that at Rotary today, and I say that in the presidential contest (which is what the question was about), if you force me to pick a winner, I say it will be President Obama. In the Electoral College at least. Although it’s close enough that I could be wrong, at this point I think we’re where we were months ago: A slight edge for the incumbent.

As more than one poll has indicated, I’m with most Americans in making that prediction. The latest one I’ve seen shows that 55 percent of the electorate thinks Obama will win, and only 35 percent thinks Mitt Romney will.

Here’s the boiled-down-to-essentials way Nate Silver over at FiveThirtyEight put it several days ago:

Mr. Obama is leading in the polls of Ohio and other states that would suffice for him to win 270 electoral votes, and by a margin that has historically translated into victory a fairly high percentage of the time.

Over the weekend, Silver noted that various polls also show a slight Obama advantage in the popular vote, but generally within the margin of error.

Now comes the last Washington Post/ABC p0ll of the election, showing that same pattern:

Heading into Election Day, likely voters divide 50 percent for President Obama and 47 percent for his challenger, Republican Mitt Romney, according to the latest, final weekend release of the Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll.

A nail-biter throughout, the presidential contest remains closely competitive through its last days, even as most voters perceive a likely win for the president.

In regular polls since early July, neither candidate ever gathered more than 50 percent of likely voters, and neither ever slipped below 46 percent. Across nearly 7,000 interviews with likely voters from Oct. 18 through Sunday evening, less than four-tenths of a percentage point separates Obama and Romney.

The difference between the candidates in the final weekend tally is right at the 2.5 percentage margin of sampling error for the final four-night sample of 2,345 likely voters. This makes Obama’s being at plus three points over Romney an edge only by the slimmest of margins, well below conventional measures of statistical significance…

So how are you seeing it?

Apparently, the kids like Obama

Got this release today:

November 4, 2012, Mount Hermon, MA – High school students across the country took to the polls this month and chose President Barack Obama to serve another term as President of the United States in a nationwide mock election.

More than 54,000 students from more than 130 schools across the United States–at least two from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia–participated in this year’s VOTES Project (Voting Opportunities for Teenagers in Every State), one of the nation’s largest mock elections, began in 1988 by teachers at Northfield Mount Hermon School. High school students across the country campaigned on behalf of President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney–as well as third-party candidates–holding rallies, debates and other campaign events leading up to tonight’s announcement of the winner.

Barack Obama received 316 electoral votes and Republican challenger Mitt Romney received 208. Obama received 50.2% of the popular vote (27,107), and Romney earned 41.2% (22,252).

The final tally took place at the 2012 VOTES Election Central gala in James Gym on the NMH campus. The NMH Singers and Jazz Band provided campaign music, and students acted as television moderators, conducting interviews and reporting electoral results by fixing either a blue or a red pin to a map of the United States.

Due to Hurricane Sandy, a total of five schools in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania were unable to hold mock elections, meaning 14 electoral votes were not distributed…

But how valid can that result be when it doesn’t include votes from a single high school that I personally attended (I attended three, in SC, Florida and Hawaii)?

Last week’s election forum at the library

For those of you who are interested, but were unable to make it last week, I offer the following:

Brad Warthen moderates a bipartisan panel debate on the hot issues of this year’s presidential campaign. Panelists include: Matt Moore, SC Republican Party Executive Director; Amanda Loveday, SC Democratic Party Executive Director; Representative Nathan Ballentine; and Representative Bakari Sellers. This program is co-sponsored by the Central Carolina Community Foundation and Richland County Public Library. Recorded at the Richland County Public Library in Columbia, S.C. on October 23, 2012.

Gov. Chris Christie’s effusive praise of Obama

Here’s something you don’t see every day:

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey took an unscheduled break from partisan attacks on the President Obama on Tuesday to praise him, repeatedly and effusively, for leading the federal government’s response to the storm.

“Wonderful,” “excellent” and “outstanding” were among the adjectives Mr. Christie chose, a change-up from his remarks last week that Mr. Obama was “blindly walking around the White House looking for a clue.”

Some of Mr. Christie’s Republican brethren have already begun grumbling about his gusher of praise at such a crucial time in the election.

But the governor seemed unconcerned. When Fox News asked him about the possibility that Mitt Romney might take a disaster tour of New Jersey, Mr. Christie replied:

I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested. I have a job to do in New Jersey that is much bigger than presidential politics. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.

A governor who cares more about serving his (or her) state more than national partisan politics? Imagine that. If you live in South Carolina, you might find that difficult, but try…

Is Hurricane Sandy God’s ‘October Surprise’?

And if so, which candidate does he want to benefit?

Nate Silver is worrying about Sandy, and not just because he lives in Brooklyn:

I’m not sure whether I render the greater disservice by contemplating the political effects of a natural disaster — or by ignoring the increasingly brisk winds whipping outside my apartment in Brooklyn. Still, I thought it was worth giving you my tentative thoughts on how Hurricane Sandy might affect the runup to next Tuesday’s election.

We may see a reduction in the number of polls issued over the coming days. The Investor’s Business Daily poll has already announced that it will suspend its national tracking poll until the storm passes, and other cancellations may follow. And certainly, any polls in the states that are most in harm’s way, including Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania, will need to be interpreted with extreme caution…

But beyond the polls that Silver lives by, what about the election itself?

The aftermath of Katrina did enormous damage to public perception of President Obama’s predecessor. What will happen in those blue states that will bear the brunt of this storm, and how quickly will it happen?

Will this be a chance to show political leadership that will enhance the incumbent’s chances, or will it inevitably cause a bad taste that accrues to Mr. Romney?

The Washington Post has put together this interesting explainer on “five places where Hurricane Sandy could affect the election.” Interesting. A snowstorm in conservative southwest Virginia keeping people from the polls? Whoa.

Meanwhile, the Obama team is shrugging everything off and declaring their victory inevitable. The other side is pumping out some hubris, too, saying in a memo: “Every day, Barack Obama’s so-called Ohio firewall crumbles a little bit more because of Mitt Romney’s electric appearances, our campaign’s robust ground game, and Romney’s forward-looking message that lays out a serious and specific agenda for the future.”

Electric appearances? Really?

Hey, Clint, where’s the chair?

Just thought I’d share this new ad Clint Eastwood did for the American Crossroads Super PAC.

He says, among other things:

Obama’s second term would be a rerun of the first, and our country just couldn’t survive that.

Really, Clint? Couldn’t survive it?

I think he has a greater sense of perspective and proportion in his movies. (Particularly “Gran Torino,” which is awesome.)

Anyway, if you want to see the PRO-Obama the Hollywood legend did not so long ago, I include that below…

At the nexus of religion and politics

Here we have a more 19th-century understanding of the relationship between faith and politics...

A column in The Wall Street Journal this morning notes:

A hypothetical Martian with a deep interest in America’s political and cultural history would be surprised and perhaps amused at the religious composition of those running in the current presidential campaign.

The incumbent president is an adult convert to Christianity after being raised by a mother he has described as agnostic but interested in many faiths. His opponent is a Mormon, a faith tradition entirely indigenous to America and less than two centuries old. As for the two vice-presidential candidates, both are Catholic. This is the first presidential election in American history in which neither of the two presidential candidates or vice-presidential candidates was brought up as a Protestant…

I sort of knew all that, of course, but hadn’t put it together that way. And so it is that Protestant hegemony in American politics passes away, almost unnoticed.

After a review of times, especially the 19th century, when such would have been unthinkable, and some discussion of our growing secularism, the author concludes:

The eyes of all are still upon America, but it is a markedly different place. As the secularization of that city upon a hill continues, it is not hard to imagine a presidential race one day that involves candidates who practice no religion at all.

I’m not sure how to put this in a morally defensible way, since there is no way I can truly know the content or quality of another man’s soul, but… I’m wondering just how big a departure from the past that would be.

Let me just put it in generalities… Generally, I seldom believe that national politicians are as interested in religion as they let on to be. They are after all men, and occasionally, women of the world, not given to extended periods of contemplation. The world is so much with them that their pieties have a sort of formalism about them. Not that they’re lying or being hypocritical, just that… they’re more like, “Going to church is something you do, so I go to church.”

There are exceptions. Jimmy Carter was serious about his faith. I think Paul Ryan is, even though I think he’s really confused as to what “subsidiarity” means (which isn’t something most Catholics sit up nights thinking about, frankly). Rick Santorum is. I suppose, just on the basis of the time he’s put in, that Mitt Romney is, although I confess to such a lack of understanding of Mormonism that I’m not qualified to tell.

I think Joe Biden is sincerely Catholic, in the way of cultural, cradle Catholicism. It goes well with his hail-fellow-well-met manner, reminding me for some reason of the Belloc quote, “Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine.” It sets him apart from gray-faced Calvinists, I think. And I think he truly cares, in a Catholic way, about the common folk from which he keeps telling us he springs, which speaks to the warm, human side of theology.

Barack Obama? I don’t know what to think, except to take him at his word about his faith. His adoption of Christianity as an adult is so tied in with his deliberate self-invention from being an unrooted child of uncertain identity that it’s hard to grab hold of (in one way — in another, I sort of identify with his journey). But I’ll put it this way, meaning no judgment of anything I have no right to judge: If asked to describe him, “religious” would not be one of the first words I mentioned — whereas with Jimmy Carter, and maybe Rick Santorum, it would be.

The president’s relationship with religion is of a sort that the more aggressively secular legions of his party can be more comfortable with, whereas one gathers that Jimmy Carter’s piety sort of gave them the willies.

Don’t know where I’m going with this; I just thought I’d toss those thoughts out there…

Why can’t the actual candidates be this grown-up?

Perhaps it was my intimidating, leonine "Sir William" visage that kept them in line: Nathan Ballentine, your correspondent, Bakari Sellers, Matt Moore, Amanda Loveday

Back in my fire-breathing days when I thought it was possible to completely transform South Carolina right NOW — say, the year that I spent directing the “Power Failure” project, 1991 — I used to rail against the politeness that characterized public life in our state.

Not that politeness per se was a bad thing. My beef was that people were so reluctant to confront each other about anything that nothing ever changed for the better. I was a sort of Rhett Butler railing against a culture that was too busy being gentlemanly to roll up its sleeves and improve our lot.

Now, we have other problems. In fact, too often these days our political problem is less that we don’t get up the drive to move forward, and more a case of being buffeted by all sorts of forces — many of them anything but genteel — that would push us backwards. Some SC politicians seem more intent on copying the behavior of Reality TV contestants than Ashley Wilkes.

In any case, I bring all this up to say that sometimes, I can value what remains of the gentility of South Carolina political discourse.

One of those times was Tuesday night, when I moderated a panel discussion over at Richland County Public Library.

The panelists were Rep. Nathan Ballentine, Rep. Bakari Sellers, state Republican Party Executive Director Matt Moore, and his Democratic counterpart, Amanda Loveday.

These people were there to argue for either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, from a local perspective. All were eminently qualified to do so, and applied themselves to the task with gusto. No one missed a chance to score a rhetorical point, and no one was shy about strongly presenting his or her party’s position. Occasionally, they did so with humor.

But here’s the thing: They did it like grownups. They did not interrupt each other. They did not jab fingers at each other, or act like they were on the verge of throwing down. They did not make sarcastic remarks intended to tear each other down. When I told them their time was up, they cooperated.

Which should not be remarkable, but is so, in a world in which the men vying for president and vice president of the United States conduct themselves like five-year-olds who have consumed a whole box of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs.

These people were not shrinking violets. People who know their backgrounds might expect a free-for-all. Matt Moore used to be executive director of the S.C. Club for Growth, the purest expression of Mark Sanford ideology in our state. Amanda Loveday works for Dick Harpootlian, who seems to embrace a sort of lifelong quest to make our politics less civil. Nathan Ballentine is a very conservative Republican who was probably Nikki Haley’s closest ally when she was in the House. Bakari is the son of Cleveland Sellers, the activist famously scapegoated and jailed after the Orangeburg Massacre.

Not a wallflower among them, but all were perfectly courtly as they strongly made their points. (Wait a sec — can a lady, technically, be “courtly”? If so, Amanda was.)

At one point in the middle of it all, I paused to thank the panelists for conducting themselves better than the national candidates they were speaking for, the people who would presume to lead the world. The audience applauded.

Obama debate performance: Just ONE cup of coffee too much

Again today, The Onion captures the essence:

Obama Takes Out Romney With Mid-Debate Drone Attack

BOCA RATON, FL—Saying that the high-value target represented a major threat to their most vital objectives, Obama administration officials confirmed tonight that former governor Mitt Romney was killed by a predator drone while attending a presidential debate at Lynn University.

Sources said the drone attack, which occurred at approximately 10:10 p.m. Monday night, obliterated Romney in the middle of a statement on Chinese-purchased U.S. securities, sending his dismembered limbs and internal organs into the audience and leaving a smoking pile of charred flesh and bone in his seat.

“The information we have received from military personnel in the field indicate that tonight’s drone strike took out Mitt Romney, a former businessman the Obama administration has long considered a serious danger, especially in past few weeks,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney, describing the operation as “an unmitigated success.” “The president personally authorized the strike earlier this evening, and as soon as we had visual confirmation that the target in the drone’s sights was, in fact, Mitt Romney, we eliminated him.”…

So maybe President Obama didn’t quite go that far last night, but he was certainly on the attack to a degree that often seemed, to me, unseemly.

By the way, I tried to post this last night, but ran into technical problems — I had left my laptop’s mouse at the office, and my wife’s desktop internet connection was running so slow I figured I’d never get to bed. So here’s what I wanted to share, which was my Twitter feed from the debate. These started at 9:21 p.m. As usual, all Tweets are by me except where another screen name is indicated:

  • Obama needs to chill. Looks desperate. Nobody wants an Interrupter in Chief…
  • The Fix ‏@TheFix Worth noting: Obama has attacked Romney on every question thus far. #lynndebate
  • Peter Beinart ‏@PeterBeinart The egyptian govt needs binders of women to fully develop
  • Romney is coming across as calmer, which, when we’re talking national security, can sometimes count more than the words being said.
  • Yeah, Madeleine Albright redux! “@politico: Obama: “America remains the one, indispensable nation.” #debates
  • @howardweaver@BradWarthen that one redux’es WAY farther back than Albright.
  • Yeah, but I liked her cover version…
  • In Godfather terms, Romney is playing the Man of Reason tonight. Obama at times seems to be shooting for Crazy Joey Gallo
  • OK, I’ve heard the president say he “ended the war in Iraq” too many times. He didn’t do that; the Surge did.
  • The thing is, I generally approve of the job Obama’s done in the world. But he’s not selling it very well tonight…
  • If Obama loses this election, and does so because of this debate, I wonder, will it be because he just had ONE CUP OF COFFEE TOO MUCH TODAY?
  • That’s what I wanna hear! RESOLVE! “@DepressedDarth: I will build 5 new Star Destroyers if I’m elected president. #finaldebate
  • grannykate ‏@katespalmer @BradWarthen Surge changed tide. POTUS brought troops home
  • So would McCain have. Even Bush was on track to do that…
  • Almost an hour into this, and neither Obama nor Romney has indicated what he would do about Quemoy and Matsu. This is unacceptable.
  • Slate ‏@Slate RT @fmanjoo: Here’s the place for Obama to say, “Ask Osama Bin Laden if I apologized. Oh, that’s right, you can’t. Because he’s dead.”
  • Yeah, kinda what I thought… “@washingtonpost: FACT CHECK: Obama did not go on “apology tour” #debate
  • In what alternative universe did this “apology tour” take place? I totally missed it. Yet so many GOP tweeters assert it as article of faith
  • The president’s calmed down some. Hasn’t jumped anxiously down Gov. Romney’s throat in awhile.
  • No, Mr. President, we were no longer “bogged down” in Iraq when you took office. Not after the Surge. Stick to the good things you HAVE done
  • SunnyPhilips ‏@SunnyPhilips Sad many Americans would rather watch HoneyBooBoo or other trash TV than debates impacting their country’s leadership.#theirvotecountstoo
  • OK, I give up: What’s a Honey Boo-Boo?
  • SunnyPhilips ‏@SunnyPhilips Ha. You’ve made my day.
  • Romney’s strategy tonight has been not to commit major errors tonight. No big strategy proposals, just no screwing up. Generally working…
  • Nicholas Kristof ‏@NickKristof Candidates take a break from bashing each other to jointly bash China. 太过分了!
  • If Obama would blame China for Gamecocks’ two losses in a row, he could win South Carolina.
  • Ramez Naam ‏@ramez China holds only about 8.2% of US federal debt. Most is held by Americans.
  • Really? I’m not seeing that… “@ebertchicago: Obama looks cool. Romney looks sweaty. Will post-mortems agree? #debate
  • Scott Huffmon ‏@WinthropPoll Foreign Policy debate: Good thing there are no issues with South America or most of Africa or Europe to be dealt with !
  • Obama mentions Pacific strategy. About time we got into mega strategy. Still no mention of Quemoy and Matsu…
  • My Navy Brat nervous system is still twitching indignantly over the horses and bayonets thing…
  • Nicholas Kristof ‏@NickKristof Foreign policy debate spent more time on Israel than on Europe, India and Africa combined. That’s not our world.
  • Aaron Gould Sheinin ‏@asheinin Serious tweet: Seeing lots of Republicans calling the debate a draw.
  • That’s because they wanted their guy to be as combative as Obama was — which frankly was NOT a good thing…
  • I liked that they shook hands civilly and smiled at each other at the end. How pitiful is it that I’m clinging to something that small?
  • Dan Gillmor ‏@dangillmor If Romney can persuade the public that he’s the peace candidate — there isn’t one — then the American people are truly out to lunch.
  • But he might with some, purely on demeanor.
  • Anyone else think Romney was going particularly after women tonight, rocking back and not being Mr. Aggressive?
  • David GregoryVerified ‏@davidgregory The President is determined to pick a fight tonight; Romney determined to avoid it. What does that say about where each camp sees the race?
  • A lot.

That last one posted at 10:50 p.m.

So… what did y’all think — both during, and upon reflection? I haven’t had much time for reflection, so I leave you for now with the stream-of-consciousness.

Election forum at library tomorrow night

I got a call from Richland County Public Library this morning. Looks like I’m going to be filling in at the last minute as moderator for this forum, as the far more mellifluously voiced Charles Bierbauer will be participating in a memorial service for longtime SLED spokesman Hugh Munn, who passed away over the weekend:

Get a Local Perspective on the Presidential Election
Library and Central Carolina Community Foundation host Panel Discussion
Hear former CNN correspondent and USC Dean Charles Bierbauer and a bipartisan panel debate the hot issues of this year’s presidential campaign at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 23 at the Richland County Public Library.
Panelists include:
Matt Moore, SC Republican Party Executive Director;
Amanda Loveday, SC Democratic Party Executive Director;
Rep. Nathan Ballentine (R), House District 71; and
Rep. Bakari Sellers (D), House District 90.
This free event is cosponsored with Central Carolina Community Foundation. For more information, call 231-6329.

Y’all come on out. It could be your only chance to see a political forum this year moderated by a guy who looks like a refugee from 1810. No, I won’t be in costume, but there’s little I can do about the ‘chops and hair.