“You didn’t build that”
Party: Democratic Party
Vice President: Joe Biden
Campaign Website: http://www.barackobama.com/
Super PAC: http://www.prioritiesusaaction.org/
Super PAC’s YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/prioritiesUSAaction
“Corporations are people too, my friend”
Party: Republican Party
Vice President: Paul Ryan
Campaign Website: http://www.mittromney.com/
Super PAC: http://restoreourfuture.com/
Super PAC’s YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/RestoreOurFuture
Key Upcoming Dates
- October 3, 2012: Presidential Debate in Denver, CO
- October 11, 2012: Vice Presidential Debate in Danville, KY
- October 16, 2012: Presidential Debate in Hempstead, NY
- October 22, 2012: Presidential Debate in Boca Raton, FL
- November 6, 2012: Election Day
In its thirteen years, The FAT Website has always had a lively conversation about the U.S Elections. Even in our teenage years, when Clinton was president (Christ, this website is old), the members of this website haven’t been shy about throwing their support behind political candidates in the race for the White House. The most heated campaign was surely the 2004 election when George W Bush ran for re-election against Not George W Bush which resulted in a lot of message board threads arguing about the better candidate, back when this site still had a message board.
In 2008, the entire TFW team backed a young black Chicago senator named Barack Obama and he ran a thoroughly entertaining campaign against John McCain which he won handsomely. The GOP primary which McCain competed in, happened to include a Mormon candidate named Mitt Romney but he didn’t amount to much. We’ll get back to him. Obama himself just barely beat Hillary Clinton in a brutal primary before going on to beat McCain in a weird campaign where McCain’s staff wanted to play dirty but he himself didn’t have the heart to see it through. Although history will most likely remember the McCain campaign for choosing Sarah Palin as the Vice Presidential nominee, I think the defining moment for McCain himself was at the town hall meeting where an elderly woman said Obama had to be stopped because he was ‘an Arab’. McCain corrected her on Obama’s ethnicity (although he didn’t say there was anything wrong with being Arab) and you could see he was disturbed and saddened by the crowds he was attracting at his rallies. He was not the man to lead the party in the direction they were headed and his heart clearly wasn’t in it.
The next three years in American politics have been an extraordinary sight to behold. I think in 2008 when Obama was elected, few people could have predicted the direction that the Republican party could have turned. Conventional media wisdom at the time was that Palin was emblematic of everything wrong with the conversative movement in America. A woman who was in over her head, who doubled down on her ignorance and sought to blur the lines between religion and the state far greater than George Bush ever did. And yet not only did the Republican movement embrace Palin. They made Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry and Donald Fucking Trump the figureheads of their party. They revelled in the behaviour that disgusted McCain. When Rick Santorum had his ‘town hall moment’, he opted not to correct a misinformed voter about Obama. He later told a news pundit it ‘wasn’t his obligation.’
I think the HBO film Game Change gave a particularly good insight into what happened: George Bush and his administration had a conservative vision of the world but I don’t believe for a second that Rove or Cheney necessary believed half the rhetoric that they stood for. It was designed to get votes so they could pass policies. And it worked. Bush united the Evangelical Christians in America but he sure as shit made sure he was soft on immigration and border protection so that he could secure the religious Hispanic vote. As a strategist, I can’t believe Rove would ever alienate female voters the way the modern GOP has. There’s a scene in Game Change where John McCain’s campaign advisor is vetting Sarah Palin and as she earnestly espouses the talking points of the GOP, you can tell by the look on his face that he can’t quite believe that he’s talking to someone who believes it so wholeheartedly. The inmates took over the asylum.
I’m going to save a critique of Obama’s first term as president for another day but the weird thing is that none of his most questionable decisions as a leader of the free world are challenged by the Republicans. The number of drone killings in Afghanistan carried out by Obama’s administration is not a political talking point for the GOP. Neither is Obama’s sanctioned killing of an American citizen without due process. Short of Ron Paul, there isn’t a single major Republican figure who is interested in taking Obama to task for killing too many brown skinned people.
Instead, the attacks on Obama over the last three years have been for some of the most inane bullshit that beggars belief. The birther nonsense over where he was born. Ongoing suggestions that he’s Muslim. In the same interview, Sarah Palin accused him of being a socialist and then a minute later said he was in bed with Wall Street fat cats. Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan took Obama to task for passing a bill on defence cuts that he himself voted for. I’m sure it wasn’t the intended message, but the sight of an eighty two year old Clint Eastwood yelling at an empty chair emphatically summarized the Republican movement of the past four years: scared old white guys yelling at something that isn’t real.
I’ve recently been rewatching the first season of The West Wing and one of the recurring themes of life in the White House is that it is a constant game of bartering with senators, special interest groups and lobbyists to try and realize the change you want to see. And when it comes down to the crunch, you have to prioritize the changes that you want to make happen. If you’re going to throw your weight behind health care then gun control will have to wait for another day. The Bush administration understood this. Whats strange about the Tea Party movement is that these Kool Aid drinkers don’t give a fuck about electability.
They are absolutely genuine in their bigotry and narrow mindedness. How else to explain a party platform that seeks to exclude the poor (restrictive voter ID laws), Hispanics (racial profiling based immigration laws), the LGBT community (re-introducing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell), women (birth control), the academic community (teaching intelligent design alongside evolution) and non-Christians (the Bible is influential in most party policies). How do you even win an election without any of those people? The answer is that you can’t.
Obama should lose this election. Against a competent candidate, he would. I blogged a few months ago about the Italian’s patience with former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and it wasn’t the bunga bunga parties with teenage prostitutes or the foreign policy gaffes that got him kicked out. It was when he screwed the economy. Obama has been slow to improve the economy in his first term and yet he will win this election because the Republican party try to keep the focus on the economy but they can’t help get their shit in on telling people how to live their lives. For a party that champions small government and independence, they have a lot of clauses in there for people who aren’t white, Christian heterosexuals.
It was in this environment that Mitt Romney rose to become the party’s nominee. John McCain wasn’t the leader to reflect the values of the Republican party in 2008 and guess what? Mitt Romney isn’t that guy in 2012 either. More than any other mainstream candidate in recent memory (except for maybe Tony Abbott in Australia), Mitt Romney has startled even seasoned political journalists in America with his casual disregard for the truth. He freely gets called out on his lies on Monday morning and then will be repeating them again on Monday afternoon. When he secured the Republican nomination and his team was asked how he would appeal to middle America, their campaign advisor stated bluntly that he was an ‘etch-a-sketch’, who could wipe the slate clean and just make up some new values to stand for. After getting frustrated with journalists picking apart the factual inaccuracies of Paul Ryan’s RNC speech, the campaign stated that they wouldn’t let fact checkers define their campaign. No shit.
The problem with not standing for anything is that no one wins elections by running on a platform of ‘I’m Not The Other Guy’. It’s why John Kerry didn’t beat George Bush. It’s why Simon Crean, Mark Latham and Kim Beasley couldn’t beat John Howard. The Republicans don’t like Romney because they can see he’s full of shit. The Democrats don’t like Romney because he’s like Peter Griffin’s goddamn father-in-law. A silverspoon scumbag who is so insanely out of touch with the average person that he makes Prince Charles and David Cameron look grounded. Just look at that video of him trying to woo black voters.
With two and a half months to go, Obama has consistently lead Romney in the polls. Obama got a bounce in his numbers after his convention speech. Romney didn’t. Most people believe Romney’s point of no return was politicizing the death of the U.S ambassador to Libya by (surprise, surprise) falsely accusing Obama of sympathizing and apologizing for what happened. He delivered that message in a press conference where he gave one of the most disingenous sounding condolences I’ve ever heard before going on the offensive against Obama with his trademark shit-eating smirk.
Still, American politics is great theatre and over the next ten weeks, I’ll be blogging about the campaign, posting silly pictures and enjoying the whole multi-million dollar spectacle. Enjoy.