In the Arena

A Good Day

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David Karp / AP

President Barack Obama who is in town for the 67th session of the General Assembly at United Nations speaks at UN Headquarters on Sept. 25, 2012

There have been so many dispiriting days during this campaign, but today was not one of them. In fact, it was a fine day of speech-making–two strong foreign policy speeches by President Obama and one by Mitt Romney. The speech that will get the most attention will be the President’s masterful address to the United Nations. Andrew Sullivan does it justice here. It will be received favorably in this country and around the world by everyone except Islamic extremists and neoconservatives, some of whom actually thought the President was apologizing for the despicable video that gave pretext for the Salafi riots and Al-Qaeda assaults in the Islamic world. He wasn’t, of course.

He was explaining. He was explaining freedom of speech to the global majority that knows it only as an aspiration. He was explaining American principles in a strong, civilized manner. There was a  firm rebuke to the powerless clown, Ahmadinejad, who was able to provoke media reaction with his usual anti-Israel and holocaust-denying swill. A firm warning to the Iranians about their nuclear program. Enough prosylitizing about freedom and free enterprise to thrill the Club for Growth. And, I must say, that Obama’s tribute to Ambassador Chris Stevens–who stood at the very opposite end of the human spectrum from the Salafis who killed him–was extremely moving. The principles Obama enunciated represent the broad, vast majority of opinion in the United States–and a growing reality in the world. It was the President at his best.

Obama was a bit more prosaic in his speech about human-trafficking to the Clinton Global Initiative a few hours after his UN address–until the very end, when he almost lost it while describing “a young girl, crying herself to sleep in a brothel…” The President stopped abruptly; his eyes teared over. It was the closest I’ve seen him come to losing his vaunted cool–but why not? What could be more appropriate than tears when considering this awful subject? Obviously, he was thinking about his own daughters and, through them, seeing the young girls brutalized by human slavery throughout the world including, in some cases, here. Yes, neoconservatives, here.

Earlier, Mitt Romney gave a fine speech about foreign policy to the Clinton group. It was a speech that emphasized his free enterprise philosophy as a force for change in the world. He proposed a new form of foreign aid–”Prosperity Pacts”–to advance the cause of rule of law and small business in developing countries. He chided the government for not moving quickly enough to move developmental aid away from governments to non-government organizations and 0ther private partnerships–although the pace of this sort of funding, especially at the State Department’s USAID program, has increased dramatically since Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State.

Romney’s was a conservative speech, a conservative view of the world, of the most efficacious ways to dispense foreign aid–but it was the sort of Burkean conservatism that has always been the very best thing about the Republican Party. He did not rant about the evils of foreign aid; he acknowledged the waste (that any disinterested observer would have to acknowledge) and proposed positive changes. It was as if, for one half hour of a grueling campaign, the Tea Party did not exist. We got to see who Mitt Romney might have been–smart, practical, worldly, humane and even, for once, funny–if his party weren’t so extreme and angry. If only the rest of the campaign could be like that.

61 comments
George Kafantaris
George Kafantaris

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution itself are both utopian, and both over 200 years old. But unlike other utopias, the one our forefathers embraced works. 

It has an ingenious mechanism to revitalize its institutions: Freedom of speech. 

As John Stuart Mill explained, when a society allows its citizens to question its government, its values and its most sacred beliefs, the examination finds errors and things for improvement. 

But even when no correction at all is needed, the challenge in itself works miracles -- it forces us to defend them. 

If things prove fine after such "stress test," we learn that we are on the right track. Merely knowing this wipes away uncertainty and replaces it with life and vigor. 

Such is the hidden benefit of open debate -- and the reason why institutions elsewhere stagnate and die. 

And no one rushes to save them because people have forgotten long before why they are there in the first place.  This is the grave danger John Mill warned us about. 

The fathers of this country gave heed to his words.  

Perhaps the fathers of new democracies should do the same.

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

 (CNN) -- New polls in three swing states indicate

President Barack Obama exceeding 50% support among likely voters and

holding leads of nine to 12 points over Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

Fueling those numbers,

the four polls suggest that Romney has lost his edge on the economy, an

issue on which the challenger has based his campaign.

The new surveys come one day after another batch of battleground state polls also suggested Obama with the advantage.

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

Redistributing wealth upward

By Harold Meyerson, Published: September 25

Which is the more redistributionist of our two parties? In recent decades, as Republicans have devoted themselves with laser-like intensity to redistributing America’s wealth and income upward, the evidence suggests the answer is the GOP.

The most obvious way that Republicans have robbed from the middle to give to the rich has been the changes they wrought in the tax code — reducing income taxes for the wealthy in the Reagan and George W. Bush tax cuts, and cutting the tax rate on capital gains to less than half the rate on the top income of upper-middle-class employees.

The less widely understood way that Republicans have helped redistribute wealth to the already wealthy is by changing the rules. Markets don’t function without rules, and the rules that Republican policymakers have made since Ronald Reagan became president have consistently depressed the share of the nation’s income that the middle class can claim.

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

GOP = "Government so small it will fit in your vag!na."

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

GOP = "Government so small it will fit in your vagina."

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

The RepubliKKKraps are blathering loud and long about the polls being rigged against them.

If they are right -- that the polls can be rigged at all -- it seems much more likely that it is the RepubliKKKraps who are doing the rigging, in an effort to give a false sense of security to the Democrats.

The solution is easy: regardless of what the polls say, GET OUT AND VOTE FOR OBAMA!

JohnParish
JohnParish

Help support the change in the way election campaign funds

are raised.  Stop the Super Pacs from

steering the candidates and ruling the government. 

Come march on Congress and show them that the American

Population do not want candidates to be persuaded by these Super Pacs any more.

Visit www.indiegogo.com/SuperPac

and help raise the awareness of this problem.

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

The Guardian is saying the religious right are up in arms because Obama said nobody should be engaging in hate speech.  Honest to God.  Some Christians seem to have forgotten Paul's admonition that love doesn't easily take offense.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/worl...

Pollopa
Pollopa

Desperation has set in.  See Glen below

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

 Its a wonderful day today.

Especially if you are Obama.

If you are Romney, not so much...

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

New NYT/Quinnipiac University/CBS News poll

places Obama up 53%-43% or by 10 points in Ohio. The same poll places

Obama up 53%-44% or by 9 points in Florida. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09......  

Spin it as you like, but Romney's campaign is imploding. I remember when

McCain's began to spiral in a similar fashion. The attacks became more

outlandish and the vitriol caustic. It fired up the base, and alientated the other 75 percent of the electorate.

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

Joe - glad to see you address these speeches.  Even Chuck Todd wasted time on Nightly News with Obama and Romney flattering Clinton.  Really?  With all that got said yesterday?  I didn't see Romney's speeches, but heard they were good.

 Saw Obama's at the UN and CGI and thought they were both outstanding.  I actually thought the trafficking speech was the better of the two.  This clearly matters to him, and his emotional response to the women he showcased was genuine.  

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

If there's any justice in the world, someone will dump a full can of garbage on ol' Chuck's over-paid head while he's on the air.

I am eternally tired of that little twerp...

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

 I generally like him and find he's a pretty honest interpreter of what's going on.  Not his job to be a partisan champion, after all.

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

Slate speculates Romney may have taken the 2009 amnesty for non-disclosure of his Swiss bank account. Romney might well have thought in 2007 and 2008 that there was nothing to fear about a non-disclosed offshore account he'd set up years earlier precisely because it wasn't disclosed. But then came the settlement and the rush of non-disclosers to apply for the amnesty.

Failing to apply for the amnesty and then getting charged by the IRS

would have been both financially and politically disastrous. So amnesty

it was. But even though the amnesty would eliminate any legal or

financial liability for past acts, it would hardly eliminate political

liability.    

This seems highly plausible, either 1) He did disclose his Swiss bank account to the IRS prior to 2009 which would be indicated by his prior returns, in which case releasing these returns would put this all to bed or 2) He did not disclose this account in which case it would not show up on his returns, and releasing them would prove he had acted illegally, almost assuredly dooming his campaign.

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

 I'm interested not to have seen any speculation about the size of Romney's charitable deduction.  Most have seemed to assume it means simply that he's very generous.

But since he feels himself to be under an obligation to tithe, I wonder if his charitable deduction could possibly represent only 10% of his genuine income.

drinkeroftherye
drinkeroftherye

"Genuine income", is that an oxymoron like American education, budget deficet or "legitimat rape"?

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

If you are going to be snippy, you should at least punctuate and spell correctly.

sacredh
sacredh

I think Mitt getting the nomination is what doomed his campaign.

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

Among registered voters in Virginia:

50% support Obama

43% support Romney

Have a nice day, Mitt!

Steve0T
Steve0T

 Also, the Repub attempts to remove Virgil Goode from the ballot in VA failed.

That's good news for R too.

sacredh
sacredh

My sarcasm detector just beeped.

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

Among registered voters in Ohio:

52% support Obama

41% support Romney

Have a nice day, Mitt!

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

Among registered voters in Florida:

52% support Obama

43% support Romney

Have a nice day, Mitt!

SAJ2995
SAJ2995

"And, I must say, that Obama’s tribute to Ambassador Chris Stevens–who stood at the very opposite end of the human spectrum from the Salafis who killed him–was extremely moving. The principles Obama enunciated represent the broad, vast majority of opinion in the United States–and a growing reality in the world. It was the President at his best."

Would that be the parts he lied about the cause and death of Ambassador Stevens, or the "rah rah" parts of "go America" in the speech, sprinkled with more apologies and appeasement?

What would we do if we didn't have the likes of Joe Klein to reinterpret a speech based upon lies and deceit to the American people and the world?  While vilifying a movie trailer as "a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world".  When in fact what Americans and the world witnessed was pure unadulterated hate for Americans and Israelis.  

So far the President of Libya has not moved one inch away from his initial assessment the movie trailer had absolutely nothing to do with Ambassador Steven's death.  He still proclaims the attack on the Consulate was a pre-planned terrorist attack.  So much so that warnings were given ahead of time, but ignored by this Administration.

 So I ask the question Mr Klein, what "principles" did Obama give in his speech? Would it be that he lies?  This Administration will deceive it's people?  Or, we have 4 dead Americans and Obama doesn't have a clue as to why this happened?

http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_...

MrObvious
MrObvious

I think you and I heard completely different speeches.

Maybe you're under the illusion that we should bully the rest of the world to love us or maybe we should realize that our best values is not the might of our tanks and airplanes but education, hard work and freedom to express our views.

I wish righties that keep harkin on about these 4 dead people showed as much grief over the thousands that have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I guess some sacrifices is worth it as long as we're kicking the shiat out of something.

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

 So I ask the question, RustyRod: where is your proof -- that pesky word again, PROOF -- that any lie has been told about Stevens' death?

What would we do if we didn't have the likes of RustyRod to obfuscate, lie, distort and misinterpret every word uttered by a liberal?  What would we do if RustyRod were capable of introducing PROOF to support any of his lies and deceits?  What would we do if RustyRod ever confronted the thing that frightens him most: a FACT?

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

"I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of

the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and

they are not now.

As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."  

- Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation amp; ALEC, the group behind the voter ID laws.

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

 America the Beautiful

 

-----   by Willard M. Romney

O beautiful for spacious skies, 

For amber waves of grain, 

Where billionaires seek tax loopholes, 

Like those we used at Bain. 

Republicans, Tea Party friends, 

God's Tax Code works for thee. 

Yes working stiffs pay greater gifts 

Than wealthy folks like me.  

Oh beautiful for citizens, 

Whose labors serve our land. 

But hard-earned pay is chickenfeed 

To those with cash in hand. 

Oh financiers, oh CEOs,

And corporate raiders too, 

Grease lobbyists and congressmen, 

And they'll look out for you.  

Oh beautiful, the greenbacks of 

This country I adore.

I'll pay diminished income tax,

But not a penny more. 

My tax returns, my secret trusts, 

I'm too ashamed to show. 

If common people looked at them 

My polls would suffer so.  

Oh beautiful, the firms I've run,

I milked them of their cash. 

And once they were of little use,

I threw them in the trash. 

Oh unemployed, I fired you, 

But still you should be pleased. 

The places that you once had worked

Are thriving overseas.  

Oh beautiful the blind guy that 

I once steered toward a wall,

 The gang of thugs I organized 

That shaved some homo bald. 

On almost every issue, friend, 

I'm known to hold both views. 

So vote for me for president …

 I'll have the one you choose.

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

 In Ohio, Obama holds double-digit leads

over Romney as the one earning more voter trust on five other issues —

Medicare, Medicaid, taxes, social issues and international affairs — and

he is numerically ahead on two others.

And Bain in under investigation for tax evasion.

Looks like another bad week for The Dear Liar Mitt Romney!

GOBAMA -- America's Great Black Hope!

OHHHHH.....Waaaaiiiitttt......  THATS what RepubliKKKrappers are so upset about!

Yeshuratnam
Yeshuratnam

The UN speech is a mere eyewash to cover up the Embassy's statement and apology rendered to terrorists. Islamist protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy in Egypt, destroyed the American flag, and replaced it with a black Islamist flag similar to the one used byAl-Qaeda. How did the U.S. embassy respond? By apologizing to the rioters for hurting “their religious feelings.” 

"The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”  

So, on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, rioting Egyptians stormed the American embassy, destroyed American flag, and hoisted the Islamist flag — and the U.S. embassy apologizes for hurting their feelings? 

If this shocks you, you are not alone. Many Americans expressed their outrage on Twitter and other social mediums. Now to woo the voters Obama has changed the tune at the UN Speech. His defense of free speech was due to hostile public opinion in the US and the world. Obama's sudden U turn is a clever gimmick at election time.

mn22
mn22

Obama is the most populist president we have ever had. Instead of sitting down with Netanyahu, Morsi, or Alam he goes on "The View" and Kelly F*@!#n' Ripa. Please think about who this man is. He has NO core beliefs, at least Romney isn't out there blowing in the wind.

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

You sound like a fear-filled GOP racist, to me.

Just burns you up that a Democrat black man was elected over a RepubliKKKrap white man, doesn't it.

Well, guess what is going to happen AGAIN!!!!

MrObvious
MrObvious

Mitt isn't out there blowing in the wind? Obama has no core belief?

How many times have Obama changed what he stated before 2008 and through 2012?

And how often have Mitt changed what he thinks through this one singular campaign?

I think you have them confused.

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

I saw Willard Romney telling Kelly Ripa he kind of likes Snooki and wears as little as possible to bed.

Had President Obama sat down with Netanyahi, Morsi or Alam, let's not pretend you wouldn't have complained about some imaginary political ulterior motive, okay?

drinkeroftherye
drinkeroftherye

Mitt and Snooki, what a lame attempt to try to connect.  Did you catch Obama interview with Miami’s Pimp with a Limp.  Very sweet, Barack was jiving about  Pitbull and Flo Rida, dissing  the Dolphins and raggin on Laz.  That’s connecting.  Forward

tma_sierrahills
tma_sierrahills

I'm not a warmongering neocon, a Tea Party guy or even a member of the GOP, but Klein, while making some otherwise good points, tends to lump them all together. Of course words like fear, anger and hate are continually used by the Left to dismiss apposing points of view, since it paints anyone who believes differently as representing [tremble, tremble] Angry Ignorant Irrational Fearful Forces of Darkness! Which then, by definition, can be immediately dismissed. For the Left this is pretty convenient, if frequently non-factual.  

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

 You ARE a neocon/teaparty/GOP guy.  You are typically disingenous and manipulative.

You are exactly what Mitt is. 

By all means, waste your vote on him!

tma_sierrahills
tma_sierrahills

"I'm not a warmongering neocon, a Tea Party guy or ..."

Right, I'm a neocon and am calling myself a warmonger. Makes perfect sense, Glen. 

MrObvious
MrObvious

How about you represent that pov instead of going on about what liberals do?

Don't you think that makes a better counter argument than to mirror what you think liberals are doing?

tma_sierrahills
tma_sierrahills

"I find it funny that so many righties measure their..."

Yes, you are so open-minded, so adverse to judging people as groups that you call people to the right of you "righties." I would be glad to get more into my value system, but I won't take the time for that because obviously you are only interesting taking scattered low-level potshots.

tma_sierrahills
tma_sierrahills

I have almost never known liberals, especially in the media, who do not make such assumptions and accusations as I laid out. I am what some might call a radical traditionalist, not agreeing with the PC Tolerance Police that Western civilization is somehow uniquely morally bankrupt, and not wanting to destroy it under the guise of a phony status-seeking enlightenment that allows one to enjoy and get all of the benefits of Western civilization, while usually residing in self-segregating neighborhoods, at the same time helping to destroy it for their own grandkids grandkids, including the environment. Thank you for asking.

MrObvious
MrObvious

So your pov is that liberals are all these things you come across as?

Sorry, but first I thought your entire argument would be 'these are my values' and not that you define everything according to your fantasy about liberals.

For example; what I am is not a opposition to everything conservative. What I stand for are personal values that I'm sure are shared by most common sense conservatives. I'm not worried about that collusion - that only proves that those are good universally shared values.

I find it funny that so many righties measure their values based on being opposite the kind of negative yard stick they perceive liberals as.

Sorry - but if I'm going to talk about my values it won't start with 'I have almost never known conservatives, especially in the media' in order define them.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

Has Mitt Romney lost? I am sounding a tad irritated because I do not want people lulled into this false sense of complacency. The need to vote is more SERIOUS than ever. This is how Brown won in MA. He was not considered a serious threat by most folks, and see what happened??? Brown won.

To all Democrats, Independents, and Republicans who support President Obama, Please VOTE on November 6th, 2012. To all others who support Mitt Romney, I do not care what you do. I know we live in a democracy and I should encourage you to vote, but too much is at stake here.  If you are a Romney supporter, and want to stay home, stay home!!   

Amruta Eswara
Amruta Eswara

agree 100% . Democrats , just go amp; campaign, no matter what the daily poles say

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

Yes, unless these polls take into account the #

of voters who are going to show up at the polls to find that they were

deleted from voter registry without their knowledge, and all of the

other factors that affect what votes actually get "registered", they

mean nothing. am recalling ohio 2004 and don't trust data from ohio, pa

or fl given RepubliKKKrapper voter suppression antics.

hymie glickstein
hymie glickstein

You are right. Too much is at stake here, which is why I would NEVER vote for Obama - he is destroying my children's future, and yours too.

See you at the polls. If the best man wins, that surely rules out your guy...

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 Hymie, could you be specific about your fevered rant????

 What is this destruction Obama is planning? Are you a Dick Morris representative??  This is hysterical blather!

And what proof do you have that Romney will ever do better. He ran our State aground and cannot be allowed to do the same at the National level. I supported Romney in MA, and will NEVER do it again. BTW, I am a registered Republican but vote as an Independent. Above all, I am a patriot, and a high information voter. In a nutshell, that means that I am CERTAIN that Romney STINKS.

Obama/Biden 2012. Be sure to vote, all Obama supporters. Romney's supporters, as I stated earlier can do whatever they please on that day. I do not care.   

jsfox
jsfox

Huh? "he is destroying my children's future, and yours too."

What has Obama done to destroy your children's future? And please do not come back with the debt. Almost all of it is due to a recession, and Republican policies still in effect. You know two tax cuts without paying for them, Two wars put on the credit card and kept off the books, Medicare Part D again no thought on how to pay for it. And oh yes don't forget you are party of "deficits don't matter."

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

 You obfuscate, like the typical GOP troll.

Your children's future, and yours too, was destroyed by Bush.  Enjoy paying his bills?