Finally, Obama Makes the Case for Four More Years

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The argument for reelecting President Obama is not obvious, since the economy is bad, but it’s not all that complex either. I’d say it’s a five-part argument. And tonight, the president finally made all five parts. The big news from this debate will probably be the searing exchange over Libya, but after I shredded Obama’s no-show last time, I should acknowledge that this time Obama actually presented a case for four more years.

Part One is that Obama inherited an ungodly mess, with the economy losing 800,000 a jobs a month and GDP crashing at an 8.9% rate. The president talks about this often, but he drove it home in a new way after Governor Romney noted that gas prices were $1.86 when he took office. Obama shot back (correctly) that gas prices were so low because the economy was collapsing. He then suggested that Romney might restore low gas prices by restoring the policies that collapsed the economy, which is actually Part Four; in any case, it was one of his best lines of the night.

(MORE: Obama Bounces Back With Strong Showing in Second Debate)

Part Two is that Obama made the mess better, moving the economy from dizzying job losses to 5.2 million new jobs, from scary contraction to modest growth. He quickly described how his auto bailout took a vital industry from the brink of death to record profitability, arguing that Romney’s prescription of no government aid could have destroyed a million jobs. And he did a decent job of pointing out how his policies have helped people: cutting middle-class taxes by $3600, expanding Pell Grants and child-care tax breaks. I’m biased,  of course, but I would have liked to hear him point out that his $800 billion stimulus saved hundreds of thousands of jobs for teachers and other public employees, kept millions of Americans out of poverty and homelessness, provided tens of billions of dollars worth of tax breaks to manufacturers, and created the biggest quarterly jobs improvement in 30 years. But he doesn’t use the s-word.

(PHOTOS: Political Pictures of the Week, Oct. 5–11)

Part Three is that congressional Republicans blocked him from doing even more to clean up the mess. I don’t understand why he doesn’t harp on GOP obstructionism—it’s one of the main reasons the recovery has been so weak, and Americans happen to hate Congress—but he did at least mention it tonight. He talked about how he has tried to extend tax cuts for 98% of the country, but Republicans have refused to go along unless the top 2% keeps their tax cuts. He also mentioned Republican intransigence on immigration. But he still could have done more to point out that Republicans have fought just about every policy he mentioned—from student loan reform to infrastructure investments to the Lilly Ledbetter gender discrimination bill. Romney does a nice job talking about his bipartisan work in Massachusetts; it wouldn’t kill Obama to mention every now and then that the Party of No plotted its obstructionist strategy before he even took office. And for the record: He only had a filibuster-proof Senate supermajority for a few months, after Al Franken was seated and the late Arlen Specter switched parties but before Scott Brown’s election.

(MORE: Mark Halperin: Grading the Town Hall Debate)

Part Four is that Romney represents a return to the Bush policies that got us into the mess in the first place. Obama hammered this point a lot, focusing primarily on tax cuts for the rich, but he probably could use a bit more show and less tell. He did a good job explaining how Romney’s promises of big specific tax cuts along with unspecified loophole-closing and spending cuts are a prescription for huge deficits, but he could have done a better job of linking them to the Bush destruction of the Clinton surpluses. He could have mentioned that Romney shares the anti-regulatory fervor that helped fuel the Wall Street meltdown—and has promised to repeal Wall Street reform.  He could also mention that Romney has surrounded himself with the same Bush foreign policy advisers that led America into Iraq.

Part Five is that Obama has basically done what he said he would do. And he slammed home this point when the disappointed former Obama voter asked why he deserves another term, listing a slew of promises kept: middle-class tax cuts, small business tax cuts, ending the war in Iraq, decimating al Qaeda and killing bin Laden, reining in insurance companies and expanding affordable insurance, reforming Wall Street, saving the auto industry, and creating 5 million jobs. At other times in the debate he mentioned that he’s enacted ambitious education reforms—he could have mentioned that many conservatives support Race to the Top—and doubled renewable energy. He could have added that he allowed gays to serve in the military and made record investments in research, and he could have done a better job explaining why he’s failed to keep his promise to cut the deficit in half. (Or at least remind voters that he inherited a trillion-dollar deficit from Bush.) But I liked the way he didn’t pretend everything had gone his way: “Those I haven’t been able to keep, it’s not for lack of trying, and we’re going to get it done in a second term.”

Personally, I didn’t think Romney was nearly as awful in this debate as Obama was in the first debate. I thought he scored some points on the deficit, and I was surprised that Obama often seemed to cede the point that the economy is a mess, when recent numbers have given at least the illusion of improvement. Still, this felt like a solid whupping. And more important, it sounded like a solid case.

MORE: What Happened at the First Presidential Debate

92 comments
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LegalBagel
LegalBagel

Obama was raised on anti-Western rhetoric and he lives its tenets.  He is trying to bring America to its knees and the bozos who vote for him don't have a clue.  Sad.

PaoloBernasconi
PaoloBernasconi

do you have any idea how pathetic is what you just said?The good thing is that guys like typically do not get to say what Western is supposed to be, or we would be all communists by now. 

LegalBagel
LegalBagel

Do you know how to write a complete sentence?  Talk about pathetic.  It's sad to see the US dipping further and further into the abyss and people like you are shooting the messengers....  Good grief.  Once again, pathetic.

PaoloBernasconi
PaoloBernasconi

Dude ... u hate the black man in the WH so much you are willing to invent nonsensical stories to justify your hate.  All you can do is being emotional ... what a wussy. 

You are driven by hate instead of by rational thinking.

If you did use your brain, instead of your stomach to think, you'd be able to admit that your current African American President has worked and succeeded to make things better for everyone, including you and your retirement fund. Man, it's incredible that after 8 years of GOP administration that managed to reverse a booming economy and budget surplus into a a collapsing one with devastating deficit, you still think that despite  the current administration has reversed the economical disaster and defeated terrorists all around the world, you'd be better off with a GOP  puppet  in the WH, 

There is little that can be done if you are short of grey material .. as I said many times, in the end if the people are stupid enough to fall for the GOP snake oil sales man ,, well, so be it, you are the ones who will feel the pain, the GOP dude, who ever he is, has his $$ stacked away in  off shore accounts .. he is saf and does not give a shut about you ... 

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Yes he is a secret Kenyan Muslim. And you are a fool for even making that tired old claim.

LegalBagel
LegalBagel

Obama never had experience to prepare him to be president in the calm.  In the storm he's faced, he's been in over his head from day 1.  Who has ever had a thinner resume that made it to the White House?  Seriously?  I'm still baffled that people think he has demonstrated even a mild level of competence.  I do think he surpasses Jimmy Carter in confidence but not in competence. 

Obama tries to distract from the Third World-ization of the US that he is working on by claiming to want to bring high paying jobs in....  His track record demonstrates that his claims are false.  He is for union jobs and more people getting on food stamps... and that's about all. 

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Republican policies have caused the Third World-ization of the US. And Mitt's former company spearheaded the gutting of pay and benefits in the name of higher profits.

Rumionemore
Rumionemore

That's great news. When did he do this? Did he promise to wipe out his first four and start over? I didn't watch the debate because I knew I'd get an objective play-by-play about the debate from real journalists such as this young man, from Mike. By the way, sixty percent of the jobs created during the recovery have been low-wage. Sixty percent! Why aren't real journalists writing about this? The U.S. is your country, but your partisanship could help reelect a man who has shown he has weak leadership skills, had no track record to speak of when he was elected in 2008 - and still has nothing to show for it but a tax-laden healthcare bill that will sink the middle class for good .

Barack Obama belongs back in a college classroom lecturing, playing the Big Man Knowing It All and helping the university fundraise. That's it. That's who this person is.

PaoloBernasconi
PaoloBernasconi

Palladia dude, my name is Bernasconi, not Berlusconi .. I am no thief or criminal of any kind. Sorry to hear about  your transgender issues, it's your problem  not mine, but I still wish you good luck with it. 

Palladia
Palladia

Sorry, I got your name wrong.  Now, what's this about "transgender issues?"  Where did you ever get that one?  I've happily lived all my life in the gender to which I was born.  You are jumping to unsupported conclusions, and that is not a good idea.

PaoloBernasconi
PaoloBernasconi

my apologies ... I misread your statement .. you said born of women .. and somehow I skipped the "of" and thought you said "born women .. "  I so  then decided to go sarcastic on you  ... somehow it seemed funny ... too often sarcasm it's all that is left to be said on these boards.

Didn't mean to offend for real ... 

Palladia
Palladia

Thank you, no problem.  Evidently we were both not reading exactly what was there. . . (g)

David Strayer
David Strayer

There are any number of reasons why Obama has a strong case for reelection.  They include the following:

Romney

Ryan

Rush (the 3Rs!!)

Is it possible, honestly, to conceive of the extent to which the nihilist Republican hordes can destroy our country (which they claim to love, although they can't stand the people who live in it) and our government (which they correctly claim to hate)? 

Will they start another war?  With whom?  Iran?  Or, maybe if you believe Mitt, China?

Will they start another tax cut that will drive the deficit up yet again?  (Reagan's tax cuts added $4T to the deficit; Bush-II's added $5T to the deficit, and continue to add to the deficit.)

Will they deregulate even more?  Maybe, they'll start by deregulating pharmacies that do compounding.

Will they spend even more on defense?  Gosh, we already spend more than the next 15 (I think it is) countries in the world COMBINED.  How much more can we give to defense contractors?  Will all those jobs be located in the U.S.?

Will they cut medical research further?  It's already at crisis stage.

Will they extend Medicare vouchers to current seniors (even though they promised that current seniors wouldn't be affected -- do you really believe any of their promises?)?

Will they voucherize Social Security, as Ryan has suggested?

Obama has shifted the direction of jobs in this country from losing 800,000 per month when he took office to gaining 125,000 per month now.  Obama has brought the stock market back from the depths of the 6000s where it once was to 13000s now.  Obama has gotten us out of Iraq.  He has eliminated Osama bin Laden.  He has set timing to draw down the Afghanistan contingent.  He has guaranteed that everyone in this country will have medical care, no matter what.

Just think of what he will do in his next term!!!  Especially, if that doesn't help clarify things, just think of what the Republicans would do if they were elected (see above)!!!!!!!

PaoloBernasconi
PaoloBernasconi

all true and I am 100% with you .. the GOP will destroy this country and its people, as it did during the last 60 years each it had power ...  up to Eisenhower, Republican were decent people .. after that, it's crooks all the way. Only thing I blame Eisenhower for is the Iran mess ..

But one thing must be said .. the people are stupid enough to keep voting for the thief in the kitchen ... they did over and over again , yes the other guy sometime was a real dork and so it might be understandable that the people feel for the good looks of an class B- Hollywood actor and such .. but then again, thieves in the kitchen get to steal only as much as the house owner let them ... blame yourselves the people , it's all your fault in the end.

radsenior
radsenior

Looks like the Mittster was jacked at the president. The Mittster was being called on everything and that white boy cannot get over it. Back in the day, if any black man talked to a white man the way Obama countered Romney, he would be strung up. Blogs all around from many were taken aback as Obama not only held his ground, but countered and allowed the Mittster to K.O. himself with the Libyan T.K.O. FOX-hole pundits are already calling Obama for not cowing down to their leader. But remember, this choice was not their first, second or third but their bought choice. All-in-all Obama did a masterful jobs of letting Romney crash and burn!

Moniker7
Moniker7

If only one thing is remembered from last nights debate, it'll be...

"I have binders full of women!"

Scotty_A
Scotty_A

I would say Romney is not bad, but we did see his limits and the failure of Republicans in general to come up with new ideas. Republicans are not going to be able to live down the Bush years until they come up with a better leader such as Reagan and Clinton. The question I see is whether or not Obama makes another mistake and does not come out attacking Republican foreign policy in the next debate.

rafe4
rafe4

This is TIME magazine for god sakes.  You might as well read an article by Willy Wonka.  Reality, accuracy and objectiveness are not principles TIME magazine embraces.  Inspite of Mr. Grunwald's leftist spin, Mr. Obama has been shown for what he is  -  a political mist.  He is so transparent that all the journalistic white washing in the world will not be able to provide any sustance to his personage. 

PaoloBernasconi
PaoloBernasconi

right ,.. that is a lot better than a thief (see Bain Captial), so yes, better Obama than Romney

akpat
akpat

 On the contrary you seem to be talking about Mitt Romney who cannot proceed in any direction at all for more than a few hours when he reverses his direction.

Obama on the other hand has several good achievements not the least of which is reducing the unemployment rate from a negative 800,000 per month under Bush to 100k a month positive under him. In addition the car industry, banks, and insurance companies have been shored up, we are out of 1 war, OBL is dead, the stock market up, peoples pensions up, housing starts are up.

All this was despite a GOP ploy to damage his presidency as much as possible. The only bills they passed were for tax decreases on the wealthy and to limit a womans right to abortion and birth control.

karur
karur

Obama was sharp but should have done even better. The facts are that the Republican model of trickle down economics is based on dealing only with their 47% base. Obama has to deliver to 94%, which by definition means that the rich cannot get more! What Obama failed to do is to talk about the performance of the US compared to Europe and the rest of the world and now he looks good. Finally, the image of the US under Bush was so low that it was not easy to call yourself American. Now, there is a recognition that America is a team player and even in Israel(not Netanyahu), there is appreciation for not going to war against Iran. Four more years will really allow all these efforts to fructify and the US voter will be pleased that he voted for Obama now!

ageofknowledge
ageofknowledge

Obama makes a solid case for more years of someone other than himself in the presidency. This guy doesn't even like the U.S.. He's out to denude the U.S. to build up the rest of the world in line with both his and his father's anti-American anti-Western anti-colonial dream. He spent his whole life hating on the American dream and longing for a very different one. Go see Obama 2016. You guys deserve to be hurt economically further if you vote for this guy. You deserve it!

CarolinaVoter2012
CarolinaVoter2012

Romney hurt himself with women voters, mainly because his policies are not supported by a majority of women, and that was made plain during this debate.  Republicans fought against the Lilly

Ledbetter Act (Equal Pay for Equal Work), and Romney’s advisor has specifically

said that Romney would not have signed that bill.   Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, want

to restrict women’s access to safe abortions.  

Despite what Romney said during last night’s debate, he supported the

Blunt Amendment which would have allowed employers to decide whether the

company’s health insurance would cover contraceptives for its employees.     As has been covered in the news in the

past, Romney did not ask women’s groups to find him suitable candidates for

executive positions in his administration – at their own initiative, women’s

groups came to Romney with lists of candidates in order to rectify the vast

disparity in the number of women in high-level positions in Massachusetts. His

storyline last night was a re-invention of history.   And, by the way, by the end of his four-year

term, the number of women in high-level positions in the Massachusetts government

was less than when he took office.

 

PaoloBernasconi
PaoloBernasconi

oh, most of what you say is right .. but you are not Carolina, you are an Obama campaign staffer .. ... let's hope at least that you are a woman .. 

Keep up the good work. 

Steve0T
Steve0T

and you are a Rmoney shill.

What's your point, sport?

PaoloBernasconi
PaoloBernasconi

not very smart .. grow a brain .. Oh wait, a dead brain does not grow .. too bad.

CarolinaVoter2012
CarolinaVoter2012

 No, I don't work for any political campaign.  I'm just an opinionated person.  And I do live in North Carolina.  However, I am not a woman.  Did I say I was?

Palladia
Palladia

Mr "berlusconi," are you under the impression that only women benefit from improved women's rights?  In fact, everyone benefits. . . those who are women, and those who were born of women.  That would, I assume, include you.

PaoloBernasconi
PaoloBernasconi

so .. Carolina is a state name ... I have a hard time believing u r not with the Obama campaign .. why would  man create a user name to say say something about women rights?

am not buying it ..  still I agree with you said