Musings on the Debates

Tonight a friend and I were discussing the recent presidential debates. When I hear the word debate, I want something with meat and potatoes, a sparring contest of substance rather than accusations hurled back and forth between candidates. It’s the difference between watching a serious martial arts event and an emotional slapping contest. One is a respectful interchange between learned men and the other is high drama juxtaposed against red, white, and blue.

These debates delivered both. One of the elements of the debates I’m most impressed with is that Romney had the backbone to speak out when his views were being misrepresented. I’m always tuned into the psychology of campaigns and have been wary of how the Obama camp’s efforts often appeal to emotion rather than reason. As a taxpaying American citizen, I want logical answers that tell me how our current problems are going to be fixed, not hollow talk that spreads blame and misinformation.

I strongly dislike how, rather than being straightforward about what their campaign believes and has to offer, the Obama-Biden ticket has tried to portray Romney as a cold, impersonal, out of touch rich guy who has no idea what it’s like for average people. They play up how he defines small businesses and seem to agonize over how he’s “only out to help his rich friends.” They act like Romney is against the middle class and have really been playing up a supposed commitment to the middle class.

This is the part where I say, “are you kidding me? Do you think I’m stupid?” I don’t believe that it’s primarily the president’s responsibility to create jobs or save the economy. But his policies have a lot to do with the economic climate of this country. Over the last four years I’ve seen our government move closer and closer to socialism on the backs of us middle class types. I can’t even take care of the poor in my own family because I’m too strapped taking care of everyone else out there.

Voters have a critically important decision to make in a couple of weeks and it’s a decision that our children and grandchildren are going to have to live with. We either vote to continue a reckless, entitlement mentality spending policy laced with half-baked promises or we take a gamble on a proven financial manager. We either keep chipping away at our civil liberties and our nation’s formerly powerful image or we elect a moderate who is serious about reestablishing America’s prominence.

Last night Romney boldly mentioned Obama’s apology tour. I was mortified when our president was cruising around the world as if he were a rock star telling foreigners things that were disrespectful to the sacrifices that have made this country great. Many times I have questioned this administration’s sincerity when they claim they are acting in the best interest of the American people. For the record, I didn’t like Bush either because he seemed to have no qualms with jumping into wars or implementing grave mistakes like the Patriot Act.

Romney is a moderate, so voting for him is not as big of a risk as some would have us believe. But he seems to be very serious about loosing our strengths and getting this country back on its feet economically. I am intrigued by what he’s had to say about doing business with Latin America and am thrilled to hear him talk tough when it comes to dealing with murderous regimes like in Iran. The Obama administration’s lack of sensible foreign policies (or flat out lack of policies) has done a lot of damage to our nation’s strengths and to human rights. We need a president who has resolved to defend this nation against all our enemies and to truly support allies like Israel.

Today I heard people commenting on the debates who said that foreign policy isn’t really of interest to them, they’re more concerned about the economy. They need to understand that the way we interact with other countries has everything to do with the situation here at home. We import far more than we export to powerhouses like China, we borrow money from our competitors, and our immigration policies allow millions of non-citizens flying under the radar to take advantage of taxpaying citizens with legal jobs. On it goes. It’s a mess, and we need a president who will act in the best interest of our national economy.

Another topic I’d like to bring into the mix is how the candidates behaved during the debates. I was appalled at Biden’s behavior during the vice presidential debate; appalled. I expected so much more from him not only because of his experience but because of his position in our government. He was derisive, mocking, and disrespectful, leering and laughing inappropriately as if Ryan’s presence there were a big joke. His attitude came across as “victory’s in the bag, this is just some ridiculous act I have to perform with this clown in the meantime.”

For a long time I’ve maintained that people should not be in leadership positions unless they can practice respect. Calling Ryan his “friend,” as if he were a three year-old boy and acting as if Ryan is a political toddler did nothing to help the Obama campaign. It was arrogant. Biden had it in him to do much better and at minimum could have maintained a professional attitude. I will give Ryan a lot of credit for remaining calm in the face of such antagonistic behavior. The same goes for Romney last night. Obama seemed to be trying to intimidate him by staring intently and that’s not something that’s going to faze a classy guy like Mitt.

When I watch these exchanges, I am extremely concerned about truth. What I saw on the Obama side were a lot of efforts to portray Romney as someone he wasn’t and tell people he’d said things he hadn’t. Paul Ryan really nailed that one in the vice presidential debate when he said, “this is what a candidate sounds like when he doesn’t have a record to run on.” Romney later added, “attacking me is not an agenda.” Because the last four years don’t bear a reasonable resemblance to what Obama claimed they would be, they are spending far too much time trying to tear down Romney and Ryan rather than highlight what they did right and still can do.

This undercurrent sounds eerily like my experiences in abusive relationships and with workplace bullies. When cornered and asked to account for themselves, abusers, who are often narcissists, try to turn the tables and make their target look like the bad guy. It’s a cheap attempt at a Jedi mind trick. They know they can’t stand on their own merits so attempt to tear down their victims and make everything the victims’ fault. Abusers who engage in this behavior are never to blame; they want to convince everyone else that they are the actual victims and the true victims did this to themselves. If the abusers were truly who they say they are, there would be no need to go on the offensive like this.

Please note that I did not accuse any candidates of domestic abuse. I’m pointing out, as a veteran of battling dark souls, that the tactics seem all too familiar. I want to see leaders taking responsibility for their actions and focusing on improving their game, not pouring this kind of energy into tearing down the other guy. Reality is, we are at a very disturbing place in history, where millions of people hate us Americans and dictators have access to atom bombs. The kind of leadership we need is resolute, fearless, and firm and we don’t have that right now. We need an administration that will remind us all that despite our differences, we are Americans, and we have a lot of important things in common that we need to protect.

Overall, I’m disappointed that the Obama campaign is trying to portray their platform as conservative-lite and as friendly to the middle class. I would rather they be more real than that. People should know that if they reelect Obama they are consenting to more taxing and more spending at a time that we can’t afford it. They are also settling for less of a leader than we need in the international realm (and I can’t believe the way our female Secretary of State’s been thrown under the bus at times).

I’ve never been a huge Romney fan because he’s moderate on some issues that are important to me. I also believe that if people really want things to change they need to get off their duffs and work for it as a grassroots level. But Romney is definitely the better choice in this election because he’s more believable, has the kind of resume this economy requires, and has the kind of cajones this country needs to help protect us from the evils rising all across the globe. These are evils that could set women and freedom and civilization back a thousand years. Romney seems less concerned with celebrity and more with substance. I don’t have any questions about his commitment to our country or his background. To me, he seems pretty real, and he has a proven ability to work with both parties.

Change didn’t work out; it’s time to try some R&R.


America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. -Abraham Lincoln


©2012 H. Hiatt/ All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/

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