Obama and Romney

November 5th, 2012 at 2:52 pm by David Farrar

Not that I get a vote, but for the record if I was in the US, I would be voting Romney. Before I explain why, I want to touch on the record of both men.

Barack Obama

As President Barack Obama has performed pretty much as well as I expected – he had a total of two years experience as a junior senator before he started campaigning for President. It is no surprise at all with such a lack of experience, that he has failed to meet expectations of so many of his supporters.

That lack of experience is one of the reasons I said I preferred Hillary Clinton over Obama in 2008, and I note polls show she would win easily against Romney.

Now this isn’t to say that Obama has been a bad President, more somewhat lackluster.

On foreign policy, I think Obama has been fine. He saw the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq successfully (albeit on the timetable agreed to by Bush).  The surge in Afghanistan was the right strategy, and while (like Iraq) the country they will leave behind is imperfect – it will be a lot better than it was.

Obama’s intervention in Libya to protect civilians with a no fly zone, basically worked. Of course the later death of his Ambassador is a potential scandal that may claim some scalps.

And of course one has to give him credit for Osama bin Laden’s death. It was a high risk mission that could have destroyed his presidency if it ended up a shambles.  He trusted his military commanders and the special forces and his confidence was rewarded.

His decision to use a drone to kill to Anwar al-Aulaqi, a US citizen in Yemen, was controversial. It is the first ever extrajudicial execution of a US citizen ordered by a President.

With domestic policy the silly don’t ask, don’t tell policy ended and the world didn’t end. But he had done almost nothing sensible on immigration reform, and the health reform was in fact little more than requiring poor people to have private health insurance. he doesn’t have a very strong domestic legacy.  One many issues he has lets the polls decide for him. In 1996 he was for same-sex marriage. In 1998 he was undecided. In 2004 he was against same-sex marriage. In 2012 he was back to being for same-sex marriage.

On the economy, this is where he has failed, and in fact his policies are a danger to the US and world economy. The US deficit and debt must be reined in, and Obama’s policies of massively increasing spending are reckless. The Budget Control Act merely slows the rate of growth of debt, not reverses it. Federal spending is projected to continue to grow faster than the economy grows, and this is impossible to maintain. The US public debt grew by $1.9 trillion (think $6,300 per capita) in 2009 and $1.7 trillion in 2010.

So overall I think Obama has done pretty well on foreign policy, been average at best on domestic policy and bad on economic policy.

Mitt Romney

I thought Mitt Romney was a good Governor of Massachusetts, and he has a successful private sector career.

As Governor he passed health care legislation (not that different to Obama care), eliminated the state budget deficit and was pro-choice. Worth noting Romney got elected Governor by a 5% margin, despite every poll showing him behind the Democrat candidate.

As Governor he made many non-partisan appointments, and he also reduced the size of the state bureaucracy. He closed tax loopholes also. On the education side he funded the top 25% of high school students with tuition-free scholarships to public universities or colleges.

So I liked Governor Romney. Candidate Romney was a different case. He flip-flopped on so many issues.

He want from getting rid of ethanol subsidies, to supporting them in 2008 and then in 2012 against them. He went from supporting a cap and trade on carbon emissions to opposing them. he introduced individual health mandates, and then attacked Obama for them.

He did not support the Bush tax cuts, but now campaigns to keep them. His position on abortion has changed radically, as it has on stem cells.

For these reasons Romney was not my preferred candidate for the Republicans in 2008 or 2012. All politicians modify their positions to some degree. Obama certainly has. But Romney’s changes have been so many and dramatic you wonder what he really believes.

Obama v Romney

As I said I don’t think Obama has been a terrible President. For someone with just two years in the Senate (before near full-time campaigning) he has performed as about the level you’d expect. He’s made some good calls in quite a few areas. He’s failed to show leadership in quite a few also.

However his fiscal policy is dangerous and wrong. It is vital the US gets onto a path out of deficit. The deficit is massive. To break things down the US spends $121,000 a second. Of that $121,000 it borrows $52,000. This is so far living beyond the means, it is not funny.

Romney is a flip-flopper, and has said some silly things. but he does have a good proven record on financial management – both in government and the private sector. For that reason I would vote Romney. I seriously worry about the US economy with another four years of massive and growing deficits.

If Obama does get re-elected, his second-term performance on the economy will I believe form a large part of how history judges him.

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The Al Smith Dinner

October 20th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Al Smith Dinner is a near-mandatory event in election years for presidential candidates. A white-tie fundraiser for Catholic charities in New York, the tone of the evening is light-hearted. Both Obama and Romney were in fine form.

Here Obama’s transcript. Some of my favourite lines:

 Everyone please take your seats otherwise Clint Eastwood will yell at them. …

This is the third time that Governor Romney have met recently. As some of you may have noticed, I had a lot more energy in our second debate. I felt really well rested after the nice long nap I had in the first debate.

Although it turns millions of Americans focused in on the second debate who didn’t focus in on the first debate and I happen to be one of them. I particularly want to apologize to Chris Matthews. Four years ago, I gave him a thrill up his leg; this time around, I gave him a stroke.

Of course, there’s a lot of things I learned from that experience, for example, I learned that there are worse things that can happen to you on your anniversary than forgetting to buy a gift.

Heh, killer line.

I’m still making the most of my time in the city. Earlier today I went shopping at some stores in Midtown. I understand Governor Romney went shopping for some stores in Midtown.

Also heh.

And I have to admit, it can be a grind. Sometimes it feels like this race has dragged on forever, but Paul Ryan assured me that we’ve only been running for two hours and fifty something minutes. …

Ultimately, though, tonight’s not about the disagreements Governor Romney and I may have. It’s what we have in common, beginning with our unusual names. Actually Mitt is his middle name, I wish I could use my middle name.

Classic.

Of course, world affairs are a challenge for every candidate. After — some of you guys remember — after my foreign trip in 2008, I was attacked as a celebrity because I was so popular with our allies overseas. And I have to say I’m impressed with how well Governor Romney has avoided that problem.

I love humourous attack lines.

And Romney:

Now Al, you were right, a campaign can require a lot of wardrobe changes. We — blue jeans in the morning perhaps, suits for a lunch fundraiser, sport coat for dinner, but it’s nice to finally relax and to wear what Ann and I wear around the house.

Superb – confronts the out of touch meme with humour.

Campaigns can be grueling, exhausting. President Obama and are each very lucky to have one person who is always in our corner, someone who we can lean on, and someone who is a comforting presence. Without whom, we wouldn’t be able to go another day. I have my beautiful wife Ann, he has Bill Clinton.

Hilarious.

Of course the president has put his own stamp on relations with the church. There have been some awkward moments. Like when the president pulled Pope Benedict aside to share some advice on how to deal with his critics. He said, “Look Holy Father, whatever the problem is, just blame it on Pope John Paul II.”

Heh.

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Romney and the 47%

September 19th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

An important rule in politics is to attack your opponent and their policies, but never to attack their voters. Mitt Romney broke this rule with his comments on how 47% of Americans will vote for Obama as they don’t pay income tax.

He is not the first major politician to say something at what he thought was a private meeting, and have it bite him. Obama himself in 2008 said that those who don’t support him tend to “cling to their guns or religion”. However his phrasing was not as harmful as Romney’s.

Romney always needed a strong campaign to win. He hasn’t had one and time is running out.

538 has Obama at 75% likely to win. Intrade now has him at 67%, which is a significant increase. For the first time also, the market has the Democrats favoured to retain control of the Senate.

It would be very hard for the Republicans to lose the House, so at this stage the most likely outcome is the status quo.

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It’s Ryan

August 12th, 2012 at 1:45 pm by David Farrar

Mitt Romney has selected Congressman Paul Ryan as his Vice-Presidential running mate, as expected.

Ryan is Chair of the House Budget Committee and his pick signifies the campaign will continue to be on economic management. Romney is a fair way behind Obama in the polls. The choice of Ryan will help him, and he will be a contrast to the bumbling Biden. However at the end of the day people vote for the P, not the VP.

The NY Times reports:

The decision instantly made the campaign seem bigger and more consequential, with the size and role of the federal government squarely at the center of the debate. It was a choice intended to galvanize the Republican base and represented a clear tactical shift by Mr. Romney, who until now had been singularly focused on weak job growth since Mr. Obama took office.

“There are a lot of people in the other party who might disagree with Paul Ryan,” Mr. Romney said in announcing his vice-presidential candidate. “I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t respect his character and judgment.”

When Mr. Ryan bounded onto the stage to join Mr. Romney, against a backdrop of the retired battleship Wisconsin, he carried a generational message; at 42, he is 23 years younger than Mr. Romney and is the same age as Mr. Romney’s oldest son. Neither man has military experience or much background in foreign policy.

If Romney and Ryan do not win, Ryan may be well placed in 2016. He may stand for the House again also, as allowed to under Wisconsin law.

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Its Romney v Obama

April 11th, 2012 at 7:13 am by David Farrar

Rick Santorum has suspended his presidential bid, which effectively confirms former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee.

Romney has around 60% of the delegates he needs, but should comfortably win enough in the remaining primaries.

It will be interesting to see if the GOP is able to unite behind Romney. Obama is the favourite at this stage – 61% on Intrade, against 37% for Romney. However the Republicans should now start to target Obama rather than each other.

The Pollster average of the polls has Obama at 46.1% and Romney 44.5%, so the race is definitely competitive. Of course it is electoral college votes that count, not the popular vote, but the two are linked.

Also at this stage the Republicans are favoured to retain the House and gain a majority in the Senate, so if Romney can win, he will probably have a supportive Congress.

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