Thursday, October 04, 2012

Sanity Check

I listened to the first of the US presidential debates on National Public Radio (NPR).

The NPR correspondents do not seem like National Forensics League judges in that they put relatively more weight on style of delivery and less on content.  Both matter of course.  But NPR's seeming to call it for Romney traced more to style than substance.

"I wonder what the conservatives will say about the 'liberal media' if we call it for Romney" one of the correspondents mused aloud.  That may have been more the point:  to show journalistic "objectivity'.  After all, Romney had just said he would cut NPR from the budget, rather than let China finance it (through borrowing).

I think the assumption is political debates take place in their own namespace, have their own logic, which is not always that connected to what's really going on.  Internally to that namespace, I thought president Obama did a better job.

The public knows, at some level, that the plans of presidents never pan out exactly, life isn't like that.  So the substance is somewhat discounted, intuitively.  The debates become more like an audition, like American Idol, for a role.  The president will be a media personality and the public is judging whether they might get used to a persona.

Governor Romney allowed his proposals to collapse without alternatives if they were seen to raise the deficit in any way, yet it seemed clear that with the tax policies and projected military spending increases, that "closing loopholes" was not going to cover expenses.

If the loopholes could be closed, then maybe some of these shareholders and executives at General Dynamics, insisting on producing more M1 tanks, even with a desert full of them, would shoulder more of the burden.  That's unlikely though.  The whole point of making those tanks is to enjoy rolling in dough while letting the public pay back the lenders, with interest.

The "closing loopholes" idea is itself a giant loophole, being used as a sound bite, to get elected.  It's more what people want to hear than it is a coherent set of policies.  As the one NPR correspondent said:  of the two, Romney seemed the more eager to get the office.  I agree.  He's willing to say whatever, no matter how mushy.

Reality can come later, once he's in.

But maybe the unreality of Romney's thinking was more a reflection of my fevered state.  I was suffering from chills and went to bed soon thereafter.

I feel better today and am working in a neighborhood coffee shop.

My thanks to Ellen Simmons, member of Multnomah Friends, for arranging for me to meet with Jeanne Burkhardt, visiting from Canada.  Her husband Jim, who has visited Wanderers, also joined us.

One fact the NPR fact checkers (interviewed after the debate) didn't check, was this idea of tax breaks for relocating a plant overseas.  President Obama claims businesses have tax incentives to export jobs.  Romney said he had no idea with the president was talking about.

That'd be something for NPR to get around to talking about I think.  What's the story there?