Presidential Debate? What Debate?
by John Reimann
I don’t know who was worse - the two candidates or that horrible ball of mush, Jim Lehrer the alleged moderator - more like the facilitator. For one thing, he never asked once about the most important crisis we are facing: Global climate disruption/global warming. Romney has questioned the reality of this. In the case of Obama, he has shifted to the position of the Republicans of 2008, according to the Wall St. Journal. This at the end of a summer of tremendous heat and drought. And never a mention.
Then there is the issue of women and their right to have an abortion. Romney has shifted to opposing a woman’s right to abortion; Obama ignores it. Again, this was not raised.
Of course, the issue of mass incarceration of black and Latino youth wasn’t raised. After all, both candidates are in complete support of that.
Every talking head is saying that Romney “won” the debate, and so he did. That’s mainly because they both start from the same premise — that you have to help business raise their profits. It’s also because Obama rests on the same class that Romney does. Therefore, he can’t attack the role of the bankers. He can’t really go after Romney’s past as a “vulture capitalist”. He never raised the issue of union rights. And so, if you share the same premise, then the candidate who takes it to its more logical extreme will win.
They are sitting on top of a powder keg and their main role is to keep it from blowing up. Therefore, Obama cannot even attack Romney for his more “extreme” positions nor for his gaffes - such as “I like firing people”, or the one about the 47%. Who knows how the anger from below might be sparked into action?
A secondary aspect is Obama’s personality, but even that is a reflection of his role. He’s caste in the role of trying to douse the sparks that might light a flame. He has to balance between the traditions of the Democrats of pretending to be the defenders of workers and the reality of representing Corporate America - and doing this at a time when the contradiction between those interests has hardly ever been greater or sharper. When caught in such an irresolvable conflict, one common reaction is paralysis. I read a year ago or so that Obama was having drinking problems and couldn’t concentrate. If true, that would be the most clear result of this contradiction. But in any case, last night showed it too.
As for Romney: He is a truly slimy individual who would make Nixon appear to be a saint.
A few days ago, it was looking like Obama would almost certainly win this election; now it’s far from certain. Overall this reflects the fact that the capitalist class is divided over which one they prefer. Maybe as a result of this fiasco (from his perspective), Obama will be more aggressive. This would help him. Whoever wins, though, Corporate America will have reason to be happy with the outcome.
Next up will be the “debate” on foreign policy.
It’s possible that Obama will have learned a lesson from last night’s performance and will come out swinging, but he faces a problem: Israel. Both candidates agree about the primacy of defending Israel at all costs. In order to sell this, both candidates must conspire to cover up Israel’s crimes against humanity. This issue spills over to the Iran issue, obviously. Here again, Romney will carry the joint premise to a more logical conclusion.
Underlying this is the change in the world situation: US capitalism is no longer completely dominant and it is losing its dominance fast. As with any capitalist power, however, they cannot accept this fact. Romney has the advantage here as he bleats that the US is not “shaping world events; it is responding to them.” He’s right. But Obama cannot reply by explaining that this is just a reflection of objective fact. Nor can he explain what was the reality of the US “shaping” events - US- instigated coups, military invasions, etc.
So what has been considered to be an Obama strength up until now may not be.