Why Romney’s “Jello” Strategy Fails

In politics it’s a good idea to turn a weakness into a strength; Romney tried to do so with his reputation as a flip flopper

You can’t nail jello to a tree, the saying goes, and it has been the philosophy of the Romney campaign.    It’s not working, and if Romney doesn’t change course soon, he’ll enter the twilight zone inhabited by John McCain, Bob Dole and Walter Mondale as they went through the motions in a campaign whose outcome was already known.

On paper, Romney’s “Jello” strategy made sense.   First, Romney has a record as a solid businessman who saved the Salt Lake City Olympic games (exaggerated credit, but hey – this is politics) and is known as a pragmatic moderate.   He’s in a race against an incumbent suffering an ongoing economic crisis, and whose legislative activism has generated strong antipathy on the right.   Still, Obama has a solid campaign team good at opposition research and not afraid to play rough.

The fear in Romneyworld?   Team Obama will take apart any specific plan or policy they put forth and use it against them targeting whatever demographic might be most turned off.   Worse, they could make the election about comparing plans as the campaign sinks to a morass of detail, rather than it being about replacing a failing President who got in over his head with an experienced private sector success.

The answer?   Stay vague.   Don’t give them any ammo, say nothing specific that can be used against Romney.   Instead, play the game on their own turf, make it about how the President’s plans have failed, put Obama on the defensive.    Be jello.   If they land a punch – squish – the jello shifts shape and remains.    Obama will be flailing but unable to connect.   Romney can pick and choose from Obama’s four year record to attack at will.

Won’t people demand specifics?   Nope – modern campaigns are about big themes and slogans.   Moderates will simply assume that a pragmatic moderate Republican businessman can be trusted.   Romney will veer right in rhetoric but people will assume that’s just for politics.   The right wing will have to accept the rhetoric and support him because they’re virulently anti-Obama.

Keys: keep it about the economy, avoid distractions, and don’t get suckered into giving details or responding to them.  Stay on track, implement the strategy and don’t let the ups and downs of the campaign tempt you to respond!   Expect the flip flop charge to work in your favor – moderates won’t believe the scare tactics coming from Obama, but the base will be satisfied that you’re the best choice.    Meanwhile massive amounts of negative advertising by outside groups will grind Obama so far down that he’ll be like Dukakis in 1988, diminished and ridiculed.   Indeed the rhetoric trotted out this summer by right wing pundits telegraphed that strategy – Obama was described as a desperate and incompetent loser, flailing about uncertainly in order to hold power.    Team Romney counted on that image to stick.

Trouble is, the strategy isn’t working.   President Obama has found a way to nail jello to a tree – nail the whole box!

Can you nail jello to a tree?

Instead of trying to trap Romney on details, the Obama team decided that if Romney didn’t want to paint a clear picture of who he is and what he’ll do, they’d oblige and paint one for them.    They’d choose how to define him, and shape the campaign narrative instead.    They nailed the entire Romney box to a tree.

Romney is afraid to release his tax returns.  He’s secretive.  He’s far right.  His policies are the same of those of President Bush, the same policies that brought this mess upon us.  His foreign policy is bravado and bluster, look where that got us!  Talking tough and saying America must be strong sounds like George W. Bush all over again – will Iran be the next Iraq?  And it’s working, Romney seems empty, doesn’t seem to stand for anything, and the campaign narrative is being defined by the President’s team.  Intrade odds are now 67% for an Obama victory.

I’ve said this before, but now it’s critical.   If we are to have a real race for the Presidency Romney has to come out and make a case, take a stand and level with the American people.   Being Jello may have seemed to be a good idea on paper, but it isn’t working.   I don’t think his campaign yet understands the extent of the change that they need.  Consider the focus they’re shifting to the “fiscal cliff.”

People don’t want vague attacks, they want solutions.

The debt ceiling was raised last year in an agreement that if the Congress could agree on spending cuts/revenue enhancements by 2013 automatic spending cuts would snap in place.   These include cuts on programs the Democrats support and defense cuts that Republicans are loathe to see implemented.  The idea was that the this would force them to compromise.   It didn’t work, at least not yet.

Governor Romney is issuing strong denunciations of Obama’s role in this agreement, though it was essentially a bi-partisan compromise.  Even Paul Ryan voted for it.  Moreover, it’s complex – look at the chart.   Warning of a “fiscal cliff” sounds vague and strange to voters.   If he gets into the details of what that entails, it gets confusing.  I think one mistake the Romney camp has made this year is that they are too “inside politics” in their arguments.   They use terms and labels that bloggers and political junkies know, but aren’t connecting to average voters.   Politicians need to always remember that the “inside game” is oblique and mysterious to most Americans.

The “Jello” strategy certainly seemed compelling on paper, but it’s failed.   Romney can stubbornly stick to it, hoping that bad news and perhaps a stumble by Obama will pull him over the top.  Given the economy, that might work (though I doubt it).   Or he can do something that some people doubt he knows how to do:  be himself.  Say what he thinks.   Defend the principles he believes in without worrying about what demographic group he might offend, or how the Obama team might use it against him.   He can take specific stands and lay out a vision of the future that goes beyond, “hey, I’m a businessman, I know how to run a company, trust me with the country.”

It’s a high risk high reward shift.  If he pulls it off, he could beat Obama.   If he fails he could turn off his base and risk an even bigger defeat than what now looks likely.     Yet the American people deserve to know what the Republican challenger wants for the country.   We’re not looking for a CEO, we’re looking for a President.    And if Romney refuses to comply, then team Obama will be happy to fill in the blanks and define what Romney’s vision really is.

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  1. #1 by Larry Beck on September 16, 2012 - 5:06 pm

    I think even when Romney tries to listen to his advisors on certain things, he wounds up fumbling that. About a week before the incident with the LIbyan embassy, conservatives outside the Romney campaign circle like Karl Rove were belittling Romney for being too soft on his criticism of Obama, like foreign policy. Perhaps with that in mind, he jumps out there and makes the gaffe he did about Obama sympathizing with the Muslim terrorists who were attacking the embassy, digging even a deeper hole for himself.

    The guy may be a (ruthless) businessman but his leadership skills are seriously lacking – the very thing he tries to attack Obama with.

  2. #2 by Sherry on September 16, 2012 - 6:45 pm

    I think you are right, but I don’t think he will do it. If I understand my Bain history right, it was based on virtually no risk to the company. No matter how the taken over company went, Bain came out with millions. Romney is no real risk taker and I don’t think he can bring himself to do it now. Frankly I understand that he is often one to ignore advice and do what he thinks will work. Stubborn people don’t change easily. I hope he doesn’t because I think he is a disaster. I don’t think her cares about foreign policy, and therefore simply relies on his “advisers” to give him the right course. With the likes of Bolton that is unlikely.

    • #3 by Scott Erb on September 17, 2012 - 7:44 pm

      A Politico story Norbrook links below shows a really dysfunctional campaign. It sounds like Romney is the cause. There is a story that they are making a strategy change today, but will it be Romney saying what he thinks, or an effort to build another narrative?

  3. #4 by Norbrook on September 16, 2012 - 10:14 pm

    My opinion is that he should have fired his campaign staff months ago, and gotten people who were not only competent, but that he would listen to. Most of the “jello strategy” seems to be based around the ideas that people wouldn’t notice that he had no specifics, and that he could control the narrative. It’s also been apparent to me that he (or his staff) had no plans in place to deal with what were inevitable questions.

    It’s amazing that he continually underestimates the Obama campaign organization, which no major candidates should do – particularly after 2008 – and he ignored the other big obvious point. The President has a big podium, and if you want to take control the narrative, you’d better be very aware that it’s not going to be easy to do.

  4. #5 by HipsterApproved.net on September 16, 2012 - 10:21 pm

    I’m pretty sure hammering nails into trees is not good for the tree. WTF?

  5. #6 by rami ungar the writer on September 16, 2012 - 11:11 pm

    Perhaps Mitt Romney might do himself some good if he releases his tax returns. However, I’m sure there’s something there he’s not happy about, so he shouldn’t. All it will cost him is the presidency.

    • #7 by Scott Erb on September 17, 2012 - 7:46 pm

      I bet his taxes show he was legal – and demonstrate how very wealthy people can legally evade taxes. That would be poisonous to his campaign. Thanks for the comment!

  6. #9 by cartoonmick on September 16, 2012 - 11:21 pm

    Sorry, But I don’t know much about American politics, but I do like the cartoon at the top.

    Similar to the ones I like to produce.

    http://cartoonmick.wordpress.com/editorial-political/

    Cheers

    Mick

  7. #10 by Jeremy Truitt on September 16, 2012 - 11:41 pm

    What a fantastic post. I am in broadcast news and therefore stay neutral on opinions but I really enjoyed how you painted a very specific picture not of partisan credence but what could be a legitimate path for Romney to take. I wrote a WordPress blog on the topic of job creation promises by both candidates that fits in line with your blog (sorry for the shameless plug):

    http://bit.ly/QexjZw

    I enjoyed how your thought process is pointed, yet shy of solely stating a belief in one candidate or another. This was (in my opinion) definitely worthy of Freshly Pressed!

    –Jeremy

    • #11 by Scott Erb on September 17, 2012 - 7:46 pm

      Thanks! I like your post and website, I’ll read more.

  8. #12 by ELO on September 17, 2012 - 12:38 am

    You ever been called Jello?

  9. #13 by aver1 on September 17, 2012 - 2:46 am

    you are right. keep it about the economy…vote for Romney!!!

  10. #14 by acewriter13 on September 17, 2012 - 3:07 am

    This entire article made me sick. Are you all crazy? Oh, that’s right, you voted for Obama.
    First of all, your little joke on Jello was sort of weak. I mean, seriously, “Obama found a way! Nail the whole box.” Typical the box is ‘sugar free’ too (thanks Michelle for getting rid of the childhood dream of Happy Meals, and the mature dream of American Freedom!)

    You say Mitt Romney is empty? Okay, I’ll agree with that…. I agree that he’s empty of lies! Barack Obama didn’t show his birth certificate till his THIRD year as PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. He’s out vacationing and talking about “helping your fellow citizen” while his half-brother is living in a hut in the middle of nowhere where he’s proabbly starving to death.

    But that’s just it; all Obama does is TALK. How can you say that Romney can “pick and choose problems in Obama’s term”? HELLO! All Obama did was problems!!! You blame Bush for all the problems that were left in Obama’s lap. Of sure, but Obama has had FOUR YEARS to fix them! I mean, I’ve probably done more things productive than he has in comparison to putting this country back on track.

    I find it funny that you bring up the fact that Mitt Romney is a businessman so much. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were jealous that Mitt has a better stance than Obama. I find it true that most people nag on their envy to make themselves feel stronger. Barack Obama has no stance, he has no background, the American people have no proof that Obama even graduated high school above a C-. Barack Obama can’t tell us his autobiography for a reason most intelligent people don’t even understand.

    Yeah, I can see why you’re jealous.

    Now, look at the whole Obama thing from this point: Election 2008. So, Mr. Talk promises the American people that those who are jobless will have jobs, the hungry will have food, the homeless will have homes. Free.

    But Mr. President… you’ve forgotten something. NOTHING IS FREE.

    I mean, how can it? Money has to come from somewhere. So, to fix this “minor obstacle”, he decided to take from the “rich”. It’s like Robin Hood except the Americans Obama is taking from aren’t even close to “rich”. “Rich” is millions, billions, trillions. The middle class Americans that are forced to hand their money to lazy, freebie-grabbers are NOT rich.

    Illigeal immigrants come into the United States of America because their own countries just aren’t working for them anymore. I think this is the problem in the first place. These non-American citizens come in, demand a free house, free food, free clothing, free toys for their children, FREE MONEY. They say they are looking for a job. But, we must rememeber Obama couldn’t get us those jobs, so that doesn’t work out so well.

    Okay, so let’s review: Non-Americans not working take hard-working American Citizen’s money even though they need their earnings for their own families. I say Obama shouldn’t have even promised free stuff for these people. I say he should have promised jobs instead. But, that’s right, Obama isn’t like me, an American.

    If you love America, love the American Dream, then vote Mitt.
    If you love to sit on your slowly-deflating sofa, eating food-stamp-bought Cheetos, and watching a guy called Barack (is that even his name?) talk, talk, talk, talk, then vote Barack Insane Obomba.

    -Ace Clark
    8th Grader

    • #15 by Scott Erb on September 17, 2012 - 3:33 am

      Tell you what, Ace, when you’ve lived awhile longer you’ll learn that elections come and go, and that the desire to demonize one side and see the other side as the only good one is misguided. Take it easy – Obama is a centrist Democrat, Romney is a pragmatic Republican. Neither will destroy the country, neither will be able to do a lot outside of what Congress will support, and we’ll vote again in four years. Take it easy, it’s just politics.

      • #16 by Samantha on September 17, 2012 - 10:35 pm

        I wish I could “like” your comment.

      • #17 by mandls on September 18, 2012 - 7:17 pm

        I wish I could “like” your comment, too. I guess I just did.

    • #18 by Larry Beck on September 17, 2012 - 4:18 am

      Hey Ace,

      Did you develop this line of deduction on your own or was it the result of your dad yelling at the TV every time Obama or any other Democrat came on the screen?

      Just wondering.

      • #19 by Samantha on September 17, 2012 - 10:38 pm

        I’m wondering the same thing.

  11. #20 by Jeremy Truitt on September 17, 2012 - 3:48 am

    Reblogged this on Jeremy Truitt and commented:
    This is a great article. Non partisan, true and reflective.

  12. #21 by rmk on September 17, 2012 - 6:38 am

    I disagree that Romney is able to come off as a moderate. John McCain pre-Palin was a moderate, but Romney is able to tango with the Tea Partiers any day of the week. If you look at his stances on things likes women’s rights, and gay rights he is not a moderate in any way shape or form. On those issues Romney is so far right that he alienates swing voters and independents.

    • #22 by Scott Erb on September 17, 2012 - 7:49 pm

      Good points, I think his campaign thought the moderate image would remain. I get the sense they’re still playing with a playbook from the GOP primary. Usually candidates veer center. That Romney hasn’t suggests to me that his campaign doesn’t think he needs to. I think they’re wrong. Thanks for the comment!

      • #23 by Jill on September 18, 2012 - 7:47 pm

        Which is kind of weird, when you think about the “Etch-a-Sketch” blow-up during the primaries.

  13. #24 by sarahelizabeth on September 17, 2012 - 7:45 am

    Reblogged this on The life and times of Sarah Elizabeth… and commented:
    I dont know if i agree with the political standpoint, but it’s a brilliant analysis nonetheless

    • #25 by Scott Erb on September 17, 2012 - 7:51 pm

      Thanks for reading and reblogging! Your site is interesting – good luck with Law School!

  14. #26 by Michele D'Acosta on September 17, 2012 - 8:00 am

    Scott, I’m a Brit and very grateful to you for opening my eyes to underbelly of American politics. It’s great to read a blogger who can provide a series of ‘A-ha’ moments. Thank you. Also, your response to Ace Clark is well…”Awesome’! Have a great day and keep on keeping us all informed.

    • #27 by Scott Erb on September 17, 2012 - 7:52 pm

      Thanks – I appreciate it! I also like your blog too, it’s good to find interesting writing out there!

      • #28 by Michele D'Acosta on September 18, 2012 - 7:34 am

        Hi Scott, it was a pleasure to read your blog. You had me thinking about you for a good portion of the day! And thanks too for your kind words about my blog. I have passion and I want to share it :-)

  15. #29 by abichica on September 17, 2012 - 9:32 am

    Romney’s tactics never really work for him. He tries to attack Obama but just ends up digging himself into a whole and personally filling it. The fact that he is a ruthless businessman is the very thing that will make him lose the elections because he is not a leader

    • #30 by Scott Erb on September 17, 2012 - 7:54 pm

      The skill set that can make someone a successful businessman is different than what it takes to be a country’s leader. Thanks for the comment – I went over to your blog and read some of your poetry – you have talent!

      • #31 by abichica on September 18, 2012 - 2:36 am

        thank you so much! :-)

  16. #32 by Snoring Dog Studio on September 17, 2012 - 12:25 pm

    The debates will be the final telling of how little detail Romney has at his fingertips. I don’t care how long he’s been practicing and rehearsing his soundbites. It will take most of the time during the debates just to answer his flip flopping on issues. But it will be essential that Obama offer up details about his economic plan and his foreign policy. He can do that for certain. I just hope he won’t spend a lot of time responding to Romney’s unfounded accusations.

  17. #33 by Mad Queen Linda on September 17, 2012 - 2:16 pm

    Very well written! Congrats on Fresh Press.

  18. #34 by Pamela on September 17, 2012 - 3:29 pm

    Hah–love, love, love Jello (I mean the metaphor). Despite some of Romney’s “Jello,” I will be voting for him. Obama and foreign policy=disaster.

    • #35 by Scott Erb on September 17, 2012 - 7:57 pm

      I don’t know – the language coming from Romney on foreign policy sounds a lot like President Bush’s — and we learned the hard way that US power isn’t enough to shape other polities. I think Obama’s on the right path, though we need to rethink given the economic conditions just how interventionist we want to be. I think our foreign policy needs a new direction. Thanks for your comments – your blog is interesting too!

      • #36 by Pamela on September 18, 2012 - 4:46 am

        Hi Scott,

        The US shouldn’t shape other polities :-). I’m just not for soft diplomacy when it obviously doesn’t work. Plus, I dislike big government. I have enjoyed perusing your blog. Lots of interesting topics to ponder.

        Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  19. #37 by krisbeaty91 on September 17, 2012 - 3:54 pm

    Romney’s tactics are not helping him succeed to win this election and I believe that he will not win because of the way he tries to set up Obama with issues that is really causing him to “flip flop”. I also found it clever how Romney said you cannot nail jello to a tree but as the picture shows a whole box of jello nailed to that tree. Seems like every time Romney attacks Obama, Obama dodges the hit and keeps progressing.

    • #38 by Scott Erb on September 17, 2012 - 8:01 pm

      Yes, I think the Romney camp believed their own propaganda about how Obama would be easy to defeat. They can still win due to the poor economy, but I think you’re probably right, his tactics don’t work. Thanks for the comment.

  20. #39 by Norbrook on September 17, 2012 - 4:30 pm

    Scott, you may be interested in this article over at Politico. Sounds like the the internal knives are coming out. ;-)

    • #40 by Scott Erb on September 17, 2012 - 7:59 pm

      Wow. If that’s true about the speech and convention it’s a sign that the campaign has deep internal problems, probably caused by Romney himself – perhaps he’s doing too much micromanaging.

  21. #41 by GiRRL_Earth on September 17, 2012 - 6:12 pm

    This was a great read. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  22. #42 by Joe R. on September 17, 2012 - 6:17 pm

    I agree about Romney. The number of times he’s said he “doesn’t want to talk” about something is really weird. In modern elections you have to talk about whatever the reporters ask, even if it’s something dumb. Does he really think Al Gore wanted to talk about “inventing the internet”? Not releasing your tax returns because the opposition will attack you with it is … silly. You’re in politics, expect to be attacked for everything that comes out of your mouth. You should have a team that is ready to rebut everything. Your team should be watching the news and following people on twitter to determine what is trending so you know exactly what questions will be asked on the Sunday shows. And on those shows you should be prepared with cogent compelling answers. With the economy as it is, Romney should be leading in the polls by a wide margin, not tied or behind. Of course, I’m voting for Obama, so I say keep up the good work Romney. ;) Great Post, BTW!

    • #43 by Scott Erb on September 17, 2012 - 8:03 pm

      Exactly! When he said that he doesn’t want to deal with other issues because the focus should be on policy, I thought he’s missing the point. We elect a person to be President, not a series of policy positions. If he can’t show what kind of person he is, he’s not understanding what a President is. A CEO can exercise power behind closed doors, a President has to do so much more.

  23. #44 by CleverrealityDerek on September 17, 2012 - 6:29 pm

    Your picture is quite profound actually. You CAN nail unprepared Jello that stays in a box to a tree! Very deep meaning in that for Mit the “wrong fit” Romney.

  24. #45 by bookfeminist on September 17, 2012 - 6:49 pm

    This is absolutely fantastic. I loved reading it. I agree with you completely; nobody knows how to believe Mitt Romney anymore.

    • #46 by Scott Erb on September 17, 2012 - 8:03 pm

      Thanks for the comment bookfeminist — your blog looks interesting too!

  25. #47 by Micah on September 17, 2012 - 7:48 pm

    Romney’s problem is Romney himself. He is totally devoid of empathy and ozzes entitlement. $10,000 bets and NASCAR owner pals doen’t exactly resonate with the average voter. His issues and positions don’t even matter. Close to half of Americans that vote have proven to be impervious to facts and rational intellectual debate.

    The notion that Romney is even competitive in this race is a media creation.

  26. #48 by Samantha on September 17, 2012 - 10:44 pm

    Admittedly, I have been aghast at Romney even being a candidate in this election, and slightly horrified. However, I definitely enjoyed your post and appreciated that it was nonpartisan and showed what he could do RIGHT to win this election if he tried. However, I think that the fact he seems to have no tact and no way to connect with the average American person, plus his running mate and social issues that knock him down, I don’t think he has much of a chance in this election. I’m hoping on that of course, but that’s just my own opinion and through my own research. There’s still a lot more to be done in the next four years, but I think Obama has a better chance of at least attempting to implement the right thing for this country.

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed!

  27. #49 by Grumpa Joe on September 18, 2012 - 12:32 am

    Romney is following a campaign strategy used by his predecessor, Barack Obama. Just how specific were the words hope and change? I think I am the only one in the country who saw through that subterfuge.
    The bottom line, Romney possesses more leadership and problem solving ability than our current President. Just as Ronald Reagan in the eighties was relatively unknown with strange credentials, Romney will become one our country’s greatest leaders.

  28. #50 by Rasta teacher on September 18, 2012 - 1:35 am

    People talking S**t about other people are not much liked anywhere in the world. Should not a serious politician get that?
    Thanks for informing us readers far away from the US about how childish politics really is.

  29. #51 by Bobby Lepak on September 18, 2012 - 2:56 pm

    Romney hasn’t exactly run an outstanding campaign, but Obama’s inability to really crush him despite all of his squishy flip-flopiness shows real weakness for Obama. I felt like the DNC showcased the President in a negative way. The whole convention felt like a lot of begging for more time to do things he failed to do, despite many promises and 2 years with Dem control of Congress, in his first term. The latest Rasmussen polls have Romney up in places he has never been ahead in (Iowa, Wisconsin) and gaining ground in others (Virginia, Florida, Ohio). Since undecideds often break for the challenger at the last minute, I could see this ending in a surprise win for Romney.

  30. #52 by S.C. on September 18, 2012 - 3:37 pm

    Interesting analysis, and I pretty much agree with it. The trouble is that none of it really matters. As long as our presidents and other elected officials can’t be held to account – as long as the new media avoids the hard questions and as a result misleads the American public into thinking this election is about something it’s not – it doesn’t matter what Obama or Romney say, because they won’t have to actually act on any of their promises.

    What have we gotten from this election cycle? There have been few solid plans put forth, and none at all from the Romney team, who seem content to sit on their policy plans (if they even have any) until after Romney is elected. Obama, without any significant opposition from the left, has been able to batter Romney on his own record and rich lifestyle without having to answer to why he didn’t full his promises about ending the war in Afghanistan, closing the legally just barely gray-area prison in Guantanamo Bay and rolling back the civil liberties violations that George W. Bush instituted. For all intents and purposes, their foreign policies look just about identical, and Obama is such a wet fish when it comes to actually dealing with the domestic policy issues that need to be addressed that I don’t even think they’re very different on that count. I’m disgusted by both of them, and I honestly think it makes no difference which is elected.

    • #53 by Norbrook on September 18, 2012 - 5:12 pm

      He said he’d end our involvement in Iraq, and he did. He is winding down Afghanistan, and yes, he is. You might want to look at just who blocked the closing of Guantanamo – Congress.

      • #54 by S.C. on September 18, 2012 - 6:53 pm

        I know, Congress. I’m honestly tired of the Congress argument. It’s true that the Congress has been extremely obstructionist under Obama. The Republicans are entirely to blame for that. But the president needs to be able to get around Congress if they’re being that way – he has to use that “bully pulpit” to convince the people of his case, so that the people can pressure their reps to support his initiatives. In any case, it doesn’t seem like he’s tried all that hard, especially considering the importance of the economy in this election.

        And what about Obama’s signing of the NDAA? Congress passed that bill in overwhelming numbers, but they didn’t force him to sign it. I haven’t heard a single Democrat who could defend the action he took then.

      • #55 by Norbrook on September 18, 2012 - 7:09 pm

        Oh, right. You might note that Democrats also voted against closure, and that includes Bernie Sanders. So, he’s had his hand tied by law.

        As to the NDAA? I had some defense of it, and honestly, you’re just repeating what FDL and Greenwald babbled about.

      • #56 by S.C. on September 18, 2012 - 7:26 pm

        Yes, I knew about the amendment that were pulled out of the final document. I know that the bill, in its current form, doesn’t provide for the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens. And yes, I know the bill would have been passed in any case, even if Obama had vetoed it. But I want to pull a quote from one of the articles you linked to:

        ““Until the end of the hostilities” does not necessarily mean “indefinite detention.” It’s entirely possible, even likely, that Obama will declare an end to al Qaeda within the next year, and he has already all but declared an end to hostilities against the Taliban. In fact, if we oversee an election of Democrats in 2012, and they declare both “wars” at an end, guess what happens?”

        A lot of the Democrats’ reasoning about this bill assumes that the Dems will do just this – if only they win the White House and Congress in 2012. It also assumes that the “state of war” refers only to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan (which, let’s remember, isn’t formally a war.) The “war” here is probably better interpreted as a far broader war against terror, a war against an ideology that ignores national borders. When is that going to end? A better question to ask would be how the President plans to work on actually improving our reputation in the Middle East so that the extreme anti-western sentiment dies out.

        I have no doubt that a Romney/Ryan administration would be a total disaster. But I don’t like the reasoning that Democrats are making – it makes it sound like they’re okay with gambling that Obama will win a second term so he can repeal the nasty parts of the law.

  31. #57 by tito61 on September 18, 2012 - 4:59 pm

    I dont profess to be huge political follower, but your blog captivated me from the moment I saw the Jello nailed to the tree. That summed it up for me…priceless. tito61.com

  32. #58 by harmnyhallrsts on September 18, 2012 - 8:22 pm

    WOW, where to start??? First off I totally agree with the “Jello” theory. Now lets look at the REAL truths. As we can see from the remarks of a 8th grader that a large part of the general public really doesn’t have a clue.Even worse they have been brainwashed. The truth is WE DO NOT LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY! It’s a republic. The white house is only a small piece of a very broken system. Congress is the primary problem. As a matter of fact, the most corrupt congress in the history of the US. They should be fired, and charged with treason, contempt and conspiracy against governmental progress. There needs to be term limitations on congressional seats. Lobbying needs to be outlawed. They need to eliminate the committee process and hold the representatives accountable. Make them actually show up on the floor on congress to actually do the job they were hired to do. Finally you need to go back to single issue bills rather than a bill that looks like a phone book and has more riders and garbage in it than actual law. I don’t support Romney and even more I think Ryan should be arrested and charged as stated above. I also think George W. should be held for war crimes but that’s another story. We need to stop feeding the media, they are the ones winning in this election. A billion dollars wasted in propaganda and stone throwing while the true criminals sneak out the back door. We need to raise awareness to the corruption throughout Washington and stop the chain of lies. The hardcore GOP’s won’t listen to any kind of reasoning, they have been brainwashed and most of them are straight party voters. They don’t know any of the outside issues or representatives all they know is “vote GOP”. If you haven’t seen the documentary film “Casino Jack, The United States of Money” please do and then spread the word. For something a little lighter but also thought provoking please help support my e-book called ” A Fly On The Wall, A Bartender’s Perspective”. A portion of the proceeds goes to help children in the Caribbean.http://secretsofabartender.wordpress.com Thanks again for your brilliant incite.

  33. #59 by elizjamison on September 18, 2012 - 11:11 pm

    Reblogged this on A Daily Journal of my Comp/Rhet Dissertation and commented:
    Interesting post. Am wondering what my students make of this.

  34. #60 by Norbrook on September 19, 2012 - 1:49 pm

    SC wrote:

    But I don’t like the reasoning that Democrats are making – it makes it sound like they’re okay with gambling that Obama will win a second term so he can repeal the nasty parts of the law.

    Right, you fail civics 101. Yes, I’m serious. What you (and others of what I call “the frustrati”) can’t seem to get is that Obama is not a dictator, all right-wing propaganda to the contrary. He can’t repeal a law. Congress has to do that. That’s the way it works in this system of government. If you can’t get 218 Representatives to go your way and at least 51 Senators (60, if you have to invoke cloture), then it doesn’t happen. That’s what he’s dealing with, and no, he doesn’t get to force them to do it.

  35. #61 by william12k on September 19, 2012 - 4:16 pm

    At this point I would say that Romney is reaching for Ammo to use on Obama… I read a post that said he was using material from 1998 against Obama (I have the link in my Blog)… Also that comment about 48% of Americans not working …& wanting government support… Gees

    William12k

  36. #62 by The Political Idealist on September 19, 2012 - 5:27 pm

    The electorate are certainly losing patience with being kept in the dark. They will not be inspired by empty attacks on whoever is in office at the time.

  37. #63 by Eric R. Jackson on September 19, 2012 - 7:38 pm

    Great article. I’m not the most politically savvy, but integrity seems to be at the core of it. In our digital age, you can learn a great deal about a candidate from the message their critics evoke.

    As someone that goes cross eyed at political number crunching it makes me sad to see the conservative party being represented by someone that doesn’t follow it’s ideals. As a Democrat, I see the strength and value of the conservative party. I just don’t see Romney doing that justice.

    Thanks for the read!

    • #64 by Norbrook on September 19, 2012 - 11:06 pm

      The problem is that he’s saying exactly what conservatives have been saying (albeit much less bluntly) for quite some time.

      • #65 by Eric R. Jackson on September 19, 2012 - 11:27 pm

        …without the record of consistency to back it up.

        Even if I don’t agree with conservative views, I see where they’re coming from. But being able to accept the guy on the other side of the table is an American ideal in itself.

  38. #66 by 9symphony9 on September 22, 2012 - 2:06 am

    You won’t believe this, but I just had the strawberry Jell O the other day.

  39. #67 by Freedom, by the way on September 23, 2012 - 1:52 am

    It’s pretty unbelieavable to me that the polls are as close as they are. Obama has failed in so many areas, Romney should be ahead by double digits and I agree with you that the way he is conducting his campaign is part of the problem. If we do not put the breaks on spending, reform entitlement programs for future generations, and stop flooding the markets with newly printed money from QE1,2, & 3′s which is driving up the cost of goods for all of us, we WILL go the way of Greece or worse…and it will be well before the next presidential election.
    I must take issue with one of your responses. Obama is not a centrist. He is far left. I find it hard to think of any politician who is further to the left unless it’s a tie between Obama and Pelosi.

    • #68 by Scott Erb on September 23, 2012 - 2:02 am

      I think the grand bargain Boehner and Obama almost reached would have been a good start — Democrats have to accept entitlement reform and reducing the debt, Republicans have to accept higher taxes. Neither side will get their way completely, compromise is what makes democracy work.

      I disagree about comparing us to Greece — Greece has only a tiny “real” economy, there problem is structure. The US has the structures in place to grow and develop a long term path out of debt. The issue of monetary stimulus vs. inflation fears is a tricky one. I like Merkel’s policies in Germany. Her party and the Social Democrats agreed on a balanced budget amendment and have been trying to institute a mix of tax increases and spending cuts, but targeted not to harm economic growth. The Germans and Scandinavians seem to be weathering this best (save Iceland — they were hit hard). I think we can learn from looking at the policies of countries doing better.

      I can’t see Obama as a leftist — the left in the US are more disappointed with him than the right! I see him as a pragmatist establishment Democrat. I’ve been unable to figure out why so many on the right see him as socialist or far left, I don’t see evidence for that. (Some say health care reform, but compared to the health care systems CONSERVATIVES all over the rest of the world support, his reform was pretty pro-business and market oriented).

  1. Jello Attack | krisbeaty91

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