Attention Deficit Syndrome

October 23, 2012

If you stayed up to watch the final presidential debate you saw both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney try and convince the viewers that they have what it takes to be Commander in Chief and advance the national interests and the national security of the United States. But the key point here is whether you stayed up after a long Monday at work, or if you were watching did you really focus on the debating skills and message of each candidate? There is no doubt that we have now crossed over into the realm of election overkill and into the kingdom of ” I Can’t Wait Till This is All Over.”

It may not matter much that President Obama likely scored more debating points than Governor Romney in this foreign policy debate ( which was only partially about foreign policy and more like a rehash of the domestic debates). Both can claim that they possess the stuff of presidential leadership, both got their message across, and both seemed to agree on major issues, which may send a signal to friend and foe out there in the world that  US foreign policy will not change dramatically after the election. Winning a debate at this stage, especially a debate on foreign policy probably doesn’t mean that much in polling numbers or in the decision of those early voters.

Americans are now suffering from a kind of political attention deficit syndrome as this long march to the White House has exhausted them and reinforced their view that we need to become Canada where the election is six weeks and costs chump change. In the last two weeks before the election, the race for the presidency will not be national but basically a fight to convince the voters in Ohio to pull the voting booth lever for Obama or Romney. The rest of America will become a mere curiosity as they deal with their attention deficit syndrome.

It is kind of interesting that in a country which is acknowledged as the premier superpower and the most important nation in the world, many Americans sat bleary-eyed watching a debate over issues that are not in their comfort zone. If anything was accomplished in the final debate it was that both the President and Governor Romney gallantly tried to convince viewers that they have what it takes to keep the United States # 1.  But that perception only matters if the viewers were not suffering from the political strain of ADS.

 


Reagan Redux

September 5, 2012

The Republicans have I think moved on from bashing President Obama for his taken out of context comment about who built small businesses in this country to a far more effective tag line used by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980 campaign – ” Are you better off now than you were four years ago.”

Although the Romney-Ryan ticket will drive home the answer to this question with a laundry list of examples, the answer to the question, ” are you better off now than you were four years ago” depends on who is being polled.

If you are unemployed, the answer is obvious, No. If you are poor, the answer is obvious, No. If you have seen your home in foreclosure or declining in value, the answer is obvious, No, and if you are concerned with rising debt to be laid on the shoulders of the next generation, the answer is obvious, No.

But with all questions so broad and complex, there are some yes answers out there.

If you are one of those 4 million people who have become newly employed during the Obama administration, the answer is obvious, Yes. If you have regained the value of your 401K in the last four years, the answer is obvious, Yes. If you are an autoworker or a major supplier to the automakers, the answer is obvious, Yes, and if you are thankful that the recession is over and a depression avoided, then the answer is obvious, Yes.

The answer to the question of whether you are better off than you were four years ago does not include whether Obamacare was a huge mistake and a violation of your freedom or the killing of Osama bin Laden or high gas prices or lower payroll taxes – issues that give both sides of the argument some weight.  There’s simply a lot of political ammunition on both sides.

So the judgment of the last four years will likely come down to what the current predicament of the voters is and what they define as progress or decline. The election will likely hinge on which candidate makes a more convincing case in answering this question and then presenting a plan for the future. We’ll just have to see.