In case anyone was wondering, and I’m not sure why you would be, I’m an enormous “Star Wars” fan. I am of the generation that was exposed to the iconic film franchise before Jar-Jar Binks. There’s a line in “A New Hope” that Han Solo delivers to Luke Skywalker just after he blasts a TIE Fighter apart. Luke turns around and yells to Han, “I got him! I got him!” Solo, ever smooth under pressure, ever sarcastic even when his life is in jeopardy, shouts back, “Great kid, don’t get cocky!”
Look, fellow Progressives, things are looking slightly better for Barack Obama coming out of the convention last week, that much is clear. Between the First Lady, former President Clinton and the current President himself, it would seem the message was received loud and clear. Obama’s gotten as much as a ten point bump in his approval rating, and in key battleground states like Ohio, he’s currently got the lead in polls. For the first time in three months, Team Obama-Biden brought in more fundraising cash than Romney-Ryan, so even the huge ass-kicking they were taking in the arena of campaign contributions seems to have leveled off at least in August. It would be very easy to start crowing to the Right, but I would like to admonish us all to remember Han Solo’s words and keep ourselves from getting cocky.
The first debate between Governor Romney and President Obama will be centered on the Economy. This is probably Romney’s last and best chance to show the American people directly that he is indeed the economy candidate. He’s been running on it the whole time, but with constant attacks on his venture capital firm, and after President Clinton thoroughly drubbed Conservative economic policy with his “Arithmetic” speech last week, the pressure is on. Everyone knows that this first debate is the one Romney has the best chance at winning, but the question really is how many independent or swing voters can Romney convince of his economic vision.
The Obama team has done a great job of reiterating what we’ve known all along: Romney-Ryan is simply a reboot of Bush-Cheney. A milquetoast and malleable President with the staunch Conservative Vice President really pushing the actual agenda. Conservative power brokers love the Romney-Ryan ticket because they know Romney will do whatever he’s told, and that Ryan will be there to keep pushing Romney in the “right” direction. It does speak volumes about the recent past of the two parties when the Republicans never mention their last President by name at their convention, and the Democrats wield their last Democratic president like a mighty sword, cutting the oppositions’ criticisms of their incumbent to ribbons.
Undoubtedly Obama-Biden now has some momentum behind them. The post-convention bounce came, and it seems that Obama’s base is truly more fired-up than it’s ever been before. But is that enough? Yes, when you see over 100,000 faithful Obama followers at a campaign event in the afterglow of the convention, it’s easy to get your hopes up; especially when you know that only a few hundred showed up to Romney’s event on the same day. The issue is whether Obama can sustain this momentum. Romney was still not willing to give any specifics as to how exactly he intends to keep taxes low and balance the budget when he was interviewed on “Meet the Press.”
When asked by host David Gregory about his plan, and when Gregory told him independent budget analysis shows that Romney’s math just doesn’t add up, Romney simply said, “Well, actually, it does.” And then he cited studies that show his plan might work. The entire campaign Romney has been employing the Nixon strategy when it comes to policy questions. In the 1968 election, Richard Nixon promised the country that he and his Defense advisers had a fool-proof plan for scaling back the war in Vietnam and bringing peace back to the region. The problem is that they never once told the public what that plan was, and then, after he was elected, Nixon ramped-up hostilities. That reticence when it comes to policy specifics is what Mitt’s been playing at in terms of his economic plan.
Gregory also asked Mitt about when he plans to balance the budget. Mitt said he would see the budget being balanced after his second term. Here’s the thing folks, someone who hasn’t even won their first term yet promising to accomplish something by the end of their second term is an empty promise. If Paul Ryan were such a budget hawk, then why wouldn’t they be able to balance the budget in their first term? The answer of course is simple. They know what the Democrats know. Much of the spending that Republicans are blaming on Obama is spending committed to by George W. Bush via his tax cuts and the two unfunded wars he got us into. They know like we do that we’re obligated to continue to spend that money.
Perhaps what’s causing the gap between Obama and Romney to widen these days is the fact that at their convention, Romney-Ryan kept hammering on the same talking points that they’ve had for the last year, but without anything new added to it. It was doom, gloom and forecasts of fiscal fire and brimstone, there was no hope for the country unless we elected Romney-Ryan. But coming out of their convention, Obama-Biden had a major restart of their message and campaign. Obama’s speech re-branded “Hope” and redefined it to mean the hope in one another as Americans to do what we always do, and adapt, persevere and thrive. Obama’s campaign took the opportunity of the convention to reset the whole debate, and now they look like fresh competitors, while the Republicans look to be stuck in second gear.
Yet, we still live in a world after Citizens United, and Republicans still have the massive coffers of The Koch Brothers and Shel Adelson. The money race will remain just as tight as the campaign itself, and who knows what kind of dirty, aggressive advertising a more desperate Karl Rove SuperPAC will drop on the public just before the election, in an attempt to blow up the President’s chances altogether. The point is that those who support the President’s bid for re-election simply cannot take their foot off the gas pedal.
The momentum of the past week in Charlotte has to be continued and amplified from now until November 6th. Republicans on the state level are still trying to suppress votes with new Voter ID laws. The big money behind Romney-Ryan will not let up. Just because the country seems to have finally gotten the cold water splashed on its face that it needed to in regards to the President’s accomplishments in regards to foreign policy, the auto-bailout and yes, the economic recovery thus far, but it’s not going to be enough. You are up against a side that has admitted that fact checkers, and therefore truth is irrelevant to them. You are up against a side that knows they can count on their supporters not questioning the veracity of their statements, because they’ve been conditioned not to question Fox News, which is the propaganda delivery system of the Right Wing.
Barack Obama can win this election, even in the face of all the obstacles he’s been given. But it won’t be easy, and the first debate will be a chance for him to land a near knock-out blow, or it could give his opponent a chance to battle back off the ropes. If you find yourself wanting Obama to win this Fall, you need to register to vote, register ten friends to vote, and make sure they know what the stakes are. It’s not time to let up, it’s time to re-engage.