Point of View Columns

R-E-S-P-E-C-T 2012

One of the notable aspects of the presidency of Barack Obama has been the blatant disrespect that the right wing of the right wing has been directed towards him, his administration, his policies and anything and everything that is associated with him. There can be no doubt that the spigot that has spewed this sewage has racism contaminating its source. The question now stands as Election Day arrives on November 6th – do Americans have the ability to overcome America’s original sin and vote rationally and in their own best interest?

It is true that the presidency of the United States has been a bull’s-eye for horrible insults and horrific personal attacks. George Washington was termed an idiot, Abraham Lincoln was likened to an ape and Franklin Roosevelt was rumored to be part of a global Zionist cabal. And certainly, the freedom of speech that is one of the foundations of democracy does result in personal attacks. Anyone who steps into the political ring should certainly wear their Big Boy or Big Girl Pants.

Nevertheless, an honest and thoughtful analysis of the sludge storm directed at President Obama will discern a difference from historical patterns of political attacks and criticism. The so-called “birther” controversy can serve as Exhibit A because it has meant so much more than a search for a birth certificate. It has been a concerted and focused effort to delegitimize the first black president of the United States.

Mitt Romney has “joked” about having no need to show his birth certificate (even though his own father was born in Mexico) sending out the same, tired, dog whistle – “Barack Obama is not one of us…..he’s black”. Rather than taking the high road, Mitt Romney has to wallow in the racially-tinged mud that has been tossed around by the birthers ever before President Obama was elected.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, Teapublicans and media outlets have managed to give a patina of respectability to the really awful behavior of Donald Trump with regards to President Obama. It is bad enough that he refueled the flagging birther crusade a year ago, his latest demand for the school transcripts of Barack Obama was insulting, disrespectful and stupid. But somewhere under that fake hair Donald Trump’s mind was working overtime to rebroadcast the dog whistle message – “Barack Obama is not one of us…he’s black and he could not possibly have honestly and legitimately attended Columbia University and Harvard Law School”.

Not to be outdone, Tagg Romney, the self-satisfied, pampered and entitled son of Mitt Romney was quoted as saying that he “wanted to take a swing” at President Obama. And while the Secret Service probably realized that Romney the Younger probably never threw a punch in his life, the disrespect offered by Tagg Romney was not followed by an apology from Tagg Romney, his father, the Teapublican Party or supporters of Mitt Romney. The dog whistle plays the tune – “Barack Obama is not one of us and I don’t care if he is president of the United States, he is black and is not worthy of even basic respect in our white right wing universe”.

Bringing up the rear, Sarah Palin and John Sununu seem to be in some kind of demented contest to come up with the most racially charged epithet to hurl at President Obama. John Sununu called the president “lazy” and claimed that he needed to learn how to “act like an American”. The Grizzly Mom decided to accuse President Obama of “shucking and jiving” when it came to Libya. The racist and racial implications of these statements and thousands more are clear and sad.

What is truly sad is that there are millions of white Americans who are prepared to vote against their own personal and family interest because their judgment has been clouded by the dog whistle politics practiced by Mitt Romney and the Teapublicans. Millions of white Americans are part of the 47% that Mitt Romney has derided and charged with lacking personal responsibility. Millions of white Americans are uninsured or underinsured and will suffer greatly if Obamacare is repealed.

And millions of white women will be given a real time history lesson of what life was like before reproductive rights were established. That life will be absent of choice, contraception services and not only will pregnancies from rape be the “will of God”, the outcome of any pregnancy will not be a woman’s choice.

It is sad that millions of white Americans might allow appeals to racism overcome their own instincts for survival and self-preservation. This election is not about race it is about the choice between competing visions for this country. Those who have chosen to make this election about race are the ones who have sought to cloud and blur their real message until they are able to seize power.

We can only hope that every American who votes does so with his/her eyes open and that we all can ignore the dog whistles.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – October 26, 2012

News flash – the RomneyRyan strategy is to get all the Neanderthal votes in America. That can be the only explanation for Mitt Romney refusing to totally disavow miscreants like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. Meanwhile it would appear that critics of the Obama Administration’s handling of the Benghazi tragedy believe that action movies are true. Finally, speaking on behalf of Mitt Romney, John Sununu said that Colin Powell is supporting President Obama (again) because he is black. Someone please find him a white hood, robe and burning cross.

The Cave Man Strategy

Todd Akin, who is already a Teapublican member of the House of Representatives, is running for the office of senator in Missouri. He has referred to his opponent, incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill, as “unladylike”. He has more famously stated that in cases of “actual rape” women’s bodies “shut that thing down” so that they don’t get pregnant.

Richard Mourdock, who is the Teapublican nominee for senator in Indiana, has stated that while rape is a horrible thing, a pregnancy resulting from rape is the “will of God”. That this idiot can presume to know the “will of God” is proof of his idiocy. That this idiot might have a role in determining the fate of women’s reproductive choices is a tragedy in waiting.

Meanwhile vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan is unapologetically “pro-life”. He is so absolute on this subject that he has co-sponsored and co-conspired with Todd Akin to introduce legislation that would virtually eliminate legal abortion in the United States. When asked about exceptions in the instance of rape, Mr. Ryan has replied that circumstances of conception are not relevant.

Mitt Romney has said that in his mythical presidency he would happily sign a bill that outlawed abortion without exceptions. The arrogance and presumption of such a flawed perspective is stunning.

In seeking to drag women back to the Stone Age can only mean that Teapublican pollsters have discovered that there is a huge, but hidden Neanderthal vote that can propel the RomneyRyan ticket to victory. Clearly they believe that there are enough women-hating men and enough women who are willing to give up their reproductive choices to the will of these men to insure that victory.

We shall see.

Libya – The Movie

There has been a lot of Teapublican criticism of the Obama Administration’s handling of the storming of the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. It seems that there is a prevailing view that foreign policy crises resemble the plot from some kind of action movie.

The fact that murderous riots and raging mobs don’t create neat and clean scenarios seems to have escaped the Teapublicans. Also, it seems that these neo-conmen also want us to believe that there are squads of Jack Bauers and James Bonds who can solve every crisis within the time it takes to watch one episode of “24” or one James Bond movie.
Of course the real world is very different. Someone should tell Mitt Romney.

October White Sale

This week former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed President Obama for the second time. In the process of conveying his very important endorsement Secretary Powell was clear in pointing out the very flawed nature of Mitt Romney’s candidacy as part of his reason for supporting the Democratic Party candidate even though he is a registered Republican.

Never missing an opportunity to sound stupid and racist at the same time, Romney surrogate John Sununu contended that Colin Powell’s endorsement was based on one black man supporting another black man. Mr. Sununu was so wrong and so racist that some people have vainly hoped that Mr. Romney might distance himself from such a degrading and insulting remark……..no chance of that.

Mr. Sununu has already referred to President Obama as “lazy” and now calls Secretary Powell a mindless black sheep. One has to wonder when we will find him shopping for a white hood and robe to go with the racist rhetoric that he spews.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

Introducing President Obama

If all you had listened to is the Teapublican narrative for the past three years, you would not have a very high opinion of President Obama. After the first debate supporters of Barack Obama were wondering what happened to their leader. But President Obama has used the last two debates to introduce himself to the American people all over again. In the most recent and last debate the biggest question was who made Mr. Romney look worse – President Obama or Mitt Romney himself?

Here are just a few examples from the Boca Beat Down –

• President Obama noted that Mr. Romney didn’t know how to assess the strength of the American military, reminding him that it no longer uses “bayonets and horses” and does use aircraft carriers and submarines.

• Mr. Romney’s quote that he would not “move heaven and earth” to find Osama bin Laden was skillfully recalled by President Obama as he recounted the closure and comfort that the death of bin Laden provided for the victims of 9/11.

• After saying that he would not go into Pakistan to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, Mr. Romney clearly stated at the debate that it was “o.k.” to go into Pakistan and the he totally supported the use of drones.

• In contending that the foreign policy of the Obama Administration had not totally settled and solved the problems of the world, Mr. Romney seemed to think that foreign policy worked like a made-for-TV.-movie where the story concludes neatly in a sixty minute package. His seeming to yearn for simple solutions for a complex world was, in a word, pathetic.

• President Obama reminded Mr. Romney several times that he was trying to “airbrush history” by trying to claim positions that were new and different from the ones that he espoused while lurching rightward in his campaign for the Teapublican nomination – replaying Mr. Romney’s support for letting the auto industry go into bankruptcy and then watching him say that he favored government support during that process when he had not was almost painful to watch.

• It was interesting to note that Mr. Romney stated that promoting gender equality around the world should be a hallmark of American foreign policy. It is also interesting to note that Mr. Romney does not favor the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in the United States.
It is interesting to note that Mr. Romney plans to defund Planned Parenthood, an important source of healthcare services for women and girls in the United States. And, it is important to note that Mr. Romney does not support full access to contraception and reproductive choices for women and girls in the United States. Perhaps if American women moved overseas he would treat them better.

As the third and final presidential debate concluded, it would seem that one of Mr. Romney’s strategies had been to try to blur the very clear choice between the candidates.
Certainly if the policies offered by the Teapublican Party platform were presented to most Americans, they would be rejected along with the RomneyRyan ticket. Somehow, Mr. Romney has been trying to convince the American people that he was for the platform until he was against it.

And, for those of you keeping score at home, the Teapublican Tampa Platform included an absolute ban on abortion, an absolute prohibition of gun control and the endorsement of the Ryan budget that would eviscerate American’s social safety net. The Ryan budget, by the way, in addition to privatizing Social Security and turning Medicare into a voucher program, would virtually eliminate so-called discretionary spending in programs ranging from the National Endowment for the Arts to Head Start to the Environmental Protection Administration.

These policies and choices define the RomneyRyan ticket. And these policies and choices are what Mitt Romney only wishes to speak about in small rooms behind closed doors. It now remains to be seen whether Mr. Romney’s “air brush” strategy can work.

Certainly, during the past two debates President Obama has painted a very different picture in describing his own vision as well as the competing vision of Mr. Romney.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – October 19, 2012

The really good news about this past week’s debate is that Obama is back…still don’t know who that guy was in Denver a couple of weeks ago. Meanwhile, amid news that the so-called gender gap between President Obama and Mr. Romney is closing the question must be asked – who are these women? And finally, Paul (Lyin’) Ryan got busted doing fake good deeds. Why are we not surprised?

Obama’s Back

The best thing about the most recent presidential debate is that the Barack Obama who inspired a nation and electrified the world showed up. Mitt Romney returned with more salvos of bluster and sketchy math, and he has shown a remarkable ability to lie with confidence– an indispensable talent for a confidence man.

When questioned about his unwavering support for the National Rifle Association’s positions on gun control – namely as little as possible – he actually said that he didn’t see a need for more regulation, even in the instance of assault weapons before going on off on an illogical riff about how single parent families are a significant causal factor when it comes to gun violence.

Unlike the first debate, President Obama did not let Mr. Romney cakewalk his way through his tax cut song and dance. Ultimately Mr. Romney’s message to the American people was that the math for his budget plan would work because he said so.

In running for the nomination of the Teapublican party, Mr. Romney pitched so far to the right that he now his trying to walk back from his draconian positions on issues like contraception and abortion. He did maintain his draconian positions on immigration and we will have to see how that plays out with American voters who are immigrants or the children of immigrants.

But President Obama saved the best for last, nailing Mitt Romney on his infamous 47% soliloquy – when Mr. Romney final comments included his tinny love song to the 100% of Americans, Barack Obama reminded everyone of what he said behind closed doors.

Who Are These Women?

This has been one of the other worldly presidential campaigns in memory, so it shouldn’t really be surprising to get the counterintuitive news that more women voters are now favoring Mitt Romney over President Obama. Could it be that these women do not know the
• Mitt Romney has vowed to defund Planned Parenthood, a source of primary healthcare for millions of women and girls
• Mitt Romney and Teapublican Party have sworn to limit access to contraception and abortion services – he is also committed to appointing Supreme Court justices who will vote to repeal Roe v. Wade
• Mitt Romney has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act which currently provides specific coverage for women’s health issues.
• Mitt Romney has refused to support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which was passed to address the FACT that women earn 73% of the wages paid to men for the same work.

All of these facts are well known and the Romney-Ryan team has clearly stated their positions on all of these issues. So the question is…..who are these women?

Lyin’ Ryan Strikes Again

Last week vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s team set up a photo op for him to visit a homeless shelter in Ohio. The press was treated to pictures of Mr. Ryan diligently scrubbing pots and pans in the shelter presumably to portray the softer, gentler side of the man who has crafted a budget plan that will absolutely shred the American social safety net.

The only problem was that the pots and pans were clean before Mr. Ryan arrived. He also engaged in only perfunctory conversation with homeless individuals who were at the shelter. And…………..the management of the shelter was furious that their site was being used for political purposes without their permission.

Just another day in the Life of Ryan.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

Mitt Romney’s Three Legged Pig

Mitt Romney’s campaign is starting to resemble the three legged pig in that old joke – the pig that was too good to be eaten all at once. Clearly Mitt Romney and his advisors believe that he is serving up just enough of his porkload of a campaign to get elected. And that’s why it is high time to look at the other three legs of Romney’s pig.

Leg One: it is now twenty two days before the election and Mitt Romney continues to stonewall the American people and his own party when it comes to the issue of his tax returns. The fact that even his own father released his tax returns when he ran for president has not been enough to dissuade him from his adamant position on the subject.

We already know that Mitt Romney pays taxes at a lesser rate than a secretary or a gas station attendant. We already know that he has assets in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Ireland and Luxembourg. The full release of his tax returns should just be an anticlimactic verification that he is a very rich man who is taking advantage of every tax loophole in the Internal Revenue Code.

Mitt Romney prides himself as a businessman. His rich guy supporters like Jack Welch and Donald Trump and wannabe rich guys like Rudy Giuliani all point to his business experience as a key reason why he should replace Barack Obama as president.

Yet all the rich guys like Welch, Trump, Adelson and Giuliani would never hire a key executive for any company in which they had a financial interest without a thorough background check – and that would include finances. And if a candidate for employment had offshore accounts that would have to be fully vetted and explained.
Nevertheless Mitt Romney continues to stonewall on the issue of his tax returns.

Leg Two: The recent Teapublican primary campaign featured some of the most extreme and Neanderthal positions with respect to women’s issues in over one hundred years. Somewhere Susan B. Anthony and Carrie Nation are spinning in their graves.

And during this entire primary campaign Mitt Romney never let any of his opponents get to the right of him on these issues. He vowed to defund Planned Parenthood. He swore that he would eliminate federal funding for contraception. He promised that he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would be committed to overturning Roe v. Wade. He virtually took an oath to limit women’s reproductive choices to instances involving rape or incest.
With the election a little over three weeks away Mr. Romney is now serving up his pig in with a different recipe. Mitt Romney does not speak about his promised crusade against Planned Parenthood, perhaps because someone told him that millions of (voting) women depend upon Planned Parenthood for basic healthcare services.

He doesn’t speak about his jihad against contraception since, as a good businessman, he knows it will not sell. So he puts this particular item on a back shelf but it is still in his inventory.

He has tried every possible contortion to get out of his anti-abortion oath. He has harked back to his days as a governor of Massachusetts when he was a moderate on such issues. But, as the late Ted Kennedy said of Mitt Romney, “he isn’t pro-choice, he’s multiple choice”. For Mitt Romney it just depends on what he is trying to sell and to whom.

Leg Three: By selecting Paul Ryan as his running mate Mitt Romney wedded the Ryan budget which has already been passed by the Teapublican wing of the House of Representatives two years in a row. Taken to its logical conclusion, the RomneyRyan budget will result in the decimation of almost every federal program that is not in the categories of defense, Medicare and Social Security.

The Romney team is smart enough to know that explaining that Pell Grant Programs, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and scores of other federal initiatives would be reduced to bureaucratic skeletons would be disastrous the campaign simply refuses to give details. Former President Bill Clinton suggested that American voters “do the math” to figure out how taxes will be decreased with an accompanying decrease in the deficit. There is only one way – cut spending on programs that matter to Americans.

Mitt Romney will spend the next three weeks leading his three legged pig of a campaign around the country firmly believing that Americans won’t ask what he is really serving. I would guess he would call it his “November Surprise”.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – October 12, 2012

After Joe Biden’s tour de force dismantling of Paul Ryan during the vice presidential debate many supporters are calling for President Obama to be more like Joe Biden during his next debate with Mitt Romney. Actually, Barack Obama just needs to be Barack Obama. Meanwhile, Donald Trump, Jack Welch and the Teapublicans refuse to accept any good news if it benefits President Obama….there’s a pattern here. And finally, for all of his tough talk about trade battles with China, Bain Capital will be moving about 500 jobs from Michigan to China right after the election.

Let Obama be Obama

During the 1980’s pumped up conservatives would proclaim “Let Reagan be Reagan” convinced that the unedited version of the leader of the right wing brave new world was at his best when he was himself. There is a lesson to be learned there.

We may someday learn the reason for the desultory and distracted performance turned in by Barack Obama during his first debate with Mitt Romney. While there will be time for retrospective, what is important right now is that all of the White House handlers, advisors and media specialists “Let Obama be Obama”.

It is pretty clear that the path the victory in November will require President Obama to remind the electorate that he is still the same person who inspired a country and electrified the planet less than four years ago. When he is being himself, Barack Obama is both compelling and convincing.

There isn’t any time for rehearsed smiles and self-enforced silences. “Let Obama be Obama”.

Facts do Matter

Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the unemployment rate in this country had gone from 8.1% to 7.8%. While this news should not prompt a chorus of “Happy Days are Here Again”, it certainly qualifies as good news, especially for the thousands of Americans who didn’t have a job and now do.

So it is puzzling, although not surprising, that right wing of the right wing zealots like Donald Trump and former G.E. CEO Jack Welch led the Teapublican shouts and murmurs of some kind of “fix” being attached to the numbers. Somehow, their reasoning goes, the Obama Administration seized control of an independent and non-partisan element of the federal government to advance the Obama political agenda.

Even in the midst of an overheated and highly partisan campaign, one would hope that both sides would welcome good news in this country. But the Trump/Welch reaction is typical of the last four years of Teapublican wishes that President Obama will fail regardless of the damage that this would do to the country.

Paper Tiger

During his campaign Mitt Romney has huffed and puffed and bellowed about how tough he would be on China with respect to trade issues. He has accused the Chinese of “cheating” and promised to crack down on “cheaters”.

So last week’s news reports were particularly interesting when it turned out that a company in the Bain Capital portfolio is planning to move 500 jobs from Michigan to China soon after the election. And while Mr. Romney is no longer a member of the Bain management team it is impossible to believe that he is without influence and might ask his former firm to reconsider its plans in light of the hardship that will be visited on over 500 Michigan families.

So far, the only word from Mitt Romney is that he can’t interfere in a private business decision.

Consider this an indication of what to expect during a Romney presidency and be very afraid.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

It’s That Vision Thing

Too many people have been treating the presidential debates like some kind of “American Idol” episode where the contestant with the best performance wins. This is particularly troubling when there is an enormous difference in the vision being presented by President Obama and Governor Romney. The Romney/Ryan team is striving mightily to distract the public from their ultimate vision and that is understandable considering the very bleak future that it encompasses.

Mitt Romney has spent a lot of time walking back his infamous trashing of 47% of Americans by claiming that the statement was simply a regretful slip of the tongue. He has gone on to proclaim that his lifelong demonstration of compassion for the less fortunate should erase his momentary poor choice of words.

While Mitt Romney is a child of privilege, he does not possess a free pass on whatever he says. His 47% diatribe described a political strategy and a personal philosophy that was something more than a Rick Perry “oops” moment. Mr. Romney clearly stated that the 47% of the country that does not pay federal tax “has no interest in taking personal responsibility”.

Mr. Romney can moonwalk all he wants, but there are too many veterans, retired social security recipients and working poor who will not be satisfied with the thin gruel of apology that he is serving up. And Mr. Romney insults the intelligence of all of us if he expects us to believe that when he says that he “can’t worry about” that 47% that he was only describing a political strategy in an inelegant fashion.

But what is more important than the debate reviews or Mr. Romney’s 47% two-step is the vision that the Romney-Ryan team is serving up to the American people. A vision of smaller government and lower taxes for the wealthy looks good on paper, but it doesn’t play out so well in real life.

Various non-partisan research groups have concluded that the budget and tax plan envisioned by Paul Ryan and substantially endorsed by Mitt Romney would indeed result in federal tax increases for middle class Americans. What also must be noted that the reduction of federal government spending will result in fewer federal dollars for state and local governments.

That will, of necessity, require states and localities to cut vital services (not just Big Bird). A further consequence of this plan will be state and local tax increases not only for middle class Americans, but for virtually all Americans.

And, in shrinking the size of government, Mr. Romney engaged in a bit of rhetorical prestidigitation by focusing on one set of initials, PBS, as a target of his budget cutting. Some people may have shared a laugh with Mitt Romney targeting Big Bird, after all, how important could Big Bird be?

The answer is that Big Bird and Sesame Street and PBS are pretty damn important. Indeed, for children who do not dwell in the environs of the 1% or even Romney’s 53%, Sesame Street can be the only source of pre-school education. Considering that the Romney-Ryan vision will also eviscerate Head Start and other educational assistance programs, there is nothing funny about targeting PBS.

But Mitt Romney sought to turn attention away from other initialed, federally-funded programs that would be eliminated or shrunk to drowning size in Grover Norquist’s budget. Some of the initials – EPA – the Environmental Protection Agency which has been on the frontlines protecting the air we breathe and the water we drink; FDA – the Food and Drug Administration which has guaranteed the cleanliness of the food chain in this country; CDC – the Center for Disease Control which is Ground Zero in the fight against infectious diseases and epidemics which could easily become a part of the American way of life without proper, and well-funded, efforts by CDC.

The list of agencies and programs that would be targeted as a result of the Romney-Ryan budget is gruesome in its length. And as far as vision is concerned, does anyone think that programs that created the Hoover Dam, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the G.I. Bill, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security could ever see the light of day in the Romney-Ryan vision?

Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and the Teapublicans are quite clear on this point. The answer is a resounding “No”, and that is not a misstatement.

Be My Guest

Be My Guest Column by Herb Boyd

Obama Mauled in the First Round

If the first showdown between President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney Wednesday evening in at the University of Denver was a boxing match, then the verdict would probably be a split decision with Romney getting the nod for aggressiveness.

This was akin to a championship fight with Romney the challenger having to wrest the title from Obama, who seemed content just to keep a defensive mode, warding off blows and pulling his punches.

There were ample opportunities, plenty of openings for Obama to slip a telling left hook or right cross, but he passed them up, apparently unwilling to risk not looking presidential.

Romney’s aggressiveness was merely an arsenal of lies, the kind of mendacity that has characterized his campaign, and neither Obama nor moderator Jim Lehrer chose to rebut them.

Many Obama supporters were waiting futilely for him to counterpunch Romney’s assertion about the charge the president had cut $716 billion from Medicare. And Romney battered away with this attack, which he has stated again and again, indicating that the reductions would come from current beneficiaries.

But there was nary a word about this or the 47 percent allegation Romney made earlier about this segment of the population dependent on government handouts.

Romney slammed with everything from the elimination of PBS’s Big Bird to Vice President’s Biden comment about the “buried” middle class, a comment largely taken out of context to impugn the Obama administration.

The challenger claimed that Obama had doubled the deficit, which is another falsehood. When Obama took office he was already facing a $1.2 to $1.4 trillion deficit for 2009. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the deficit for 2012 is expected to be $1.1 trillion, an appreciable decline in the overall percentage of the economy.

Obama had gaping openings on Romney’s comments about the 23 million unemployed, which is again not true; the federal debt, and the repealing of Obamacare.

But Obama, in what many pundits claim was a lackluster performance, failed to take advantage of these distortions and lies, hoping that Romney’s attack would not be enough to close the lead, if we can believe the recent polls.

After all is said and done, to keep the fight metaphor alive, this was only the first round and there are two more to go and it’s to be seen if the champ has learned anything at all from this first round mauling.

Herb Boyd is a New York based educator, author and journalist.

Point of View Columns

What Obama Should Have Said

Sorting through the wreckage and rubble of President Obama’s performance at the first presidential debate one is likely to run into a lot of second guessers and Monday morning quarterbacks. But even a skilled and accomplished public speaker like Barack Obama is entitled to a bad night.

Having said that and with all due respect, here are a few suggestions for President Obama regarding what he should have said and what he needs to say in the two debates that remain.

1. Mr. Romney, you have stated quite clearly that among the things on your “Day One” agenda is the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Please look into the camera and explain to the millions of American women and girls who depend on Planned Parenthood for basic healthcare why you think this is a good idea. And, Mr. Romney, while you are at it, please explain to these millions of mothers, daughters, wives and partners what alternative they will have once you have defunded Planned Parenthood.

2. Mr. Romney, you have been quoted as saying that 47% of the American people do not pay taxes, are dependent upon federal aid and lack personal responsibility. Here is your opportunity to tell the 47% – which includes Social Security recipients, troops defending this country in Afghanistan, children under 18 and the working poor who simply do not make enough money to pay income tax – here is your opportunity to explain why you have demeaned and diminished these Americans who do work or have worked. They may not have made as much money as you, but they have worked just as hard if not harder than you.

3. You have asked me how, in the midst of an epic global and national financial crisis, I could spend two years in an effort to gain passage of the Affordable Care Act. Here’s my answer – it is impossible for a country to have a healthy economy if its citizens aren’t healthy. The United States has the best medical technology in the world, but its health delivery system is stuck somewhere in the mid-twentieth century.

But there is more, Mr. Romney. Your underlying question seems to be, “What was the rush?” Would you tell over 40 million uninsured American citizens that they should wait for medical coverage? Would you tell the millions of Americans with pre-existing illnesses who now have coverage that they should wait? Would you tell the millions of Americans who would have faced certain bankruptcy if Obamacare had not removed the lifetime cap on medical expenses favored by insurance companies that they should wait?

And, Mr. Romney, exactly how would you replace Obamacare on your imaginary Day One? You have stated that emergency room care is a useful alternative to the comprehensive care that will be provided to all Americans by Obamacare. I am certain that you would not want emergency room care to be the source of primary health care for your family. If it isn’t good enough for your family, how is it good enough for the American people who currently can’t afford what you and I can afford?

4. Mr. Romney, ever since your father made a comprehensive disclosure of his tax returns in 1968, every major presidential candidate has followed suit. Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Robert Dole, George W. Bush and John McCain have all done so, but not you.

You have spoken about your business experience until you have turned red, white and blue in the face. As the former CEO of Bain Capital you know that you would never, ever have hired a CEO of one of the companies in the Bain portfolio without doing a thorough background check. That background check would include key financial information – tax returns, the presence of offshore accounts, etcetera.

You never would have hired a CEO with accounts in the Cayman Islands or Switzerland without knowing the reason for the existence of these accounts and the amount of money in those accounts. Failing to do so would be the equivalent of corporate malpractice.

You are now applying to the American people to be the CEO of a multi-trillion dollar operation known as the United States of America and you won’t divulge this important information to the American people – the same information that you would demand of any key employee, the same information that you demanded of your running mate Paul Ryan and the same information that you provided to John McCain.

Mr. Romney I am not suggesting that you have anything to hide. But you are acting like someone with something to hide. Your disregard of this legitimate and time honored American political tradition strikes many as arrogant, it just seems wrong to me.

This is what President Obama should have said. This is what he needs to say during the next two debates.

Point of View Columns

The Consequences of the Truth

Teapublican supporters of Mitt Romney, including Fox News, have touted his primary debate experience as a key advantage in his upcoming debates with President Obama. If verbal jousting with the likes of Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain are helping to make Mitt Romney better, then he is in worse shape than current polls already indicate.

There may be some infinitesimal mathematical possibility that trading barbs with Saint Santorum of the Sweater Vest will turn out to be an advantage for Romney in Denver and beyond. What is more likely is that at some point during these debates Mitt Romney is going to have to actually answer a question with the truth.

It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to figure that Mr. Romney will be asked about his alternative plan to the Obama administration’s policy in the Middle East after all of the criticism expressed by the Teapublican nominee. Mr. Romney has mentioned the assertion of American strength, American values and the American economy as being some kind of fix-all solution. But what, exactly, does that mean?

It is inevitable that Mitt Romney will be asked about his woeful and grotesque remarks about the 47% of the American population that he described as dependent and refusing to accept responsibility. Mr. Romney has acknowledged that his comments were “inelegant”, so what, exactly, is an elegant way of insulting half the American population?

Mr. Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan have repeatedly asserted that they have a plan that will fix the American economy for decades to come. When asked for details Mr. Ryan has said that he doesn’t have time to give the American people the math. Mr. Romney has been even more opaque. But how can tax cuts for the wealthy be revenue neutral without a major negative economic impact on middle and lower income Americans, including increased taxes and diminished services?

Mr. Romney campaigned in the Teapublican primary with a promise to repeal Obamacare on “day one” of a Romney presidency. When questioned most recently he stated that he would retain key elements of Obamacare including the right of Americans with pre-existing illnesses to get health insurance. More recently he has stated that he thought that emergency room care was a useful alternative to Obamacare. What, exactly, can the American people expect from what Jon Huntsman has described as a well-lubricated weather vane named Mitt Romney?

During the Teapublican primary season Mr. Romney participated in a group demonization of Barack Obama. It seemed that during the Teapublican Klown Karnival the only valid talking point was that anything and everything associated with Barack Obama is bad. Mitt Romney showed himself to be adept at appealing to the baser instincts of the right wing of the right wing, from the anti-immigration zealots to the mental misfits known as birthers.

But now, in the general election, Mr. Romney has to actually explain himself. Does he really believe in self-deportation, a concept that started out as a satirical comedy bit on a California radio station? Does he really believe that it is an option as to whether evolution should be taught in the schools of America?

And, starting Wednesday, Mr. Romney will discover that he cannot answer every question by blaming Barack Obama. Does he really believe that there should be no medical coverage for contraception and that Planned Parenthood should be defunded? Does he agree with his running mate’s filing of several legislative measures that would outlaw abortion even in the case of rape or incest? What can mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and young girls expect from a Romney administration?

Mr. Romney has suggested that college students can borrow money from their financially challenged parents as an alternative to federal aid. He has opposed the federal bailout of the automobile industry which saved over one million American jobs. He has also opposed regulation of the financial services industry which managed to precipitate the near collapse of the global economy just a few short years ago.

There are a lot of questions for Mr. Romney to answer which cannot begin or end with his Blame Obama chant. He has been self-described as inelegant in his presentation. Paul Ryan has called him inarticulate. The London Olympic Committee has a few more names for him.

On Wednesday it may be time to break out the popcorn.