Archive for October, 2012

WATCH VIDEO NOW: My 2012 presidential election chat with Jay Bookman

Jay and I got together with AJC political reporter Aaron Gould Sheinin in a Google Hangout to discuss last night’s presidential debate and our thoughts on how the race is going as of today — and where it’s leading us. Enjoy!

–By Kyle Wingfield

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Why George W. Bush was one winner of last night’s debate

First, a PSA: Jay and I, along with Aaron Gould Sheinin, are about to record a video chat discussing last night’s debate. We’ll both be posting that on our respective blogs around noon.

But before we get to that, one more thought about the debate:

You could argue that the winner of last night’s debate was George W. Bush. Before you tell me that’s ridiculous, let me explain:

One reason Mitt Romney was so quick to agree with President Obama on so many issues is that his clear goal for the night was not to damage his candidacy by not appearing “presidential” or believable as the commander-in-chief. He didn’t want to come across as a war-monger — as I wrote last night, that seemed to have been drilled into his head by his aides — and he made that point several times. He still has to win this election on the economy, and his aim regarding foreign policy was not to provide a distraction from that. I think he did that.

Another reason is that foreign policy is one area on which voters …

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Chapter 3: Live thread for the final Obama-Romney debate

UPDATE at 10:40 p.m.: The candidates very much got back to foreign policy. If Romney’s goal was to present himself as knowledgeable and reasonable on foreign policy — i.e., not a war-monger — he achieved it. He has been much more conciliatory toward Obama than vice versa — he’s eschewed many opportunities to attack Obama, whereas Obama has been on the attack all night. Which suggests both candidates saw Romney as the front-runner coming into tonight’s debate.

If so, I saw nothing tonight to change that. Each candidate had some good moments, but neither truly drew blood. If Obama needed a win, I don’t think he got it tonight.

The pundits are talking about Obama winning on “debate points.” I don’t think that’s the way undecided voters view these things. They wanted to see, as in the first debate, if Romney was this wild-eyed extremist the Democrats have been painting him as. Obama didn’t sleep-walk through this debate by any means, but Romney achieved the same goal of coming …

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How the NLCS might decide the election — and why Obama supporters should root for . . .

Tonight, while President Obama and Mitt Romney debate foreign policy, the deciding Game 7 of the National League Championship Series will pit the San Francisco Giants against the St. Louis Cardinals. If you want to know which candidate has the best chance of winning the White House, you might want to watch the baseball game — and root for the Cardinals if you’re a Romney fan, the Giants if you support Obama.

Because, apparently, the baseball gods like to dabble in politics every four years.

There have been 26 World Series played in presidential election years — every election year since 1908. In 22 of these years, one candidate won all the electoral votes of states represented by the World Series teams**. And that candidate has won the presidency in 20 of those 22 years.

That’s a 91 percent record in those 22 years, and 85 percent overall. (Yes, I know, — it’s still a pretty small sample. Work with me here.)

Need an illustration? Look no further than 2008, when the World …

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How Obamacare is making it harder to find a full-time job

The drag Obamacare has had on the economy has been hard to quantify in the two-plus years since it became law, because so many of its economy- and job-altering provisions had yet to be written. But that’s changing, and the law’s negative impact on the economy is becoming clearer. The Washington Post’s Robert Samuelson explains one of the ways: the law’s exemption for part-time employees and its definition of what counts as “part time”:

In September, 34 million workers, about a quarter of total workers, were part-time, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But the BLS defines part-time as less than 35 hours a week; Obamacare’s 30 hours a week was presumably adopted to expand insurance coverage. There are now 10 million workers averaging between 30 and 34 hours a week. To the BLS, they are part-time; under Obamacare, they’re full-time.

Employers have a huge incentive to hold workers under the 30-hour weekly threshold. The requirement to provide insurance above that acts …

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Spend more money on traditional schools? We tried that

Opponents of the charter-school amendment on next month’s ballot offer a simple alternative idea: Spend more money.

That’s about all the educational establishment can conjure as a means of improving Georgia’s below-average results. State schools superintendent John Barge got to the point quickly when he came out against the amendment back in August.

Barge estimated the state would spend an extra $430 million on new charter schools over a five-year period. He said the state shouldn’t spend that money until existing schools are fully staffed with fully paid teachers for full school years the lack of which he attributed to state budget cuts averaging almost $1.2 billion in recent years.

So, there you have it, fiscal conservatives wary of the amendment. Barge and his fellow travelers don’t want to spend another $430 million over the next five years. They want to spend an additional $6 billion during those years about 14 times as much.

Whereas charter schools would at least …

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Poll Position: Do we need moderators in presidential debates?

Through three debates — two between the presidential candidates, one featuring their running mates — there’s been one constant: The moderators have been part of the story each time. PBS’ Jim Lehrer was faulted by some for being too hands-off; ABC’s Martha Raddatz for being too quick to interrupt; CNN’s Candy Crowley for playing fact-checker during one particularly heated exchange between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

Do we need moderators for presidential debates?

  • Absolutely (131 Votes)
  • Never (53 Votes)
  • Only in some of them (46 Votes)

Total Voters: 230

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(As an aside, as someone who’s moderated several debates myself, Crowley was wrong to intervene in that manner for two reasons, neither of them partisan: First, it wasn’t her place to offer an opinion; if she was trying to cut off the debate and move on to another topic, she should have simply said, “This one will have to go to the fact-checkers.” Second, fact-checking isn’t part of the moderator’s …

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On Newsweek’s going out of print

I suspect many of you could imagine this morning’s news that Newsweek plans to end its print edition after 80 years hitting close to home for a dead-trees journalist like myself. It doesn’t, and here’s why.

I graduated from college in 2001. Although that was right when a lot of print media outlets were making Internet-related mistakes, I was under no illusions that hard-copy newspapers would be around for my entire career. Two more decades of papers hitting driveways seemed about right to me.

About a decade later, I’m not yet prepared to give printed media no more than 10 years to live. But a couple of things have become clear:

1. Digital is not a death sentence: On the contrary, the era of online journalism has seen a proliferation of media outlets. Some are better than others, some have lasted longer than others. Which leads me to …

2. Quality, not the medium, is what matters: Good, relevant, unique content will attract readers whether it’s delivered in print or online. We …

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Is the election coming down to four states?

There’s been a lot of theorizing on the comments threads about the Electoral College prospects of President Obama and Mitt Romney. At National Journal, Major Garrett writes something that I find rather reasonable: The election increasingly is coming down to four states:

What also became clear after the dust began to settle from the rumble on Long Island was the electoral map has narrowed and Obama’s team, while conceding nothing publicly, is circling the wagons around Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Plouffe said that Obama remains strong in all four states, but he would not discuss the specifics of internal polling or voter-contact analytics, saying only that Obama has “significant leads” in all four places.

It is uncharacteristic of Team Obama to concede any terrain, but Plouffe offered no such assurances about Obama’s position in North Carolina, Virginia, or Florida. Romney advisers have seen big gains in all three states and now consider wins likely, although not …

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A spirited debate that ultimately won’t boost Obama

If President Obama needed a win — any kind of win, by any margin — in last night’s presidential debate, maybe he can claim victory. But if he needed a decisive win in which he regained the initiative by spelling out his vision for the next four years, he’ll have to wait until next week and hope the third time’s the charm.

For Obama did not win such a victory. Personally, I would have called it a draw at worst, because the best, most sustained argument all night came from Mitt Romney, talking about Obama’s economic record, in response to a man who asked the president why he should vote for him again. It was a withering recitation of the missed opportunities of Obama’s presidency. “We don’t have to live like this” and “we don’t have to settle for [insert specific item from Romney's list of Obamanomics miseries here]” were simple but powerful points about what voters overwhelmingly call the most important issue of this campaign. The fact that Romney was responding to a question …

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