Tonight’s second presidential candidate debate will be in the absurd “town hall” format. Consistent with the last two debates I do not plan to watch it. I do plan to comment on the commentary tomorrow as it emerges. There’s already some pre-commentary appearing and I think I see a common theme emerging: why the heck does Barack Obama want to be re-elected to the presidency?
Ezra Klein puts it pretty succinctly:
At this point, Romney and Obama are running almost perfectly opposite campaigns. Romney can tell you exactly what he wants to do, but barely a word about how he’ll do it. Obama can’t describe what he wants to achieve, but he can tell you everything about how he’ll get it done. It’s a campaign without real policies against a campaign lacking a clear vision.
Obama campaign officials insist that they have an agenda. They want to create a million new manufacturing jobs, hire 100,000 new math and science teachers, and require the rich to pay a bit more in taxes to protect our most important public investments.
Sorry, but I don’t buy it. The guy who ran in 2008 to change, well, almost everything, isn’t enduring the grind of another presidential campaign to give the manufacturing sector a modest push. Obama hasn’t forgotten his more ambitious goals on climate change or campaign finance reform or the American Jobs Act. He has just stopped mentioning them.
Elect me because I’m me. Or because I’m not the other guy.
Harold Meyerson, on the other hand, frames his column today rather poetically around Rabbi Hillel’s first and third question:
If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
But if I am only for myself, who am I?
If not now, when?
The most important of these in the present circumstances may be the second. Is Barack Obama only for himself? Who is he? Is Mitt Romney only for himself?
Mr. Meyerson goes on to propose his own agenda for a second Obama term:
A vote for Obama should mean more than consolidating the reforms of his first term and fending off the Republicans’ dismantling of the New Deal. In Tuesday night’s debate, why not unveil a plan to reinstate the Glass-Steagall barrier between investment banks and federally insured depositor banks? How about putting a ceiling on the level of assets a bank can have, as Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has proposed? These ideas aren’t just prudential economics; they would also align the president with Main Street against Wall Street.
Such an alignment would work to the president’s advantage not only in itself but also because Romney remains a creature of Wall Street, a man comfortable in homes where he can casually slander half of the American people to the quiet approbation of his donors.
revealing that he has, apparenty, been living in a cave for the last four years. By what measurement is President Obama not “a creature of Wall Street”? Our alternatives are between Mitt Romney, a creature of Wall Street, and Barack Obama, a creature of Wall Street. Rejoice! If we pour enough credit into the banks, I’m sure the economy will recover some day.
I note that housing prices in Long Island, Connecticut, and Arlington, Va are rising nicely.