I missed the first Presidential Debate last week, but gathered from the chatter that Mitt Romney stole a round from a woefully-underprepared President Obama. The commentary gave the sense that Obama prepared for the event in the way Apollo Creed prepared for the fight in the first Rocky movie. As Apollo’s trainer told him after the champ got knocked down the first round, “he doesn’t know it’s a damn show, he thinks it’s a damn fight!”
Media leaks even suggest that Obama actually thought he won the debate for most of the next day, until some metaphorical kid burst his advisor-bubble with a “hey, the emperor is naked” moment.
I saw portions of the second Presidential Debate yesterday night, in which “2008 Obama” reappeared, thoroughly out-debating and out-classing Romney, whom the moderator caught in a massive factual error (see about 1:20) – Romney insisted it took Obama two weeks to call the attack on the American Embassy in Libya a terrorist act, whereas Obama had in fact called it an “act of terror” the next day. Ah, the perils of relying on Fox News for one’s facts. :)
Returning to that first Rocky movie, Obama pummelled Romney the way Apollo pummelled Rocky in Rounds 2 through 14. For you cultural orphans who haven’t seen the movie — it was the 8 Mile of its day! — this video clip provides a good summary. The rest of the movie is largely filler. :)
And incidentally, on the topic of 8 Mile, in its climactic rap-battle Rabbit disses arch-nemesis Papa Doc’s privileged upbringing, saying (in a totally NSFW clip):
I know something about you, you went to Cranbrook – that’s a private school!
Given that Romney actually DID go to Cranbrook as a kid, bullying a gay classmate no less, it’d be beyond awesome to have Obama use that as a one-liner in the last debate! :)
Combined with Joe Biden’s casual beat-down of Paul Ryan in the Vice-Presidential debate, things are looking up for the Democrats.
Unfortunately, the outlook is more nuanced – negative, even – for progressives. The American right-wing has moved their goalposts so far to the right, Obama inevitably looks good by comparison. As such, he gets support from American liberals (think New York Times readers) and the American left (think Michael Moore). Back in the day, it was said that Bill Clinton was the first black President, because of the extraordinary support he enjoyed from the African-American community. Future historians and students of politics might well call Barack Obama the first black Republican President, because he’s basically governed as a moderate Republican. Despite high hopes, BHO has fallen well short of FDR. And in some key ways, he’s indistinguishable from GWB.
The case against Obama is well-made by this recent piece in the Atlantic, which counts the ways the author loathes him — or at the very least, can’t bring himself to vote for him. These include the non-investigation of war crimes by Bush administration officials coupled with an unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers; a bye for the plutocrats who caused the 2008 financial meltdown; a blind eye towards inveterate fraud by banks who — through sloppiness in the housing derivative market — almost never have legal title to the properties they’re evicting people from; continuing to sanction torture; deporting more illegal immigrants per month than George W Bush; imprisoning Americans without due process (e.g. Bradley Manning); and even killing Americans without due process (Americans suspected of working with Al-Qaeda in Yemen have been killed in drone strikes, without recourse to a criminal trial). There are many others.
While I probably would still vote for Obama if I was American, fearing the Republicans would somehow find ways to be worse, the author makes the searing point that the President’s actions have moved him beyond the horizon of the traditional liberal / progressive perspectives… and yet, he still enjoys their support! (The late Gore Vidal was an exception, but he became chronically cynical as age wearied and withered him, so the criticism didn’t really stand out.)
Given that Obama’s dominant performs is likely to have sealed his re-election, it may be that progressives’ next best hope for a leader whose heart is a little to the left, who makes Americans’ now-alienated rights inalienable once more, may come from the 2016 Democratic nomination.
Well, hope does spring eternal — even if “The Man From Hope” (an early Bill Clinton slogan, born as he was in Hope, Arkansas) has faded from the scene.