Romney’s confusion continued in round two
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 00:10
Presidential debate written by Jarod Keith, junior journalism, news-editorial major at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Mitt Romney gave us quite an education in last week’s presidential debate on CNN. From the governor we learned that single parents are the cause of gun violence, that he cares about immigration because his dad was born in Mexico, that he cannot say whether he supports equal pay for women (but he does support a bizarre version of affirmative action, manifest by women in binders) and that he has a plan to create a plan on taxes that will magically balance the budget despite cutting taxes and increasing spending at the same time.
At least once, President Obama spoke of a fundamental difference between his and Romney’s vision for the functions of the federal government. He brought up the fact that Romney’s math on taxes (much of which is yet to be revealed, according to Romney) just does not add up. Obama posited that even someone as smart as Gov. Romney would not be able to match the tax cuts and additional military spending with the closing of tax loopholes for the wealthy, even if he closed every single one. Also, Obama pointed out that a Romney-Ryan administration would increase the military budget by $2 trillion that the Pentagon has not even requested.
The fact that there were so many issues covered in the debate spoke to the magnitude of decisions a president has to make every day. Whether it is how much security any embassy has at any given time or what permits are issued for drilling on public lands, the president is ultimately responsible for setting precedents that ripple through the bureaucracy that is the executive branch. With federal spending at nearly 24 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, according to last year’s estimates, electing an administration that channels that spending wisely (when possible), is very important.
But the federal budget is not the only issue presidents have to deal with. They also are responsible for reconciling how a changing society is treated by outdated laws—how concepts about human dignity and fairness are acknowledged by legislation and the judiciary.
On the issue of fair pay for women, the two candidates’ answers could not have been further apart. Obama was able state proudly that the first bill he signed was a law that made it easier for women to sue for pay discrimination, and he pointed out how Romney has dodged questions about that bill and the fair pay issue during his campaign. Romney, in an effort to say something, anything, that would make the GOP appear more women-friendly, went on a diatribe about appointing a lot of women to his cabinet in Massachusetts. By the end of Romney’s explanation, he had not addressed the question, and his campaign has provided mixed answers since the debate. The idea that equal pay for equal work is still up for consideration goes to show how extreme the conservative base is in this country has become.
In one of the night’s more desperate moments, Romney accused Obama of falling back on a campaign promise to reform the immigration system. Romney’s solution: “file a bill.” What the governor seemed to forget is a little bit of history. Obama indeed filed a bill, the DREAM Act, which would have allowed some residents whose parents forced them to immigrate without documentation as a minor to apply for legal status. After passing the House in 2010, the bill failed in the Senate twice due to a Republican filibuster. The assertion that Obama has not done anything to reform immigration is simply false. Everyone agrees that the DREAM Act is not a comprehensive solution to this country’s immigration problem, but Obama was using it to test the waters of support. It was a baby step in the right direction. If a bill this sensible could not garner bipartisan support, how could more reforms be possible?
The fact that #MittLies was trending on Twitter during the debate is telling. Romney’s attempt to clear up confusing messages on a number of issues was less comical than just plain sad. In the second presidential debate, President Obama emerged as the clear winner and Governor Romney as the ambitious but misguided politician, incapable of navigating even his own ever-changing vision for America.