Why Obama Lost The Debate

Via LBO News, Doug Henwood argues that Obama’s tepid showing in his first debate versus Romney was not due to personal lapse, but his and his party’s fundamental contradiction:

First, I should say that while I am not a Democrat, and never had much hope invested in 2008’s candidate of hope, I do think we’d be marginally better off if Obama won. Most liberals want to write off Obama’s bad performance as a bad night. It’s not just that.

The political problem of the Democrats is that they’re a party of capital that has to pretend for electoral reasons sometimes that it’s not. All the complaints that liberals have about them—their weakness, tendency to compromise, the constantly lamented lack of a spine—emerge from this central contradiction. The Republicans have a coherent philosophy and use it to fire up a rabid base. The Dems are afraid of their base because it might cause them trouble with their funders.

Unlike Franklin Roosevelt, who famously said that he welcomed the hatred of the rich, Obama wants to flatter them. He made the mistake of calling them “fatcats” once, so his former fans on Wall Street turned on him. That has something to do with why he didn’t mention the 47% thing, or tar Romney as the candidate of the 0.1%. That would be divisive and offend the people whose admiration he craves.

What do liberals stand for these days? Damned if I know. Too many qualifications and contradictions. (Yeah, politics are complex, and slogans are simple, but if you’ve got a passionately held set of beliefs you can manage that contradiction.) They can’t just say less war and more equality, because they like some wars and want to bore you with just-war theory to explain the morality of drone attacks, and worry about optimal tax rates and incentives. Join an empty philosophy to an empty personality and you get a very flat and meandering performance in debate. Romney believes in money. Obama believes in nothing.

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  • Jin The Ninja

    i like this. maybe some obamabots will wake up and smell the neo-liberalisation.

  • Jin The Ninja

    i like this. maybe some obamabots will wake up and smell the neo-liberalisation.

    • Ted Heistman

       Hopefully, but if they were that smart they wouldn’t have been Clintonbots. But I like to think the tide is turning.

    • Alan Guensberg

      At the end of the live
      coverage
      I slipped into an alternate
      consciousness
      and noticed the astral bodies of
      Romney and Obama
      step away from their mortal shells and embrace

      Obama tapped out to Romney,
      Like a tag team wrestler to his partner, saying,
      “Over to you, Mitt.
      I discredited the notion
      of Rule of Law.
      Now it is up to you to
      commit the crime
      that my followers will be unable to condemn
      without admitting their own complicity.”

      Romney flashed
      a flatulent, Boston bean-eating smile and said,
      “O.k.  That sounds just grand.”

      Then the whole scene melted
      trippily
      before my eyes and resolved
      into an advertisement for antibacterial hand lotion

      That is when I realized I was being jerked
      off
      all along.

    • Alan Guensberg

      At the end of the live
      coverage
      I slipped into an alternate
      consciousness
      and noticed the astral bodies of
      Romney and Obama
      step away from their mortal shells and embrace

      Obama tapped out to Romney,
      Like a tag team wrestler to his partner, saying,
      “Over to you, Mitt.
      I discredited the notion
      of Rule of Law.
      Now it is up to you to
      commit the crime
      that my followers will be unable to condemn
      without admitting their own complicity.”

      Romney flashed
      a flatulent, Boston bean-eating smile and said,
      “O.k.  That sounds just grand.”

      Then the whole scene melted
      trippily
      before my eyes and resolved
      into an advertisement for antibacterial hand lotion

      That is when I realized I was being jerked
      off
      all along.

    • Anarchy Pony

      What’s up my Ninja? You check today’s and last week’s Club Orlov posts? They are pretty friggin’ great.
      http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/

      • Jin The Ninja

        going to post it, calypso and i had an interesting beginning to a dialogue on part I- hope to continue it.

      • Jin The Ninja

        going to post it, calypso and i had an interesting beginning to a dialogue on part I- hope to continue it.

      • Jin The Ninja

        going to post it, calypso and i had an interesting beginning to a dialogue on part I- hope to continue it.

        • Anarchy Pony

          Sweet.

        • Anarchy Pony

          Sweet.

  • Ted Heistman

    “The political problem of the Democrats is that they’re a party of
    capital that has to pretend for electoral reasons sometimes that it’s
    not. All the complaints that liberals have about them—their weakness,
    tendency to compromise, the constantly lamented lack of a spine—emerge
    from this central contradiction. The Republicans have a coherent
    philosophy and use it to fire up a rabid base. The Dems are afraid of
    their base because it might cause them trouble with their funders.”

    That is SOOOO…Fucking…TRUE. That’s exactly how I see it!

  • Ted Heistman

    “The political problem of the Democrats is that they’re a party of
    capital that has to pretend for electoral reasons sometimes that it’s
    not. All the complaints that liberals have about them—their weakness,
    tendency to compromise, the constantly lamented lack of a spine—emerge
    from this central contradiction. The Republicans have a coherent
    philosophy and use it to fire up a rabid base. The Dems are afraid of
    their base because it might cause them trouble with their funders.”

    That is SOOOO…Fucking…TRUE. That’s exactly how I see it!

  • Ted Heistman

    Another good line “That would be divisive and offend the people whose admiration he craves.”

    he’s got that FUCKING SMILE I hate. Its just such a weak smile. A boot licking smile. I dunno why more black people don’t see through it. Hardly any black people I have met smile like that.

    He really is white. He’s a white middle manager. only white middle managers smile like that.

  • the world

    is there really still people on this site who are deluding themselves into thinking it even matters whose elected…

    its like arguing over two puppets in a game where it was never our choice, and didn’t matter anyways

  • the world

    is there really still people on this site who are deluding themselves into thinking it even matters whose elected…

    its like arguing over two puppets in a game where it was never our choice, and didn’t matter anyways

    • Ted Heistman

       It matters if you are gay and don’t mind being a gay fascist, as a opposed to being more of a gay victim of fascism(Romney).

      Third parties, hypothetically, should appeal to gays, since Third parties tend to be libertarian. But a lot gays and gay supportive liberals, would rather jump on the fascist bandwagon.

      Kind of like saying as a  Berliner circa 1930’s saying  “Well I am not jewish.” so I don’t  have anything to worry about.
      They say “well I am gay and Obama occasionally makes the appropriate noises about gay marriage, so I won’t worry about him throwing Muslim Americans in jail with no trial.” 

    • Ted Heistman

       It matters if you are gay and don’t mind being a gay fascist, as a opposed to being more of a gay victim of fascism(Romney).

      Third parties, hypothetically, should appeal to gays, since Third parties tend to be libertarian. But a lot gays and gay supportive liberals, would rather jump on the fascist bandwagon.

      Kind of like saying as a  Berliner circa 1930’s saying  “Well I am not jewish.” so I don’t  have anything to worry about.
      They say “well I am gay and Obama occasionally makes the appropriate noises about gay marriage, so I won’t worry about him throwing Muslim Americans in jail with no trial.” 

      • Jin The Ninja

        i understand what you’re saying, but the truth is that WHITE middle class GAY men and some lesbians of the same order are “liberals” not all the shades in between.
        queers/queers of colour/union card holders/working class/academics/trans people tend to be a lot more progressive albeit survivalist. but again, i understand your meaning. the truth is also that many middle class white “liberals” presume to seak for us, when they don’t even ask US what we want. obviously there are vast differences of opinion but when they solely champion DADT repeal and gay marriage as the definitive forms of equality, they are literally whitewashing a complicated nuanced issue.

      • Jin The Ninja

        i understand what you’re saying, but the truth is that WHITE middle class GAY men and some lesbians of the same order are “liberals” not all the shades in between.
        queers/queers of colour/union card holders/working class/academics/trans people tend to be a lot more progressive albeit survivalist. but again, i understand your meaning. the truth is also that many middle class white “liberals” presume to seak for us, when they don’t even ask US what we want. obviously there are vast differences of opinion but when they solely champion DADT repeal and gay marriage as the definitive forms of equality, they are literally whitewashing a complicated nuanced issue.

    • WellYeahbut…

      Maybe there are no differences in terms of action toward major issues, but there are small differences that do matter. Expecting universal healthcare to happen, or 4 years without military intervention are perfect examples of your point. That just wont happen no matter who is in office. But it is scary to think that one candidate has no idea, NO IDEA what it is like to interact with people of a lower class. So how do you expect him to look out for those kinds of people? What do you know about being wealthy? He knows much much less about what it is like to be in your shoes. He has experienced a life without barriers. 

    • WellYeahbut…

      Maybe there are no differences in terms of action toward major issues, but there are small differences that do matter. Expecting universal healthcare to happen, or 4 years without military intervention are perfect examples of your point. That just wont happen no matter who is in office. But it is scary to think that one candidate has no idea, NO IDEA what it is like to interact with people of a lower class. So how do you expect him to look out for those kinds of people? What do you know about being wealthy? He knows much much less about what it is like to be in your shoes. He has experienced a life without barriers. 

  • http://twitter.com/jasonpaulhayes jasonpaulhayes

    There was no winner, only losers … the entire American public lost.

  • http://twitter.com/jasonpaulhayes jasonpaulhayes

    There was no winner, only losers … the entire American public lost.

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    Why did Obama lose the debate?

    The show-runners and writers did it. The show had hit a lull, ratings were off and it was obvious that the Romney character was tanking in the ratings. What better way to put some pizazz back in the show than to have the Great Black Hope lose one for the Gipper.

    The show must go on!

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    Why did Obama lose the debate?

    The show-runners and writers did it. The show had hit a lull, ratings were off and it was obvious that the Romney character was tanking in the ratings. What better way to put some pizazz back in the show than to have the Great Black Hope lose one for the Gipper.

    The show must go on!

    • MoralDrift

      any reference to the Gipper is bound to crack a smile

    • MoralDrift

      any reference to the Gipper is bound to crack a smile

  • Phillipede

    I thought Obama lost, because he really is lost without his teleprompter.

  • Phillipede

    I thought Obama lost, because he really is lost without his teleprompter.

  • MoralDrift

    I had the distinct feeling he was purposely having a bad performance

  • bobbiethejean

    Obama is a very smart man but a terrible politician. It became abundantly clear to me that he is really just a cowardly, simpering, spineless corporate-cockgobbling anarcho-capitalist-shill like most of the other politicians out there. It’s a shame too because I spent my last hope-dollar on him. I’m not broke of hope. I don’t even care anymore. 

  • bobbiethejean

    Obama is a very smart man but a terrible politician. It became abundantly clear to me that he is really just a cowardly, simpering, spineless corporate-cockgobbling anarcho-capitalist-shill like most of the other politicians out there. It’s a shame too because I spent my last hope-dollar on him. I’m not broke of hope. I don’t even care anymore. 

  • Josh B

    I think you’ve identified the contradiction nicely. However, the difference between FDR and Obama is not the ideology, it’s the base. FDR had a strong labor movement to get his back. Where is this “base” on the left that you talk about today? Obama can’t piss off his capitalist masters, because there’s no organized movement to push him to do it, or re-elect him.

  • Josh B

    I think you’ve identified the contradiction nicely. However, the difference between FDR and Obama is not the ideology, it’s the base. FDR had a strong labor movement to get his back. Where is this “base” on the left that you talk about today? Obama can’t piss off his capitalist masters, because there’s no organized movement to push him to do it, or re-elect him.

  • http://www.zoboprepublic.wordpress.com/ zobop republic

    This is disturbing & deep!  :(
    Liberals & Neo-Liberals are a deadly mix!  :(  It took me years to understand the difference between them.

  • http://www.zoboprepublic.wordpress.com/ zobop republic

    This is disturbing & deep!  :(
    Liberals & Neo-Liberals are a deadly mix!  :(  It took me years to understand the difference between them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bruce-Miller/100000952005408 Bruce Miller

    In the upcoming Romney/Obama elections. America is at a  cross roads – both paths leading to economic ruin.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bruce-Miller/100000952005408 Bruce Miller

    In the upcoming Romney/Obama elections. America is at a  cross roads – both paths leading to economic ruin.

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