PIVOT POINT: Debates, Job Reports and Sesame Street

I’m sitting here on a quite Sunday afternoon looking  back on the drama of the last 7 days in the world of politics and not surprised that I am experiencing...

I’m sitting here on a quite Sunday afternoon looking  back on the drama of the last 7 days in the world of politics and not surprised that I am experiencing some bit of news cycle whiplash as the intensity of the week is in sharp contrast to the tranquility of sitting in my home with my wife and our four animals enjoying the break in the heat – even while the political heat is being turned up on the candidates as we inch closer to the finish line.


Let’s start with that debate – President Barack Obama underplayed while Mitt Romney overplayed, Jim Lehrer got outplayed and the media sprained an ankle in a rush to call a winner. I covered the debate a bit for CNN’s iReport and tested out a new tool of theirs that allows you to grab clips from the news stream and share them on Facebook and Twitter – though the tool was fun it was a bit distracting trying to balance absorbing the substance of the debate with setting in and out points for clips. Oh and I suppose the fact that I was live-blogging also did not help all that much. Of course I was surprised that the urgency I was experiencing while trying to balance viewing, blogging and clipping was not seemingly shared by President Obama who, as SNL joked this week, may have been distracted by both the altitude and his own wedding anniversary. I’ll write more about how Obama changed the game this week, perhaps for once in his favor, here shortly.

Mitt Romney in the debate did two things: 1) He struck the same exact pose after every answer and 2) He lied.

I was a Republican once-upon-a-time and have been incredibly disappointed in the current GOP and Mitt’s performance was an example of how far away from Reagan the party has really gotten. Reagan was always affable, relaxed, sharp – all with an underlying kindness that made you feel safe. Though he was an actor by trade he never came across as putting on an act and he always managed to find a balance between the spin and the win. Mitt Romney this week was forceful – sure – and that impressed the rather distracted media – but it was without substance. The pose he struck after every answer felt like rehearsed punctuation with an air of “I Told You So” – not exactly presidential nor trustworthy. Why the same pose? Why the same forced grin with the eyes that were never smiling?

Of course his body language would probably be more relaxed if he was being honest. I’ll talk about just one of his mistatements/lies – he claims he does not want to raise taxes on anyone yet his plan will result in an increase in many people’s tax bills – which to me is a tax increase. He talks about broadening the base of the tax code – what that means is he wants more people in that 47% he bashed to pay more taxes – he wants to do this by closing loopholes and exemptions – which means lower income families, who may even be working multiple jobs, will have an increase in their tax bill. Not sure how raising taxes on the poorest in this country resembles any Republican Party I ever supported. But leave it to Mr. Etch-A-Sketch to change the GOP platform without consulting his party.

Romney is trying to walk back and shake that etch a sketch so much lately that any hope of him having a career after he loses this fall has all but vanished. Maybe Mitt doesn’t get it but if he loses (and all signs point to that happening, including that jobs report I’ll talk about here in a paragraph) he has no more options in his political career – look to Palin as an example of what happens when you overplay your hand. Mitt’s family didn’t want him to run – if I’ve learned anything as a married man – it’s listen to your wife and family.

The Jobs Report came out on Friday this past week and showed that unemployment has dropped to 7.8% and the country added over 100,000 new jobs with revised numbers, upward, for the last two months as well. This was spun by some Republicans as a conspiracy to rig the election but to anyone who has a simple understanding of math and calendars could tell you the recovery has been and has always been happening at the pace it needed to. You see if a company started stabilizing after the economic collapse that company will take time to increase it’s hiring and production – you know why? SUPPLY AND DEMAND! You have the greatest collapse of the economy since the great depression which means a whole lot of people are out of work and whole lot more people are holding on to their money and saving it in case they lose their job – which means demand for goods and services DROPS which means even healthy companies have very little incentive to produce more since there is no demand. So it takes time. Here’s a use case: One industry recovers a bit – starts hiring – those new, previously out of work, employees will first catch up on their basic bills and debt and then they will start buying again other items – that takes a few months to happen speaking from first hand experience as someone who got caught up in the economic collapse. So think about it – a company starts hiring again, say in 2010 – their employees then take a few months to start spending again, now it’s mid- 2010, and that allows other companies to see an increase in demand and start their own new production in hiring – that puts us about late 2010. So it’s not a “everyone recovers at the same time thing” it’s far more incremental then that. Regardless – this week’s jobs report was good news – something I wish our politics allowed us to enjoy rather than distrust.

And I’ll end this wrap up with Sesame Street! Mitt Romney in his debate performance decided it was time to fire Big Bird and stop the few hundred million dollars that PBS gets to run it’s many many stations across the country with. Mitt’s actions make sense coming from a Bain man but not from a someone running for President during an economic crisis – essentially Mitt Romney is okay with putting thousands of PBS employees out of work. Sesame Street and Big Bird (who Mitt called out by name)  will be fine – they are paid for by licensing and other means but the average American worker who works as a tape operator at a PBS station will lose his job – as will all those who keep the lights on at any local PBS station. Again – confused why Republicans keep wanting to lay people off yet in the same breath talk of decreasing unemployment. CNN covered my personal story about how PBS changed my life in a video I uploaded to them here.

Now this week Joe Biden and Paul Ryan go head to head in what will most likely be slighty more entertaining then the mile-high snooze fest of this past week – but let’s be honest – our expectations are not well adjusted these days so it may be boring as well.