Sunday, October 7, 2012
The other night my wife and I went out to dinner and the couple next to us was engaged in a lengthy diatribe regarding Obama and the economy. I'll spare you the boring details. Suffice to say the reason for the sluggish recovery comes down to two things: the debt and healthcare. Yep, everything would be just peachy if we just balanced a budget that's been out of whack for over a decade and eliminated a law that still hasn't been fully enacted.
I can't tell you how many times I have come across people like this over the last few years. The stimulus was a waste of money, the recession was caused by poor people who bought homes they couldn't afford and there are entirely way too many people dependent on the government. Just the word entitlement sends some of them over the edge.
There's nothing like an economic crisis to turn people into simpletons. Complex issues suddenly become simple. And if the answers aren't quite supported by the evidence, then the evidence gets thrown out.
Sometimes it's hard to know who's driving the bus: the dim bulbs who hold such outlandish opinions or the talking heads who spew it non stop on Fox News and the AM radio dial. Truth often comes in a distant second to the convenient lie.
And that's why Barack Obama's dreadful performance last week was so damaging. Expecting the average person to parse through complex data and arrive at rational conclusions is akin to playing Russian Roulette with half the chambers packing.
Every four years, approximately 5 to 6 percent of the voting electorate decides the winner of the presidency. Prior to Wednesday night, most of that crowd seemed to be leaning toward Obama; now they are either up for grabs or leaning toward Mitt Romney. You needn't have seen the movie Wag the Dog to realize that the attention span of some people is measured in seconds. It was crucial for the President to challenge the distortions and flat out lies of his opponent. The etch-a-sketch moment would never have gotten off the ground had it been effectively rebuked when it counted and while it was still fresh, not a day late and a dollar short.
Gordon Gekko is now less than four weeks away from winning an election that looked, at best, like a long shot only a few days ago. Polls in most of the swing states have already begun turning. Romney is now tied in several and ahead in a couple more. By Tuesday or Wednesday we should have a better handle on the political landscape.
History is replete with examples of pride preceding a fall. This much is certain: those who don't take the time to protect their leads almost always suffer the bitter taste of defeat.