Posted on October 10, 2012 in Countdown

Post Debate Panic

Theater critics in the media have decided with near unanimity that Mitt Romney won the first presidential debate (Governor Chris Christie called it a “wipeout”). In the immediate aftermath, Gallup and Pew released polls showing Mitt Romney either tied or ahead of President Obama. More interestingly, the debate also produced a majority favorable rating for Romney for the first time during this whole election season. More entertainingly, the debate produced a complete freak-out from left-leaning pundits. Chris Mathews and Andrew Sullivan are among the commentators whose heads have exploded following Obama’s inability to control the debate and secure what many thought was an easy march to victory. Calm Republicans and Democrats, on the other hand, know that all the debate signifies is that the race is far from over. The next stop on the election train: tomorrow night’s vice-presidential debate between Joe “gaffe” Biden and the man without a budget plan Paul Ryan.

Misrepresenting Romney

Who is Mitt Romney? If it were up to the Democrats, everyone would think that there was no “real” Mitt Romney; just an Etch-a-Sketch who’s willing to be anyone he needs to be to win. Well, a recent article from Politico just revealed a far more interesting rendering of the Republican candidate. Apparently, Mitt’s wife Ann and son Tagg have been frustrated by Romney’s campaign strategists who obscured his real personality and reduced him to a one-dimensional candidate with a narrow anti-Obama economic message. The family has been pushing to “let Mitt be Mitt,” and they finally got their way shortly before the first debate, “shak[ing] things up dramatically” and bringing out Mitt’s “softer and more moderate image” which they say is the real Romney. One thing is for sure: Romney seemed a lot more comfortable in the debate against the president when he spoke as the centrist, regulations-friendly candidate who brought Republicans and Democrats together for healthcare in Massachusetts than when he was trying to out-right (we may be the first people ever to use “out-right” in that sense) Gingrich and Santorum in the primaries.

Ups & Downs with Panderers

In last week’s Countdown, we shared the news that several members of Congress who stoked bigoted sentiments were trailing in the polls. Among them was Allen West (R-FL), who was trailing his opponent Patrick Murphy by 9 points. Well, things just got confusing: according to a new poll, Allen West hasn’t only managed to close the gap in just a week, but is now ahead of his opponent by 12 points. Ok now, either the pollsters are messing with us, or Florida’s 22nd District is home to the most capricious set of voters in the country (we’re ruling out the “bad polling” explanation because it’s too plausible and not funny enough). Either way, another panderer to bigotry just got bad news: The Democratic House Majority PAC is pouring $2.4 million dollars in ads to go after Joe Walsh (R-IL). You remember him, right? Given Walsh’s tendency for outbursts, we can’t wait to see how he responds.

Fusion Centers? More Like CONfusion Centers

Congressional investigators have found that one of the Department of Homeland Security’s largest and high-profile counterterrorism programs has failed to provide any useful intelligence. Fusion Centers are the much hyped collaborative link between local law enforcement and DHS. Investigators found that the centers operated in a way that endangered civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, only to produce frivolous reports that were not of any use to counterterrorism efforts. The investigation also found false claims and massive waste in the program, including DHS claiming to operate four centers that no longer exist. Doesn’t it make you feel warm and fuzzy inside knowing that these are the people in charge of keeping you safe in a dangerous world?

Congress Gets Tough-ish on Bahrain

A group of members of Congress from both chambers have drafted a letter to Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, the King of Bahrain, calling for the pardon and release of doctors imprisoned during the uprising that rocked the country last year. The letter, co-authored by Congressmen Jim McDermott (D-WA), James McGovern (D-MA), John Conyers (D-MI), and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), states their “concern about the detention of political prisoners, excessive use of force against peaceful protesters, and the denial of independent investigators’ access to the country.” It’s nice to see Congress express some concern about one of the least-acknowledged Arab uprisings. And since the Bahraini government has received $50 million worth of new weapons from the U.S. government, maybe we’ve actually got a little bit of leverage here.

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