Posted on October 16, 2012 in Countdown

A Good Rumble Or Another Tumble?

If you thought the first Obama/Romney debate was too timid, technical, and boring, then you were definitely pleased by the vice-presidential debate from last week, which was made very entertaining and colorful by one aggressive, relaxed, and amused Joe Biden. Whether you loved it or hated it, thought it was necessary or unjustifiably rude, the story of the debate was definitely how Vice-President Biden aggressively handled Congressman Paul Ryan, with “that’s a bunch of malarkey” and “oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy!” zingers. But the real winner of the vice-presidential debate wasn’t Biden, or Ryan, or the entertained audience, but debate moderator Martha Raddatz who was gaining 1,000 Twitter followers per minute during a good part of the debate for a superb performance; demanding specifics and calling out nonsense from the VP candidates. The Daily Show’s bit on her performance is a must-watch. Next up: the 2nd Obama v. Romney debate tonight. Obama said he was “just too polite” in the first debate, which may be the best advertisement to get people to watch tonight (we can’t wait to see how it goes). If you’ll be watching and tweeting tonight, be sure to tweet at us @AAIUSA and use the hashtag #YallaVote.

Arab Americans for Romney

That’s right, folks, Mitt Romney beat President Obama to the punch. Last week, the Romney campaign made public an endorsement from Arab American Republican leaders who formed “Arab Americans for Romney.” This tradition goes all the way back to the Reagan campaign in 1984 (without taking anything away from “Lebanese Americans for Nixon” in the early 70s), which embraced the support of the first Arab American presidential committee at a time when Reagan’s opponent Walter Mondale was returning contributions from Arab Americans. This year, Mitt Romney’s statement reads in part, “I am very proud to have so many distinguished Arab-Americans on my team.” Thanks, Mitt! Some of us love you too. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum and which party you support, we should all be proud that Arab Americans are engaged in political campaigns and making their voices heard.

Obam... We Mean "Romney's" Foreign Policy

Earlier this week, presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivered the first major foreign policy speech of his campaign. In his remarks to the Virginia Military Institute, Romney attempted to criticize President Obama for his failed Middle East policies and present a vision for a more robust global American presence that would reaffirm America’s global power and security. The only problem? Romney’s ideas were more-or-less identical to Obama’s current policies. He promised to commit to Israeli security needs, withdraw from Afghanistan around 2014, support the Syrian opposition, be tough with our enemies, and friendly with our allies. There were many differences, of course; Romney advocated more military spending, and… um…there’s gotta be another one in there somewhere, no? Oh, never mind. Considering the effects of the drone war, and the one-sided U.S. approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we were hoping Romney’s plan would be a little more different from Obama’s than it was.

Obama Campaigns On Civil Liberties?

We’re not sure if President Obama is fully aware of his civil liberties record, as he cited civil liberties last week at a fundraiser as a key policy area where the stakes are high in this election. In his remarks, Obama seemed to suggest that a Romney Administration would be worse on civil liberties. If Obama is right, this is a VERY frightening prospect, for it is hard to imagine how much worse things could get than extrajudicial killings, aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers, and no accountability for serious civil liberties abuses. It’s also possible that Obama wasn’t boasting about his record, but acknowledging how much easier he will have made it for future Presidents to violate civil liberties. If the point was that we should fear ANY President on civil liberties, as long as no major changes are made to the current policies that were in good part carried over from the Bush II era, then we think that’s a very good point.

"Back to Kenya"

We talk quite a bit about anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia from candidates for political office in Countdown, but other forms of racism are also definitely present and worthy of highlighting. Republican Tommy Thompson from Wisconsin is running for the U.S. Senate, and his son gave a talk at a campaign brunch the other day, where he told the audience that they had the opportunity to send Obama “back to Chicago… Or Kenya.” More disturbingly, the audience reacted with a mix of laughter and applause. It is one thing when random people engage in stunning displays of racism to express their political preferences, and it’s an entirely different matter when people affiliated with a political candidate engage in this type of speech. We REALLY have to get past this point as a country. Ironically, Thompson is the one running around accusing his opponent, Tammy Baldwin, of racism because of her criticism of Israeli policies (sigh).

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