The Fiscal Cliff has exposed the tremendous political advantage that was lost in the first Presidential Debate.
At the time of the debate President Obama had momentum from the conventions [the poor GOP Romney convention giving as much wind in the Democrat sails as their own] plus a growing lead in the national polls. But Obama simply did not show up for the 1st debate. As a result, the newly moderated Myth Romney soared in the polls. It took the the Obama team the rest of the campaign to restore a 5-6% margin of victory.
But What If
What if President Obama had showed up and skewered the notion of a moderate Myth Rpomney, showed like Bill Clinton the Ryan/Romney budget math just did not add up.Perhaps something on the following:
You have just said you like Big Bird but nonetheless you plan to get rid of PBS, home of BigBird. Well I beg to differ too – not only do I agree with President Clinton’s analysis that your budget math does not add up but I would add a name to your Budget – Snake Oil. The immediate tax cuts that budget contains not only adds mightily to the deficits right now but the tough cutback measures are deferred for 2-5 years. This is the same as Starve the Beast measures of Republican Congress’ of the past 30 years – “we will let the good times roll for now but in 3-5 years we will put the country on a serious diet. This is the definition of the Snake Oil Republicans Presidents have been selling for too many years and have gotten us into the the Budget Crisis. Do I have to remind you and the American people one more time of the unconscionable Bush era non-paid for 2 Wars, major Tax Cuts, and increase in Health Benefits? Its is a Republican Congress and President that put us in the mess we are in .. and now your Budget wants to continue this?
Regardless of the bluster response, President Obama would have had a 47% question in his back pocket to help refute the Romney reaction. In sum, If President Obama had showed up for the 1st debate a)the margin of victory would have been 8-10% increasing President Obama’s political capital immensely and b) the democarats could have worked seriously at taking the House back despite the gerrymandered motes that protect many districts. Here the Democarts could attack the party of NO and the disastrous record of the GOP obstructionist Congress. And they would have plenty of local issue to add to the disaffection with a GOP majority in the House.
Net result, even with a small Democrat majority in the House, there would be no Fiscal Cliff or Budget-Limit paralysis because the ability of the Tea Party Extreme to wreck government would have been largely removed. In French the description of missing such a buig opportunity is “c’est dommage”. Roughly – What a Pity!