The news shows today were focused on the middle east and the week of unrest there. It was a bad week for the U.S. in the middle east, as we had our consulate in Ben Gazi, Libya, overrun by a well- armed gang who killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, along with 3 other people. For any country, having an ambassador killed due to a hostile attack is a very serious matter. For the U.S., right before a presidential election, it becomes even more significant.
Before the discussion below, to me, one thing far and away outstripped everything in importance, was that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an interview with David Gregory on Meet the Press, clearly stepped away from Mitt Romney when given a chance to push for him. Big example # 1: Gregory really wanted to see if he could get Netanyahu to say that Obama had "thrown Israel under the bus," as Romney had said. Unfortunately for Romney, supposedly Netanyahu's "old friend," Netanyahu threw him under the bus by denying that Obama had done that. Netanyahu also said that there wasn't any difference in positions toward Israel between Obama and Romney. Me thinks Netanyahu has his own polls and sees the way the wind blows. Sure, he can attack Iran on his own, but he risks Obama saying that he didn't coordinate with the U.S. and the U.S. is going to stay out of it. Does Israel really want to take on Iran, Hezbollah, and Syrian patriots with the U.S. lukewarm? McLaughlin himself, during predictions, ended the show by saying that Obama had stared down Netanyahu and that Israel will not strike Iran before the election. We'll see.
So, totally intertwined with all of this, the pundits were also talking about the so-called "Arab Spring," and whether it is possible for the unrest that was brought to the streets following the release of an inflammatory anti-Muslim video (that I haven't seen, but I'm assuming this is all true as reported repeatedly by the mainstream press).
The discussion was pretty consistent among the shows I saw -
(1) Obama is still doing OK, but he could be hurt if things spiral out of control anywhere and more really bad stuff happens. This could be the kind of thing that I have consistently referred to both in writing in this blog and in conversations with friends as something that could hurt the general public and be seen as something that Obama could have done something about and either didn't or his action failed. This kind of thing does have the potential to influence the election decisively, but it would take something really extreme, which is not impossible but improbable at this point, but up to this point, Obama has avoided any significant damage;
(2) Romney screwed up in his response, by both having his facts less than exactly right, and having horrible timing. Romney is growing increasingly irritated by the fact that he keeps going down in the polls, and like most humans, when he's more irritated, he snaps a little more in his responses to questions. In addition, he is desperate to make any kind of point on Obama, so he jumps on any little opportunity, not really thinking through all the ramifications of what he is doing.
As a result, he isn't really completely sure of himself when he makes important statements, and he stumbles on his words. Obama does on occasion, but compare the two strictly on speaking slowly, and not stumbling on words - no doubt that Obama is a much better speaker. They both could stand to take a playbook from Hillary Clinton, who undoubtedly has learned the hard way in her 4 incredible years as secretary state, to speak slowly, enunciate clearly, and never, ever have any kind of break in your sentence other than those that are a natural part of the sentence. She has become an incredible public speaker, and her statements have been the best coming out of our country thus far. She is ready to be president, no doubt about it.
What this all comes down to is our great paradox. We want to preach "democracy" and have everyone freely elect their leaders, but a lot of times, especially in the middle east, they elect leaders who aren't on the take from us like the old dictators were. So, unbelievably, there are voices in the U.S., both in politics and in the media, that are longing for the good old days, when an unelected but friendly despot oppressed their people so that our corporations and military could exploit key resources on the cheap. This democracy stuff isn't working, they complain, because these people don't have the sense to elect the people we want them to elect. And now they are trying, without a lot of success thus far, to point a finger at Obama for suggesting that free elections might be a good thing. I don't think that kind of attack on Obama is going to gain much traction unless proof comes out that there was a lot of fraud in these elections that lead to a lot of this uprising. I don't think that will happen, but stranger things have happened. If democracy is a good thing, it's a good thing. If it's only a good thing when we get what we want, then all it is just another tool for us to keep the status quo. That is seen through quickly, and it doesn't make for a lot of good friends.
And while the U.S. public is trying to sort all of this out, the campaign goes on. But Romney is just not a good speaker. He does not instill confidence in him when you listen to him, for reasons previously stated. Unless he changes that, which I doubt he can, he won't be elected president.
And that brings us to the next part of the political discussions - Obama's rise in the polls since the conventions. It's pretty consistent across the board - the "credible" polls are indicating that Obama is pulling ahead in the polls, particularly in key states like Florida and Ohio. So, it's about to the point where the election is becoming Obama's to lose. It isn't likely that he will, although it is still possible. The debates are going to be interesting.