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April 24, 2015

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Is this the Romney we’d get if he wins?

Big Bird lost, Mitt Romney won.

That’s the consensus of those who watched the presidential debate in Colorado this week, and I have to agree. Whatever President Barack Obama thought he was doing during the 90-minute debate at the University of Denver, what he did was allow those who tuned in to witness the Romney that so many of his friends and supporters have said he was all along, but whose actions and words on the campaign trail had screamed just the opposite.

The man who used to be Gov. Romney of Massachusetts — a moderate talking, moderately acting person who was not known for right-wing or even fringe-like beliefs during his gubernatorial stint in a very blue state — showed up on that stage and showed up the president of the United States.

However this election turns out, there is no question that debate night in Denver will be known as the night Romney made the Etch-A-Sketch actually work. It will be viewed as the night Romney became himself, again. It will be the night that Romney, on that stage all by himself — no handlers, no base, no conservative talking points and no restraints on his natural instincts — was allowed to connect with ordinary Americans.

It also may be known as the night when, beyond any other time during this election season, the voters became more confused about who Mitt Romney really is.

By contrast, I am not sure the voters will have any confusion about President Obama. He has always struck me as a cautious man, a person not particularly comfortable under the lights and a president confident in what he has achieved yet not particularly facile enough to toot the horn of his accomplishments in sound bites sufficient to win an America anxious to find a winner.

Given those two contrasting styles, it is no surprise that Romney trounced his opponent in the court of public opinion. The question is whether his performance will ultimately change minds already made up so that an election expected to go the president’s way will go the other way.

That’s where Big Bird comes in.

I am not sure how the large, yellow creature that has grown up with two generations of Americans, many of whom now are voters, got into the mix. But what was made crystal clear by Gov. Romney was that PBS, an American staple for family-friendly and high-quality television programming throughout its existence, would soon be on life support should he win the election.

And that fact, which represents a major change in the way America goes about its business, is the metaphor for the kind of fundamental cuts that will come should those who want to reduce government down to the size that fits their political philosophy win the day. That will entail a hard look at everything most Americans or, at least 47 percent of them, have come to believe is part of what America is and represents.

In the case of Big Bird, “Sesame Street” has been the classroom for the youngest among us. And that yellow, feathered bird has become one of the most recognizable icons for children, evoking smiles and encouraging learning for multiple generations. He represents an opportunity for early education that is the primary source of preschool learning for millions of American families at a time when research affirms that early education is crucial for future success.

But for some, PBS represents a place where government has no place. The reasoning goes like this: If the public can’t afford or won’t support this kind of programming, no matter how crucial it may be for early childhood development or later adult enjoyment, then financial assistance at any level from government is an unwarranted interference in the free marketplace. And, therefore, it must die along with all the big and little birds on the payroll.

And if we can be so heartless in dealing with the life of all the good that PBS represents, then killing substantive programs that Americans have relied on for generations — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, aid to dependent children, student loans for college, school lunch programs, education — will be an easy next step.

The debate should have really been about what kind of country we want to live in, because the direction we will go is important.

As is always the case in these matters, neither party has all the right answers. Taking the United States so far back to the time when the 47 or 87 percent of Americans had nothing, including no hope for a better tomorrow, is not a good direction. And yet the folks on his team who weren’t allowed on that debate stage with Romney believe that is the direction we should go. And they believe it to their core.

Likewise, continuing down a road which requires the government, at any and all levels, to pay for parts of daily living that will break our treasury and our spirit is not the way to go. And most Americans understand that, too.

When times were good, we didn’t care so much about making necessary changes. But once the financial floor fell out from under us, we were compelled to take a hard look at all that government has done for the citizenry with an eye toward determining what should stay and what must go, because some of the stuff government has been doing for people can no longer continue. We just can’t afford it.

The real question and the one this election needs to decide, is just how all that gets done. Who pays more, who gets less and how does it all come together?

That is what these debates should be about.

As a Nevadan, I also want to know what happens to Yucca Mountain. Yes, it is still alive and kicking — inside the box Sen. Harry Reid and the president have buried it in — but Gov. Romney’s folks (they are called Republicans, beholden to the nuclear power industry) want to give it new life.

I don’t want there to be a debate about the future of Yucca Mountain. I would love to hear Romney tell the country that if Nevadans don’t want it, it ain’t coming. And he needs to be convincing, not like George Bush, who told us one thing and couldn’t wait to shove it down our throats when the time came for action.

If you think the past four years have been rough here, you have no idea what would happen to this place if there is a high-level nuclear accident just a few miles from the Strip. Isolation and desolation are two words that spring to mind, to say nothing of the health issues that could threaten the 2 million people who live here should the inevitable occur.

I would also like to hear them debate the fate of 12 million people who have crossed our borders illegally, with the approval and encouragement of businesses and consumers throughout the country, in search of better lives for their families. What should our policy be? How secure should our borders be?

I would also love to hear those two men debate more about health care. Since they both agree we should have it for our country (I bet that was a surprise to a lot of folks), they are just arguing about how to get it done. Let’s get into the details.

When these and other topics are fully discussed, the voters will have the information they need to make an informed decision about which way to take this country.

And during that time, we will learn for certain just who Romney really is. Will he be Ronald Reagan, who took the right wing’s votes and spent their money and then ignored them while he did what he believed to be the right thing? Or will he be another kind of Republican president who just couldn’t say no to the people who got him elected, no matter how much he believed them to be wrong?

As a voter, I would like to know which Mitt Romney is asking for my vote because I liked the fellow who showed up the other night — for the first time.

But he has a long way to go to convince me because the America he has been painting during the campaign doesn’t fit with the America I grew up in and want to leave for my grandchildren.

So, let the debates continue and may the best vision — not just the best man — win.

Brian Greenspun is publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun.

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  1. The debate is over. Big Bird won along with Freedom of expression, something a Mormon Bishop cannot fathom. Mitt Romney's life has been isolated from Main Street at the corner of 47th and Bain. He is here to teach, not listen because his distant drummer is god, not people. He knows the earth was created about 6000 years ago and it only took 6 days. This is the world view that will guide all of his decisions. Oy Vey.

  2. Maybe being an etch-a-sketch is the new teflon.


  3. "Well, Romney bullied the moderator, and disrespected President Obama. And you like this Mitt Romney?"

    Don't have to like him to vote for him. It's called "using the bully pulpit" for a reason BChap!


  4. I have to admit that the Moderate Mitt that showed up at last Wednesday's debate was more likeable than the "extremely conservatve" Mitt we've seen before. But it just adds to the mystery of who Mitt Romney REALLY is and I wish listening to Romney was not so reminiscent of my last trip to an auto dealership. (apologies to car salespersons).

  5. RepubliCON Romney (Ruinme and America, take away the "R" and you are left with money, all that counts to him and his "beliefs") is a Flip-Flopping LIAR. It is that simple. Snake Oil salesman. Nothing more.

  6. Governor Mitt Romney will say whatever it takes to seal the deal. The big question is: can the People of the United States rely on Romney to be the same position-wise day to day, considering his propensity of flip-flopping and changing numbers to suite his campaigning needs daily? Can the man maintain the "separation between Church and State" IF he is elected into the Office of President of the United States?

    Today's Americans are looking for stability, strengthening what remains of a broken country, and their lives, from one of the worst economic disasters in modern history. Well over half of the US population are not millionaires nor billionaires, and are watching WHO will champion their causes and respect their voices.

    The questions remain, WHO is being the MOST honest in these debates and in the politics of our daily lives?

    One last note: PBS and the iconic Big Bird, are both vital to the preservation of American culture and upholding freedom of speech, press, and media. Putting PBS at the mercy of the free market or capitalistic whims, threatens to eliminate threads within the American fabric and way of life, and hope for a better future.

    Blessings and Peace,

  7. One last thought: what happens if PBS no longer exists?

    It is a fact, that the thousands of PBS stations throughout the United States partner and support American education. Take PBS away, and what do you expect to see as a result?

    PBS is involved with outreach programs to ALL, with online classes, professional development, content to stream into classrooms supporting instruction, support to local and national cultural arts, and promoting lifelong learning.

    Eliminating PBS will leave a mighty big void, causing social and societal dilemmas. PBS has been a positive influence in our lives, from the cradle to the grave. Let's support it and keep it going!

    Blessings and Peace,

  8. Clint Eastwood is an artist and he gave an artist's vision of Obama ..and Romney

    In the debate, Obama, The Empty Chair. without the media fairy tale making, the teleprompter, the hype and jive..was Clint Eastwood correctly saw him..
    Romney was the real Romney..without the attack ads..the selected and slurred soundbites..the editing by the media to define..and diminish the man...

    AS for Big Bird..PBS is not "people" anymore than Fox or CNN is people..PBS is a corporation..a billion dollar enterprise that could be paying some economically patriotic dollars to pay the Postal Employees..who are real people..
    I vote Postal Service over some looney Big Bird any day!

  9. For anyone who wants to see a comparison of where the candidates stand on key issues...

  10. The debate on Wednesday 10/03/12 demonstrated for the informed voter (or confirmed) that Mitt Romney will say anything without shame or regret.

    The President did not do well in responding to Romney's charges and attacks. Had the President responded, as the informed voters wanted him to, the election would be lock for President.

    How do you argue lies and misstatements? Do you get in the gutter and mix it up in the mud with your opponent? Some say if your passionate about your beliefs, yes, in the mud you go.

    I say the President use the "rope-a-dope" on Mitt Romney. Let Mitt pound away, using whatever he could to take the President out of his game.

    I say the President will again be himself in the next debate using consistence statements from his campaign message, but will challenge Romney hard. Romney will change again in the next debate. The people who saw Romney in the first debate will not see the same person in the second debate.

    President Obama wins re-election by 6 to 8 points.

  11. LongTime Vegan:
    Obama as Senator: Present
    Obama in debate against Hillary: "I plan to change the failed politices of the last four years" ..repeated over and over
    This four years..endless golf rounds, interspinkled with endless flights in an endless campaign to "sell his policies"
    What did Obama do the night the Embassy in Benghazia was attecked? After Obama decided that sending relief from Sicily would violate Lybian soveriegnty..and while CNN reporters were wandering around the bloody mess..Obama held a campaign rally and went to bed!
    Clint Eastwood portrays a character as Eastwood, a gifted actor, sees that character. Eastwood "sees" Obama as an
    Empty Chair
    And wthout the teleprompter, the media fantasy mirage, the endless spin and excuses made for Obama..Obama is an Empty Chair
    The next debate or any debate cannot change that..Listen to the Hillary/Obama debate and see what empty hot air is emanating from the empty chair..
    I tried to listen to the Hillary/Obama debate but I fell asleep.

  12. Is it a generational thing..
    If anyone adopted Mickey Mouse as a political mascot and ran around "rah rah..we have the true Mickey Mouse campaign"...
    It would be a joke
    Is Big Bird in that same category? How about "dancing Vagina's?"
    Meanwhile PBS is a billion dollar licensing empire with considerable TAXABLE assets...

  13. I like some of your questions Brian, but disagree on your statement if PBS funding is gone next will be SS. I mean REALLY? This is kind of like Harry Reids' letters suggesting Mitt has paid no taxes for years. It is hype and speculation based on nothing. Maybe funding for PBS should be left to the rich people and rich corporations and that money saved used to cover the shortfalls of SS and other necessary services. What if you had to choose between the two? There are people in this country who choose between medicine and food every day.

  14. Would you buy a used car from Mitt?

  15. <<Maybe funding for PBS should be left to the rich people and rich corporations>>

    I seem to recall some of the best programming on PBS was sponsored by corporations. Masterpiece Theatre comes to mind.

  16. Tea 9:08 am

    You missed entirely Brian's point. He was not comparing Big Bird with Medicare. He is making the public see what is important to Romney.

    We all interpret situations based on our personal frames of references. If you believe what Romney's handlers tell you, then by all means, defend your position. What I see is he will follow what anyone would say so long as he becomes President. I see him wanting that power and not because he wants this country in better conditions.

    He is doing great in this country. He is not affected by the economy and any changes he will make would be to make him and his buddies enjoy even greater freedom to add to their wealth. Do you
    honestly think he will change things for the rest of us? I saw what he really is based on years of observing him in guarded and unguarded moments, reading between the lines of what he says, and following his actions.

    My humble opinion based on what I see so far is: I do not want him to lead a country whose population does not fit his 'ideals' of how a person should act or behave. We are humans and subject to our foibles. That is how society is, was, and will be. We cannot control how people think, act, or do things.

    We need a leader who understands that.

  17. The one thing that I haven't heard from any Democrat is how Obama is going to balance the budget, beyond "Tax the Rich". As studies have shown, even if you taxed the rich at 100% you will not balance the budget, leaving taxing the middle class as the only other possible strategy for the Democrats. Could that be the reason that Obama pushed for the Sequestration?

    What are you willing to cut or change to balance the budget?

    At least Romney is truthful in that he knows that he has to work with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress to find the savings, from tax deductions, cuts to programs, and reinvent government by moving programs to the states. A President is not a king who can make or change laws, he can only implement what Congress places into law.

  18. No offense taken TEA. To each his own.

    I sleep better at night with a clear conscience. Touchy-feely has nothing to do with it. It is called being human in words and deeds.

    The world and the economy will continue to rise and fall depending on the whims and caprices of the powers-that-be.

    We are but pawns in their games.

  19. No one seemed to notice the stark contrast between the statesman that President Obama is and the rude, arrogant and Trump-like control freak that Romney came across as being.

    If being rude, arrogant and a bully decides a debate, then why not just put them both in a wrestling ring? Romney is like the dressed up, fanatical villainous wrestler who will use any trick or dirty tactic to win.

    Does it matter to anyone that he has more of his money in offshore accounts that he does in this country? Can you say "tax evasion"? Does it matter to anyone that he kept his yacht in the Tampa Bay harbor, flying a Bahamian flag, (not American) so he could entertain his wealthy contributors during the GOP convention?

    Oh, yes, so many of us can relate to his lifestyle, right? He is an elitist, out-of-touch with reality, greedy rich person, looking for more control and power to help his own kind and satisfy his ego-maniacal personality. The same types that caused the economic collapse and caused a global tidal wave of financial destruction with their bending of the rules and dirty tactics.

    He avoids any details of WHAT he will do, except to eliminate the freedom of women, advance his own religious and zealous business "ideals," and cause extreme chaos in the delivery of medical care, elder support, and education.

    Yeah, he should be president. President of the "I'm too rich for this country" club.

    Just as dangerous as was "The Decider," is the "Do As I Say, Not As I DO" Mr. Romney.

  20. Yes, I noticed, but few of his supporters did, or won't admit it.

  21. All I ever see from Obama supporters are attacks on Romney. No mention of Obama's record especially as it applies to Nevada. The reason is they including Mr. Greenspun know it's a pitiful record.

    What's Obama's plan? Spend more money on hiring government workers? It's all just more of the same that we've had for the last four years. Or it's all the Republican House's fault. Gee, Pres. Reagan and Clinton both had to work with the same thing and they got stuff done. They actually met with congressional leaders. Pres. Obama doesn't like dealing with them from either side of the aisle. He doesn't have regular meetings with them that other Presidents have done.

    Quit making excuses for Pres. Obama. This is why we are in the position we are in. No one has pushed him to do his job. They've just heaped on the praise without any criticisms.

  22. Serious? Hell---you're worried about Romney when you KNOW Obama has been a disaster?

  23. Here's my question for Mitt Romney supporters:

    Mitt has promised a few things.

    1) He will cut everyone's tax rate by 20%.

    2) His plan is revenue neutral.

    3) Taxes kill jobs.

    4) His plan will create jobs.

    5) More people should pay income tax.

    If Mitt's plan is revenue neutral, the government will be taking in as much in taxes as the government takes in today. The amount of money taken out of the economy will not change.

    How does that plan create jobs?

    And, by cutting everyone's tax rate by 20%, won't that INCREASE the number of people who do not pay income taxes?

  24. Besides the 20% cut in taxes, Romney will also eliminate some deductions.

    Which ones, how much and for who is a mystery at this time.

  25. Mr. Chapline:

    President Obama's foreign policies are in disarray. The middle east is in ruins. Syrian is killing innocents. And just attacked Turkey, our ally. Iran is about to become a nuclear weapons power. President Obama won't meet with PM Netanyahu, our ally, to talk about it. But with the mic off wants to cut a deal with Russia's Medvedev in his second term at the expense of missle protection for the Poles, our ally. And a link to Al Qaeda sacked our Libyan Consulate on 9-11 and killed AMB Stevens and 3 Americans who were part of his security detail. And the Obama Admin blamed a anti-Muslim video for 3 weeks after.

    If that's presidential, I'll vote for the bully pulpit instead.


  26. @Carmine,

    The change in the Middle East is happening from within. Change with help from the outside of course, change without America boots on the ground. The people of Libya and Egypt took control of their countries. Change without America boots on the ground.

    George Bush put America in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama is taken us out.

    There are two bad actors remaining in the Middle East in Syria and Iran. Both are on the way out, with Syria President Bashar Hafez al-Assad leading the way. And soon to follow Iran's Mahmoud

    The United States under the leadership of President Barack Obama has kept Americans safe on the American continent. America is monitoring Iran's nuclear program closely, we will not allow Iran to assemble a nuclear device. Israel knows this, Iran's leaders knows this. Our President has several plans in place to deal with Iran's nuclear issues.

  27. Seven years of constant campaigning, we finally get to see Obama having to answer some real questions and he failed miserably. He was unable to defend his own policies without telling more lies.

    And you want him to continue being in charge of our future?? The future of your children rests with him??

    You are worried about a hole in the ground a few miles from here when you should be worried about Obama's buddies over in Iran getting the green flag from the white house to go Nuclear.

    You are worried that a big yellow bird may no longer be able to teach our kids the very things our pampered, unionized teachers should be doing at three times the cost??

    Yes, our president has plans. Lots of new plans. Other than playing golf, he has plans... Plans that keep failing because he has no experience. he has no ability to lead. He has the ability to read a teleprompter and that is it.

    The only plan that he has that works is to tax, attack, divide, tax some more, attack, divide and talk...

  28. Dear Longtimevegan,
    Please seek out a new source for your news. Stop accepting Kool-Aide from strangers.

    There are a few grieving widows of Ambassadors and security personal that would argue with your point about Libya.

    We are not out of Iraq or Afghanistan. The sixty days he promised has passed and we are still there.

    Obama has no PLAN or desire to keep Iran Nuclear free. His PLAN is to keep the Mid East unstable and that means Iran will be a Nuclear power soon unless America gets a new leader.

    Israel knows that under Obama, they are on their own and have started to make moves in that direction. Iran is laughing at America.

    America is not safer. At least not for Americans.

    Under Obama, the flow of illegals with questionable backgrounds and questionable wealth, have freely came into this country. Unchecked and welcomed.

    As Theodore Roosevelt said "They don't have to love us, they just need to respect us"

    Under Obama, the world has come to know that we are their piggy bank. They don't have to love us or respect us, just put their hand out, slap us around and we will give them the money....

  29. I'm sick to death of hearing about the Middle East. Has there been ANYTHING accomplished in that area over the past 5000 years? Nothing there will change. The people maintain a tribal mentality, are religious zealots, and will cry wolf and blame anyone but themselves for their own stupidity and ineffectual governments or their following of despots. I have no pity for them.

    America needs to keep its boots at home and protect it's national security and borders through the use of technology as President Obama has been doing! HE CAPTURED OSAMA BIN LADEN!!! Does everyone forget that??? He caused a MAJOR AND COMPLICATED setback of the Iranian nuclear program through computer interference that baffled the most intelligent computer minds in the world! The use of drones IS SAFE FOR OUR SOLDIERS and very effective! More technological developments will keep the US safe.

    We need to keep our boots and money at home; no more foreign aid until we have a surplus again and then only for humanitarian reasons; no more tax evasion and government handouts for the rich; and a healthcare plan that protects women and children and those with chronic catastrophic diseases.

    No one has closed the loopholes or raised the taxes on the wealthy YET. Mitt says by keeping THOSE taxes low, it produce jobs. WELL, WHERE IN THE HELL ARE THE JOBS??? THE WEALTHY CORPORATIONS AND THE RICH HAVE HAD 12 YEARS TO PRODUCE THEM!

  30. @vegasmark,

    Sorry if your cannot accept what is true. Apparently you disagree with the facts. It's hard to respond to comments that are outside of what was written.

    Under President Obama our combat troops are out of Iraq. Under President Obama, there is a withdraw date to remove combat troops from Afghanistan. If you will recall, former President Bush placed combat troop in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Saying "Obama has no PLAN or desire to keep Iran Nuclear free" is just plain crazy and irresponsible thinking. But, if your one of the uninformed or in the group that refuses to acknowledge facts and information from sources deemed creditable and reliable, well your in a bubble. You got to break out and research the information to justify your position.

    Especially with your comments on Israel. Your way---way off base my friend. Don't take this wrong, but you must not be ignorant of the issues you comment on. It's not the reality of what your thinking. There no reason for anyone who has access to date in this day and age not to have the facts on issue you are passionate about. You can have a difference of opinion on how to proceed on the issues, but you cannot change the facts---the reality of what is happening.

    There is no better understanding, as when you find the truth on your on own. Be wise my friend.

  31. @ TEA

    You are very passionate about your dislike of President Obama and his term in office. I would still like your take on:

    1. Mitt's obviously embarassing visits to foreign countries.

    2. Mitt's offshore holdings to avoid taxes.

    3. The fact that no one has taken away any of the tax cuts for corporations or the wealthy, which Mitt says produces jobs...and yet there are NO JOBS??? Why? They've had 12 years to produce them.

    4. Mitt's double-talk about healthcare and his stance on women's health issues?

    5. Mitt's evasive tactics on the details of ANY of his plans and WHAT he plans to eliminate, except of course Big Bird and the rest of PBS and Planned Parenthood.

    6. Mitt throwing 47% of the population under the bus to his rich supporters? Was that a gaffe?

    7. The strengthening of technology to combat terrorists and rogue nations as opposed to the blood of our young men and women in uniform?

    8. What "jobs" he Mitt has created, given his wealth and business dealings?

    Be as passionate as you'd like, but please just answer the questions without talking about the President.

  32. @TEA (Mark Treager)

    I hope your not relying on items like the link you posted for real information. I will take it as entertainment, as everyone else should, including yourself.

    Look, my friend, in order to test your responsibility as an adult---your social responsibility, your responsibility as a American Citizen---you must ask yourself...would you want your children to decide on important issues the way you decide on important issues? Would you want your children to have facts?

    Debates and discussions, in order to be productive, must have common ground. Understanding with an agreement, basic universal ground rules like 2 + 2 = 4. If one cannot agree with left or right, up or down, there must a another universe or reality within ones mind and therefore nothing can be resolved. Some would say this is the description of the extreme right of the Republican Party and the extreme members of the Tea Party.

    When one cannot see who they are, or what they are doing, normally is a path leading to self-destruction.

  33. @TEA

    How lame and how unanswered the questions remain. You are insulting ME when my IQ is probably twice as high as yours?

    As for your link...!!! HA!!! Maybe you should watch Sesame Street and the PBS Newshour to learn about unbiased information. Probably the REAL reason Mitt wants to do away with it. More $$ for oil company subsidies and other corporate welfare programs AND the dumbing down of America to keep the GOP alive.

  34. What is driving the polls is Benghazi..
    Big Bird, Dancing Vagina's, and Laughing Gas Joe Biden are not amusing..
    Obama is running a looney tune campaign..
    The Joke will be on the democrats this November if they don't sober up and take the real issues seriously..