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October 17, 2012

Obama Blows Off His "No Angry" Rule to Seize the Night. And, Fellow Yanks: Do You Feel Lucky, Yet?

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Candy Crowley just before last night's thriller. (ABC News)

The problem with people in 2005 having talked me into having "a blog" is that actual non-wanker work--yes, they still have that--interferes with blogging and other digital New Age life. Blogging in my case does beat some alternatives. Like explaining to a Capitol Hill cop at 1:30 AM you thought it was perfectly okay to drive on the sidewalk in front of the Tune Inn and that, growing up back in Ohio, you did that all the time.

Anyway, I thought one of my always-sober "live tweets" last night during Obama-Biden Night 2 in Hempstead, New York--a town hall format led by CNN's Candy Crowley on both domestic and foreign policies--summed it up. Very nice to see the president get his Mojo back:

Dan Hull ‏@Whataboutparis 7:27 pm ET
Am calling it. Obama "won" handily tonight--but not on scale Romney won Oct. 3. New game. A feistier than ever prez rehabilitates himself.

I also liked another live tweet by my talented friend and political commentator Mike O'Neil:

Mike O'Neil ‏@michaeljoneil
Most awesome moment of the debate: Candy Crowley remembering exactly what the Pres said on the day after the Libya attack. Incredible!

Speaking of the moderator Crowley, did she show a disposition toward favoring Barack Obama last night? Yes, I thought she did, but that it was slight. One possible explanation? When things heated up, Governor Romney on a few occasions adopted a barely perceptible but weird patrician tone of voice with the both Obama and Crowley. Which in a way was funny (is that the real silver-spoon Mitt?). However, in Candy Crowley's case, and when things were not going his way, he talked to her cavalierly and crisply, like she was hopelessly bad extra kitchen help on Parents' Night at the Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills.

My overwhelming take-away if pedestrian feeling after seeing President Obama and former Governor Romney go at it? That I am, frankly, lucky to live in a country (a) that attracts national candidates of this caliber, (b) that attracts and encourages such diverging viewpoints and (c) that lets us talk about those viewpoints openly and without fear. Every four years, I am amazed by this. I am proud of it. You don't get this everywhere else on the planet, Jack.

But we have a big problem now in the quality of the discourse from the voters--not from politicians running for office. From the looks of the both traditional and digital media I see in this election cycle, our culture wars in America at the "higher-information" voter levels alone are getting meaner, uglier, more polarized and more intensely personal than they have ever been. Check out Twitter last night and the blogs this morning. Some Romney supporters believe that Obama has an agenda to destroy the American way of life. Obama supporters often believe Mitt Romney is an anti-middle class elitist who is comfortable with sick or old people dying in our streets.

Neither of these portraits, of course, are accurate. Yet more and more people act as if one of these two sketches are true--and an alarming number of people have decided to hate or fear one of these two candidates. The blackest of agendas are imagined. The candidates are assumed to not even be acting in good faith.

How did we ever get this dumb?

We have two jihads going on. More than any time in my memory, educated people are buying into stark portrayals of the two contenders in either black or white. The candidates have become grotesque cartoon characters. Let's get something straight. Neither Obama nor Romney is evil. Each can competently run the United States--and even arrive at the same outcomes under different policies and philosophies. Both will lie to us a bit to keep or get power. That happens in politics. Get used to that, please.

Sure, the stakes are high right now. A down-economy has Americans, and people all over the world, in unexpected and new kinds of pain. Vigorous debate between citizens is important and to be expected now. In the meantime, let's not dumb down our conversation so much that the personalities or ideas of Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and anyone else on the national stage are painted in gross distortions and absurdities.

Posted by JD Hull at October 17, 2012 03:47 PM

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