3 thoughts for the day

This will be my American debate post <although there are some Life lesson thoughts buried within>. And, as before, I will permit the paid media to dissect what seems to be every syllable, not just individual words, performing a surgery to uncover intent versus what was actually said. I would tell all those media surgeons one thing … 50% of the people watching the debates say <in polls> they would not vote for either candidate.

Okay. Without tearing apart anything here are three thoughts with regard to what I saw <without any massive overthinking but simply using a note or two I jotted down during the actual debates>.

Thought 1: subtle acts of graciousness

The last President debate. In an otherwise 90 minute workmanlike display of negativity and attacks there was a subtle moment of graciousness.

Extremely subtle and will be continuously overlooked because of the importance of the moment <so thank god I am here to point it out, huh?>.

This was during the now infamous Libya/Benghazi embassy discussion <did he actually say acts of terror or not and despite the fact he actually said it did he mean it … all of which is crazy …>.

The president had just finished his ‘Hollywood moment’ <”that is not the way we do it”> and Governor Romney went on the attack because he was sure he had caught the President in a lie.

We need to remember this is a highly emotional moment for the president. Politics aside he was also actually delivering a state of the union sound bite on “don’t fuck with America”.

The Governor turned directly to the president and said “so … in the Rose Garden you actually said acts of terror?”

The president knew exactly where the governor was going. The president knew the intent and the inevitable next phase. In a debate this is where you can actually see the jaws of the trap closing.

Let’s be clear. You don’t always get these moments and nor do you give them away.

The president’s initial response … “move along governor.”

In an incredibly subtle act of graciousness the president, in a highly emotionally charged moment, held the trap open for a moment and was giving the Governor the opportunity to think for a second … and even avoid the trap if he decided to. He suggested to his competitor that this was not a path he should pursue.

–          Note: I envision in that moment, no matter how brief it actually was, someone in the Democratic debate team backroom was screaming at the President “what the f#@% are you doing !!??!!”

People can tear this apart but there is only one way to view this. Instead of pouncing on an opportunity he instead offered to give the opportunity away.

That, no matter how you elect to define it, is a gracious act on an incredibly important stage.


In the heat of the moment the Governor missed his opportunity <although I believe he sincerely thought he had caught the President in a ‘puffery’ moment and I am also willing to bet some aide who either had not shared the transcript or had convinced everyone that ‘the president wasn’t being literal’ – which is dancing on the head of a pin type reasoning – got a well-deserved smack on the head afterwards> and got trapped.

I will admit that I extremely disliked the President’s “could you repeat that” comment after the trap had closed as unnecessary gloating.

However, in the end, I made note of the subtle act of graciousness.

I believe it is often the moments within the moments, the subtle things, which show you the true measure of the man (or woman).

Does this mean he now gets my vote? Nope <I am still undecided>. Just means I respect him for the subtle act of graciousness he offered a competitor in a heated moment.

Thought 2: invested spectating

The heck with the debaters … watch the invested spectators <and it is difficult on a number of levels>.

Michelle Obama, who has been through this gauntlet before, is a stoic rock. Absorbing whatever she sees and hears <although I envision many of Dolly Madison’s finest china has met their demise against a white house wall on occasion as she vents some frustration afterwards>. Ann Romney, who hasn’t been through this gauntlet, looks like she has swallowed an entire glass of milk … that has gone bad. Tagg Romney <one of Mitt’s sons>, in one of the most delightfully honest moments of candor, stated he wanted to go up on stage and take a swing at the president <noting he doubted the secret service would permit him the opportunity>.

Michelle Obama has equated watching her husband in a debate like watching her child doing a balance beam routine. With all due respect to Mrs. Obama <who I do admire> she is selling the challenge to her and Mrs. Romney, and all the truly invested spectators <family> short. There is an intellectual aspect in which integrity, honesty & character is combined with the concern for the physical aspect <the mental agility> necessary to be successful on the stage in this event. This is not just like watching a physical event where there is some failure to perform aspect but there is an emotional aspect that tears at the bond you have with someone you love.

A retort between candidates means that someone you love, are married to, been brought up by, etc. is having their character questioned <and let us be very very clear on this … both of these men are good men with strong character & passion for what they believe is right for America>. But I really do believe it is worse for the invested spectators than it is for the debaters themselves.

I say that because I do not see two men who dislike each other. I see two men who sincerely believe they have the right ideas and who are passionate about their ideas and are, well, competitive to some extent. Within the game itself athletes who are good friends will rip each other’s heads off and yet have beers together that night. Do I believe they are that close? Nope. But, frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised, if re-elected, if the President would ask Governor Romney to be part of his cabinet.

All that said … I do not believe any of what I said about the athletes in the actual game itself makes it any easier on the invested spectators. Especially because it appears from the outside looking in that both wives seem to have special relationships with their husbands <which I wish more people would take note of … because it is also a measure of the man we are voting for> and uniquely have what is, frankly … an enviable bond.

I like the fact that Ann Romney, who has adult children, seems to try and have them around as often as possible. I envision it is a natural support group during some extremely difficult personally challenging moments as her husband is being challenged <note: I am not suggesting she is not a strong woman but rather I don’t care how strong you are this is a tough situation>. I think this says a lot about her as a mother and wife.

I like the fact Mrs. Obama doesn’t involve her younger daughters at debates <and, frankly, I hope she doesn’t let them watch them> but she seems to have her brother there with her … which says a lot about her as a mother, wife & the importance of family. I imagine it is one way to help her get through what she has to endure during a debate.

I guess I am writing this thought for two reasons.

First is that I admire Michelle and Ann for a variety of reasons but also to mention to people that the debate is not just about two candidates but extends out. What they say, heck, what we say, during and afterwards has impact deeper than I believe we can ever imagine <so maybe more of us should think about what we actually say about these candidates personally>. I cannot envision ever putting my own family through something like this.

Second is that while I love a good debate, and discussion, I couldn’t do what they are currently doing. I am no smarter than either of these two men and I know that if my wife started discussing how what the other person said attacked my character … I would immediately begin thinking about what I may have said that would have suggested a lack of integrity or honesty to them. And the possible discussion that is taking place in their living room. I couldn’t do it.

Negativity is a cruel sword to wield.

It demeans and diminishes. And not just the person you are attacking but those who have invested in that person.

Thought 3: math

This is about managing a deficit … or budgeting … or however you want to phrase this … and politician math <which is nothing like the stuff you learn in 3rd grade … it is sketchier … closer to say theoretical physics>.

You would think that doing the math with a revenue and expense ledger would be simple <what comes in equals what goes out>.

But. Here is a truth, a fact as it were, neither of the American candidates <or any politician in any country for that matter> will ever honestly tell you – the numbers do not add up on any national plan.


Read those words and weep.

Because there is a wacky variable called ‘the economy’ that impacts both. The better the economy the more revenue <taxes> and less expenses <government assistance>.

That said … neither the Romney plan <whatever it actually is> nor the Obama plan <whatever that is> mathematically works <there is a headline for you>.

Ah. Until you tell us how much you are assuming the economy will grow. There’s the rub.

Mitt is optimistic.

Barack is cautious.

To make the Romney math work <because he seems adamant about not increasing revenue> there needs to be a significant uptick in jobs, and the economy overall, oh, and quickly by the way.

To make the Obama math work <because he is adamant about attacking the deficit and is assuming the economy stays relatively slow> there can be modest economic growth.

There are other significant things I could use a comparison between the two but as a thought for the day I was just tired of the whole math thing.

I won’t tell anyone which path to like and subscribe to … but I would suggest everyone read a Wall Street Journal editorial column <Putting Fiscal Policies Under the Microscope” by David Wessel : http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444657804578048433223646530.html> as they think about it. Basically this guy suggests politicians are always more optimistic with regard to the affect they can have on an economy than actually occurs.

Ok. Gotta get back to having more thoughts. Enjoy.

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Written by Bruce