If for some reason you hate watching beautiful people give each other golden statues, you may have tuned in to 60 Minutes tonight — which featured separate interviews with both Barack “You Didn’t Build That” Obama and Mitt “The 47 Percent” Romney. If you’re on the president’s side, you probably thought that Obama knocked it out of the park and Romney totally whiffed. If you’re all in for the former governor, you probably thought that Romney scored a touchdown and Obama missed the basket entirely. (That’s a football thing, right?) And if you’re still undecided, you’re probably wondering what oil is, exactly.
Though both candidates were pressed to answer tough questions — “why aren’t you more specific about your policies?” “Are you to blame for failed policies?” “Seriously, what is oil?!” — neither said anything particularly surprising or earth-shaking… meaning that these interviews will do nothing but reinforce any given American’s already-formed opinions on the candidates. Want proof? I got your proof right here:
Romney is an empty vessel who shies away from specifics
Scott Pelley asked the Republican which tax deductions and exemptions he’d eliminate in order to help out middle class families. Romney’s answer: “That’s something congress and I will have to work out together.” When pressed for specifics, Romney would only say that he would not raise taxes on “middle income folks,” and would not lower the share of taxes paid by high-income people. Pelley noted that “the devil’s in the details, though.” Romney responded by saying, “The devil’s in the details — the angel is in the policy, which is creating more jobs.” He didn’t get any more precise than that.
Romney is a smart businessman who can bring back fiscal responsibility
The former governor explained that he plans to move a variety of federal government programs over to the states, where they’ll grow at the rate of inflation and save the federal government billions; he’ll also use means testing for social security and medicare, ensuring that “people with higher incomes won’t get the same high growth rate in their income as people who have lower incomes.” Additionally, Romney implied that his governmental experience has given him a better grounding in economic theory than his opponent: “If you’re looking for a leader to guide an economy, you hope that you have someone who didn’t just study it in school, but someone who’s actually lived in the economy.”
Obama is a weak president who blames other people for all his problems
Steve Kroft asked Obama to answer for the nation’s slow economic recovery and high unemployment. Obama responded by reminding him that the country was losing 800,000 jobs a month when he came into office and that he inherited the biggest deficit in U.S. history. He also cited the difficulty of working with a Republican congress “that has said its number one priority is beating me as opposed to helping the American people,” then later reminded us that a leader’s vision “isn’t always realized immediately.”
Obama is a good president who’s accomplished more than he gets credit for
Roll call: Insuring 30 million Americans! Saving the auto industry! Cutting taxes for middle class families! Helping homeowners avoid foreclosure! Ushering in 30 months of job growth! Ending the war in Iraq! Killing Osama Bin Laden! Obama confessed that he hasn’t “fully accomplished” his goal of changing the tone in Washington — “haven’t even come close in some cases” — but said he hopes that if he gets reelected, “the spirit of cooperation [will] come more to the fore.”
When asked to sum up the “big ideas” that encapsulate their campaigns, here’s how each candidate reacted:
Romney: “Freedom. I want to restore the kind of freedom that’s always driven America’s economy, and that’s allowed us to be the shining city on the hill. The kind of freedom that’s brought people here from all over the world. I want people to come here, legally, to want to be here. I want the best and brightest… [I want] to restore the kind of freedom that allows America to lead the world.”
Obama: “I think there’s no bigger purpose right now than making sure that if people work hard in this country, they can get ahead. That’s the central American idea. That’s how we sent a man to the moon — because there was an economy that worked for everybody, and that allowed us to do that. I think what Americans properly are focused on right now are just the bread and butter basics of making sure our economy works for working people. And if we accomplish that, there’s no bigger idea than that. That’s the idea that has attracted people to our shores for generations.”
Beautifully evocative or typically empty? Use your preconceived notions to decide for yourself!