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Thread: OBAMA versus ROMNEY

  1. #101
    ^^^ Cont'd from above

    He does mention dealing with the deficit, but he does not address it with the specificity or sense of urgency that the size of the problem requires. He talks about immigration even less, although his aides have long said it would be the priority the president said it would be when he was speaking off the record. But he has not truly sought a mandate for such an agenda.

    The ambition to reach compromise on two issues that have divided Washington and the country for years speaks to what advisers say is his innate desire to find consensus around big and difficult issues. It is, they contend, part of Obama’s political DNA, and they believe he would be more committed to operating that way in a second term.

    Republicans dispute that. They see an ideologically driven, big-government liberal whose ambitions all point left, and they think that a second term would bring more. But their credibility is low, given that they have tried to block Obama at virtually every turn and have shown no interest in compromising with him. The president’s advisers assume — hope — that a victory on Tuesday would lead to a new relationship with the opposition party, but it would be in Obama’s hands to bring it about.

    That Obama is not the same candidate he was four years ago is evident from the campaign he has run. It has been hard-edged and negative. He spent as much time attacking his opponent as he has offering a hopeful vision. He spoke of his desire for cooperation, but it was tinged with suggestions that he has limits.

    Is all this merely what he must do to win — what any politician would do faced with a difficult reelection and an energized opposition? Is it designed to reassure his supporters who fear that his backbone is not as strong as they would like?

    In the closing days, Obama has capitalized on Hurricane Sandy to preach the importance of setting aside politics to work together. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who has been one of the president’s harshest critics, has become Obama’s protector, offering praise for the way he has responded to the storm. The rest of the campaign — from Obama’s side and Romney’s — has served to divide the country even more.

    Obama will soon learn whether he will be given another term. If he is, he will have a second chance to show what he is all about.

  2. #102
    Mitt Romney changing his tune in final hours

    The Washington Post Tuesday, November 6, 9:14 AM

    As he made his closing appeal to voters on the final day before the election, Mitt Romney sounded as though, at any moment, he might burst into a song from the musical “Annie.”

    “Tomorrow’s a moment to look into the future and imagine what we can do,” he said.

    "Tomorrow, we get to work rebuilding our country, restoring our confidence and renewing our conviction.”

    “Tomorrow, on November 6th, we come together for a better future.”

    “Tomorrow is a new beginning. Tomorrow we begin a new tomorrow.”

    There was something new and unusual about this Romney — and not only that he had appropriated Stephen Colbert’s campaign theme, “Making a better tomorrow, tomorrow.” In the waning days of the campaign, Romney was uplifting, optimistic and inspirational — in other words, almost entirely different from the man we saw and heard these past many months.

    “The best achievements are shared achievements,” the reformed Romney told about 5,000 supporters at the Patriot Center at George Mason University in Fairfax County. “I’ve learned that respect and goodwill go a long way and are usually returned in kind. That’s how I’ll conduct myself as president. I’ll bring people together. I won’t just represent one party, I’ll represent one nation.”

    Jettisoned from the “closing argument” he has made on the stump the last four days of the campaign are the harshest attacks and the most mendacious of his accusations against President Obama. Gone is the charge that Obama is leading the nation into European socialism, his false claims that Obama took an “apology tour” of the country, his insinuations that Obama doesn’t understand the United States, that he’s in over his head — and other lines that identified Obama as un-American, as alien.

    In place of those lines, Romney substituted tough but reasonable criticism of Obama, coupled with an appeal for Americans to come together. “I’d like you to reach across the street to that neighbor with the other yard sign,” he said, “and we’ll reach across the aisle here in Washington to people of good faith in the other party.”

    As I listened to these rare words come out of Romney’s mouth, I was joined on the floor of the Patriot Center by Stuart Stevens, Romney’s top strategist, who is justifiably pleased that his candidate, left for dead by the pundit class several weeks ago, appears to be heading for a close finish. The Obama campaign, Stevens said, “didn’t disqualify him.”

    That’s true, but hearing Romney’s new tone for the last days of the campaign, I couldn’t help but wonder whether he would be in a better position if he had taken the high road months ago. Stevens’s answer: “It would be old by now.”

    Maybe so. And maybe Romney would have been destroyed by the Obama campaign’s attacks if he had tried to stay above the fray. But maybe he would have appeared more presidential — which is the image Stevens was going for in the revamped stump speech, delivered off the teleprompter Republicans love to revile when Obama uses it.

    The uplifting Mitt has been introduced to crowds in the final days with a soft-focus video set to gentle piano music. Volunteers hand out “Moms for Mitt” signs to audience members, adding to the soft-and-fuzzy feel. The speech begins with a few brief words from Ann Romney, who asked those gathered in Fairfax, “Are we going to be neighbors soon?”

    The crowd was big (the campaign decided to use only half of the 10,000-capacity arena, which created an overflow of a couple of thousand outside), but Romney gave them few of the anti-Obama applause lines, delivering his criticism more in sadness than anger: “Four years ago, then-candidate Obama promised to do so very much, but he’s done so very little.”

    Of course, Romney’s lofty closing isn’t likely to erase his divisive campaign, in which he wrote off 47 percent of Americans as moochers and went after Obama in ways that were flagrantly false and sometimes racially tinged. And few are likely to believe his late call for bonhomie — that’s a staple of presidential campaigns’ closing arguments — or to accept that he no longer holds the “severely conservative” views that won him the GOP nomination.

    Had he offered these views earlier, he might have been viewed as a bigger man, and a better candidate. “I won’t spend my effort trying to pass partisan legislation that’s unrelated to job growth,” he vowed, promising to “speak for the aspirations of all Americans.”

    “Walk with me. Let’s walk together,” he offered. A nice sentiment — but it would have been more plausible if he hadn’t spent the past year kneecapping his opponents.

  3. #103
    Oops, he did it again.

  4. #104
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    Obama says 'best is yet to come'

    Agence France Presse
    Posted at 11/07/2012 2:57 PM | Updated as of 11/07/2012 4:00 PM

    U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama celebrate with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill after his victory speech election night in Chicago, November 7, 2012 (Manila Time). REUTERS/Jason Reed
    CHICAGO (UPDATE) - President Barack Obama told cheering supporters early Wednesday that "the best is yet to come" for the United States as he stormed to a second term by defeating Republican Mitt Romney.

    After taking the stage at a raucous Chicago victory party with wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia, Obama returned to the themes of his re-election bid, vowing to fight for the middle class and the American dream.

    "In this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up. We have fought our way back," Obama told hundreds of cheering supporters.

    "We know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come."

    Obama said he had spoken to Romney, congratulating him and his running mate Paul Ryan on a "hard-fought campaign" and vowing to sit down with the former Massachusetts governor to discuss the way forward.

    "We may have battled fiercely but it's only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future," Obama said.

    "In the weeks ahead I also look forward to sitting down with governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward."

    Obama reached out to those who supported his opponent in the closely-fought race, saying: "Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you. You've made me a better president.

    "With your stories and your struggles I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead," he said.

    "Despite all the hardship we've been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I've never been more hopeful about our future. I have never been more hopeful about America."

    Obama thanked the army of campaign workers and volunteers whose efforts secured his re-election to a second four-year term, calling them the "best campaign team and volunteers in the history of politics."

    Near the end of his speech Obama hinted at a more far-reaching agenda in his second term despite the lingering partisan gridlock in Washington, calling for a future that "isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet."

    "I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggest. We're not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of individual ambitions," Obama said.

    "Together with your help and God's Grace we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on earth. Thank you, America. God bless you. God bless these United States."

  5. #105
    Obama’s victory: How it happened and what it means

    By Walden Bello

    12:05 am | Thursday, November 8th, 2012

    Washington, DC, Nov 7, 2012–The polls had pointed to a very close election, and those of us who gathered around a television set here in a friend’s house in Washington, D.C., expected to be up till 3 a.m. to find out the final results. But by around 11:15 p.m. (US East Coast time), it was all over. All the major television networks projected a victory for Barack Obama in most of the so-called battleground states. In Florida, Colorado, Virginia, and especially the so-called bell-weather state, Ohio, without which no Republican candidate has coasted to victory since 1964, Obama had won a majority, and only in one of those states, Florida, was his edge paper-thin.

    Both the Obama and Romney campaign had waged a fierce ground war in those states, battling county by county. The Romney offensive was to either retake counties which had gone for Obama in 2008 or reduce his lead there. Obama’s team essentially placed defense, relying essentially on bringing out the vote.

    Making sure women, African-Americans, and Latinos—Obama’s power base—voted meant bringing thousands of young volunteers from all over the country to drive people to the polls.

    Talking to voters at Newark Airport

    I expected the results to be much closer, given my sampling of voters during a brief stopover at Newark’s Liberty Airport on my way down to Washington on election day. Hub airports like Newark are good places to conduct sampling since they bring together people coming from all over the country and from all social classes. My sample was undeniably unscientific, though the ten respondents I talked to in one hour’s time before I had to report to my gate were picked randomly. Five said they were going for Romney, and four for Obama, with one “undecided” voter leaning towards Obama. The pro-Romney people were more heated when talking about why they were going for the Republican candidate. One said, “I’m a fiscal conservative and this president has been taking the country down the path of European socialism.” Another, an avowed born-again Christian woman, said, “I’m against Obama because he’s pro-abortion.”

    The responses of the pro-Obama people were more moderate. A white bus driver said, “He needs four more years to do what he set out to do.” Another, an immigrant from Nicaragua, said, “he’s for the people and Romney’s for the rich.”

    In the end, it came down to the more effective message on the key issue, the economy. Romney’s message that Obama had failed to fix the economy and he would do a much better job was less convincing than the president’s message that his administration had made progress but needed more time to achieve sustained growth. In the battle for Ohio, an industrial state where the auto industry has a significant presence, Obama’s bailing out of the auto industry in 2009, which Romney had opposed, was probably what put the president over the top.

    Did Sandy make a difference?

    People will long debate how Hurricane Sandy affected the outcome. For many analysts, this was the so-called “Black Swan,” or totally unexpected event that upends all expectations. The quick federal response to the disaster that hit New York and New Jersey and the opportunity it gave for Obama to get beyond a partisan image to look very presidential at the last stage of the campaign made a big difference in the outcome. Also, according to my friend, American University

    Professor Robin Broad, “the federal government’s response showed people that, contrary to the Republican message that big government is bad, it actually plays a positive role in people’s lives.”

    The Republican Party’s troubled future

    What will happen now? Analysts are saying that with the Republicans continuing to dominate the House and the Democrats lacking a supermajority in the Senate, the politics of gridlock will continue. Yet the right wing Tea Party that has become the core of the Republican Party suffered a big defeat. Aside from preventing Obama’s victory, two of its high profile candidates in the Senate race who ran on an anti-abortion platform went down in defeat, the woman who won the Senate race in Wisconsin will be the first avowedly gay woman to sit in the Senate, and same-sex marriage initiatives won in most states where it was on the ballot.

    As one television analyst colorfully predicted, “The Republican Party will now descend into warlordism in the aftermath of defeat. They’ll now be fighting among themselves about the causes of their defeat.” Equally colorful was Institute for Policy Studies Director John Cavanagh’s comment: “The Republican Party is in real trouble because it has become the party of white males, and white males are a disappearing species.” In other words, the party will now face the choice of moderating its stance towards working with Obama and making an effort to appeal to women and to Latinos in order to remain a relevant political force. Or it may choose to stick with its no-compromise policy and risk further isolation.

    Implications for foreign relations

    Obama comes out of this election with strengthened legitimacy, but whether that will be sufficient to surmount Republican opposition to his initiatives in the House and Senate to bring the US economy out of stagnation and moderate the nation’s conflict on “cultural” issues like abortion remains to be seen.

    What does this mean for foreign affairs? Probably not much in terms of a change from the prevailing policies. Obama’s win gives him leverage vis--vis Israel, which has been threatening to make a unilateral attack on Iran. But he will probably continue to do same failed policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan—that is, the US will continue to be bogged down in an unwinnable war in Afghanistan and maintain its unpopular policy of using drones to target suspected terrorists in Pakistan. Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” is already roiling relations with China but Romney victory would probably have brought about a more aggressive US policy towards Beijing on both the military and diplomatic fronts. As for the implications of Obama’s victory on climate change politics, Obama’s win, coupled with Sandy’s calamitous visit, may give him the space to make it an issue in his speeches but it probably won’t be enough to embolden him to get the US to commit to binding cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in the climate negotiations.

    As for myself, I leave Washington with a distinct feeling of ambivalence. I think Obama is better for the American people, but while I think a Romney victory would have had worse consequences for the world, as mentioned above, I do not think the Obama victory will spell a significant difference in

    Washington’s relations with the rest of the world. For me, what was otherwise a stirring victory speech by the president was spoiled by the totally unnecessary chauvinistic exclamation, “America, we are the greatest nation on earth.”

  6. #106
    Two systems

    By Randy David

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    12:31 am | Thursday, November 8th, 2012

    IN THE closing hours of this year’s US presidential election, both the Democratic and Republican parties were reported to be mobilizing their battery of lawyers to quickly respond to issues that could affect the outcome of the vote. This is quite unusual. So stable has the United States’ political system been that legal challenges and electoral protests are seldom seen in its political exercises.

    The controversial victory of George W. Bush over Al Gore in the 2000 election may have changed all that. Since then, Americans have become more sensitive to process manipulation and outright fraud—realities associated only with dysfunctional states in the underdeveloped world.

    Halfway across the globe, a seemingly smoother leadership transition is taking place in China, the world’s most populous country. The Chinese Communist Party, which has ruled China over the last six decades, is holding a weeklong national congress in which the new leadership of the party will be chosen.

    Two thousand prechosen delegates will elect 200 Central Committee members, who in turn will choose 25 individuals who will constitute the powerful Politburo. The Politburo will then draw from its own ranks the nine top leaders who will form the all-powerful Standing Committee. This is the real seat of power in China. All these positions will have been previously negotiated in past caucuses of top party leaders, and so the 18th congress will largely be affirming decisions already made.

    The whole exercise aims to project consensus, harmony, and stability in a society where everyone else is reduced to the role of spectator. The secrecy in which agreements are forged allows China’s leaders to hold their cards close to their chest particularly when they move in the international arena. In the era of Internet connectivity, however, that objective may have become less and less easy to achieve. Chinese bloggers actively track changes in the fortunes of leading party figures even before these become manifest in public. They meticulously report the unfolding of ugly power struggles that are seldom, if ever, officially acknowledged. This new element makes the Chinese government more vulnerable than it has ever been to the challenge of transparency.

    One of the casualties of the power struggle leading to the 18th congress is the flamboyant Bo Xilai who, before his expulsion from the party in April this year and subsequent detention, had been a member of the Politburo. His wife has been tried and convicted for the murder of a British businessman. Before this reversal of fortune, Bo, the son of one of the so-called eight elders of the Chinese Communist Party, had been touted to be a top contender for party leadership. There has been no official explanation for this “princeling’s” abrupt fall from power.

    As meteoric as Bo’s descent from power has been the rise to prominence of the other “princeling,” Xi Jinping, whose election as the next secretary general of the party will be announced at the ongoing congress. Xi is reputed to enjoy very close relations with the generals of the Chinese military, some of whom have been vocal in expressing their disaffection with current party leaders. As head of the party, he will assume the presidency of China in March next year. Also to be sworn in as deputy secretary general is Li Keqiang, a mild-mannered bureaucrat who will later assume the position of prime minister.

    On the surface, this orderly transfer of government to a successor generation makes China a model for non-Western societies whose fractious politics has often prevented them from forging ahead economically. China’s astounding economic achievement in the past three decades under a capitalism presided over by its Communist Party does seem to make it worthy of emulation. This is so, particularly in the light of the 2008 American financial collapse, which, everyone agrees, has been precipitated by the retreat of the regulatory state. The deep polarization of the US electorate mirrors the ambivalence of the American response to this humiliating economic disaster.

    This polarization unsettles many Americans who feel that a national consensus is what is needed to get the economy on its feet. They feel that an election should produce that consensus rather than exacerbate divisions. I think that, barring a repeat of the controversy surrounding the 2000 presidential election, a stronger nation could emerge from this polarization so long as the institutions remain unquestioned.

    On the other hand, China’s smooth transition might be deceptive in that it conceals a deeper problem that the ruling Communist Party must sooner or later confront, and that is the lack of differentiation between party and government, and between the state and the economy. The failure to differentiate has made China’s political class rich beyond its wildest imagination. Unchecked corruption, the outcome of this conflation of spheres, will eventually corrode the party and undermine its right to rule the nation. Looking at the matter closely, one may find that it is money, ultimately, that lies at the root of the power struggle that led to the downfall of Bo Xilai.

    As China’s wealth-creating machine slows down, the communist leadership will find it increasingly harder to fulfill its promise to make everyone rich. It then has no choice but to formulate its legitimacy in other ways. It cannot ignore the growing clamor for participation of an awakened citizenry empowered by digital communication. On this score, the theory is clearly on the side of America.

  7. #107
    Getting past partisan gridlock — finally?

    By Editorial Board

    The Washington Post Thursday, November 8, 9:51 AM

    OVER THE PAST two years, politicians and pundits held out the hope that the 2012 election would definitively resolve the grand struggle between irreconcilable visions of the nation’s two major political parties. As Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) put it in May, one side would gain the “moral authority” to impose “permanent” and “fundamental” *reform.

    This was always a partisan fantasy, as the results Tuesday made clear. Just about half of voters — 50.4 percent — supported President Obama. Just about half didn’t. Democrats kept control of the Senate, Republicans kept control of the House. The nation was starkly divided before, and it remains starkly divided today.

    But perpetuating the status quo of power-sharing does not doom Washington to more gridlock and obstruction. On the contrary: Now that it is clear no mandate will sweep away the opposition, politicians could acknowledge that the only way to get anything they want is to let the other side have some things it wants.

    This won’t be easy, and it shouldn’t be. Republicans and Democrats are motivated by conviction as well as the imperative of political survival. Many Republicans honestly believe that raising taxes will slow economic growth. Many Democrats genuinely think the way to safeguard Social Security is by raising taxes on the wealthy. Voters wouldn’t respect them much if they blithely tossed away those convictions, especially after they just promised during election campaigns to stand firm.

    We happen to think that, on a lot of the big issues, the fundamentalist solutions are illusory. Taxes should be kept as low as possible, but as the population ages, the government is going to need more revenue. High earners should pay more or get less from Social Security, but its promise of ever-richer benefits for each succeeding generation also will have to be trimmed. However, even politicians who reject these arguments will have to adjust to a reality where compromise is essential — where if they insist on getting everything, no one will get anything.

    There are practical reasons for at least a touch of optimism on this score. Mr. Obama will no longer be focused on reelection. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who set Mr. Obama’s defeat as his priority, was not rewarded with a move into the majority leader’s office. The most explicit opponent of compromise in this election cycle, Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, went down to decisive and richly deserved defeat. A number of reelected and newly elected senators may be inclined, by temperament or purple-state pressure or both, toward compromise: Virginia’s Timothy M. Kaine (D), independent Angus King of Maine, Indiana victor Joe Donnelly (D), Tennessee’s Bob Corker (R), Heidi Heitkamp (D) of North Dakota. While Speaker John Boehner claimed Wednesday that the election provided no mandate for higher tax rates, he also called for a “bipartisan agreement” on the debt. It’s not in Republicans’ interest to be seen as obstructionists or to wage budget war for the next two years.

    “In the coming weeks and months,” Mr. Obama said in his acceptance speech early Wednesday morning, “I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together.”

    Yes, we’ve heard it before. But today the congressman who hoped for the moral authority to impose “permanent” reform is a defeated vice-presidential candidate. No honest person on either side can justify delay or defend political purity on the grounds that a landslide, mandate election is just around the corner. They’re left with one option: what Mr. Obama called “the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government.”

  8. #108
    President Obama’s second term: Now the hard work really begins.

    By Editorial Board

    The Washington Post Published: November 7

    FOUR YEARS AGO, Barack Obama became president as the economy was melting down. His election to a second term comes at a calmer but still troubled time. The economy is recovering, but far more slowly than anyone imagined in 2008. The looming fiscal problems the president had vowed to address remain unresolved and, in fact, have deepened after four years of record deficits. After the briefest of celebrations, the president will have to pivot to the looming fiscal cliff of scheduled tax hikes and spending cuts, lest the country veer back into recession.

    Still, the prospect of four more years offers Mr. Obama a chance to conserve the accomplishments of his first term and to complete its unfinished work.

    The accomplishments, as we said in endorsing Mr. Obama for reelection, include the stabilization of the economy and health-care reform. The latter has, for the most part, not taken effect; a second-term task will be to ensure that it achieves the dual goals of extending coverage to millions of uninsured Americans and beginning the difficult, uncertain process of restraining the unsustainable rise of health-care costs.

    But the real measure of Mr. Obama’s success, and the ultimate assessment of his presidential tenure, will be in whether, in a second term, he can fulfill some of the promise that made Americans so excited about his candidacy four years ago. Will an Obama second term allow him to transcend the ideological divides that he vowed to bridge but instead found so daunting?

    That is a tough order in a partisan age and with a divided, gridlocked Congress; there is no indication that the intransigence Mr. Obama encountered from the opposition party will diminish. But Mr. Obama has had four years of seasoning; one question is whether he can demonstrate the political canniness and legislative finesse that too often eluded him during the first term.

    Perhaps more important is whether Mr. Obama will demonstrate more willingness — more bravery, actually — to take on issues he ducked the first time around: reforming entitlements, particularly Medicare, and reducing the unsustainable debt. Mr. Obama’s promise of a balanced, long-term combination of spending cuts and tax increases is the correct one. He will have to bring his own party along on entitlement reform, and persuade a dug-in Republican Party of the need for increased tax revenue not based on the wishful assumption of faster economic growth.

    There are other important pieces of unfinished business, here and abroad. At the top of the list are comprehensive immigration reform, an enterprise that Republicans would be wise to join if they hope not to be made obsolete by changing demography, and climate change, whose toll may be revealing itself in the extreme weather patterns of recent years. Overseas, the Iranian nuclear program will pose a fateful challenge, possibly within months. Mr. Obama will have to ensure that gains in Afghanistan and Iraq are not erased in the aftermath of U.S. troop withdrawals. His dithering in Syria as 30,000 civilians have been massacred is a particular blot on his first-term record, one for which he could begin to make amends in the second.

    On election eve four years ago, we celebrated, along with Americans of both parties, that a black American could be elected president and hoped, again like many Americans, that a young, charismatic leader could help heal partisan divides and confront the difficult choices that politicians generally would rather duck. Mr. Obama’s victory Tuesday felt less momentous, but it allows him the opportunity to fill in the blanks of a still uncertain legacy.

  9. #109
    Republican leader Boehner may be ready to bargain

    By Dana Milbank

    The Washington Post Thursday, November 8, 9:48 AM

    After Mitt Romney’s defeat on Tuesday, John Boehner is the undisputed leader of the Republican Party.

    Pity him.

    President Obama’s reelection and the Democrats’ successful defense of their Senate majority have put the House speaker in a vise. Squeezing him on one side are the tea party conservatives and their ilk, dominant in the House Republican majority, who say Romney lost because he was too accommodating and moderate. Squeezing him on the other side is a Democratic president who campaigned for the rich to pay a higher share of taxes.

    Boehner’s first instinct on Tuesday night was to side with his House firebrands. “While others chose inaction,” he said at a Republican National Committee event, “we offered solutions.” Americans, he said, “responded by renewing our House Republican majority. With this vote, the American people have also made clear that there’s no mandate for raising tax rates.”

    After sleeping on it Tuesday night, Boehner appeared at the Capitol on Wednesday and offered a dramatically different message: He proposed, albeit in a noncommittal way, putting tax increases on the table.

    “Mr. President, this is your moment,” he said into the cameras, reading, sometimes with difficulty, from a teleprompter. “We’re ready to be led, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans. . . . We want you to succeed. Let’s challenge ourselves to find the common ground that has eluded us.”

    Boehner left himself sufficient wiggle room, saying, “We’re willing to accept new revenue under the right conditions” — which keeps alive the possibility that the revenue would come only from economic growth (the old Republican position) and not from a higher tax burden.

    Still, Boehner’s new tone was starkly different from the one set two years ago by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who declared that “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” McConnell continued that approach after Tuesday’s election, saying, “The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the president’s first term.”

    But the voters denied McConnell his top priority. And exit polls Tuesday showed that a majority of voters favored higher taxes on income over $250,000, as Obama proposed — something Boehner’s Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), made sure to point out in a news conference before the speaker’s appearance. The voters, Reid said, “want a balanced approach . . . and taxes are a part of that.”

    But Boehner’s talk of common ground is likely to enrage the no-compromise wing of Boehner’s House Republicans, who live in fear of the tea party, Grover Norquist, the Club for Growth and other enforcers of conservative orthodoxy. And tea party leaders have convinced themselves that Romney lost because he wasn’t conservative enough. The Tea Party Patriots, for example, attributed Romney’s defeat to him being a “weak moderate candidate, handpicked by the Beltway elites and country-club establishment.”

    More likely, the tea party itself bears the blame for Romney’s loss — just as losses of far-right Senate candidates kept Republicans from taking over the Senate.

    To survive conservative primary challenges from Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and others, Romney had to take positions that ultimately doomed him in the general election. His tough-on-immigration stance, in particular, helps to explain his loss of more than 70 percent of the Latino vote, which sealed his defeat.

    Boehner knows this, of course, and that is why he was so careful when he made his remarks Wednesday afternoon, taking the rare precaution of using the teleprompter. He left without answering questions, and when reporters shouted queries at him he only smiled.

    “The American people have spoken,” Boehner said somberly, his eyes glistening. “If there’s a mandate in yesterday’s results, it’s a mandate for us to find a way to work together.”

    Although he was vague about what he was offering, his bargaining position was very different from 18 months ago, when he went to the Economic Club of New York and pronounced tax increases “off the table.” This time, he outlined the general framework of a grand bargain: “In order to garner Republican support for new revenue, the president must be willing to reduce spending and shore up entitlement programs.”

    Boehner chose to make his post-election speech in the Capitol’s Rayburn room, named for the Sam Rayburn, the late House speaker who is credited with saying, “Any jackass can kick down a barn. It takes a carpenter to build one.”

    Boehner sounds as though he’s ready to pick up hammer and nail. But will his fellow Republicans stop kicking?

  10. #110
    At Romney headquarters, the defeat of the 1 percent

    By Dana Milbank

    The Washington Post Published: November 7


    It was a victory party fit for the 1 percent.

    Over in Chicago, the Obama campaign had invited 10,000 to fill the floor of the McCormick Place convention center. But here in Boston, Mitt Romney favored a more genteel soiree for an exclusive crowd.

    Romney’s election-night event was in a ballroom at the Boston Exhibition and Convention Center that could accommodate a few hundred. Most men wore jacket and tie; women donned dresses and heels. Secret Service agents blocked reporters from mixing with the Romney supporters as they sipped cocktails and nibbled canapes.

    Outside the ballroom, waiters in black tie tended bar, and Jumbotrons showed the election results on Fox News. Downstairs, Romney’s big donors assembled in private rooms for finer fare; guards admitted only those whose credentials said “National Finance Committee.”

    “We’re going to have a great celebration here tonight,” Romney adviser Ed Gillespie told the crowd as early results trickled in.

    But the election results, even filtered through the rose-colored lenses of Fox News, were not promising.

    Michigan fell to Obama, and then so did Pennsylvania and Minnesota. Obama was holding his own in Florida and Virginia, and things were looking grim for Romney in Ohio. The ballroom was as quiet as a library as the audience listened to the Fox personalities on-screen.

    “Romney would have to draw to an inside straight” at this point, pronounced Brit Hume, who predicted “an awful lot of recriminations.”

    Some of those with the “National Finance Committee” badges went to freshen their drinks. Other attendees headed to the coat check. “I have a son who has a test tomorrow,” one woman explained.

    “It literally hurts my soul,” one man said as he headed toward the exit. Others lamented their wasted labors (“We did so much for him”) and fretted about a second Obama term (“I don’t want him to feel like he has a [expletive] mandate”).

    Among those who remained in the ballroom’s thinning crowd, one man looked at the screen and saw the Ohio count. “Uh-oh,” he said.

    Romney had spent nearly two years, and hundreds of millions of dollars, trying to convince Americans that he wasn’t an out-of-touch millionaire unconcerned about the little people — that he was more than a caricature who liked to fire people, who didn’t care about the very poor or the 47 percent who pay no income tax, who has friends who own NASCAR teams.

    He very nearly achieved it: Polls showed him neck-and-neck with Obama in the campaign’s closing days. But his final day in the race showed why he couldn’t persuade enough working-class Americans that he spoke for them.

    On the final flight of his campaign Tuesday afternoon, Romney ventured to the back of his plane for a chat with reporters and discovered that — horrors! — the poor wretches were seated in coach accommodations.

    “I thought you had bigger seats back here,” he told them.

    Fortunately, this discovery did not distract the Republican nominee from making some salient points before rejoining aides at the front of the plane: his lack of regrets (“I’m very proud”), his delight at the crowds (“When you have 10,000 people cheering you, you get a real boost”), his confidence (“I just finished writing a victory speech”) and how he would reward himself in victory.

    “Assuming I win, one of the benefits is . . . to get another Weimaraner,” he disclosed when asked about puppy rumors.

    So, one of his first gestures as president-elect would be to purchase a pricey hunting dog once bred by European royalty?

    In that sense, Romney’s election-night celebration was a fitting coda to his presidential bid: It abandoned any pretense of being a campaign for the common man.

    On election night in 2000, George W. Bush hosted an outdoor rally for thousands in Austin. In 2008, Barack Obama addressed a mass of humanity in Chicago’s Grant Park.

    Then there was Romney’s fete — for which reporters were charged $1,000 a seat. The very location set the candidate and his well-heeled supporters apart from the masses: The gleaming convention center, built with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, is on a peninsula in the Boston harbor that was turned into an election-night fortress, with helicopters overhead, metal barricades and authorities searching vehicles. Only a few gawkers crossed the bridge from downtown to stand outside.

    Massachusetts, the state Romney once led as governor, was among the first to be called for Obama.

    But many other states followed. At 11:14 p.m., the thinning crowd here heard Fox’s Bret Baier project that Obama had won Ohio. “That’s the presidency,” he said.

    “The president has won reelection,” Hume affirmed.

    From Obama headquarters in Chicago, Fox’s Ed Henry described “pandemonium.”

    And in the ballroom in Boston, the Romney supporters stood in silence.

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