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Rope-a-Dope Revives the Hope

Barack Obama reappeared Tuesday night. He seemed to own Governor Romney on issues of foreign policy, women, immigration, the 47 percent and with a fatal blow regarding the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya. Don't get me wrong, Mitt was no wimp, and Obama was no progressive, but Obama had the better plans, the better attacks and the better handle on the truth than Romney.

The president called out the funny math of Romney's claims that he can lower taxes across the board and not raise the deficit. Mitt's only defense was, "Of course my numbers add up. I am Mitt Romney." He may convince Ann with that response, but such a defense does little to engender confidence in the rest of us.

The president was aggressive on jobs, touting his new five million jobs and his support of high wages, good jobs over winning the global race to the bottom apparently favored by Romney. The president hit Romney over the head repeatedly with his tax-cutting record, while maintaining his position that the wealthy must pay more. Obama made it clear that Romney's plan was to keep an elite set of rules that keep those at the top of the economic ladder firmly at the top.

By contrast, Romney was evasive and inauthentic. He tried to get away with answering a question about equal pay for women with a strange explanation about asking women's groups to find a binder of qualified women for his Massachusetts cabinet. Mitt said that women could be hired if only employers would figure out that they also need time to cook for their families.

In an equally evasive and puzzling response, Romney blamed single mothers and a failed federal sting operation in Mexico for assault weapon violence in the U.S.

Then came the knock-out blow, something like this, when a nearly apoplectic Romney proclaimed: "The president took two weeks to call the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya a terrorist attack." Obama shot back:"Governor Romney, I called it a terrorist attack the very next day." "No, Mr President, you most certainly did not." "Candy, tell him...I did, didn't I?" "Uh...yes Governor, The President did say that. He is right. You are wrong. You are down for the count."


Obama, for all his aggressiveness and better policy positions from Romney on jobs, taxes, women's health and economic issues and immigration, failed on the question of energy and the kind of revenue raising we need to get the country on track and to be the kind of country we want to be.

The President almost channeled Sarah Palin with a near-refrain of Drill Baby Drill. He agreed with Romney that the corporate tax rate is too high and he again missed the opportunity to tell the truth that Social Security, Medicare and social programs don't need overhauling and slashing in order to continue the programs and reduce our deficit.

I still want to see the president lead on the direct creation of jobs, taxing speculation, dividends and interest in the same way we tax earned income. I want to see him stand up and tell the truth that with the right priorities, we can spend far less on military, close corporate tax loopholes, fund a transformative shift to an economically and environmentally more sound energy policy. I want to see him lead on real cost-control in a universal type Medicare-for-All health plan.

I want more than just a rope-a-dope and a knock-out punch. I want to hear the words: America is not broke, we just have our priorities wrong. Then, I will be able to cheer a victory as something that is a victory for all of us, not just for a candidate's campaign.

Karen Dolan

Karen Dolan

Karen Dolan is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and directs the Criminalization of Poverty project there. She is author of "The Poor Get Prison: The Alarming Spread of the Criminalization of Poverty." Follow her on Twitter: @karendolan

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