A Few Lessons We Learned From the 2012 Election Season


Election Day is upon us, people. We cannot even begin to count the minutes, hours, days, and months since this whole boondaggle started to consume the media's attention, but it's safe to say that it has been way too long. And, once it's over, we can return to normalcy, which is a prolonged period of time when any utterance of the phrase "swing state" is prohibited by law.

But that's not to say that this election season was for nothing. The quadrennial spectacle of American politics is always introspective for the nation; we learn about ourselves, our brethren, and just how dirty and disrespectful our elected officials can act toward one another. It's pretty great. Except we usually forget all those lessons the minute the curtains close in the ballot box and have to re-teach ourselves everything the next time around.

With that being said, as the Biggest Story of 2012 winds down, we are left with memories, projections for the future, and, of course, the aforementioned lessons. So let's step back for a second and take a look at all of this from a student's point of view. 

Preach, Election 2012:

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Clint Eastwood Narrates New Pro-Romney Ad, Makes It Sound Much More Epic Than It Actually Is

For a while, Clint Eastwood was the true third party in this election. After his endorsement for Romney, the Hollywood bravado set off a media firestorm with his self-destructive tirade against a stool during the RNC and his even more self-destructive explanation of said speech. We laughed, we cried, and we got over it real quick -- kinda like Trouble With the Curve.

Since then, the star has remained relatively mum while the campaigns kicked into high gear heading into November. America took its attention off Dirty Harry to focus on the bigger issues at hand here, like the "binders of women" or Big Bird.

At least for the time being.

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The Mayor on the Election: Romney, Obama Economic Plans "Are Not Real"

Since he endorsed then-president Bush in 2004, Mayor Bloomberg has remained relatively mum during the election season. He didn't endorse anyone in 2008 and will not do so this year either. The Republican-turned-independent politician likes to pull strings from the outside instead: Just last week, the billionaire told the press that he would be creating his own SuperPAC to funnel funds to Congressional candidates that shared his political views. 

By doing so, the mayor hopes to influence a different level of the national stage. And that makes sense, given that he doesn't seem to like the two presidential candidates too much.

In an interview with The New York Times yesterday, Bloomberg spilled the beans on all his electoral emotions, much to the dismay of the Romney and Obama tents. Needless to say, the criticisms were harsh for both sides, but the icing on the cake of it all was the mayor's overarching referendum on the candidates' policies:

"Their economic plans are not real. I think that's clear. If you listen to what they say, they never get explicit." (For Romney, at least, a whole website has been dedicated to that idea: Ladies and gentlemen, we give you... romneytaxplan.com).

The mayor has spoken.
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Mitt Romney Snubbed My Favorite Childhood Television Network (But It's Okay)

Cat Dog. Hey Arnold. Rugrats. All That! Rocket Power. Legends of the Hidden Temple. Salute Your Shorts. Figure It Out. The Wild Thornberries. Everything on Nick Jr. Everything on Nick at Nite (The Cosby Show! Cheers!).  

I'm probably leaving out a few but, for the most part, that's what Nickelodeon looked like during the late 1990s and early 2000s. I learned my morals from those shows (well, not really) and stayed up late just to watch the Huxtables' daily routines while examining Cosby's sweater collection. 

So, when I discovered that the Republican Presidential candidate has refused to make an appearance on Nickelodeon's "Kids Pick the President" (a political version of Kids Say The Darnest Things, where children ask the candidates about the most serious questions we face as a country heading into the next four years) next week, my ten-year-old self felt betrayed by Mr. Meanie. In a press release this morning, the network announced that Mr. Romney would not be participating in the program because "he was unable to fit it into schedule."  

He's treading on a fragile playground: if pre-teens were the leading electoral bloc, Mr. Romney would lose in a landslide. But they cannot vote yet so us adults in the media will latch onto anything the candidate can throw at the pint-sized, be it the professed Big Bird hate in last week's debate and, most recently, his resounding "No!" to the children of America.

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Why The Ryan/Biden Debate Will Be Inherently More Entertaining

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The gaffer.
America is still letting out an exhausted sigh from the debate two nights ago in Denver. At this point, who knows who won, and who actually cares? The best/worst part of it all, as my colleague James King pointed out, is that Donald Trump was mentioned two times in 90 minutes; that's two times more than the number of times Trump should ever be mentioned in a presidential debate.

Nevertheless, the next two meetings between Romney and Obama will likely produce more "mehs" from the begrudging national audience. Don't worry, Election Day will be over soon enough. At least we hope so.

The pointdexter.

But, Romney and Obama aside, we are forgetting a very important part of the American democratic process: the vice presidential debate. Next Wednesday, in lieu of the big boys fighting again, Paul Ryan and Joe Biden will face off at Centre College in Kentucky. The topics: domestic and foreign policy. The expectations: With last Wednesday in mind, it's evident that the VP debate will be much more entertaining then what we saw with Romney/Obama.

with these two characters involved.
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Unlike All Of The Media, Paul Ryan Is Not So Psyched For The Debate

The Huffington Post
Over the past two weeks, as the media buries the grave for Romney's campaign and writes its tombstone, we've heard it a million times, over and over again: the debates could change everything. The debates are going to be the most exciting television this fall. The debates will finally show the human side of Mitt Romney to America. The debates will give us a chance to really see what this election is all about. Even Governor Chris Christie said today the debates would turn the election "upside down."

This Wednesday, we'll see if any of those statements hold true as Romney and Obama face off in the first debate at the University of Denver in Colorado. Guilty as charged, we are excited for the debate as well - it's that little piece of history occurring in front of your eyes that evokes that tingling sensation. And, also, with all the labels attached to each candidate since this whole thing started, we have a lot to work with. 

(Even though, if history tells us anything, it's that we'll wake up on Thursday morning and say "Meh" about it all. The sad reality of high expectations in politics.)

Anyway, the same amount of emphasis the media has placed on this spectacle is not shared by one very important person: Republican VP golden child, Paul Ryan. In his mind, it's not going to be game-changing, it's not going to be fun and, hey, Romney isn't that trained for these kinds of things.
Those are his words, not ours.

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N.Y. Doesn't Love Mitt: SuperPAC Valve for Romney Dries Up

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Throughout the summer, our 'Mitt Loves N.Y.' series followed the money trails of New York's wealthiest citizens, all of which ended in Romney's campaign war chest. The donors we profiled donated a million or two each month since it was made clear around April that Mitt would be their man to defeat Obama in November. 

And that all stacked up in the ex-Governor and ex-Bainman's favor: with all the money combined, it was easily proven that this election would be the most expensive to date for both parties. The SuperPACs were raising corporate money from a select handful of individuals that would have FDR rollin' in his grave; less than double digits in the millions was frowned down upon and marked as a failure in the monthly reports. At one point, the Republican campaign was raking enough cash to make the incumbent President worried for his life - the Obama team sent out e-mails with subject lines more desperate for unfiltered money than a crackhead on payday.

My series solely concentrated on donors giving to the SuperPAC, Restore Our Future. If there is to be any historical document on the future that reflects upon the Citizen United decision's impact on American democracy, Restore Our Future would be case study numero uno. The organization was pulling in absurd donation amounts almost weekly that blew other SuperPACs, like Crossroads GPS (Karl Rove) and Americans for Prosperity (Koch brothers), clear out of the financial water.

However, through a culmination of hurtful gaffes, citizenry-distancing and not-that-shitty economic numbers, Romney has found himself falling behind Obama on all fronts: poll numbers, economic approval ratings and, most importantly, SuperPAC money. 

To which we can safely say: N.Y. no longer loves Mitt.

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Mitt Romney is a Snooki Fan, Reaffirming That He's Out of Touch with America

Mitt Romney Time cover.jpg
As reality television slowly drags itself into the oblivion, it is safe to say that we, as a country, are pretty much done with MTV's 'Jersey Shore.' The greased-up guido and obnoxious fist-pumping fad came and went but, nonetheless, it did happen: at one point, the show was the highest rated show ever on the channel and was attracting millions of viewers for each episode. Snooki and the rest of the crew became national sensations - each having some sort of spin-off bullshit to keep themselves busy - as Americans obsessively tuned in to find out why whomever was cheating on whomever.

I am not a cultural expert on the 'Jersey Shore' - truthfully, I didn't watch it at all - but, hey, I lived in America in late 2009 and early 2010, which indirectly gives me authority to speak on the subject. So bear with me: now, the country could care less about the Shore; hence the show's cancellation and a lack of giving-a-shit about Snooki and J. Wow's other show. And there's a ton of reasons to explain why: the current popularity of Smart Television (i.e. 'Breaking Bad,' 'Mad Men,' 'Louie'), America's short attention span, the stagnated economy or the masses' revelation that, hey, what we're watching right now is actually pretty shitty.

One may ask, why I am making this point? Why the cultural critique of the 'Jersey Shore' trend and its deeper implications for what we, as a country, care about? To reiterate what's been said, who gives a shit about anything related to the show or its stars or me, for that matter?

Well, the point that America has moved on from Snooki as a metaphysical idea ties in well with Presidential go-getter Mitt Romney's comments yesterday on the 'Shore' star, telling America on 'Live! With Kelly and Michael!' that he is 'kind of a Snooki fan.' If we follow the logical sequence here, it's clear that Mitt is stuck in the past and, for liking a show that America is over with, not that cool at all. And remember: this election is about likability, not the economy, stupid.

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NY AG Eric Schneiderman's Subpoenas Aimed at Private Equity Firms, Bain Capital & Romney Donors Included

The New Yorker
In a few weeks, this might be the Issue of the Election or the Story That Brought Romney Down. At this point, only time can tell.

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has begun to send out subpoenas to investigate the tax situations in numerous private equity companies situated in the Big Apple, including Bain Capital, Republican hopeful Mitt Romney's coup de grace and the subject of his Horatio Alger story. 

According to the piece, the legal action is focused on the belief that these private equity companies "converted certain management fees collected from their investors into fund investments;" in a simpler diction, the companies are charged with writing off millions of dollars worth in taxes - Bain saving almost $200 million that could have gone to the state government's tax base.

The investigation rides off the coattail of a trove of documents Gawker leaked last month that gave us all a glimpse into the dark, shady world that is Bain Capital and private equity. Downsizing, leveraged buyouts and dollar signs were in abundance as well as long lists of management fees skirted off into the capital gains domain. But although the documents provide the basis for the AG's argument, the subpoenas came before the leak and have no connection to them.

Nonetheless, a look inside what made Mitt rich beyond belief with illegal implications could be destructive in the eyes of voters.... especially when all of his friends are involved, too.
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Hurricane Romney, "Go Home and Call 211" and the Politics of Everything

Mitt Romney Time cover.jpg
With Clint Eastwood's to-hell-with-this-wooden-chair speech in the past, the brutally drawn-out Republican National Convention has come to an end, leaving the Romney campaign to finally focus on the last three months of the election season. And these upcoming few weeks are the most important: as the candidates mark out their final talking points, the notorious yet senselessly hopeless skeptics known as the 'independent voters' go through the ultimate process of elimination. Hooray for the two-party system!

Moving on from Tampa, Mitt has found himself in hurricane territory: after accepting an invite from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, the Republican hopeful traveled down to the devastated lands in Isaac's path. These were the towns that unfortunately exist outside of the vast levee system that "protects" Louisiana's shores after Katrina. And most of them were found underwater by authorities after the storm hit.

Once there, Romney spent close to an hour with Jindal shaking hands with first responders and National Guardsmen. The Governor pointed out to reporters that he extended the invite to Mr. Obama as well even though the President is coming on his own accord this Monday. And Jindal has a history of not accepting invites from the President, too: he was one of the few Republican governors that refused to accept stimulus funds a few years back. At the time, Louisiana had one of the worst unemployment numbers in the country

Mitt also met Jodie Chiarello, a 42-year-old woman who lost her house thanks to Isaac. Since the federal funds did not come to her area a few years back, her house was submerged under water and, now, she has nowhere to go. When Jodie asked Mitt what he could do about the situation, he had a brilliant plan to salvage what was left. 

"He just told me to, uhm, there's assistance out there," she told reporters. "He said, 'go home and call 211.'"
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