President Obama won this debate by being President Obama. The formula was simple, really. Tell the truth. Don’t waver. Say what you mean. Don’t play around with long complex answers. Made it simple and to the point. In the video above, the president points out that he mentioned that Benghazi was an act of terror on September 12, the day after the attacks.
Here’s exactly what the president said:
Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe. No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.
Benghazi has been a weak spot in President Obama’s foreign policy armor. He and his team were slow to jump on this and put out the cinders before it was a big fire. I agree that questions remain. I admit that I don’t understand exactly what happened. I don’t understand the security situation. On the other hand, I haven’t seen or heard of any information that would suggest that President Obama didn’t act on intelligence or advice that would have saved or protected the ambassador.
Obama told voters what Romney’s plan was for women (take away their freedom of choice), and for Hispanics (allow police to stop them and demand proof of citizenship, as in the Arizona law “that’s his [Romney’s] policy, and it’s bad policy.”)
He took responsibility for the security lapse in Libya, but made sure Americans understood the danger in Romney’s shoot-from-the-hip, rush to judgment approach to foreign policy.
And the President explained why the way to create more jobs and to get the economy back on track is to strengthen the middle class, in sharp contrast to Romney’s trickle-down redux.
Romney was as combative as in the first debate, but our newly-invigorated president made Romney’s combativeness look like that of a child in a tantrum rather than a principled adult with facts and detailed proposals to support his position.
The Arizona law which was signed into law earlier this week has caused a firestorm. We have nobody to blame but our politicians in Congress. Immigration has been a problem in this country for more than 15 years. We have seen it. We have studied it. We’ve introduced legislation into both houses of Congress and yet nothing has been done. So, Arizona was fed up with the problem. They decided they’d waited too long for the federal government to do something meaningful. Unfortunately, doing something is not the same as doing the right thing. I think it is clear that this law is racial profiling. I’m not sure that Arizona police have the resources to seriously enforce this law. I suspect the law will be struck down by the courts. I’m not even sure the Supreme Court will hear this argument because this law is so obviously unconstitutional.
Yet, this still doesn’t solve the problem. The fact is that we have millions of people who have come to this country illegally. Why? People did not risk capture, deportation, harassment and even death just to wear American jeans. They came here because they believe the economic opportunities were better here than in their own home country. (This is why I’ve stopped using the term “illegal immigrants.” That term seems to play right into conservative ideology and talking points. “Economic refugee” is a more descriptive term because it explains exactly why these folks came here.)
I discussed this problem just the other day when I was interviewed on Local Edge Radio. The place to start is by enforcing the laws that we have now. We have laws on the books that fine employers for hiring people who are undocumented. These laws must be enforced. If we are going to be serious about reform, then this is the place to start. Economic refugees come here for jobs. If the jobs are available then they have only two alternatives — become an American citizen or return to your home country. There are no alternatives.
Now, I think it is important for all of us to consider the ramifications of enforcing, strictly enforcing, the laws that we have on the books now. When you go to Burger World, who is bussing your table? When you go into your kitchen in the middle of the night to make a BLT sandwich, the lettuce and tomato are extremely affordable. Who picked the lettuce and who picked your tomatoes? As a matter fact, who was mowing your lawn? Who is doing the maintenance at the place where you work? Economic refugees have filled these low-wage jobs for more than 15 years. Employers have kept the wages low,making these jobs unattractive to Americans. So, if we are going to start enforcing our laws, our food is going to cost more. It’s going to cost more to get our lawns cut and our houses built.
Without much fanfare and hoopla, Congress could pass a bill today that would increase the budget for enforcement of the laws that we have on the books now. That’s where we need to start. We can worry about the other stuff later. When American businesses understand that there’s a penalty for not hiring Americans, they will start hiring Americans. If they have trouble filling job positions, sooner or later, they will raise wages. This will put Americans back to work and help us get out of this recession faster. How is this not the right thing to do, right now?