ABC-6 Reporter Mark Curtis: “The Sunday Political Brunch” December 30, 2012

by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis 

“The Sunday Political Brunch” — December 30, 2012

Rhode Island) – Well it's time
for a year-end column. It's been a fascinating year in politics, but I always
hear the theme from the old Clint Eastwood movie, “The Good, the Bad and the
Ugly.” Since this is a non-partisan column, they'll be plenty to go around for
Democrats and Republicans alike.

The Good:

“Election Season is Over” – You may not have liked the
outcome of the November election, but guess what also ended that day? Robo
calls, TV ads and talking-head bickering all ended (well, some of it, anyway).
The finality of voting does have benefits! Of course, here in New England we
will now have a special election to fill a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts (which had
the nation's most expensive Senate race in November). So our “vacation” from
robo calls and TV and radio ads, will be short-lived.

“Split Decision” – There was a little something for
everyone. Democrats saw Barack Obama reelected President, while Republicans
retained an iron grip on the House of Representatives. Yes, it's kind of a
schizophrenic decision by voters, but as we saw in the Reagan and Clinton administrations,
a lot can get done during divided government. This is especially true when the President
is early in his second term. They don't have to face voters again and are more
willing to make deals. We'll see if it happens again. The fiscal cliff mess
ought to offer an early indication.

The Bad:

“The 47 Percent” – As always, the worst political wounds are
self-inflicted. Mitt Romney's secretly recorded speech about supporters of President
Obama was probably his worst gaffe of the campaign. He said, “There are 47
percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that
they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for
them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing,
to you-name-it. … My job is not to worry about those people.” A week before
the Election Day, Romney and Obama were tied at 47 percent apiece. Obama won
the election 50 to 47 percent, essentially winning all of the undecided voters.
Note to all politicians: In the modern age, assume everything you say (even in
private), is being recorded and can be used against you.

“You Didn't Build That” – President Obama also came close to
inflicting his own political demise, talking about the role of government in
private enterprise. He said, “Somebody helped to create this unbelievable
American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody
invested in roads and bridges.  If you've got a business, you didn't build
that.  Somebody else made that happen.” Yes, the government creates roads
and bridges that help business thrive and it provides police and fire
protection for them, but the takeaway for many from this speech was a clear
swipe at American ingenuity, entrepreneurship and risk-taking. It was
especially insulting to small business owners. One can't imagine Obama telling
his late friend and supporter Steve Jobs, of Apple, that, “You didn't build
that.” As with Romney's “47 Percent” speech, Obama's “You Didn't Build That”
speech became a rallying cry for opponents.

The Ugly:

“Benghazi Blunders” – Four American employees, including the
Ambassador, were murdered during a September 11th attack on the U.S.
Consulate in Libya.
For days, the official explanation was that protesters were angry over an
anti-Muslim video made in the United
States. That's wasn't true. It was instead,
a deliberate and calculated terrorist attack. The fallout cost U.N. Ambassador
Susan Rice her chance to be Secretary of State, and questions may hound current
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton if she runs for President again in 2016.
Four mid-level staffers who botched the security were reassigned. The fallout
will carry into 2013 and beyond.  The
administration gets an F, for an epic failure.

“Senate Setback” – Republicans had an excellent chance at
taking control of the U.S. Senate in November, but completely blew it. Two of
the costliest blunders came from Senate candidates and their thoughts on rape. Rep.
Todd Akin (R-MO) said, “If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to
try to shut that whole thing down.” In Indiana
it was Senate candidate Richard Mourdock who opposed abortion even in the case
of rape. He said, “I came to realize life is that gift from God. And I think
even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something
that God intended to happen.” Not surprising, both men lost seats they had
been predicted to win. Grade = F.

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