In an interview with her colleague Wolf Blitzer, Candy Crowley confirmed that she will not be a lump on the log tonight. Asked if she’d be reduced to passing the microphone, she replied: “It’s a town-hall meeting. There will be questioners to the right and left of me and in front of the candidates. And they will have the questions. And as was the case in the Charlie Gibson town-hall meeting and the Tom Brokaw town-hall meeting in presidential campaigns past, there is a time after that for follow-up and for furthering the discussion.” She also confirmed that she will select which audience questions will be posed to the candidates:
It would be helpful, since this is the last debate that will include domestic matters, for Crowley to fish out some topics about which we haven’t heard much in the debates: immigration, education, the Supreme Court and energy, to name a few.
So much of the campaign has been spent on President Obama attacking Mitt Romney and Romney defending his agenda that we’ve heard comparatively little about Obama’s plans. Ron Brownstein thinks this is no accident. He cites Democratic strategists Stanley B. Greenberg and James Carville, who complain that Obama really doesn’t have an agenda, or as they like to call it, “a vision.” Brownstein reports:
Greenberg and Carville have been perhaps the loudest Democratic voices arguing that Obama must define the race as much as possible as a referendum on the nation’s direction for the next four years, rather than as an opportunity to continue the progress he points to over his first term. . . .
That backward-looking focus, centered on defending his first term, they write, gave Romney “the opportunity to be heard as the voice of change.” And that, they insist, is dangerous for Obama because “it is clear … that voters do not want a continuation, they want change.” Moreover, they write, for many voters “conservatives have plausible things to say about the future, particularly on spending and debt.”
The hitch is that unless Obama is going to invent some new policy proposals, he really doesn’t have much to say. The most dangerous questions from his standpoint may be: What’s your Medicare solvency plan? What’s your immigration plan? Why have school test scores continued to sink? Other than hiring teachers, how are you going to create more jobs?
Having put all his eggs in the “discredit Romney” basket, Obama may now be hard-pressed to come up with specific or even not-so-specific things he’d do to jump-start the economy and address the middle-class income crunch. Remember, he thinks things are getting better, so a robust plan or two might raise the question as to why he’s not raised such items before.
I sort of doubt the president is going to come up with much new. Egged on by his base and the media (I repeat myself), Obama seems convinced that the way to rebound is to attack Romney. More cowbell! The problem is that’s all he’s done for months. Maybe he should start by giving a decent argument for reelecting him, one that does not include “Romney is a liar” or “Romney hates the poor.” I actually don’t know that Obama has one, a reason, that is, to reelect him that doesn’t depend on denouncing his opponent.