Archive for the The Presidential Debates 2012 Category

About Face!

Posted in Playthell on politics, The Presidential Debates 2012 with tags on October 23, 2012 by playthell
           Mitt Capitulates on Everything

 Mitt Romney Flees From his Neo-Con Positions

Once again Mitt Romney shamelessly abandoned positions he has been preaching all across the country in one campaign stop after another, and suffered a beat down from President Obama who called Mitt out as he flipped the script. Mitt’s wishy-washy posture is a reflection of the dilemma he faces; he must say certain things to keep the far right whackos in the Republican base onboard, no matter how absurd, and at the same time present himself as a reasonable man.

The problem for Mitt last night is that aside from further exposing himself as a political chameleon that has no moral or ethical core, he had to repeatedly concede the wisdom of the President’s foreign policy. One can only speculate as to what his strategy was; but using the cost/benefit analysis that appears to be his modus operandi, it seems that he decided whatever disillusionment and disaffection it might cause among the Neo-Cons it would be more than compensated for by the support he would gain among the broader electorate.

However as Beau Biden pointed out On Morning Joe earlier today, Romney disavowed the positions he held just the day before and in so doing he further demonstrated that he will say anything it takes to close the deal.   While such behavior is perfect for a salesman it disqualifies him for President and commander-In-Chief due to questionable character.

Hence the right-wing Republican/Tea Party crowd is in disarray today as they lick their wounds from two injuries: Their standard bearer kicked them to the curb and he lost in the opinion polls too.  It was a bad night all around for this crowd of losers.  My greatest fear is that a majority of the electorate will prove too stupid to properly evaluate the candidate’s arguments on these complex questions.

If voters really understood these issues in depth, the polls would be lopsided for the President because Romney is clearly a charlatan. After coming close to calling President Obama’s foreign policy treasonous for months, Mitt suddenly became his cheerleader. That’s why nobody can say for sure just what the Republican candidate actually stands for.

Trying to get Mitt to say what he believes is like trying to nail Jello to the wall.   Therefore it is impossible to predict what he would do in office.  Alas, for all his public exposure Mitt remains a stealth candidate and voting for him is like buying a pig in a poke.

As usual the Republican tough guys were whining and howling like banshees.  Glenn Beck has suggested that perhaps conservatives should stay home on Election Day. Hoorah!!!!!   John McCain and his daughter Megan, who is something of a pretentious airhead, led the pack of whiners.  Johnny Mack was a big loser in this debate, because Mitt ran away from his warmongering positions like a fox escaping a forest fire.

Like the pot maligning the kettle for being sooty, the Mack Man accused President Obama of “cheap shots” – which is the Republican stock in trade – because of the “horses and bayonets” comment sparked by Mitts absurd comment on the battle readiness of the US Navy.   I thought it the best line of the night; just slightly behind President Obama’s accusation that Mitt was “airbrushing history.”

Al Sharpton got it just right when he observed that Mitt came out in the first round like a bully, but after getting smacked around in the second round, he stumbled out in the third round like a punch drunk pug and  held onto his opponent in a permanent clinch…never landing a punch on the Chi-Town Kid.


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

October 23, 2012

Mitt’s Foreign Policy Channels Bush!

Posted in Playthell on politics, The Presidential Debates 2012 with tags on October 22, 2012 by playthell
 The War Mongers: Bolton, McCain and Mittens

A Clear and Present Danger to Peace

American foreign policy is an extremely complex subject; how it is handled can determine if our nation is at war or peace.  Hence the top echelon of the foreign policy/national security establishment, where policy is formulated, is no place for pugnacious charlatans and impassioned ideologues intoxicated on the opiate of American Exceptionalism.

This is especially so if they are committed to aggressive military adventures against other nation’s as the preferred method of promoting American policy objectives. Alas, looking at the advisors shaping Mitt’s foreign policy there is cause for serious alarm, because there is every reason to believe that his vision of the world is being shaped by the same gang who hijacked the foreign policy of a clueless George II, after the successful Jihadist attack on the American homeland of September 11, 2000.  This is what voters should bear in mind as they listen to the debate tonight.

While the Romney campaign is quick to point out that their candidate has a variety of advisors, 70% of Romney’s advisors on foreign policy are former members of the Bush team.  And six of the 22 advisors are members of the Project for A New American Century, the think tank that gave us the architects of the Iraq Invasion. Based on Mitt’s increasingly bellicose rhetoric on foreign affairs it is obvious that they are the ones who have his ear.

Indeed Mitt is warmly embracing far right hawks like Cofer Black, a former CIA official and executive in the private-security firm Blackwater, which secretly supplies private armies that carry out the dirty work of the American government in the most dangerous countries in the world. They often operate outside the law and have been accused of myriad war crimes.

Cofer is joined by Eliot Cohen, who worked in the State Department under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Paula Dobriansky, Douglass Fieth and especially John Bolton.  As a member of the moribund Project for a New American Century, whose members convinced Bush to invade Iraq with manufactured “evidence,” Bolton signed several letters authored by interventionist neo-con foreign policy wonks urging Bill Clinton to invade Iraq!  And he has called for scrapping the United Nations among other absurdities. Yet Romney says: “John’s wisdom, clarity and courage are qualities that should typify our foreign policy.”

One need only read the “Open Letter to President Obama” of March 27, 2012 from the Romney Advisors, which Bolton also signed, in order to see just how divorced from reality these right wing hawks advising Romney really are.  Reading this letter will identify the origins of Romney’s absurd and dangerous proclamation that “Russia is our number one geopolitical enemy.”  This statement caused Republican stalwart General Colin Powell to break his silence and denounce Mitt’s position as provocative and misguided fiction.

Romney’s hawkish positions on continuing the war in Afghanistan, maintaining a sizable military presence in Iraq, intervening militarily in Syria, attacking Iran in conjunction with Israel, and adding two trillion dollars to the military budget has compelled the far right Libertarian / Republican Senator Rand Paul to denounce the Mormon Bishop’s criticisms of President Obama’s policies while advocating a more interventionist policy.

“I do not… support a call for intervention in Syria,” Rand says. “We owe it to ourselves, our soldiers and our children to take a more careful look at our foreign policy, to not rush into war, and to not attempt to score political points with wrongheaded policy ideas…”

Yet given the record of Mitt’s advisors this does not seem likely.  The authoritative White Paper, stating the Romney Doctrine, is titled “An American Century.” And its principal author is Eliot Cohen, a founder of the Project for a New America Century – whose disastrous role in the Bush Administration is richly detailed in my essay “The Iraq War Was Hatched in a Think Tank” at   All things considered, like the old bluesman Louis Jordan, I’m singing: “Beware Brother…. Beware!”

Romney this is a Wise Man: Be Afaid…be Very Afraid


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

October 22, 2012

Wipeout on Long Island!

Posted in Playthell on politics, The Presidential Debates 2012 with tags , , on October 17, 2012 by playthell
                     Barack Calling Romney Out on His Lies

 Barack Exposes Romney as Mr. Chameleon

Democrats are dancing in the streets this morning after toasting the President’s feisty performance last night.  He gave no quarter in his head to head debate with challenger Mitt Romney, who conducted himself like a schoolyard bully in their last encounter.  But when Mitt tried it this time the President smacked him in the face.  It caught Romney off guard; evidently he has spent too much time listening to media talking heads prattle on about what a great debater he is.

The President’s aggressive posture struck such a dramatic contrast with his accommodating stance in the last debate that several people who heard my Open Letter to the president on the news yesterday called to ask if I thought he had read it.  And if you consider my instructions on how to wage the debate – take the fight to Mitt, expose every false move, attack from many angels, slip his attacks and counter-attack etc. – then compare them to the President’s tactics in seems a reasonable question.

However I thought of Dr. Albert Einstein’s response to a group of Rabbis after publishing his General Theory of Relativity.  The learned Rabbis asked the scientist if he was claiming to know how God made the world.  To which Dr. Einstein replied that he had made no such claim…but God could have made it this way.  Likewise I don’t flatter myself that the President read my letter, which is published at, but had he followed my instructions he would have done nothing different.  And just as I predicted, it was a wipeout.

The President repeatedly took the fight to Romney.  His attacks were sharp and well placed, and every time Romney tried to get away with arguments that were transparent sophistry intended to confuse and obscure, rather than clarify and enlighten, the President got up in his face and forcefully beat him down with the facts.

There were several critical areas in which Romney was exposed as a fraud.  On taxes, on women’s issues, on the auto industry, on assault weapons, on the coal industry, on outsourcing jobs to China, and on foreign policy – particularly the recent Libyan attack.  Romney set himself up for knockout on Libya because he introduced the subject of the President’s response to the event with such drama…only to be proved factually wrong by both the moderator Candy Crowley and President Obama.

To the informed observer it was clear that Romney was playing politics with an American tragedy, even though the father of one of the slain victims has publicly asked him not to.  And Barack made him pay in one of the most dramatic moments of the debate.

Speaking from the position of President and Commander-In-Chief the President told the nation that America’s Foreign Service workers are his personal emissaries and called Romney’s charges of a cover-up “offensive.”

Romney also took a whipping on the immigration and women’s issues.  The President’s policies on both of these questions are very strong and Romney and his party’s positions are weak.  They are opposed to the Dream Act – which offers a path to citizenship to young people brought to this country by parents who are illegal immigrants – and Romney had no answer to a direct question as to whether he would have signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act that makes it illegal to pay women less than men for comparable work.

Both issues provided the President with opportunities to speak directly to these important constituencies with personal stories that touch the heart.  He was eloquent, brilliant, genuinely compassionate, and had the facts on his side.  He demonstrated that facts and brilliant oratory matters.  When all these elements are combined with President Obama’s infectious charm it becomes an irresistible force.

Despite the frantic spinning of Mitt’s Republican surrogates and media shills; the sophistry and banal commentary of much of the punditariat who sometimes seem clueless, and the persistent confusion of an ignorant electorate – “Boobus Americanus” – I called it for the Chi-town kid by a knockout!


 Playthell G. BenJamin

Harlem, New York

October 17, 2012



The Brawl for it All!

Posted in Playthell on politics, The Presidential Debates 2012 with tags , on October 16, 2012 by playthell
 It’s On!  It’s Obama Time!!!

 An Open Letter to President Obama

Yo Chilly B!  Can we conversate for a minute.  You in a real fight Dog.  Debate is a form of verbal pugilism, so think like a fighter!  You gotta smash this chump tonight.  Kick the niceties to the curb, jump on that lyin low life sucka, and beat his ass down to tha ground!   Last time you came for an evening of polite conversation, a genteel sparring match where you would gracefully outfox your challenger and win on points.  But the other guy decided to fight dirty and caught you off guard.

Last time you seemed to channel Sweet Saoul Mamby – the master boxer from the Bronx that the late writer and boxing aficionado Jack New field said was harder to hit than the lotto jackpot, who out boxed Roberto Duran but lost the decision.  This time take a lesson from Aaron the Hawk Pryor: attack, throw blows from all directions non-stop, slip Mitts feeble attempts to counterpunch and cut off the ring every time he attempts to retreat…let the chump know he can run but he can’t hide.

I know your handlers filled yo head up with foolishness about sitting on yo lead and acting “presidential.” They figured you the Champ and the people already loved you; so all you had to do was maintain your cool and hold on to the love and your lead.  And they told you to avoid the appearance of arrogance at all cost, because if you appeared to be condescending and trying to humiliate your opponent you could win the fight but lose the love!

However they forgot to tell you that Americans are very fickle and they love a winner.  Many of them don’t even care how you win…so long as you win!  I know this is offensive to a principled man like yourself who always plays by the rules, especially since you came into the fight knowing Mitt couldn’t win cause of the moral and intellectual shape he was in, and you couldn’t lose cause of the science you use!

You were well prepared for the bout and had every reason to believe that The Mittster couldn’t hit you with a hand full of rice.  You could see all the flaws in his game and the gaping holes in his defense.  And you figured the referee would keep everybody honest; which means that feints, false moves and missed shots would be called as such and scored accordingly!

Not so!   The other guy came to win by any means, like they do in the private equity game, including playing dirty and breaking all the rules.  And the referee – an over the hill pootbutt who turned out to be blind, deaf and dumb – let the joker get away with sucker punches on the breaks and hitting below the belt.

But now you got a rematch, a chance to redeem yourself.  So take some advice from an old warrior who has never lost a bout on the podium in over half a century…and I’ve done battle with a lot tougher opponents than that jive pile of Mitt.  First of all take the true measure of your opponent: you are the champ he is a chump.  He wants what what you got and you gotta make him take it.  Maintain your cool at all cost; protect yourself at all times; roll with the punches and make him pay for every false move; beat his butt til it ropes like okra; think wipe out: Louis Schmeling II.  And enter the match like you wanna kill a mosquito with a hatchet!!!!


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

October 16, 2012

The Biggest Fight of his Life!

Posted in Playthell on politics, The Presidential Debates 2012 with tags on October 4, 2012 by playthell

           The Mittster doing his thing

 Mitt Bullies Barack in Prime Time

Listening to the pundits talk after the Presidential debate, the thoughtful observer cannot help feeling that their comments seem more appropriate to a sporting event or theatrical production.  All the talk was about Mitt’s performance; whether what he was saying is true seemed of no matter.  It was as if veracity was elbowed aside in favor of theatricality.  Mitt was amped like a Heavy Metal rocker and the pundits squealed like teenage girls.

But despite his aggressive and flamboyant presentation, Romney’s arguments followed his basic formula: tell outrageous lies if they support your position and insist they are true even when confronted with the facts. And like Mr. Chameleon, the old time radio sleuth who adopted many disguises,  Mitt dons the proper costume to convey the identity he has assumed at the moment. As always they counted on the ignorance of the electorate.

Yet there was an air of desperation about Romney’s attacks that reminds me of a story about a hound and a hare.  When the hound was chastised by his master for allowing the hare to outrun him and get away, the hound pointed out that he was just running for his lunch…the rabbit was running for his life!  It would have been curtains for Mittens if he had gotten creamed last night; he was literally fighting for his political life.

Mitt was simpatico with the wag who observed: “You can never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”  So he bombarded us with figures, often without the proper context, knowing that the average listener would have no idea as to their accuracy.  He also knew it would give him an air of authority. Last night Mitt was part Mormon Bishop, part corporate salesman and shameless prevaricator.

In essence it was a debate between two smart Harvard educated lawyers that concentrated in different areas of the law.  Mitt studied the law to make money; Barack studied the law to make a better world.  Everybody was watching and waiting with bated breath and great expectations. There was much speculation before the debate commenced about which Romney would show up.

President Obama began the debate with his usual eloquence and mellow effervescence…easy like Sunday morning.  But Mitt came ready to rumble and jumped on the president the way Sugar Ray Leonard jumped on Wilfredo Benetez when he challenged him for his undisputed World Welter-Weight crown.

Having won the world title at 17, an unprecedented event in the history of the game, and being undefeated in the ring, Benetez entered the fight over confident of victory and got surprised by Sugar. Benetez lost the bout but was more surprised than injured by the encounter. If I wanted to sum up last night’s debate in pugilistic metaphors Leonard v. Benetez would be perfect.

     Leonard vs Benetez

Overconfidence is an invitation to disaster

However there are some critical differences: Unlike Romney, Benetez was for real.  But he only got a one shot deal; Leonard wisely never gave him a rematch.  But Mitt has got to get up on the podium with Barack two more times.  I am certain that the rematch will be a blood bath and Chilly B. will murder the bum!

The president squandered several opportunities for a knockout.  All boxers know that when a fighter gets too hyped in the ring they make mistakes.  Hence an aggressive opponent swinging wildly makes mistakes that leave them open to counterattack.  Two examples will suffice.  When Mitt said he had the wrong accountant because he never got a tax break for moving jobs overseas and his outrage at the fact that President invested 90 billion dollars in green energy projects.

The first statement supplied an ideal opening for the president to attack Mitt on his bizarre tax history, and the second statement provided the opportunity for the President to discuss his revolutionary program to produce a clean energy source that will finally take the US off of fossil fuels forever.  This was money well spent!

Inexplicably, Barack played past both opportunities to score a knockout. Hence if Mitt won the debate, as much of the commentariat apparently believes, it was a triumph of style over substance. Thus  the soaring cheers are much ado about nothing.  I predict the rematch will be Louis Schmeling all over again.  The Chi Town Kid by a knock out!  Remember, you heard it here first.


This is how I see the rematch 



Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
Septamber 4, 2012

Waiting for the Great Debate

Posted in Playthell on politics, The Presidential Debates 2012 with tags , , , on October 3, 2012 by playthell

       Looking Backward versus a Vision for the Future

Can the Debates Decide the Presidential Election?

Tonight the Republican challenger Mitt Romney will take the stage with President Obama in the first of three debates that many observers believe will determine the election.  On the face of it this sounds absurd.  After hundreds of millions of dollars has been spent buying time to air campaign ads promoting their candidate, carefully crafted propaganda designed to convince masses of Americans to vote their way, the whole ball of wax could be won or lost in three 90 minute debates….sometimes on one statement.  Really?

Well it’s happened before.  Conventional wisdom has it that Richard Nixon lost a campaign to John Kennedy because of a television debate.  Prior to the debates Nixon, who had served as Vice-President under a successful Eisenhower Administration that had built the Interstate Highway system and enforced the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. The Board of Ed case declaring de-jure segregated public schools unconstitutional, was winning.

But the televised debate, which was a novel development in presidential debates, turned the tide in favor of the younger, and relatively inexperienced, Senator from Massachusetts. More importantly the Senator’s victory was not ascribed by the experts to soaring rhetoric or profound insights into the critical problems facing the nation, however weighty and poetic his arguments may have been, but to the fact that Nixon refused makeup and began to sweat, which made him look like a shady character and turned people off.  Hence Jack Kennedy became president because he looked better under the klieg lights.

The debate between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter is believed to have won the election for Jimmy Carter; after Ford said the nations of Eastern Europe were not under Russian domination.  Jimmy Carter is believed to have lost the presidency when Ronald Reagan looked into the camera and asked “Are you better off now that you were four years ago?” And four years later Reagan, a trained actor who understood the importance of delivering a line well, dispatched Fritz Mondale to the dustbin of history by nullifying the issue of his advanced age; announcing he wouldn’t hold Mondale’s “Youth and inexperience against him.”

These pivotal historical moments leave but little doubt that a Presidential election can be decided by a single faux paux or rhetorical triumph.  Hence stiff, contrived and superficial as they are these debates are of critical importance to the outcome of the election…and thus the fate of the nation.  Romney has been advised to adopt a Reaganesque posture and ask a similar question as to whether voters are better off now.

But that would be a risky business, because the fact is that the nation is unquestionably better off now than we were when President Obama took office. The numbers tell the story even if everybody does not necessarily feel that is the case.  Hence although the President comes into the debate leading in the polls, both overall and in the important swing states, a bad showing in the debate could change the equation for victory overnight.  That’s why Mitt, a bad actor who often comes across as a clueless phony, has been intensely rehearsing his lines for weeks.

Of course I’d rather see a free flowing debate like the famous Lincoln-Douglass debates of the 1850’s – where deep philosophical questions were contested in eloquent oratory shaped by the insights and poetry of Shakespeare and the King James Bible – sacred and secular canonical texts with which both men were familiar – because President Obama would be a sure shot.

The superiority of his vision for the nation, plus the gravitas and eloquence of his oratory would easily carry the day.  But I’ll settle for a safe, mechanical, mistake free, performance which can win the hearts and minds of the untutored dunderheads still sitting on the fence; they who have just begun paying attention to the Presidential election.


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

October 3, 2012