At tonight’s presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, we saw the shifty way Romney evades the real question while trying to tell America that our president is evil.
The second debate began with a question from a 20-year-old college student named Jeremy, who asked, “What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?”
Romney was the first to respond and his reassurance to Jeremy featured the refrain, “I know what to do.” Here’s his response to Jeremy’s question (annotated with our observations):
Your question – your question is one that’s being asked by college kids all over this country. [NO shit, dude.] I was in Pennsylvania with someone who had just graduated – this was in Philadelphia – and she said, “I’ve got my degree. I can’t find a job. I’ve got three part- time jobs. They’re just barely enough to pay for my food and pay for an apartment. I can’t begin to pay back my student loans.” [Yeah, we know what this is like. And if Jeremy doesn’t know yet, he’ll find out soon enough.]
So what we have to do is two things. We have to make sure that we make it easier for kids to afford college. [Obama has a proven record on making it easier for kids to afford college; he successfully boosted funding for Pell grants.]
And also make sure that when they get out of college, there’s a job. [Okay, how?]
When I was governor of Massachusetts, to get a high school degree, you had to pass an exam. If you graduated in the top quarter of your airlines, we gave you a John and Abigail Adams scholarship, four years tuition free in the college of your choice in Massachusetts, it’s a public institution. [What does this have to do with anything? Is he the one who introduced such legislation? Is this something that can be replicated on a national scale? What??]
I want to make sure we keep our Pell grant program growing. We’re also going to have our loan program, so that people are able to afford school. [But loan debt is crippling us; how would he make it so that loan interest is minimal, etc? Again, Obama has a record on this.] But the key thing is to make sure you can get a job when you get out of school. And what’s happened over the last four years has been very, very hard for America’s young people. I want you to be able to get a job. [Again, HOW?]
I know what it takes to get this economy going. With half of college kids graduating this year without a college – excuse me, without a job. And without a college level job, that’s just unacceptable. [We think so too, but we’re not the ones saying we know what it takes to turn it around without sharing specific methods for doing so.]
And likewise you’ve got more and more debt on your back. [Again, thanks, Captain Obvious!] So more debt and less jobs. I’m going to change that. I know what it takes to create good jobs again. I know what it takes to make sure that you have the kind of opportunity you deserve. And kids across this country are going to recognize, we’re bringing back an economy. [A common refrain we’ve heard from voters decided on Romney is that he’s sure to bring us jobs based solely on his experience at Bain, which has invested in companies that export jobs.]
It’s not going to be like the last four years. [Ooh, a dig at Obama.] The middle-class has been crushed over the last four years, and jobs have been too scarce. I know what it takes to bring them back, and I’m going to do that, and make sure that when you graduate – when do you graduate? [Thanks for the bullshit reassurance, Mitt. You saying, “I know what it takes…” does not reassure me that you can actually get me hired when I graduate in May.]
ROMNEY: 2014. When you come out in 2014, I presume I’m going to be president. I’m going to make sure you get a job. Thanks Jeremy. Yeah, you bet. [Presumptuous. Mighty presumptuous. Reminder: Let’s check in with Jeremy in two years and see if he has a job upon graduation.]
Then it was Obama’s turn. Here’s what he said (with our notations):
OBAMA: Jeremy, first of all, your future is bright. And the fact that you’re making an investment in higher education is critical. Not just to you, but to the entire nation. Now, the most important thing we can do is to make sure that we are creating jobs in this country. But not just jobs, good paying jobs. Ones that can support a family. [Okay, I’m anxious to see how he plans to do this.]
And what I want to do, is build on the five million jobs that we’ve created over the last 30 months in the private sector alone. [Smart move, showing your record in the job.] And there are a bunch of things we can do to make sure your future is bright.
Number one, I want to build manufacturing jobs in this country again. Now when Governor Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt, I said we’re going to bet on American workers and the American auto industry and it’s come surging back. [I like that he’s got a concrete first step. And this is a good effort to illustrate Romney as a nincompoop.]
I want to do that in industries, not just in Detroit, but all across the country and that means we change our tax code so we’re giving incentives to companies that are investing here in the United States and creating jobs here. [Showing he’s got a wider focus.]
It also means we’re helping them and small businesses to export all around the world to new markets. [I want to know more about this, but maybe that’s just too complex for this setting.]
Number two, we’ve got to make sure that we have the best education system in the world. [Yay, there’s a step two! But how exactly are we going to do that?] And the fact that you’re going to college is great, but I want everybody to get a great education and we’ve worked hard to make sure that student loans are available for folks like you, but I also want to make sure that community colleges are offering slots for workers to get retrained for the jobs that are out there right now and the jobs of the future. [Okay, good. He’s gotten specific. Sounds like a good plan to me so far.]
Number three, we’ve got to control our own energy. Now, not only oil and natural gas, which we’ve been investing in; but also, we’ve got to make sure we’re building the energy source of the future, not just thinking about next year, but ten years from now, 20 years from now. That’s why we’ve invested in solar and wind and biofuels, energy efficient cars. [I like the concern for the future.]
We’ve got to reduce our deficit, but we’ve got to do it in a balanced way. Asking the wealthy to pay a little bit more along with cuts so that we can invest in education like yours. [In condensed form, this is the best explanation I think he could have given, although I’d like to hear more.]
And let’s take the money that we’ve been spending on war over the last decade to rebuild America: roads, bridges, schools. We do those things, not only is your future going to be bright but America’s future is going to bright as well. [I like the potentially unintended subtext that the kids are the future.]
Based just on these two responses, I’m further convinced that Obama is my candidate. Obviously, my opinion is just my own and you’re entitled to yours. I’d love to hear what you thought in the comments below!