Ronna Colilla / Lantern photographer
I don’t know about you guys, but I am certainly getting sick of the rhetorical, inflammatory campaign ads. I have too often heard my colleagues say that there is no difference between candidates, that they are essentially the same. Well, as proved in a debate tonight between two ideologues representing the Republican and Democratic parties, there is a fundamental difference: not just in the ideology but in the approaches of both parties.
James Carville, a former political adviser for Bill Clinton, went toe-to-toe in a debate Tuesday night against Karl Rove, a former adviser to George W. Bush.
Herb Asher, an OSU political science professor, moderated the debate.
Carville was rather eccentric through the night, presenting sheets of paper with graphs to the audience and walking around the stage, leaving public view several times for some unknown reason. Rove stayed behind his podium most of the time, except when passionately presenting the case for the GOP.
The first question: Are you better off now than you were four years ago? Rove answered first, noting that President Barack Obama made strides by ending the war in Iraq, putting more troops into Afghanistan and using drones. Rove then went on the offensive. He said the U.S. has the highest unemployment since the Great Depression and the highest unemployment rate among young workers in history, the median household income has dropped for the first time ever and the national debt has risen to become a higher percentage of the GDP. All of these things happened while Obama controlled the House and Senate, and only got worse when Republicans took control of the House in 2010 and Obama refused to compromise with the GOP.
Carville fired back saying it was Bush’s fault (seemingly the only argument from the left, considering they are ignoring their failed policies as Carville did the entire night), and presented a graph of job growth in the red during the beginning of the recession under Bush and improvement after Obama took office. What he failed to note (as Obama and other Democrats have conveniently forgotten) is that much of the economic relief has come from Republican governors in states such as Ohio, which Rove later hit on.
For the rest of the economic debate, Rove hit on how deregulation of the housing market, which helped cause the economic meltdown, came under Clinton. Rove also noted how Obama complained about the deficit while Obama ran it up by billions of dollars. He also mentioned how Carville’s attack on the Bush Tax Cuts was invalid considering Obama extended the same cuts under a Democratic controlled Congress. Carville pulled out his chart several more times over the course of the night blaming the economic recession on the Bush Tax Cuts.
Rove hit on the fact that higher taxes on the “wealthy” are hurting us considering that two-thirds of the tax filings falling under the Bush Tax Cuts are small business owners, and it is not about the wealthy paying a “fair share,” but keeping small businesses open. Carville’s rebuttal? Tax breaks for the wealthy don’t work. Well, people won’t be working either if small businesses close their doors, Mr. Carville.
Later in the debate, while talking about social issues, Carville mentioned that only Democrats are smart people, once again proving that Democrats can only attack their opponents because this current administration has no positive record to run on. He labeled Republicans as “Bubba with a gun rack on the back of his truck.”
Over the course of the night, Rove provided factual data as to how unemployment, debt and spending are out of control. Carville spent the night attacking Republicans while showing charts talking about the Bush Tax Cuts (which again, Obama had the ability to end).
I don’t usually look at a debate as having a winner or loser. But in terms of answering the questions and backing up the answers, Rove had the upper hand. Carville spent the night firing up the largely Democratic crowd with rhetoric. If I were an Independent (which I’m not), I would have been entirely convinced to vote for Mitt Romney this election. Thankfully, I didn’t need convincing. This debate goes to Rove without a doubt.