Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The President is not entitled to special deference in a political debate

Since last night I've heard several people on both sides -- including Romney Campaign spokesman Joe Scarborough --  claim Mitt Romney was out of line for not showing "deference to the office" of President.

Utter nonsense.  Barack Obama is President of the United States, not a king.

The participants in any debate should behave in a courteous, polite and dignified way that shows respect for their opponents. 

Yes, Romney was a huge dick last night.  Romney's behavior was boorish and rude and disrespectful, but it would be no less so if he were debating Herman Cain. 

What makes Romney's behavior particularly reprehensible and boorish is the fact that the negotiated agreement between the campaigns on the rules for this debate included a prohibition against asking each other direct questions.

Romney violated this rule almost immediately and why did he do this?  Simple, the rules don't apply to him.  Mitt Romney is privileged and bound by no rules that he prefers to break any time it suits him.  Of course the Obama campaign will not object, because to do so makes them look like wimps. 

The President of the United States is a public servant, answerable to the American people. After the first 4 years, if the President wishes to continue for 4 more years, he must stand for re-election and the public is free to fire him.

The Bush administration hide behind this 'deference to the office' canard to question the patriotism of anyone who criticized Bush, and to deflect all criticism of his policies, many of which were completely disastrous.

Certainly, the President is entitled to deference in delicate matters of foreign policy (like when say, an embassy is attacked and diplomats murdered) and military matter, but even then he's not above criticism and oversight.   And when running for re-election, the President is not entitled to any more deference on the campaign trail than his opponent.

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