Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Big Dog, Persuader in Chief

West Virginians who support President Obama wonder how they can explain to those who don’t or who are undecided, many of them registered Democrats, why they should vote for him. In response, I’m turning to master communicator Bill Clinton. His speech to the Democratic National Convention was criticized for length but praised for its detail and accuracy. Unlike Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican convention, Clinton’s words and numbers hold up to fact checking. Here are the main points of his argument to reelect President Obama:

·      Democratic presidents have created almost twice as many jobs as Republican presidents in the last 50 years (42 million vs. 24 million)
·      The current Republican office holders “think government is the enemy, and compromise is weakness.” President Obama is still committed to cooperation and has shown he’s willing to work with Republicans if they will work with him.
·      President Obama “inherited a deeply damaged economy,” prevented a depression, and “laid the foundation for a modern economy that will produce millions of good new jobs.”
·      We are much better off than we were when Obama took office as the economy was in free fall and job loss was 750,000/month.
·      “No president – not me or any of my predecessors could have repaired all the damage in just four years….But conditions are improving.”
·      Since the stimulus kicked in, 4.5 million private sector jobs have been created. There would be a million more jobs if Congressional Republicans hadn’t blocked his jobs bill.
·      Obama saved the auto industry, bringing back 250,000 jobs. Romney opposed the plan.
·      Obama made an agreement with auto industry “management, labor, and environmental groups to double car mileage…” This and his “all of the above” energy plan save us money on gas now and in the future.
·      Obama made reforms to lower the cost of federal student loans and make them easier for students to repay.
·      Obamacare is not a government takeover. Insurance companies are running it under new, fairer rules forcing them to spend more on health care instead of for profits and advertising.
·      Millions more Americans are now and will become insured, even those who cannot now get insurance because of pre-existing conditions.
·      “And for the last two years, health care spending has grown under 4%, for the first time in 50 years.”
·      The Republican claim that the President is “robbing Medicare of 716 billion dollars” is false. He is saving money by cutting unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies and some providers, and using the savings to save seniors money on prescription drugs.
·      The Republican charge that Obama is weakening the work requirement for citizens receiving welfare assistance is false. In fact, he is working with Republican governors to strengthen it.
·      The President has offered a debt reduction plan of 4 trillion dollars in a decade (fact checkers say this is somewhat inflated because it includes money saved by ending wars). It contains spending cuts of $2.50 for each $1 of increased taxes on high earners.
·      Romney’s budget plan gives more tax cuts to the rich and will either add to the debt or cause tax increases for middle class taxpayers. He won’t say what he would cut, but it would hurt the country to make cuts in the amounts he and Ryan propose.
·      “If you want a ‘you’re on your own, winner take all’ society, you should support the Republican ticket.  If you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibilities – a ‘we’re all in it together’ society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”

Some people who support the President have asked me how we can talk to those who seem to discount facts and talk very negatively about him. The human brain is an amazing instrument with several parts. Our more primitive brain reacts to emotions, especially fear. That’s why it’s so hard to change someone’s mind with facts, and why folksy charm in politicians like Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan is so effective with many Americans,

If you're an undecided Democrat or Independent, I hope you're willing to consider the facts. But folks, don’t take it from me, take it from the Big Dog, President Clinton, “I want to nominate a man who’s cool on the outside, but who burns for America on the inside…I want Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States.”

A version of this was published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail on Sunday, September 16, 2012