5 Questions About George Zimmerman’s (Appropriate) Acquittal

Police photo of George Zimmerman after the shooting

1.  Did the prosecution prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that George Zimmerman was not acting in self-defense when he pulled the trigger?

This actually was the only question the jury needed to decide.  If the answer is no, then racial profiling, Florida’s stand-your-ground law and all the rest are irrelevant.  As law professor and legal über-blogger Eugene Volokh writes, “once the defense introduces any evidence of possible self-defense, the prosecution must disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.” If the jury concludes that the prosecution has failed to meet this test — and given Zimmerman’s injuries and the testimony that Trayvon Martin was on top,  they could not honorably have reached any other conclusion — then murder and manslaughter are both off the table.

2.  So was Zimmerman blameless in Martin’s death? 

Gracious, no.  He disregarded the dispatcher’s (regrettably understated) instruction not to follow Martin, and he sure as hell should never have gotten out of his car.  If Zimmerman had not been playing wannabe cop, Trayvon Martin would be alive today.  But as William Saletan said in a thoughtful and well-researched Slate article, Zimmerman’s actions “make him a reckless fool instead of a murderer.”

3.  If Zimmerman was at fault, shouldn’t he be punished?

In our legal system, a defendant can be convicted only of the specific charges leveled against him or her.  Zimmerman was charged, ludicrously, with second-degree murder, and manslaughter is a lesser included charge.  I wonder if Zimmerman could have been charged with reckless endangerment, or impersonating a police officer, or some such.  If self-defense gets Zimmerman acquitted for pulling the trigger, maybe he could have been convicted of a much-lesser crime for his actions before pulling the trigger.

4.  Will the U.S. Justice Department bring civil rights or hate-crime charges against Zimmerman?

Unfortunately, that’s the way to bet, given that race-obsessed Attorney General Eric Holder runs a thoroughly politicized Justice Department.  The evidence supporting self-defense will be just as strong the second time around, but there’s no telling what a jury might do.  But Zimmerman can take some hope from a CNN article about Holder’s statements in the aftermath of the shooting last year:

“For a federal hate crime, we have to prove the highest standard in the law,” Holder said in April 2012, 45 days after Zimmerman shot the African American teenager in what was depicted by civil rights groups as a racially motivated killing.

In words that now sound prescient, Holder described to reporters that day how “something that was reckless, that was negligent does not meet that standard.”

5.  How has President Obama behaved in this saga?

Once again, as in the arrest of Professor Gates, Obama irresponsibly inserted himself into a racially charged local legal issue.  His statement that “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon” could have had the effect of tainting the jury pool and making it harder for Zimmerman to get a fair trial.  To the credit of the jurors, they withstood all of the pressures, acknowledged the reasonable doubt and reached the verdict demanded by that doubt.  To Obama’s credit, his statement after the acquittal was better: “We are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken.”

(Public domain police photo via Wikipedia)


Three Questions on the IRS Scandal

In the category of simple answers to complicated questions, I offer the following:

Is this Obama’s Watergate?

Not even close.

Watergate started with an unambiguous crime — the break-in — and the president of the United States participated for many months in a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice in the cover-up.  Nearly 40 people went to prison because of Watergate.

The current IRS scandal started with behavior that was utterly inappropriate — using the awesome power of the IRS to subject Obama opponents to extraordinary levels of harassment.  But it’s not at all clear that any crime has been committed, and despite the overheated calls for jail time from Governor Bobby Jindahl and Speaker John Boehner, it’s likely that nobody will go to jail for the IRS misdeeds.

I admire Peggy Noonan, but she mars her otherwise excellent appraisal of the matter when she starts by saying “We are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate.”  There are other candidates for the title of Worst Since Watergate, but for discussion purposes let’s stipulate that her statement is narrowly correct.  It’s still misleading.  It’s like saying the economic crisis that began in 2008 was “the worst downturn since the Great Depression.”  Even if that’s true — and again, other nominees are available — it’s inappropriate to make comparisons with the Depression, when unemployment reached 25%.

Is the IRS scandal, along with Benghazi revelations and the subpoenas of journalist phone records, going to damage the effectiveness of the administration in Obama’s second term?


It’s four short months since Inauguration Day, and the second-term jinx has struck President Obama unusually early.  Iran-contra erupted two years into Ronald Reagan’s second term.    The Lewinsky scandal was first disclosed a full year into Clinton’s second term.  The Iraq War started before George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election, but at this point in his second term a majority of Americans still supported the war, and consistent majority opposition did not take hold until 2006.

This isn’t Watergate, but it’s not chopped liver.  The IRS story has legs.  Congressional hearings will continue for months.  We’ll hear more and more stories like that of Catherine Englebrecht, a small business owner turned Tea Party activist in Texas, who was harassed by not just the IRS but also by the FBI, BATF and OSHA after she formed a Tea Party-related non-profit.  Agree or disagree with her politics, but the story is appalling — and Democrats are going to realize that someday, another Republican administration will be in power.  Liberal icon Jon Stewart last week lashed out at President Obama as savagely as I’ve ever seen, mocking the president’s transparent posturing at a news conference and ridiculing his repeated claims over the years that he only learned about various controversies via the news media.

Who’s the biggest winner in the IRS scandal?

The Tea Party.

What better demonstration could there be about the dangers of excessive government power than a scandal in which the Tea Party, which advocates smaller government, is targeted improperly by some of the government’s most powerful agencies?


A Dime’s Worth of Balanced Thoughts on SOTU

President Obama seems increasingly divorced from reality on the deficit. First there was his jaw-dropping statement to Speaker Boehner, during the fiscal cliff crisis, that “we don’t have a spending problem.” Now tonight he trots out the usual SOTU laundry list of new initiatives — some of them sensible enough. But he introduces them by saying “nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime.”

Excuse me? Props to the Republican National Committee for being out already with a video that includes tonight’s speech in a litany of video clips of Obama’s dime-saving promises, closing by pointing out that the national debt has increased by 58 trillion dimes since Obama took office.

The Obama-voting Web Goddess, who has to get up early tomorrow, bailed about 10 minutes into the speech, saying it wasn’t very interesting “now that he never has to run for office again.” I said “he’s acting like he never has to compromise with a Republican again, either.” She said “yes, that’s coming through.” Celebrate small victories…

I’m getting tired of Obama’s repeated references to “a balanced approach” to cutting the deficit. Here’s my idea of balance: the fiscal cliff deal imposed tax increases with no spending cuts. Now let’s balance that with a sequester deal of spending cuts with no tax increases.

There will be no sequester deal, of course. The Republicans cannot possibly surrender the only mechanism they have for forcing spending cuts, however clumsy those cuts may be, unless they and the Democrats can agree on alternate cuts of equal size. And there’s no chance of that in the next two weeks. Obama’s White House invented the sequester idea in the summer of 2011, and he and the Democrats have had a year and a half to propose alternate cuts. This president has no intention of cutting anything except defense.

One statement jumped out at me in his discussion of the need for changes to Medicare: “I am open to additional reforms from both parties, so long as they don’t violate the guarantee of a secure retirement.” Arrrgh! There is no guarantee of a secure retirement! There are entitlement programs in place that provide subsistence-level support, and even that isn’t guaranteed, because the programs are unsustainable. Anyone wanting “a secure retirement” is going to have to either inherit it or save for it.

After my negative feelings about much of the speech, I was surprised to find myself moved by Obama’s closing, when he offered up the examples of the brave police officer, the noble nurse and the 102-year-old woman who endured six hours in line on election night so she could cast her vote.

That’s just the way we’re made.

We may do different jobs, and wear different uniforms, and hold different views than the person beside us. But as Americans, we all share the same proud title:

We are citizens. It’s a word that doesn’t just describe our nationality or legal status. It describes the way we’re made. It describes what we believe. It captures the enduring idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations; that our rights are wrapped up in the rights of others; and that well into our third century as a nation, it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter in our American story.

Well put, Mr. President. (Yes, I know that by “certain obligations to one another” he means bigger government, but I don’t have to accept that premise.)

Man oh man, I loves me some Marco Rubio! An excerpt from the official Republican response:

Presidents in both parties – from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan – have known that our free enterprise economy is the source of our middle class prosperity.

But President Obama? He believes it’s the cause of our problems. That the economic downturn happened because our government didn’t tax enough, spend enough and control enough. And, therefore, as you heard tonight, his solution to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more and spend more.

Preach it, brother.

To end on a bipartisan note, I’ll paraphrase something David Gergen said on CNN: Who would have thought, as recently as a dozen years ago, that we would one day see a state of the union speech by a black president, followed by a response from a Hispanic senator?

Time’s “Person of the Year” Essay Provides Insights on Obama’s Victory

It’s no surprise, of course, that Barack Obama was named Time‘s Person of the Year.  In presidential election years, the winner of the election has been named POY in 12 out of 22 times, including 9 of the last 13 and 4 of the last 4. (That’s original research; I counted them up myself.  You’re welcome.)

But I was surprised when I read the magazine’s POY essay. I was expecting a glowing hagiography, reminiscent of when the just-elected Obama was sanctified by the Nobel Peace Prize committee.  Instead I found a clear-eyed assessment of the re-election effort and why it was successful.

The passage I found most persuasive is set up by a statement from the head of the campaign’s research team that “undecided voters… were making a very trust-based assessment between Obama and Romney.”

This became the through line of the brutal and at times unfair Obama attacks on Romney — the cracks about car elevators, the specious mention of his potentially felonious Securities and Exchange Commission filings, the false claim that he supported an abortion ban without a rape exception, the endless harping on a Swiss bank account once held in his wife’s name. It all spoke to a central message built around trust: One man, despite his failures, had voters like you in mind. The other man, by contrast, knew how to make a lot of money for people you will never meet.

Of course, Romney turned out to be Obama’s biggest ally in that narrative.

Indeed he did.  Romney’s “47 percent” blatherings probably ended whatever chance he might have had at victory. As the left gleefully pointed out, he ended up with 47 percent of the popular vote.

One final thought: Is anyone else puzzled by Time‘s decision to dramatically darken the Obama “Person of the Year” cover photo?  Didn’t they learn their lesson in 1994?

Lesson from the Mislabeled “Fiscal Cliff”: Please Spare Us Any Future Countdowns

A breathless Market Watch

Gimme a break.

Remember Y2K?

I rang in the year 2000 in a windowless Wall Street bunker, part of a multidisciplinary rapid-response team standing by to spring into action and muster resources from across the company in the event of a disaster anywhere in the world.

I performed this solemn duty while playing video games on my laptop.  I also practiced with a putter and golf ball someone else had brought. Every three hours the team assembled for a scheduled conference call with the company’s smaller command centers around the world, giving everyone a chance to tell jokes.

All this comes to mind, of course, during the breathless countdown to the so-called “fiscal cliff.”  Wolf Blitzer shows off the ticking clock every afternoon on CNN, and there are competing websites where you can get your own ticking clock widget for your blog or website. Please don’t.

Here’s Rex Nutting of the Wall Street Journal‘s MarketWatch.com to put it into perspective:

In truth, nothing much will happen to the economy on Jan. 1 or Jan. 2 or Jan. 3, despite the expiration of tax cuts and the automatic reductions in federal spending. … The fiscal cliff is a misleading metaphor. The laws will change on that day, it’s true, but the impact will be spread out over many, many months. In fact, the effects are already being felt, particularly in financial markets. Businesses, investors, workers and consumers have begun to prepare for the changes, and that’s caused the economy to slow a bit already.

It’s not a Niagara Falls, with billions of gallons going over a cliff. It’s more like a bathtub slowly filling up. And, on Jan. 1, it’s going to spill over the edge. Eventually, it will flood the house, but that’ll take time.

Hey Rex, tell it to whoever put a countdown clock on your own website’s homepage! Mercifully, the countdown craze for this manufactured crisis has not yet spread as widely as the craze for the last manufactured crisis — the debt ceiling struggle in 2011.  Here’s my take on that countdown:

Much of the news media is guilty of malpractice for pretending that August 2 was a consequential deadline.  The cable news networks and even the Washington Post had clocks ticking down the number of hours and minutes until midnight August 2, sometimes labeling those clocks as a countdown to default.  But if the clock had struck midnight without a deal in place, the awful consequences would have been… absolutely nothing.

The country would continue to pay most of its bills, including all of its debt-servicing bills, through the time-honored business practice of “maturing their payables” — making some creditors wait.  The next major step would be a partial shut-down of government, which certainly would have ratcheted up the drama.  But we were weeks away from any danger of default.

This countdown is perhaps slightly more real than the debt ceiling because at least it ends on a date where something actually will happen, whereas the deadline for the debt ceiling was an estimate pulled out of Tim Geithner’s ear three months in advance.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce jumped on the countdown bandwagon early, but to their credit they’re not displaying it now.

As a commenter pointed out in my previous post, the January 1 deadline was created by an act of legislature, and the same legislature can vote at any time to stop the clock or overturn the law altogether. If the President and the House Republicans don’t reach a deal before January 1, both sides will begin discussing plans to undo much of the damage triggered by the law.  Then the Republicans will have to fold their tent on the tax issue, unless they want to vote against a tax cut for the middle class.

One more Y2K memory: Later that holiday weekend, when I was off duty, someone found an actual problem to report! I got an urgent call at home from the communications person who was staffing the increasingly irrelevant command center.  I was the intranet guy at the time, managing the corporate homepage for our far-flung internal website. On a locally managed site overseas (I forget where), the Y2K preparations had missed a problematic bit of code.  A script had updated by adding 1 to the two-digit field for the year, resulting in an internal page dated January 1, 19100.

OK, I said.  I’ll call them Monday.


Fiscal Cliff Notes: It’s Hard to See Any Winning Scenario for the GOP

Who'll take the plunge?There’s a school of thought among conservatives that letting the country go over the “fiscal cliff” may be the least-bad option.  The “sequester” — the automatic across-the-board spending cuts that will accompany the tax increases set for January 1 if no deal is reached — may be the only way to accomplish any spending cuts.  Here’s Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal:

Conventional wisdom holds that the sequester is a mindless anti-spending Godzilla. But the sequester, because it is set in legislative stone, possesses what Washington today lacks with the public: credibility.

The only issue on the cliff negotiation table held true by every serious person is that the entitlement crisis is going to crush the country. But nothing is dearer to this president than higher taxes on people defined by him as the wealthiest. If the president’s DNA prevents him from a compromise that also includes a sequester-strength commitment to disarming the entitlement bombs, much less discretionary spending, take the sequester. Better the fiscal cliff than pitching the American people over the bottomless entitlement cliff.

But polls make it clear that the public would blame the Republicans more than the Democrats if we go over the fiscal cliff.  And that’s not the only problem the GOP would have.

Play the game out: let’s say there is no deal by January 1, so taxes increase automatically for all working Americans.  Democrats quickly will propose legislation to reduce taxes on all but the top two percent of earners. Obama will vow to veto any tax cut for the highest earners, secure in the knowledge that such a veto would be easily upheld.  Then the Tea Party caucus  — the segment of the Republican Party which has tax cutting as part of its brand identity — would either have to support the Democratic proposal or explain that they are opposing tax cuts for the middle class as a matter of principle because the cuts don’t also extend to the highest earners. Ugh.

House Speaker John Boehner, at some risk to his speakership, took a giant step toward the president by proposing a tax increase of $800 billion on the highest-earning Americans.  The new revenue would come from eliminating or limiting loopholes and tax deductions — which would have less of a negative effect on the economy than a straight increase in the top marginal rates.  As Kathleen Parker wrote,

Boehner’s good-faith attempts at a deal, offering new revenue through reforms as well as leaning toward some limited tax-rate increases, have been met with mockery. Obama’s laughable idea of a balanced deal includes taking control of the debt ceiling and doubling revenue demands, while offering little in the way of spending cuts.

To go along with the tax increase, the President actually is proposing a spending increase in the short run. The plan includes some new spending, and all of the proposed spending cuts would be delayed by a year, on the pretext of reducing the immediate impact on the economy.  A year is a long time, and Republicans today are likely to find themselves in the same boat as Ronald Reagan — agreeing to tax increases in return for later spending cuts that never happen.

A deal in the next 22 days looks highly unlikely. Obama holds the trump cards, and he’s shown no inclination to make any concessions.

(Public domain photo from Wikipedia.)

Benghazi is the Silver Lining in the Tragedy of Petraeus

When a co-worker told me late Friday about General Petraeus’s resignation as CIA director, my immediate reaction was profound sadness.  Petraeus is one of the few public servants I’ve ever admired without reservation.  Now that’s been taken from me.  (Yes, it’s about me.)

Petraeus will still be remembered as one of the greatest generals in American history.  President Lincoln supposedly said of my friend’s great-great-grandfather, “I wish some of you would tell me the brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals.”  I have this fantasy of President Obama saying, “I wonder if we could find a hot biographer for some of my other generals?”

But back to me: I’ve followed Petraeus’s career off and on since he was a mere colonel walking around the Princeton campus with a briefcase in the mid-1980s.  That’s the detail I remember from the Princeton Alumni Weekly article about him — hey, there’s this guy who looks like he could be a well-dressed grad student, except he carries a briefcase.  Petraeus got two graduate degrees from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.  (I hope I’m remembering the details correctly — unfortunately, PAW articles from that far back are not available online.)

I’ve written about Petraeus a few times here, most notably in “Dog Bites Man: MoveOn.org Twists the Truth” and ““Barack Obama Better Be All In” on Afghanistan “. I know there are people who despise Petraeus, think he’s created a personality cult around himself, blah blah blah, I don’t care.  Petraeus won the war in Iraq, after taking over while it seemed to many — including a disgraceful Senate majority leader — that the war had been lost.

The silver lining in the Petraeus episode is that the debacle in Benghazi will finally get the attention it deserves.  (Note to Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein: If it was appropriate for Gen. Petraeus to testify in your closed-door hearing when he was CIA director, it’s no less appropriate now that he’s a private citizen.)  Here’s VDH with a handy list of questions you should ask:

“We were beginning to sense that the crime of Benghazi (not listening to pre-attack requests for increased security; not sending help immediately from the annex to the besieged consulate; not rushing in additional military forces during the hours-long attack) and the cover-up (inventing the video narrative of a spontaneous demonstration gone wild to support a pre-election administration narrative of an impotent al-Qaeda, a successful Libya, a positive Arab Spring, and a cool, competent Commander in Chief, slayer of bin Laden, and architect of momentous Middle East change) were not the entire story of the 9/11/2012 attack: Why was there a consulate at all in Benghazi, given that most nations have shut down their main embassies in Tripoli? Why was there such a large CIA contingent nearby — what were they doing and why and for whom? Why did the ambassador think he needed more security when so many CIA operatives were stationed just minutes away? What was the exact security relationship between the annex and the consulate, and why the apparent quiet about it? Who exactly were the terrorist hit-teams, and did they have a particular agenda, and, if so, what and for whom? All these questions had not been answered and probably would have been raised during the scheduled Petraeus testimony — which is apparently now canceled, but why that is so, no one quite knows.”

Regardless of whether the Petraeus testimony gets uncanceled, now the media is in the hunt. The Obama-supporting mainstream media had no stomach for Benghazi when they thought it might hurt their guy’s election chances.  Even after the election, until the Petraeus revelation, the media could think it would be potentially embarrassing (to the media) to dig into Benghazi too much, let’s move along, maybe there’s nothing there anyway.

But now? The CIA director admits to banging his biographer just days before he’s supposed to testify (behind closed doors) to a Congressional committee? I can practically hear some top editor at the New York Times: “HOLY CRAP!  Flood the zone! I want a reporter on every aspect of this story, we can’t let the National Enquirer scoop us like they did on John Edward’s love child! What’s the Congressional hearing about? Ben-whozi? Whatever, get someone on that too.”

I’m having some fun with this topic, but let me be clear (to borrow a phrase from my favorite currently-serving American president): Adultery is wrong.  He shouldn’t have done it.  I don’t know whether he initiated it or she did, but it doesn’t matter.  Even if she instigated the affair as relentlessly as Monica Lewinsky did, Petraeus still had a duty to resist (as did Bill Clinton).

But while what Petraeus did may be inexcusable, it’s not unforgivable. I forgive him for the minor transgression of tarnishing one of my heroes.  I hope his wife will forgive him for his far-worse offense against her. My faith tells me God will forgive him.  And unless something far worse emerges out of the coming feeding frenzy, I have no doubt history will forgive him, too.

Does Hurricane Sandy Help Obama or Romney?

To my East Coast peeps: In between charging your cell phones on the neighbor’s generator and driving around looking for gas lines, I know many of you have been wondering, “what’s Kirk’s take on how Sandy affects the election?”

In all seriousness, the election Tuesday will be far more consequential than any mere hurricane. Sandy gives Obama a chance to look presidential, which he has been taking advantage of, as he should.  It may take people’s minds off the economy in the closing days, which tends to help Obama.  It also takes attention off of the administration’s missteps regarding Benghazi, although the mainstream media is largely ignoring that story anyway. But in the end I think the storm will be a non-factor, or perhaps help Obama slightly.  I can’t see any way Sandy helps Romney, but would welcome any ideas to the contrary in the comments.

The hardest-hit states appear to be New York, Connecticut and my beloved New Jersey.  I’m quite confident in predicting that Romney will get precisely zero electoral votes from those states, which is part of why I don’t think Sandy helps Obama much.

I think it’s going to be a very close election — I just hope it’s not TOO close.  The Florida recount saga of 2000 was a national tragedy, and I would say that even if it had gone the other way. (In fact, I voted for Mr. Gore, before becoming a 9-11 Republican.)

The respected and vaguely left-leaning uber-pollster Nate Silver gives Obama an 84% chance of winning, but is careful to explain that it’s not a lopsided race, he’s going on the basis of consistent small margins in battleground-state polls. He says “For Romney to Win, State Polls Must Be Statistically Biased” — and then he also carefully explains how such bias could exist without malfeasance on anybody’s part.

Right-leaning commentator Kathleen Parker runs through a variety of factors and concludes,

Combining all the above in some sort of meta-analysis, facing East while balancing on one foot and slicing carrots on the diagonal, you have to figure Obama will be our president for another four years.  Then again, people are unpredictable.

I also like Parker’s closing words:

As for the two fine men vying for this impossible job, each should remember that no mandate comes with this victory. The winner of the pie-eating contest gets more pie.

The Web Goddess and I are without power at home, and I’m writing this in the dining room of a left-leaning friend, so I need to get it posted before my friend realizes what I’m doing.  (We are safe and dry, and our minor roof damage has already been repaired at a cost less than our deductible.)

If anybody is counting blog endorsements, count me as favoring Romney.  I think he has a better chance of prevailing than Silver’s analysis would suggest, but that’s just a gut feeling.  Ohio is key: if it gets called for either candidate early, that guy wins.  We’ll know in a few days — I hope.

Cliff Notes on the Final Debate: Not a Game-Changer

Obama looked more comfortable than Romney, and overall I think Obama probably “won”.  But the election is not going to hinge on foreign policy, and both men knew it. The way they both kept pivoting to domestic policy was nothing short of comical.  Romney’s first pivot at least made a bow in the direction of foreign policy when he said America needs a strong economy to have a strong military… but then he spun off on his five-point plan.  And how the hell did they get into an argument over education policy and class sizes?

Romney spent a lot of the debate agreeing with various aspects of Obama’s policies, such as drone attacks and standing with Israel.  I thought Romney came back strong in defense of the “apology tour” meme after Obama denied that he had been apologetic.  Romney quoted some of Obama’s criticisms of America on that tour, and hit the president hard for “skipping Israel” while visiting Arab countries.  Obama took some of the punch out of that by talking at length about his visit to Israel while he was a candidate.

Pet peeve: Romney twice used “Democrat” as an adjective.  I love ya, Mitt, but Democrat is a noun; the adjective is Democratic.

Obama partisans were pumped up by the president’s zingers — “we have fewer horses and bayonets,” “the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.”  But I wonder how well that kind of obviously scripted sarcasm plays with undecided voters?

It was odd that Romney had both the first AND the last word — were those separate coin tosses?  Seems to me that one candidate should open and the other close, and the winner of the coin toss gets to pick whether he wants the first word or the last word.

The New York Times has a transcript up less than an hour after the end of the debate.  Amazing. (Fortunately I haven’t used up all of my 10 free stories this month.)  The transcript also solves my problem of what to use for an illustration — when all else fails, use a word cloud from wordle.net.


“Binders Full of Women”: c.f. “You Didn’t Build That,” (context behind)

Binders full of context:

“And I brought us whole binders full of — of women. I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my cabinet and my senior staff that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.”

The context behind Obama’s “You didn’t build that” (essentially, he meant to say “you didn’t build that all alone“) makes Obama’s faux pas a bit less offensive — but Obama still clearly celebrates the government’s role ahead of, or on a par with, the individual entrepreneur.  I think a majority of Americans are more inclined to celebrate the successful individual.

The context behind Romney’s faux pas makes it clear that he has been a leader in identifying and appointing qualified women to senior positions.