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Obama "Wins" Final Debate

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pundits Debate Romney's Agreements With President

Obama Said to Be More Assured on Race

Supporters in Two Cities Struggle to Honor Ida B. Wells

Dorothy Russell, First Asian American at Washington Post

French Journalist Attacked, Groped in Tahrir Square

Short Takes

Bob Schieffer of CBS News with President Obama, left, and Republican Mitt Romney

Pundits Debate Romney's Agreements With President

President Obama was judged the winner of Monday night's final debate of the campaign season, with challenger Mitt Romney leaving pundits debating why he now agreed with the president on so many foreign policy issues.

"If this debate had gone on for 30 more minutes, Romney was going to endorse Obama," Van Jones, the former Obama administration official, said as part of a CNN post-debate panel.

Eugene Robinson wrote for the Washington Post, ". . . the larger story of the third and final presidential debate, ostensibly about foreign policy, is that Mitt Romney didn't really lay a glove on President Obama. For most of the evening, he didn't even try."

The Huffington Post bannered, "CHIEF IN COMMAND" and its BlackVoices section, "CURTAIN CLOSED: Obama Ends Final Debate On A High Note."

In a CBS News snap poll, 53 percent said Obama won, 23 percent said Romney won and 24 percent were undecided.

In a CNN poll, 48 percent said Obama won and 40 percent chose Romney. When respondents were asked who was the stronger leader, 51 percent said Obama, 46 percent said Romney. Who was more likeable? Forty-eight percent chose Obama, forty-seven percent Romney. Who was on the attack? Sixty-eight percent said Obama, 21 percent Romney.

The television punditry said the candidates arrived at the debate with different objectives.

"I think the president came to rough up Mitt Romney," CNN's Candy Crowley said. "I think he acted like a person that had to sort of stop some momentum by Romney. He went after him — 'you're all over the map, that's not what you said before' — I mean, almost every single answer from the president had something to do with Mitt Romney. I feel as though Mitt Romney approached this like a physician, first do no harm. I feel like he didn't come in to necessarily win. I think he came in, you know, as a man who's had a certain amount of momentum over the past three, four weeks since that first debate and not wanting to ruin it."

Fareed Zakaria, a CNN and Time magazine commentator, said on the same network that Romney surprised Obama by "attacking him from the left . . [saying] 'you're the cowboy.'" Gloria Borger of CNN agreed, saying of Romney, "He ran as the peace candidate."

But on CNN and especially MSNBC, the question of Romney's agreements with Obama became a character issue.

"When you see he not only denies his positions but actually argues [against them], that is a cause for concern," Al Sharpton said on MSNBC. Noting that Romney agreed with Obama on the timetable for troops leaving Afghanistan, Rachel Maddow said, "This is a real war. [Given that the stakes include] the fate of 68,000 Americans and asserting that not only is it OK to change your mind . . . It's a character issue and I find it disqualifying."

Sharpton said, "People can accept changing your mind, but not at the cost of my behind."

Chris Matthews of MSNBC noted the weekend death of George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate who opposed the war in Vietnam. "Politics is supposed to be about what you believe. You don't say politics is about your ability to replicate public opinion," Matthews said. When some said Romney had changed his views to make himself more acceptable to moderates, others said the public was better served by a vigorous debate with contrasting views.

During the debate Obama declared inaccurate a Sunday New York Times story by Helene Cooper and Mark Landler that asserted, "The United States and Iran have agreed in principle for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, according to Obama administration officials, setting the stage for what could be a last-ditch diplomatic effort to avert a military strike on Iran." [Landler said on Tuesday's "Diane Rehm Show" on Washington's WAMU-FM, "I'm not sure what he was denying."]

There were only passing references to Africa and to Latin America, but trade with China was discussed several times. Immigration — the biggest foreign policy issue for many Hispanics — was not mentioned. A reporter for the Liberian newspaper FrontPageAfrica, appearing on the BBC, said she was disappointed that the threat posed by fundamentalist Muslim groups in West Africa was not discussed.

Participation by journalists of color was muted. Roland Martin was again missing from the CNN lineup, and a panel of Los Angeles Times "opinionators" Jim Newton, Patt Morrison, Doyle McManus, Mickey Kaus, Jon Healey, Meghan Daum and Charlotte Allen — appeared to be all white.

As reported in Friday's column, Univision and CNN en Español said they would broadcast the debate live, but Telemundo, BET and TV One said they would not. Telemundo and BET said they would stream the event live on their websites, with Telemundo delaying a broadcast until 11:35 p.m. ET.

Obama Said to Be More Assured on Race

Jodi Kantor, a reporter for the New York Times who has chronicled the racial aspects of Barack Obama's candidacy and then his presidency, highlighted by publication this year of "The Obamas," a book about the first family, returned to the subject Sunday in the Times.

". . . like an actor originating a role on Broadway, Mr. Obama has been performing a part that no one else has ever played," Kantor wrote, "and close observers say they can see him becoming as assured on race in public as he is in private conversation. In 2009, the new president's statement on the arrest of a black Harvard professor by a white police officer set off days of negative headlines; in 2012, he gave a commanding but tender lament over the killing of a black teenager, Trayvon Martin, by a white man.

" 'As he's gotten more comfortable being president, he's gotten more comfortable being him,' said Brian Mathis, an Obama fund-raiser.

"Asked when they could sense that shift, several advisers and friends mentioned the waning hours of Mr. Obama's birthday party in the summer of 2011. As the hour grew late, many of the white guests left, and the music grew 'blacker and blacker,' as the comedian Chris Rock later told an audience. Watching African-American entertainers and sports stars do the Dougie to celebrate a black president in a house built by slaves, Mr. Rock said, 'I felt like I died and went to black heaven.'

"The president, guests recalled, seemed free of calibration or inhibition. He danced with relative abandon, other guests ribbing him about his moves, everyone swaying to Stevie Wonder under a portrait of George Washington. . . ."

Supporters in Two Cities Struggle to Honor Ida B. Wells

In this 150th anniversary year marking the birth of Ida B. Wells, the crusading anti-lynching publisher and civil rights activist, admirers in Memphis and Chicago are attempting to raise the profile of a woman they say deserves more attention.

"Ida B. Wells is a hero that we ought to be celebrating much more publicly in Memphis, one of the great intellectual leaders to come out of the city," Dr. Jonathan Judaken, the Spence L. Wilson Chair in Humanities at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., told Journal-isms by telephone. "We're very good at celebrating the music that's come out of the city, but what about the Ida B. Wellses and Richard Wrights, who enabled us to rethink our conventions about the world?"

"The occasion has revived a question that should have been settled decades ago: How should the city honor Wells?," Wendi C. Thomas, a columnist for the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, wrote on Sunday.

"Today, the only formal tribute is a state historical marker erected in 1987 on Beale [Street]; her newspaper office, trashed and torched by an angry white mob that promised to kill Wells if she returned to town, was once nearby.

"To atone for the century-old slight, members of the Memphis City Council, the Shelby County Commission and others have tried again and again to install Wells in her proper place in the city's narrative.

"At the same time, a contingent that thinks fondly of the Civil War has rebuffed all efforts to reconsider the city park that canonizes a slave trader, Confederate general and leader of the Ku Klux Klan."

Judaken said he is working with the city's UrbanArt group and the National Civil Rights Museum to establish a permanent Wells memorial.

Meantime, as Thomas wrote, next week, ". . . Two public lectures, a theatrical presentation and original music will mark Rhodes College's commemoration of what would have been the 150th birthday of the city's best known journalist, Ida B. Wells."

Wells' actual birthday was July 16. On that day in Chicago, where Wells spent the last years of her life, the Ida B. Wells Commemorative Art Committee hosted an informal reception. The Committee has commissioned Richard Hunt, a world-renowned sculptor and Chicago native, to create a Wells monument.

" We've raised a little over $50,000 and need another $250,000," Wells' great-granddaughter, Michelle Duster, told Journal-isms by email on Monday. "If 2,500 people give $100 each, we'll have the money."

The National Association of Black Journalists and the Medill School at Northwestern University annually present an Ida B. Wells Award to a journalist who has championed diversity. This columnist is to receive it in January.

Dorothy Russell, First Asian American at Washington Post

Dorothy Ing Russell, a copy editor at the Washington Post for 28 years who said she was the first Asian American on the Post editorial staff, died Friday at 84 in a Maryland hospice, her son, Matthew W. Russell, told Journal-isms on Monday. He declined to give the cause of death.

Matthew Russell said his mother worked at the Post approximately from 1968 to 1991, when she retired, in part because of carpal tunnel syndrome. She was part of a class-action lawsuit against the Post that accused the newspaper of failing to provide the proper ergonomics furniture. The Post reached a settlement, Matthew Russell said.

Russell was a co-founder [PDF] and treasurer of the Washington chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association and received a lifetime achievement award from the national organization in 1995.

Dorothy Ing Russell in 2010.

Among the achievements she listed for that occasion:

". . . 1st Asian American on the editorial staff of the Washington Post; 2nd woman editor for the Post; as a national desk copy editor, edited and wrote headlines on the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination and the Pentagon Papers case; as a Metro desk editor edited the Washington Post's Pulitzer-Prize winning series on the Watergate break-in and cover-up (Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein, 1973); 1955 acting bureau chief of United Press in Jakarta during the early years of Indonesian independence from the Dutch — the period of 'living dangerously' as many plots to overthrow the Sukarno government were afoot (she had interviewed generals who later disappeared); in 1956 hired as stringer reporter from Indonesia for New York Times, was the 2nd woman stringer ever for the New York Times; 'they assumed I was a man, so I wrote under the name Ing Russell . . .' "

In 1990, Russell wrote an op-ed retort in the Post, "Jimmy Breslin, Coward and Bully," responding to a racist Breslin outburst in the Newsday newsroom directed at a Korean-American co-worker.

She was honored again by AAJA at its 2010 convention in Los Angeles.

"Dorothy was a gracious and reasonable presence on the Metro copy desk," Post colleague Donald P. Baker said on a listserve for Post alumni.

Russell was a native of Hamilton, Ontario, and graduated from journalism's Medill School at Northwestern. When she left the Post, she became a docent at the Freer and Sackler galleries, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

Matthew Russell said a memorial service would be private, in accordance with his mother's wishes.

Footage from France 24 shows the moments just before journalist Sonia Dridi was attacked and groped by a group of men while filming live during protests in Tahrir Square in Cairo on Friday night. (Video)

French Journalist Attacked, Groped in Tahrir Square

"A journalist for France 24 has described how his female colleague was attacked and groped by a group of men while filming live during protests in Tahrir Square in Cairo on Friday night," Abdel-Rahman Hussein wrote Sunday for the Guardian newspaper in Britain.

"Sonia Dridi was surrounded while filming in the square, with the mob closing in on her as she was reporting. The news channel said in a statement that she was attacked at about 10.30pm.

"Her colleague from the English section of France 24, Ashraf Khalil, was by her side waiting to do his spot next for the camera but cut her off midway and led her off as the crowd began to move in. All this was caught on camera.

" 'Usually one of us goes first then the other, Sonia does the French and I do the English,' he told the Guardian. 'Usually we don't do Tahrir live shots from street level, normally we're on a balcony. We had done an earlier live shot and even then the crowd was annoying.

" 'When we went back for the second live shot the crowd was worse, it was really hard to control the crowd. If you see the video you can see me popping up on the fringe telling people let her work. By the time it was finished everybody was too close and no one was listening to us. I told Sonia to just go straight to [the shop] Hardee's and wait for me because I didn't want her to wait with this crowd of feral youths.'

". . . Numerous incidents of violence and sexual assault against women have been reported over the past 18 months whenever throngs gather in the square, with not everyone necessarily there with the aim of protesting. Sexual harassment is an endemic problem in Egypt dating back to before the revolution."

In February 2011, CBS correspondent Lara Logan "suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault" while covering the jubilant celebration Tahrir Square after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, CBS said at the time.

Short Takes

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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Jodi Kantor: Expert on Obama yet never interviewed him

I cannot understand why Jodi Kantor is even mentioned in Journal-isms in her book about Obama she never interviewed him nor Michelle!!! It stings to observe any of her comments being published anywhere but to wake up today to read more of her fiction about Obama is offensive. I tired of white journalists practicing the art of negro identity analysis of black folk.

Cross-positngs from the Root

Noah X The most frustrating part for me, in this game of politics, is the hypocrisy and short memories of politicians and the partisan electorate. I clearly, clearly remember when Obama first started running for president and had debates back in 2008. When Obama debated in the Democratic Primary, he simply agreed. When it was his turn, he often started out by saying “I agree”. There is nothing essentially different about what Romney did and what Obama did in 2008. What is the different between 2008 Obama and 2012 Romney?


Everyone knows that politicians lie and pander. That is a given. Is Mitt Romney a liar and panderer? The answer is yes. He is a politician. The problem I have is that people on the left do not see Obama as a politician. In other words, the people on the left don’t see Obama as a liar and pander, obviously, since they ostracize Romney for being a liar and panderer. It’s comical. I have posted links to evidence of Obama lying and pandering that people on the left dismiss or excuse, yet, they won’t dismiss or excuse lying and pandering on the other side. Romney’s 47% is matched by Obama’s comment about people being bitter and clinging to guns, to one degree or another. It’s a wash folks. Stop pretending like one side has the moral high ground over the other.


I would bet anything that if George Bush was running for President, for the first time, and the “Tea Party” was wielding great influence like it had been on the right and them being anti-bailout that George Bush would have argued that he would not have bailed out banks and auto companies. He would have said that because in a representative republic, like ours, one cannot get elected without representing the interest of their base, rhetorically, at least. However, the electorate, as a collective, are not educated enough and do not have all the information to make the best decisions. The electorate is selfish and concerned about “me” impact and not “we” impact. Hence, candidates are bounded by the ignorance of the electorate and must tell the electorate what they want to hear. You cannot get into office without telling people what they want to hear.


Did Romney say he would let the auto companies go bankrupt? Sure he likely did. There was a big anti-bailout sentiment in the country after the partial collapse of 2008. Thus, a politician in a representative republic had to represent that sentiment to gain traction with voters. Duh!!!! However, no intelligent politician would have let the auto companies collapse, because it would have lost millions of jobs during their administration. It would also have been a severe blow to the image of America, which is why GEORGE BUSH was bailing out the auto companies. This is why previous presidents bailed out Chrysler. Mitt Romney would have done the same, especially given the fact that he is from Detroit, Michigan and his father was an executive in the industry.


1 Hour Ago  from theroot · Reply · Flag · Noah X I am not done.


I visit other sites that are dominated by conservative points of view….and they think I am secretly an Obama supporter playing some psychological mind game to try to get people to vote for Obama. When I post here people think I a secretly a Romney supporter playing some psych op game to try and appear objective and sway people against voting for Obama. Neither the former nor the latter are true. I think that the nature of the problems of this country is beyond fixing…..without great pain. Politicians cannot do what’s best because the electorate does not want the pain. If the electorate feels pain they will kick out the incumbents so incumbents don’t really try to fix things because they want to remain incumbent. Thus, the problems get worse and masked over to keep the ignorant masses with some degree of confidence, lest they know the truth and their reaction to the truth precipitates another collapse.


Romney is NOT the answer and Obama is not the answer. Pain is the cure. If your lower leg has gangrene you have to face the pain of amputation to save the whole body. If not it just spreads further up the leg and eventually it will be too late to save the body. Politicians want to tell you that they can save the leg…….because that is what the patient (Americans) want to hear.


53 Minutes Ago  from theroot · Reply · Flag · Laymen2 I agree with Eugene Robinson, "the larger story of the third and final presidential debate, ostensibly about foreign policy, is that Mitt Romney didn't really lay a glove on President Obama. For most of the evening, he didn't even try."


My guess Mitt chose this strategy to come across a presidential, leadership image over winning the debate. All the red meat in the Benghazi Embassy attack for Romney that he left untouched angered the right; self included. However, Romney may have thought it has legs of it own that will hurt Obama without him pressing the issue, yes? Seems more and more is being uncovered and its not good as this story from Reuters points out. EXCERPT: (A.K.A. "HE KNEW" from the Drudge Report / White House told of militant claim two hours after Libya attack: emails 23 Oct 2012 (Reuters) — Officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit for the attack, official emails show.


"Briefers said extremists were involved in attacks that appeared spontaneous, there may have been a variety of motivating factors, and possible links to groups such as (al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Ansar al-Sharia) were being looked at closely," the official said.

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