THE ROVING EYE
Obama plays ball
By Pepe Escobar
LOS ANGELES - There's no question: US President Barack Obama finally got off the bench in New York, came out swinging and actually scored a few three-pointers at the second presidential debate.
The debate also shed further light on the economic and foreign policy of the Republican robot posing as a product (or is it the other way around?). It seems Mitt Romney's outlook is when in doubt, blame it on China.
The robot/product was relentless in his demonization of the Middle Kingdom. "On day one", he will single out China as "a currency manipulator" (China's Central Bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan, who is more worried by Washington's quantitative easing scam, is hardly choking on his wontons; and by the way the yuan did strengthen against the US dollar by nearly 9% during Obama's term).
Romney will "keep China playing by the rules" (rules that US corporations love to explore to their benefit). He also accused China of "hacking into our computers" (as if the West never hacked big time into Iran's computers); and overall "China has been cheating over the years". Spy satellites might have been able to register a roar of collective laughter emanating from the halls of the Zhongnanhai in a hazy Beijing morning.
According to Romney, China - that "cheating" land that assembles iPads - would not be a match for the US if the playing field were level. Translation: Romney seeks salvation via an inflation of low-wage, low-skill, assembly line-style US jobs.
At least Obama deployed a reality check on Romney's Terminator policy on China. "When he talks about getting tough on China - yeah, keep in mind that Governer Romney invested in companies that were pioneers of outsourcing to China. And he's currently investing in companies that are building surveillance equipment for China to spy on its own folks. That's - Governor, you're the last person who's going to get tough on China."
Three-pointer in da house
Obama also nailed it when he related to the US leveling the playing field by more investment in education - forming more scientists, engineers, technology experts. Romney's (predictable) response: "Government does not create jobs."
What the exchange itself did not create was a real debate on the essence of turbo-capitalism; on why, irrespective of Obama, much less Romney, the global power of private capital has been calcified as hierarchical and organized as a financial economy - politically conquering the whole world, and incarnating itself as much in neoliberal democracies as in military dictatorships and petro-monarchies of the GCC (Gulf Counter-Revolution Club) kind.
That would be too much to expect. So we were back to the mantra of the day, week, month, year, decade, as repeated by Romney: "Iran is four years closer to a nuclear bomb".
The next debate, on Monday, will be mostly on foreign policy; would any of these candidates please show some respect to US - and world - public opinion and at least acknowledge the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report, released last month? These are the two money quotes. (1) The IAEA is confident about "the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran"; and (2) The IAEA can "conclude that all nuclear materials in Iran is in peaceful activities."
Again, that would be too much to expect.
Mitt does terror
Assorted right-wingers were frantically betting on Libya to provide the definitive "gotcha" moment for Romney.
Here's Romney: "The President just said something which is on the day after the attack, he went in the Rose Garden and said this was an act of terror. You said in the Rose Garden, the day after the attack, it was an act of terror? It was not a spontaneous demonstration. Is that what you're saying? Want to get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror."
Here's the moderator, CNN's Candy Crowley; "He did in fact, sir, call it an act of terror."
Obama: "Can you say that a little louder, Candy?"
Candy: "He did call it an act of terror."
Another Obama three-pointer. If only that would have led to a real debate on what kind of "leading from behind" was the whole Libya operation; the role of Africom and NATO; the hidden agendas behind the toppling of Gaddafi; and the inevitability of blowback when you are in bed with Salafi-jihadists formerly known as terrorists in a push to dismantle a secular Arab regime.
That would be too much to expect.
As for Romney's boast that his jobs plan would create 12 million US jobs, that had already been debunked by the Washington Post in the morning before the debate. So it got down to Obama finally nailing 47% Romney in a way that left the robot/product literally speechless.
"Former" 47% Romney has now coined a new motto - "I care about the 100%" - repeated ad infinitum.
Obama: "When he said behind closed doors that 47% of the country consider themselves victims who refused personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about ... Folks on Social Security who've worked all their lives, veterans who've sacrificed for this country, students who are out let it trying to hopefully advance their own dreams but also this country's dreams, soldiers overseas fighting for us right now, people working hard every day paying payroll taxes, gas taxes, but don't make enough income."
Actually, that's about the overwhelming majority of the US population. Yet as it stands the future of the country up to 2016 essentially rests on a bunch of undecided Ohio voters. That's Obama's firewall (he was winning Ohio by 68% before the debate, according to Nate Silver's projections).
Will the firewall hold? Next Monday will be mostly about foreign policy; let's see whether China is capable of swinging a US presidential race.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org