We've all seen the first presidential debate. Barack Obama was flat as a bug on Mitt Romney's windshield. But I don't think it changed anything. I'm going out on a very shaky limb and say Obama is still going to win.
For a day or two the commentators might feign surprise at how close the election got overnight. I don't believe it. I think Mitt Romney has about as much chance of becoming president as p*ssy Riot does of headlining the opening ceremonies at Sochi.
With the election seemingly in the bag, Obama was tempted to run out the clock. He thought all he had to do in the debates was take a knee three times while Romney twisted himself into knots running away from all the extreme positions he was forced to take to get the nomination, and never really believed in anyway, insofar as that political polygamist believes in anything other than Mitt Romney. But playing defense isn't working. Obama needs to make this election about something.
The next month is his opportunity. I still believe the American people will say no to the thugs and extremists who have seized control of the Grand Old Party. They'll say no even when the face of that party is a bland white guy who's about as scary as Liberace.
But what are they saying yes to?
I'm not privy to the workings of the big brains in Obama's war room, but if they're serious about winning, they need to spare a little bandwidth to come up with a few progressive ideas they intend to implement when they do.
I'm no wonk, but here are a couple of thoughts to get that conversation started.
Mitt Romney said, in an unguarded moment, that 47% of the people are basically less than full citizens because they pay no federal taxes. It's a cruel thought, but he has a point. Half the people pay no income tax because they have microscopic incomes. Therefore I propose:
Raise the minimum wage to ten dollars an hour. Once we do that, tax all income from the first dollar at five percent. Every working citizen a taxpayer, every working person makes a somewhat less than miserable wage. And everyone has a financial stake in the government.
Social Security needs fixing, the conservatives aren't wrong about that. But killing it by privatizing it is not the answer.
The right way to secure Social Security is to remove the ridiculous cap on the Social Security tax. That tax should apply to all incomes, from the first dollar to the billionth and beyond. That one, simple fix nearly cures all that ails our national old age pension.
Obamacare has been a huge bone of contention. The conservatives don't know what it is, but they hate it. The progressives know what it's not, and they hate it.
Here's the way out of that box. Half-socialized medicine. I say half because we'll always have two-tiered health care. The rich will always get all the health care they can buy.
Obama can call it the public option or Medicare for all or socialized medicine; he can call it what he likes. It's not important what he calls it, it's important that he calls for it. It's yet another chance to make his victory about something.
Obama can't afford to spend the next month playing defense while Mitt drools all over himself trying to speak out of both sides of his mouth with a forked tongue. If he wants to move the country forward in his second term, he has to do more than win. He has to make it crystal clear to the Republicans, you lost.
The GOP didn't get that message in 2008. They were so sure a miscarriage of justice had deprived them of the power that is theirs by divine right, they refused to recognize the results of that election. They treated Obama like a hostile foreign power, unworthy even of diplomatic relations.