Specificity Is A Character Issue

1:35 pm ET

From my appearance on “Now With Alex Wagner” on MSNBC:

Alex, if I were the kind of person who got depressed by a lack of specificity and seriousness in presidential politics, I would be very depressed. This cycle, you can judge it in different ways. I think the lack of specificity is particularly galling for two reasons, or, really three. One is these are two serious guys. Two is the country has a lot of big challenges. And three, both campaigns have enunciated this new principle, which is on really big, important, serious things, rather than have the candidate be specific at all about what’d they do, they say really it’s better for the public to have this thrashed out with Congress, after I’m elected. The President says the same thing about Social Security reform. I also find it a little unorthodox — and maybe I need to cover a few more of these to understand exactly what the Romney campaign is doing — I find it a little unorthodox to unveil a major float of a proposal in a local television interview the day or two before the debate. It seems like the $17,000 cap is, actually, I think, an interesting idea but it’s not one that Governor Romney is apparently acutally proposing and it’s not one that his campaign is answering any specific questions about. So, why he’s going to throw something out there on the eve of the debate is a little unclear to me but it is incumbent upon him — this is the centerpiece of what he’s running on — it’s incumbent upon him to explain how to offset it. You can theoretically offset if you eliminate and scale back enough deductions. But to do that requires a really powerful president to take on a lot of special interests, and, with no mandate by talking about it specifically, I don’t know how he could possibly accomplish it.


It’s a great cover. We put it out a day early, in part, so people could see it before the debate and look at the debate through that prism. It is, you know, there are lots of problems with our politics and our political media culture and we can’t solve all of them and some of these things have been around forever. But it is true that, even with more media and even with more opportunities to have serious discussions on TV and on the web and elsewhere, these two campaigns are running campaigns where there’s no penalty for not telling the truth, either about their own ideas or attacking the other side. Everybody working for the President, everybody working for Governor Romney knows what’s going on but we don’t have any process in place, any mechanism in place, to actually discipline them so that when they — they can be called out in a way that corrects their behavior. The cover story details that and I urge everybody involved in this process, including Jim Lehrer tonight, to try to make the last forty days better than what we’ve seen so far. The country deserves better and these candidates are better than their campaigns, in terms of trying to actually tell the truth about the challenges we face.

Read Michael Scherer’s cover story from this week’s TIME magazine, “Blue Truth, Red Truth,” here.

View the cover here.

Related Topics: Barack Obama, Mark Halperin, Michael Scherer, Mitt Romney, policy, Specificity, TIME Magazine, 2012 Elections, Analysis, News, The Page, Video

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