Ezra Klein, blogger and columnist for Bloomberg and the Washington Post, opened his remarks, sponsored by the Lecture Fund, to a full lecture hall in Reiss yesterday by declaring it was “most annoying day of the year.”
He further explained, “There are days where all we do in the media is keep ourselves busy,” later continuing, “This Rosen thing is real bullshit,” referring to the recent attention to a comment made by CNN commentator Hilary Rosen on Twitter about Ann Romney and stay-at-home moms. A frustrated Klein considered the argument is utterly inconsequential: in November, no one will remember. He warned that there will be a lot more of these faux scandals until Election Day, and then concluded, “I hate campaigns.”
Klein expressed his disdain that for the proliferation of spinning, messaging, and strategy at the expense of the truth. Ads and smear campaigns, he argued, do not convince anyone who is not already decided. The Obama campaign will have the most money of a campaign in history, but “they will both have more than enough money to call each other jerks.”
What does convince people, however, is the economy. Klein admitted that he much prefers budgets, but wasn’t impressed by the campaigns’ proposals. “They have to get a thousand times more honest,” he remarked.
He boiled the election down to taxes. Comparing the Obama and Romney budget plans, this central point of difference becomes evident. “The heart of Obama’s economic philosophy is that the economy has been stacked against you,” Klein said, so it’s appropriate to tax the rich. Republicans on the other hand “care more about taxes than anything besides preserving Ronald Reagan’s memory,” Klein joked. Therefore, Romney’s budget depends on cutting social programs.
He predicted Obama’s victory if job growth is 250,000 jobs per month until November, and Romney’s if growth averages less than 100,000 per month. “The single most important thing for the president to do is help the economy,” Klein concluded.
Nevertheless, Klein staunchly opposed the view that Republicans are trying to tank the economy to prevent Obama’s reelection. He did admit that the incentives for cooperation are nonexistent: “It’s hard to get a man to believe something his reelection depends on him not believing.” Therefore one of Klein’s greatest qualms is that we spend much more time and energy on the presidential campaign than the congressional campaigns, even though most governing occurs in Congress: “Presidential campaigns don’t matter, congressional campaigns matter a lot.”
Photo: Lecture Fund