One of the greatest gifts facebook has given me is the reconnection with a few old friends that surely were it not for this social media behemoth, I may have lost complete touch with and not because we meant to, just because our lives split paths after college. One of those treasure is a friend from NYU. We sat through many a writing class together, sweated through many critiques together, and spent a a few writing binges watching the sun rise together with two other birds of a feather. I miss reading and hearing his writing and today was given the great treat of reading a little political piece of his (that he posted on facebook) on how Barack Obama can win tomorrow's debate along with the election by using the Eminem Strategem complete with a potential mic drop if it weren't attached to that stuffy podium. I give you Dayton Young....
Barack Obama and the Eminem Stratagem
President Obama can win tomorrow night’s debate AND the election with nothing more than 60 seconds of time … and a clever bit of political gamesmanship.
You see, throughout the campaign season, Mitt Romney has done his best to make the election about one issue and one issue only; the state of the American economy. The American economy, Romney argues, is struggling due to Obama’s failed policies. Romney has promised to stimulate the American economy with massive tax cuts as part of an intricate plan. When pressed on the specifics of his plan, however, Romney has continuously evaded giving any specifics on how his plan might work.
Critics have suggested that in order for his plan to work, taxes will have to be raised on the middle class by a disproportionate amount. But as long as Mitt Romney refuses to provide any details of his plan, any such attacks are merely unfounded speculation, leaving Romney free to make whatever claims he wants with no political repercussions.
It’s a genius plan, to be honest. But it has one weakness; it only works so long as it allows Romney to stay on the offensive. All Obama needs to do to spoil Romney’s strategy is to put him on the defensive. The trick, though, is not to call Romney a liar or to analyze the few details Romney’s given thus far. We know that won’t work; after all, the President tried to do that during the first debate, and it played perfectly into Romney’s strategy.
No, what Obama needs to do is much more simple. Romney has asked for quite a bit of rope throughout the campaign thus far, and President Obama just needs to give it to him by saying the following:
“Mister Romney, you seem to want to make this election about a single issue. You want to make this election a referendum about my record on the economy. Well, I’m happy to oblige. Let’s make it about the economy. During my first term in office, I’ve accomplished massive financial reform while providing necessary assistance to American citizens in need as well as the industries our economy relies upon … all while bringing the unemployment rate down below 8% as I promised. My plan is to keep this great country on the same track for the next four years, and the experts and I agree that the unemployment rate will continue to drop and the American economy will continue to grow. So what’s your plan?
You’ve said before that you don’t want to get into the details of your plan. You’ve said before that you don’t have time to get into the details of your plan. Well tonight I’m going to give you all the time you need. The floor is yours, Mister Romney. Take all the time you want. The American people want to know your plan. The American people deserve to know your plan. So I’m asking you right now to give the people what they deserve. And if we run over time, that’s okay. I think that America’s financial future is important enough to pre-empt Seinfeld re-runs. I think the people at the network will be okay with it. I think the folks at home will be okay with it. So go on. Tell us about your magical plan to kick-start the American economy by cutting taxes for the rich without raising taxes on the middle class or cutting Medicare. Go ahead. Just make sure you tell the truth.
The floor is yours.”
There are three possible outcomes that could arise from this challenge:
1. Mitt Romney gives his plan in detail, and it is as good as the former Governor has promised. Under a Romney Presidency, the budget will be balanced simply by closing tax loopholes, thus providing a great benefit to the lower and middle class while simplifying the tax code and maintaining current levels of entitlement spending for the elderly and under-privileged. (And let’s face it … if Romney can do this, he’s clearly the best candidate and everyone should vote for him.)
2. Mitt Romney gives his plan in detail, and his critics are right; the “result is a tax cut for high-income taxpayers, a tax increase for middle-income earners, and a huge increase in the deficit.” In this scenario, the next day’s news headlines will be focused on Romney’s campaign lies and his favoritism towards the wealthy. Public opinion will bounce back towards the incumbent and doom Romney’s campaign. Or …
3. Mitt Romney continues to deflect the question. This is the most likely outcome. After all, if Romney’s plan were as good as he says, surely he would have shared it with the public by now to cement his ascension to the Presidency. And if his plan isn’t everything he’s said, then he knows that sharing details would be political suicide. So the only option he’d be left with is to hem and haw and stutter and deflect, giving Obama the opportunity he needs to regain control of the issue … as well as the election.
This is what I’ll refer to as the “Eminem Stratagem.” If you’ve ever seen the movie 8 Mile, then you’ll surely recall the final scene of the film; up first in a rap battle, Eminem disarms his rival Papa Doc by acknowledging every insult his enemy has to say about him is true. Sure, Eminem has made some mistakes in his life, but those mistakes are the costs associated with making tough decisions and the audience understands this and empathizes with him. When Papa Doc is left without his easy attacks, he reveals himself to be a simple name-caller without any real message of his own.
And while it would be a fantastic emphasis for President Obama to drop the mic following what would be a legendary diss, he doesn’t need such theatrics to succeed; all he needs to do is give Romney exactly what he wants and make the debate about whose financial plan is better for America’s future.
Besides, the microphone will undoubtedly be attached to the podium.