HOT TOPICS ▶ Climate Change     Undoing The New Deal     The Real Baltimore     Reality Asserts Itself     United Kingdom    

  October 3, 2012

The Debate: A Masterful Liar Defeats a Man Without Conviction

Leo Panitch: Romney's defense of small banks, small businesses and the middle class is disingenuous, but Obama share's too many of the same assumptions to counterattack
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

I support The Real News Network because it is not is real news. - David Pear
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


Leo Panitch is the Senior Scholar and Emeritus Professor of Political Science at York University. He is the author of many books, the most recent of which include UK Deutscher Memorial Prize winner The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire, In and Out of Crisis: The Global Financial Meltdown and Left Alternatives, , Renewing Socialism: Democracy, Strategy and Imagination and The End of Parliamentary Socialism: From New Left to New Labour. He is also a co-editor of the Socialist Register, whose 2017 volume, which will be released in time for the Labour Party Conference and launched in London in November, is entitled Rethinking Revolution


PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore.

And last night, President Obama and candidate Romney met for the first presidential debate. Now joining us to give his opinion of how things went is Professor Leo Panitch. He's a Canadian research chair in comparative political economy at York University, and he's the coauthor of the recent book The Making of Global Capitalism. Thanks for joining us again, Leo.


JAY: So my headline take on the debate was Masterful Liar Beats Man without Conviction. What was your take?

PANITCH: Well, I thought Romney said one thing that was absolutely true, and President Obama agreed with it. And that was when Romney said, high-income people will do well whether I'm president or you are. I think that was the truest thing he said all night.

That said, he was full of cant and hypocrisy, although he pulled it off well because Obama wash unable to present any vision of his own. The hypocrisy was astonishing when he said that Dodd–Frank protects banks too big to fail—these are known as systemically important financial institutions—and then in the next breath said this is going to harm middle-size banks. And, of course, would those banks fail, the whole point is they would bring down the middle-size banks with them. That's why they're systemically important.

It was astonishing that Obama was unable to respond to that. And he was unable to respond to it because indeed he is so much in the pockets of the big banks and the banking system and is responsible for reproducing that system through this crisis.

You know, at every level the hypocrisy was beyond belief. Perhaps most important was Romney appeared to get away with accusing Obama of being the person who said to the Republicans, my way or the highway. Now, the one thing that defines Obama's politics and that has been present in everything he's done is compromise. He has been on his knees to compromise with the insurance companies on Obamacare. He has done everything to compromise with the Republicans. And they wouldn't go along with it, of course, and that's why we had such a gridlock. And Romney gets away with accusing Obama of being unilaterally one-sided in terms of getting his way. And somehow he got away with it.

PANITCH: Yeah. It was such a weak defense of any alternative program, even the one that he stands for. It was an amazingly weak defense. And it was a constant attempt to stand on both sides of every issue. So when he said Clinton created 20 million jobs, in the same breath he said: and he created lots of millionaires in the process. So all along he was making this appeal to the middle class, hardly at all to those below the middle class. And, of course, objectively what's happening is that more and more people are being thrown out of it and have no prospect whatever of climbing into it. And it was just amazing that he should be presenting himself in a way that is—not only doesn't offer a vision beyond the limited kind of Clintonomics, but a vision that is even defending what he has done.

JAY: The one thing I have not understood about Obama's campaign—and, in fact, I have not understood this about the whole last four years—is why Obama's not continuously campaigning against Bush. The eight years of Bush clearly was a major contributor, the policies of Bush. Of course, we know there's a lot more to it than just one president. At the same time, Bush policies helped facilitate and trigger this crisis in 2008. Why isn't Obama campaigning against Bush and then saying Romney's more Bush? He just made this one little reference to the administration. You pointed out off-camera: even there he wouldn't say the words Bush. I cannot understand this.

PANITCH: Well, it was absolutely astonishing that he said the policies were set in train to build up the deficit and bring about the mortgage crisis 2001 to 2003 but would not name Bush. There is some strategy on the part of the Democrats here that I absolutely don't understand. Maybe appearing presidential means that you don't by name criticize the previous president in their view. It's astonishing. He tried. He tried to say that the problem isn't only on Wall Street, but that Bush let every shyster into the mortgage business, so that, as he was trying to point out (although he didn't do it graphically), there were guys hawking mortgages to people who couldn't afford them.

Indeed, the congressional inquiry commission showed that 10,000 people in Florida were let into the business who had criminal convictions and they were loan sharks in the mortgage business. Four thousand of them had convictions for fraud. That's the kind of graphic thing he should have been saying.

It causes a bit of a problem for him, because even though Bush let the shysters in, Clinton was very proud of the way in which the mortgage bubble was developing. It's one of the reasons he got called the “black president”: because he letting blacks into the American dream by having the financial system channel credit to them so they could get into the housing bubble.

I don't know why he was so appalling. You could have attacked Bush without revealing that side of your own legacy. It was an astonishingly bad performance.

And we just have to hope that people see through the astonishing hypocrisy of almost everything that Romney said.

JAY: Alright. Thanks very much for joining us, Leo.

PANITCH: It's good to talk to you, Paul.

JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at

latest stories

Money Can't Wash Blood Off Hands of Saudi Prince
Mired in Corruption Scandals, Peru's President Resigns
Philippines: Duterte's Bloody War on His Own People
Former Venezuelan Interior Minister Arrested: Fracturing the Bolivarian Movement?
Are Police Reform Efforts Doomed to Fail?
How Long Will It Take for Casino Money to Reach Classrooms?
Trump Boasts of Killer Arms Sales in Meeting with Saudi Dictator, Using Cartoonish Charts
15 Years of Mass Destruction in Iraq
Mercer's Cambridge Analytica 'Utterly Sleazy'
Democracy in Crisis: Take Note
Meet The Man Behind Cambridge Analytica, Who Made Trump President
Will Congress Affirm its Constitutional Power to Stop the War in Yemen?
A Rare Glimpse Inside a Police Body-Camera Review Unit
In Afrin the Turks are Looting and Pillaging with Gunfire
Protester Arrested At State House: Gov. Hogan Would Not Drink Water Contaminated by Fracking
'Samantha Em-Powers Genocide in Yemen': Students Protest US Role in Saudi War
After a Shooting at His School, a Maryland Teacher Speaks Out
European Left Divided Over Brexit
Marilyn Mosby: From Freddie Gray to GTTF
Trump and the Rise of the European Right, with Reps of UK Labour Party, De Linke, Podemos, and Syriza
Petroleum Executives Visit Trump, Increasing Offshore Oil Drilling
EPA Sued for Removing Independent Scientists from its Advisory Board
Inequality in America: A National Town Hall
Laura Flanders Show: Women's History Makes The Future
Corbyn Allies in Labour Attacked For Supporting Palestinian Struggle
Paul Jay: Threats facing Humanity, Russiagate & the Role of Independent Media
Kochs and ALEC Behind Criminalization of Dissent Bills in Five States
West's Anti-Russian Fervor Will Help Putin Win Election On Sunday
Stephen Hawking: Fighter for Progressive Politics
Corbyn Smeared as 'Russian Stooge' for Requesting Evidence on Poisoned Spy,, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Web Design, Web Development and Managed Hosting