Archive for October, 2012

Are the Presidential Candidates Taking Advantage of the Opportunity of Debate?

Friday, October 26th, 2012

by Alexa Bieler

The first presidential debates have ended, and each candidate was looking to leave a positive mark. But are the debates, an outgrowth of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates (for any juniors reading this), as important as we make them out to be? Only twice since 1967 has the candidate who won the debates also won the presidency. Are the debates completely obsolete? No.

It has been a tough road for Republican candidate Mitt Romney. It is the sad truth for the party and the brunt of pundit jokes that Republicans aren’t in love with Romney. It was a hard road through the primaries, battling the effervescent Michelle Bachman and presidential-looking Rick Perry; now he faces the incumbent President, and things have not been going well. Romney’s campaign has gained the reputation of being gaff-prone, having rebooted a few times since the official confirming of the nomination in Tampa, Florida. The most recent slip-up, a video released by the Mother Jones website, was secretly recorded at a Romney fundraiser. The ill-fated video infamously shows Romney telling donors that they, the Republican Party, will not receive votes from the entitled 47% of the country—dependent individuals who believe they are victims, as Romney claims. The video went viral on Monday, September 17th, and has been an extremely popular topic of discussion since.

Romney is looking to revamp his public image during these debates. During the primaries he was good at sparring with the likes of Rick Santorum and John McCain, but he came off as insincere. The American people see Romney as a member of the 1%. If he wants to utilize the debates to change his image, he has to appeal to the lower/middle class. These debates are his last chance, on a big world stage, to show the American people that he isn’t detached from the common folk, although the aforementioned video definitely made that hard.

The results of the first debate are currently rocky: though neither candidate was on his A game, Romney is largely believed to have “won” the debate, since he came off as more confident than Obama. He also attempted to appeal to the majority of Americans with a reference to Sesame Street. Though this may have come off as desperate and awkward to many people, for some, it worked.

Mr. Obama, the incumbent, is currently leading in the polls, a surprise for a President whose economy is in the hopper. Although Obama has not yet alienated our closest European ally, England, there have been other issues. On the 11th anniversary of September 11th, the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was attacked, killing four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. In the week that followed, speculation was rampant but hard facts scarce.  Initially, the White House believed the attack was in response to the “Innocence of Muslims” video on YouTube. As days passed, however, it became clear that the attack was a pre-planned terrorist strike. The shifting opinion has caused many Republicans to accuse the President of a cover-up, pointing to a weak take on foreign policy.

With this in mind, we turn to the debates.   The challenge of an incumbent in an election year is to defend his record while pointing to the future.   Obama had to deflect Romney’s attacks deftly and firmly if he were to come out ahead in this debate.  Romney has no presidential record to defend, but this doesn’t make his job any easier.  With his history at Bain, his rejection of the auto industry bailout and his sharp criticism of the 47%, he has an uphill battle to prove to the American people that he is sincere when he says he wants to help all Americans.

This is your future being debated. It is no doubt that suspicion has been cast on Obama with these recent accusations, and because he is the incumbent, since he didn’t exactly crush Romney, the Republicans count it as a victory.

Obama must keep his calm and make himself as trustworthy as possible in the next few weeks, or else the pundits will be all over him. •


Life In Italy Column 1: Il Mio Viaggio in Italia

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

By Alex Besser ’13

Unlike the authors of the other articles in this newspaper, it is very unlikely that you will see me roaming the halls or standing, bleary-eyed, in line at the Survival Shop, waiting for a bagel at 9:20 in the morning. This is because this year, I will be studying abroad in Italy with a program called AFS.

The program is designed to let high school students from around the world live abroad, for anywhere from a summer to a full school year. I am going to be staying with a family in the town of Mestre, which is located less than six miles from Venice. I will attend the local public high school, Liceo Stefanini, and live like an Italian from September through the beginning of July.

I will continue writing for the Academy News, and I plan on sharing all sorts of insight and updates on life in Italy, and what it’s like to be abroad in general. For now, though, ciao e in bocca al lupo con scuola!