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Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Weekend Word: Political Theater


Today's Times

  • Clint Eastwood's rambling and off-color appearance just moments before the biggest speech of Mitt Romney's life drowned out much of the usual post-convention analysis that his campaign hoped to bask in, Michael Barbaro and Michael D. Shear report. It was a reminder of how fleeting a successful political moment can be, and how carefully staged events can be upset by an unpredictable turn.
  • For all the allegations and counterallegations about Medicare on the campaign trail, the outcome of the election will probably have a more immediate and profound effect on Medicaid and the middle-class older people who rely on it for nursing home care, Abby Goodnough reports.
  • Some Democrats are saying that Mitt Romney was too presumptuous in touring hurricane-ravaged regions of the Louisiana bayou, as it seemed intended to convey a presidential air of authority, Jeremy W. Peters writes. While Mr. Romney's campaign noted that politicizing the moment would be unseemly, a chance for him to show empathy and warmth could help counter perceptions that he cannot connect on a personal level.
  • As Mitt Romney and Representative Paul D. Ryan champion their proposed changes to Medicare, Republican lawmakers and candidates are distancing themselves from the issue, disappointing party members who say they will benefit from showing a willingness to make hard choices about the deficit, Jonathan Weisman reports.
  • The political conventions do not seem to be must-see TV for many Americans, Susan Saulny reports. Voters' attention has floated in and out, with interviews suggesting that critical campaign moments are often lost a mid a tide of distractions both personal and political.
  • Every four years politicians blur the line between acceptable political argument and outright lies, but recent events have raised new questions about whether the political culture still holds any penalty for falsehood, Michael Cooper writes.
  • The lack of disturbances in Tampa this week stood in stark contrast to the last three Republican conventions, which resulted in hundreds of arrests, the use of tear gas and an onslaught of lawsuits against the police, Colin Moynihan reports.

Weekly Addresses

  • President Obama observed the second anniversary of the end of major combat in Iraq by spending the day with soldiers at Fort Bliss in Texas. “This anniversary is a chance to appreciate how far we've come,” he said. “But it's also a reminder that there is still difficult work ahead of us in Afghanistan.” He said that the transition to Afghan leadership was expected to be complete by 2014, but acknowledged that the mission would not be over until veterans and their families were taken care of at home. “As we turn the page on a decade of war, it's time to do some nation-building here at home,” he said. “It's time to build a nation that lives up to the ideals that so many Americas have fought for â€" a nation where they can realize the dream they sacrificed to protect.” He named infrastructure projects like rebuilding roads and laying broadband lines across the country, as well as giving veterans jobs as police officers and firefighters, as a great way to honor the troops.
  • Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana delivered this week's Republican address, lauding national efforts to support the region after the devastation caused by Hurricane Isaac. He then moved to couple the Labor Day holiday with a plea for Congress to stop a scheduled tax increase on small businesses, which he says would “destroy” more tha n 700,000 jobs. “Because for millions of Americans, this Labor Day finds them still looking for work and still asking ‘Where are the jobs?'” he said. “It doesn't have to be this way, and we can turn it around, because in America it's times of adversity that bring out the best in us.”  The measure is set to take effect on Jan. 1. Mr. Scalise urged the Senate to act in preventing “a blow our small businesses just can't afford to take.”

Around the Web

  • President Obama suggested amending the Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court's Citizen United ruling, The Washington Post reports.
  • Ronald Reagan's hologram debut at the Republican National Convention was canceled due to concerns that it would overshadow Mitt Romney, multiple news outlets revealed.
  •  Some of the organizations spending big money on ads against President Obama have failed to spell his name correctly, Politico reports.

Happenings in Washington

  • The Islamic Society will continue its 49th annual convention through the weekend.
  • There will be a rally in front of the White House on Sunday to condemn the violence in Syria, and another in DuPont Circle to highlight a humanitarian crisis in Tibet.