Thursday, October 04, 2012

Debate... sigh

I predicted prior to last nights debate-- I mean, debacle, that Obama could essentially close out the campaign with a strong performance. And by strong, I meant more or less human. He needed only to be warm and personable, maybe challenge Romney on any lies he told, and bam! the horrifically inept Romney campaign would be essentially dead in the water.

Sigh. That's obviously not what happened last night. Obama let Romney get by with some real whoppers. The President acted oddly, looking down at his podium and notes most of the time while Romney was speaking. His one joke line that I noticed, about Donald Trump, fell flat, since he hadn't showed any levity to that point and no one was sure it was a joke. He didn't  hammer Romney on why Romneycare was good but Obamacare is bad. He didn't hammer Romney on his bullshit tax policy lies. Didn't  hammer Romney on suddenly being for the 10th fucking Amendment all of a sudden when he and the Republicans don't give a shit about it when it comes to gay marriage or abortion. He let Romney get away with suddenly reversing course on several issues. It was a damned disaster.

Where was the 47%? Why wasn't he talking about all the issues on which Romney has been getting his own damned position wrong in the past month. Obama mentioned math, echoing Bill Clinton's brilliant convention speech, but didn't really go anywhere with it. He didn't do a good enough job highlighting how ridiculous an idea it is that you can cut taxes on the wealthy and have absolutely no revenue enhancements and yet somehow balance the budget.

He didn't hammer Romney on his bullshit contention that he spent "fifteen years" in business as if he's run a small business. Romney hasn't had a paying job in the private sector since the fucking nineties, for Christ sake, and then he just had a plum job running a venture capital firm. That's not job creation and it's not starting a business from the damned ground up. Of course Romney doesn't understand tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas; he's never fucking created a job in his life!

Why did Obama let Romney get away with pretending that it was Obama's fault that Obamacare wasn't done in a bipartisan manner? Did Obama forget that Mitch McConnell gave the fucking game away when he admitted that the Republicans' main task these past four years was to deny Obama a second term? Obama pissed me and a lot of other liberals off by trying so goddamned hard to work with an intransigent Republican party who had no intention of letting anything get accomplished on his watch. And now he doesn't even take credit for it? Jesus.

Why didn't he mention Romney's refusal to release his tax returns and the fact that Romney has consistently lied about them? That Romney himself said that if he'd paid more taxes than he was required to, he wouldn't be qualified to be President, but that Romney fucking did pay more taxes than he was required to last year because if he took all his deductions he'd have paid less than the 13% he says he has always paid?

Argh. Some of my friends echoed Al Sharpton, who said on MSNBC last night that Obama is playing a long game, and this is just part of it. I hope that's true. But I don't really believe it. Obama screwed the pooch last night and gave the Romney campaign a second wind. Romney should already be down for the count. And now, he's not.

27 Comments:

At 8:39 AM, Blogger R. Paul Wiegand said...

It was a poor showing on the part of the President, to be sure. In Go parlance: Romeny held sente, while Obama gave in gote.

The problem I had was his long, meandering defensive responses. For example, between the time Romney first brandish the oft-quote canard about Obamacare panels secretly deciding your treatments and Obama making it clear that there was no such power in the panel, something like five minutes and two exchanges went by.

I understand and appreciate the propensity to be nuanced with complicated material, but in a debate there just isn't time ... and even if there were time, it wasn't as if he were clearly articulating his points anyway. For a jab like the one I described above, Obama should have immediately come back with: "This is not true. The panel you describe has no such power, as has been made clear in the law and subsequent vetting. Let's talk about what your plan would not do ..." Parry quickly, then repost. But Obama spent all his time (it seemed) fussing about the details of the argument.

And he seemed to completely miss the *way* in which Romney was pivoting on his tax plan. Instead of insisting on repeating the $5 trillion dollar quote that Romney seemed to dispatch, he should have attacked the core of that dodge: "You just said you would lower rates, as you have said explicitly in your plan. That will cost money. The tax policy center says that will cost $5 trillion, how much do you say it will cost? And what *specific* loopholes will you close to offset that cost to make it revenue neutral?"

Romney was trying to make the argument that the total costs would be $0 because, regardless of what he eventually does to reduce tax rates, he will offset them such that it will always be revenue neutral. Taken at face value, this is a reasonable rebuttal to Obama: How can you say it will cost this much money when I'm insisting all reduction must be offset to make it revenue neutral? The answer is: Because he *can't* reduce by the rates he has in his plan and offset them by closing loopholes.

Instead, Obama stammers out surprise that Romney seems to have done a 180 on his tax plan. In reality, Romney didn't change his position on his plan at all, he just changed how he framed it ... and Obama didn't seem to be able to adapt quickly enough to this framing.

Even Obama's closing remarks were strange and unpolished. It really seemed to me like he was unprepared for the debate. This is not a long-term strategy, this was a critical error at a critical moment in the campaign. If he'd even given the spin room some room to spin, things would have been fine. But even the spinners couldn't make anything out of the performance. It was a sound and thorough trouncing by a man who has hitherto bumbled his way through his campaign.

 
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