My thoughts on the debate can be found below…
For those of you who aren’t already obligated to worship at the alter of Honey Boo Boo tonight, and want to be in the company of other humans, it looks as though the presidential debate is going to be shown at a few places in the Ypsi/Arbor area. As of right now, my plan is to watch it with my friend Pete in Depot Town, at Frenchie’s. (As I understand it, the debate is also going to be shown in Ann Arbor, at the Bar at Braun Court, as well as at the local offices of the Obama campaign.) If you do come out and join us, be sure to print a presidential debate bingo card, and bring it with you. (My friend Al Hoff, who used to publish the zine Thrift Score, made them especially for tonight.) Or, if that’s a little too much like gambling for you, I guess you could just come prepared to drink every time one of the candidates ignores the rules as laid down by Jim Lehrer.
I’m going to try to leave comments here on the site as the evening progresses, but I don’t know how realistic that is. I’ll try, though.
Oh, speaking of live blogging, I hear the folks at Politifact will be doing some real-time fact-checking over the course of the evening, so be sure to sure to check that out.
And, if you can’t make it out, and, like me, you don’t have a television, you can also catch the debate streaming live at CNN.com.
As for what to expect, I hear from the New York Times that the Romney team has been working feverishly to craft some “zingers” for their candidate, so my sense is that we’ll be treated to a lot of ridiculous catch phrases that Romney hopes desperately will capture the attention of a nation. I have a hard time believing he’ll hit the mark with one of these “desperation zingers,” but I suspect it’ll keep things lively, as he attempts to salvage the entire campaign with a “read my lips” moment. Given his faltering poll numbers, a hail mary zinger is really the only thing he’s got left. With his wealthy supporters backing away from him, and moving their money into other races, he has to demonstrate to them tonight that he can generate some kind of buzz, and regain some of the momentum that we all witnessed dry up up at the Republican National Convention. I predict that he’ll fail spectacularly, but you never know.
Oh, while you’re waiting for the debate to start, here’s something interesting… and completely despicable. A right wing filmmaker by the name of Joel Gilbert is claiming to have mailed hundreds of thousands of copies of a pseudo-documentary that he’s created, by the name of “Dreams From My Real Father,” out to registered voters in swing states. The DVD promises a shocking revelation about our President’s origins, and delivers in a big way – with scandalous black and white photos of a nude woman engaged in pornographic acts. The woman, we’re told, is Barack Obama’s mother. And, as if that weren’t enough, we’re also told, by the very serious-suonding narrator, that she was five months pregnant with the fetus that would become our President at the time the images were taken.
My thoughts on the debate…..
The best quote of the night didn’t come from the presidential debate, but from the audience at Frenchie’s, when a disgusted Thom Elliott referred to Jim Lehrer as a “doddering old mummuy.” It hurt me to laugh, as I respect Lehrer, but he clearly didn’t have control of the candidates, or, for that matter, a grasp of what was going on around him…. Which brings me to my big observation.
When, the next morning, the most interesting thing I can think of to write about is Jim Lehrer’s performance, it means it was one hell of a boring debate. I think we all expected that it would be, but that doesn’t make it any less of a letdown. I don’t know that I was expecting to see Obama, after delivering a decisive knockout blow, jump out Gangnam style from behind the podium, but I wanted something to justify my having left the relative safety of my house to be among the masses. And, sadly, I didn’t get it.
As for Lehrer’s performance, I think a good deal of the blame belongs to Romney, who, during the debate, essentially told the veteran newsman that, come November, he could be out of a job. “I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS,” said Romney. He tried to make nice after that, saying to Lehrer, with his shark-like smile, “I like PBS. I like Big Bird. I kind of like you.” But I think it rattled Lehrer. Reading about the casual manner in which Romney terminates people after he acquires companies is one thing. Actually having it happen to you, live, in front of 40 million people, is something different altogether.
The bottom line is that Romney needed a knockout blow, which he failed to deliver. Despite the promise of “zingers,” there was only one that I caught. Romney, when talking about Solyndra, said something like, “The President doesn’t pick winners and losers – he just picks losers.” That was good, but it wasn’t good enough, in my opinion, to turn back the tide of high-dollar supporters fleeing the Romney campaign. Barring some scandal, I think what we witnessed last night was the last desperate, sputtering gasp of a dying Romney campaign.
Obama wasn’t at the top of his game, but he didn’t need to be. He just needed to stand there and remind people, again and again, that Romney is suggesting that we double down on the disastrous Bush tax cuts, by handing over another five trillion dollars in tax cuts, primarily to the wealthy… When this was brought up, Romney said, “I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don’t have a tax cut of a scale that you’re talking about.” A Tax Policy Center analysis of Romney’s proposal, however, says otherwise. The following is from Think Progress.
…(A) 20 percent across-the-board tax cut in all federal income tax rates, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, eliminating the estate tax and other tax reductions, would reduce federal revenue $480 billion in 2015. This amounts to $5 trillion over the decade…
And, as Obama pointed out, there’s no way that Romney will be able to pay for these cuts by eliminating tax loopholes currently enjoyed by the rich, which is what he’s been telling people along the campaign trail. Here’s more from Think Progress.
…As the Tax Policy Center concluded, Romney’s plan can’t both exempt middle class families from tax cuts and remain revenue neutral. “He’s promised all these things and he can’t do them all. In order for him to cover the cost of his tax cut without adding to the deficit, he’d have to find a way to raise taxes on middle income people or people making less than $200,000 a year,” the Center found…
So, that, as I see it, was Obama’s job last night. He just had to stand there, and keep reminding people that Romney can’t possibly deliver on his plan without increasing the burden on the middle class. Which is exactly what he did. Would I have liked to have seen him ask Romney about the “47%”? Hell, yes. I would also have liked to have seen him bring up Romney’s history of exporting American jobs while at Bain Capital. And I would have loved a mention of Romney’s off-shore accounts, and the fact that he refuses to make his tax records public. But that wasn’t what last night was about. The fact that not one of those things was mentioned was not an accident. The President clearly didn’t want to go down that path. I suspect he chose to do this in hopes of attracting more swing voters, who, according to polls, are turned off by what they perceive as personal attacks. We can debate whether the strategy was the right one, but I don’t think it’s the case that Obama just froze up like Cindy Brady and forgot all those things.
Oh, and one last thing… I particularly liked it when Romney said that Obama should have pursued the recommendations of the Simpson Bowles Commission, knowing full well that his running mate, Paul Ryan, had been instrumental in blocking the legislation.
And, I almost forgot… Did anyone else catch it when Romney called out his five sons as liars?