As much as I regret the necessity, I suppose it’s time to climb down off my American League West Division Champion Oakland Athletics-induced euphoria and comment on the First Debate – or as I like to call it: Christmas with the Romneys.
First and foremost, I was appalled at Mr. Obama’s performance – almost to the point of asking Clint about the availability of his chair. The President failed to carry the attack to his challenger, preferring to counter-punch but mostly managing only to get tied-up in clinches of the ‘dueling Ivies’ variety. I would never insult his intellect or proven mettle via ‘teleprompter’ nonsense, but he looked down too much as he took notes (thus appearing deferential), and he tended to nod understanding, easily mis-interpreted as agreement, with the barrage of fantastical claims and charges headed his way.
It was also interesting to me that combined screenshots on two networks were wider for Mr. Romney, making the Prez look crowded-in (I measured). The panorama used by F&B Net was also angled so that Mr. Romney appeared directly in front of the non-Moderator, with Mr. Obama off to the side. Those kind of subtleties may also have contributed to overall impressions.
Now, it may also be that Mr. Obama was justifiably astounded at Gov. Romney’s ridiculous claims regarding both tax policy and healthcare. Mitt really should have donned a red hat as he played the Jolly Old Elf himself, showering gifts upon the gullible. Present number one: he’ll lower income rates by 20% and close loopholes enjoyed by his Patrons, and he “won’t let it” explode the deficit. Really? Setting aside the important fact that his own Party of Groverian acolytes wouldn’t let him close those loopholes, he’s also relying on what Nobel laureate Paul Krugman calls “the confidence fairy” (but I’ll call “confidence elves” because it’s my blog and my metaphor) to so stimulate demand that the federal coffers will overflow with abundance.
He claims himself heir to the Reagan legacy – except that’s not what Reagan did. First, Reagan helped restore economic health from a mild recession through a Keynesian spending stimulus acceptable to the GOP because it was driven by the Pentagon, and second: Mr. Reagan, bless his telegenic heart, Did Explode the deficit. It exploded again when Mr. Bush2 tried it in his term – Santa’s fanciful supply-side elves did not create jobs or revenue then, and they.never.will. The supply-side legacy is precisely the Great Recession of 2008.
The second present, crueler in its implications for those Mr. Romney consigns to emergency rooms, involves the preposterous claim that his “plan” for healthcare would retain the popular pre-existing condition coverage, but ditch the mandate – which is the only way to pay for its extra cost, by increasing the size of the insurance pool. Finally, he claims to ‘restore‘ Medicare cuts that that do not exist – kind of like claiming he’ll replace the bike he tells you your neighbors ran-over, except they didn’t.
It’s pretty clear that the Romney campaign has decided to adopt a strategy of declaring Christmas for the electorate, and then hoping to outrun those nasty fact-checking Grinches and their party-pooping grip on reality. But here’s the thing – there is time now for this game to be named – over the three debates still to-come, and with a free press that May be up to the task of exposing those tantalizing promises as toys that look better on TV, and break before New Year’s. It may seem like It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, but even true believers should hold-off on measuring the Oval Office for new drapes.