Friday, October 05, 2012

Debate night: A night not to bother remembering.

Hello...the debate...

So, what the hell was that?

Think that sums up practically everyone’s reaction. And I can’t disagree. It was a disappointing night.
If I had to give a one sentence review: This debate was a loss for democracy.

Let’s be clear. Barrack Obama walked into this debate and looked unprepared. And on that level alone I am galled. Yes, he is president. Yes, he’s done a lot of good. Yes, he’s ahead in the polls. But he still needs to actually put some effort in as we approach November. And the way he acted that night was galling. Honestly, he really presented himself as a guy who really didn't want to be there.

Fine. Mitt Romney oozes douchebaggery. You are working hard as president AND campaigning. You have who knows how many issues of state. You are at a high altitude, which will sap you. And it was your marriage anniversary night. ...Yeah. That would suck. But...Game Face. I am sure you have been places in your political career that you didn't want to have be, but you put on a smile and fake some energy and get through it. But I'm sure he's heard that from plenty already about this...I hope he's getting an earful on it.

Now he also may have chosen to play safe. Talk and focus on his successes and some differences, and that's it. It can be smart. Take no hits. Ruffle no feathers. Wait out the game clock. That is fine. But if Obama does this for another debate, he creates a risk of actually shifting momentum against himself. But I am optimistic that if this is a plan, it was just for this debate.

He can recover fine this week, and in the next debate. Mitt gave a lot of ammo to be used against him, and Obama is showing plenty of energy on the stump since. But, the face Team Obama picked to show that night was one that was came off unengaged. I wanted some of that, Si Se Puede! Have some coffee, and get ready for the Town Halls, which will be a very different, and hopefully, a better venue for the president...maybe. 

Let's talk debates.

Now, as I mentioned above, this debate was a loss for democracy. These debates, as we saw going back to earlier this year and often in earlier years are just ridiculous. And that night succinctly showed why in a way better than I've ever seen.

What happened:

  • Romney (creepily) smiled a lot.
  • Made a lot of promises and claims that he refused to explain.
  • He radically shifted most of his positions just for the debate.
  • Told so many bald faced lies.
Result for Romney:

  • He’s deemed to have won the debate.
Do you see that? Lies, vague promises, but you smile and make eye contact better than the other person, and you win. You sound good for the moment, and that’s all that matters. Is that all a debate is?

More important, is that how you’d pick your leader? It’s how we try and pick our president. That is fucking stupid.

Now, of course, this debate format has a long cherished history…blah blah blah. True. But once upon a time, everyone would set some amenable rules of debate, then everyone would follow those rules, and everyone would also be held accountable for what they said. It was kind of nice.

But that was once upon a time. It's quaint. now. Now people haggle over setting rules to create distance and limit accountability. Then they walk over those rules to suit their needs. Then a certain party lies it’s ass off. Then…maybe they will be called on it, but the media loathes to be "biased." Also, that’s why they invented a SPIN ROOM to explain away the lies, and to rewrite the debate to suit a given end.

THE SPIN ROOM. There is nothing in that phrase I like…except ‘the’ (I do have use of ‘the,’) (Wait, I may also be pro-'room' to.).  The spin is all about massaging what one side said to be become something else, to rework the last half hour to two hours into what you need it to be. You have an hour and some change span of time where people are, in their own words, explaining who they are, what they think, and what they will do. Then we need to spend the rest of the night having PR hacks reinterpret this for pundits and newsreaders… Anyone see how stupid this is!!!

If you get to the end of watching a debate, and need it regurgitated ..there is something wrong with you, or with the debate. The function that is needed at a debates end, at best is how honest, valid, and consistent arguments and claims made are. And we just don't get much of that.

Mitt Romney lied and lied and lied on that stage. He made promises and position statements that are utterly alien to the ones we've seen him take all year long. But he won. What?

If what he did was winning? What is winning then? I feel like I've sidestepped into some postmodern nightmare. But I've been here before.

“Forget it, Jack. It’s Election Season.”

Taking a breath.

This debate has reminded me of something I have seen plenty of as a skeptic. The debates with evolution deniers, creationist, and religious apologists. These debates work much like what we saw with Mitt Romney.

You see, what often is done is to go into an argument and just start throwing out claims in mass. Just fill your rhetoric with a laundry list of claims that have little to no bearing on reality, then sit back and leave your more scientific or reason minded opponent to try and work their way through it all. They can't if they just try to counter all the lies and misunderstanding, their is no time left for their own arguments. And if they try to focus on their own arguments and don't go after the lies, the opponent crows that their lies are truths.

Obama was in a no win scenario. He either get out the good he's done or he gets lost trying to go into the morass of fact checking Romney. And going after Romney's lies is risky in itself. If you remember Gore's debates with GW Bush, he walked around and sighed at Bush's claims, and got labeled a jerk and bully by the media.

This format is just a mess. And the hope that 15 minute pods would get indepth debate...clearly the planners never watched a presidential debate before. If you want to do this, the moderator needs to be more task master. We'll see how the town halls go...

And that is what I think of the debate itself. It’s for too many years been American Idol meets Love Connection. It isn't about ideas and argument strength. It's whether you dance well while you sing a song, and can woo with a pithy sexual innuendo zinger. Sadly we began pivoting this way a long while back

And the questions were a joke.

I understand not everything gets covered. But so much has gone on this last four years. So many issues are on the table, but Leher, the moderator, skipped most all of them. Abortion. Birth control. Occupy. The Supreme Court. Gay rights. Equal pay. Gun control. Immigration. The 99%. The, freaking, 47%. Leher said he wanted to show the differences between the candidates that night, and these issues can show those differences. The debate was about deficits, cutting programs, and whether they would tax. The lessons we supposedly learned last year, via Occupy, are now forgotten.

“Forget it, Jack. It’s Election Season.”

No! The system should do us all a favor and stop screwing us in favor of their own comforting conventional wisdom and beltway cocktail banter. We deserve better.

Conservatives are crowing that Romney had a big win. He did win, by the sad ass rules we judge these events now. But, big? Relatively. He's been prat falling for so long now, he actually stood by Obama and "looked" better. But that's really it. Obama didn't rear up and maul the idiot, he stood back, so Romney won. Vict-Tor...Y?

But what did he gain? Some good PR. Some bragging rights.

What comes now for him? I've heard really nothing come out of the

The debates are when the last of those low info voters start watching. This is Romney’s final shot to change things for his campaign. And he’s working hard to play the rules and grift the nation. Obama needs to start bringing his A game. We need to be vocal and point out when the media fails us how Romney is wrong or lying. And we need to vote and get people out.

No comments: