He’s Baaaack, But Was It Enough?

The President was certainly back last night, and I hope, but am not sure, that it was enough.

Mitt helped the Prez by not seeming presidential himself.  He seemed more like a very rich, entitled, spoiled, impatient, looking-down-on-us peons CEO.  Appearing like a guy used to being in charge and getting your way doesn’t necessarily translate into looking like a commander in chief.  Mitt reminded me more of Donald Trump than Thomas Jefferson.

The President was extremely well-prepared,  crisp and fluent without being professorial, engaging and engaged.  He consistently did well, as when he called out Mitt on his past rejection of coal plants; when he explained that oil companies were sitting on their leases on public lands waiting for prices to rise; when he twice called out Mitt for his own low tax rate and called his tax plan “sketchy,” inevitably making us think of Mitt himself as “sketchy” and untrustworthy; when he explained that gas prices were so low when he took office because the economy was crashing and demand for oil was low.  The President really had an answer for everything.

The President called Mitt a liar, as on the auto bailout, without hurting himself.  By contrast, Mitt came across as rude to the President.

The President was effective going after Mitt both personally and on policy because Mitt helped him.  Obama sought to portray Mitt as an out-of-touch rich guy, and Mitt helped him by playing that role well.  The shoe definitely fit. Obama sought to portray Mitt as not having any answers other than tax cuts for the rich, and Mitt helped him by being vague and not explaining how he would create jobs, just claiming that he knew how.

The coup de grace obviously was the President’s 47% attack at the very end, which was powerful and effective.  He contrasted “debate Mitt” with Mitt “behind closed doors,” who has contempt for people on Social Security and veterans and active-duty service men and women and students.  There is no explaining away the 47% video.  When Mitt said he cared about 100% of us last night, his voice lacked the passion and conviction it had when he was dissing almost half of us in Boca Raton.  He gives himself away.

To me, Mitt was at his lowest when he claimed that Obama’s description of Mitt’s tax plan was “foreign.”  It was a bizarre word to use when you mean inaccurate, and it was intended to convey that Obama himself is “foreign.”  We’re back to Kenyan Muslim Socialist, we’re in birther, World Net Daily territory, which is beyond the pale of a presidential debate and beneath the dignity of a presidential candidate.  But Mitt really has no dignity, just ambition.

This debate would mean more if the first one hadn’t gone so badly for Obama, if he had been building on a strong first showing.  Mitt wasn’t as bad in this debate as Obama was in the first, he wasn’t a disaster.  I’m not sure he stumbled as much as Obama needed him to.  He certainly came across as more unlikable this time because things weren’t going his way, and he was facing a very different opponent.  It was easy for Mitt to be pleasant in the first debate when the President was doing so poorly.

The President wasn’t on a level field with Mitt last night, he was in a hole.  But he definitely put down his shovel and hopped on his ladder.  He has three weeks to keep climbing.



The Unbearable Dumbness of Douthat and Brooks

How dumb are Ross Douthat and David Brooks?  So dumb that they think Mitt is breaking free from the Tea Party/right wing crazies in his party, rather than simply pretending to do so with their blessing.  Mitt isn’t just Pinocchio-like because of his lies, he’s also a puppet whose strings are being pulled by the GOP.  Douthat and Brooks incredibly believe that Mitt is now pulling the strings of his party and moving himself back to the center.  These two geniuses have it all backwards as to who’s controlling whom, plus they’re buying that Moderate Mitt is the Real Romney.

Here’s Ross Douthat, “It Could Be His Party,” NYT:

“What Romney executed on Wednesday night was not just a simple pivot to the center, as much of the post-debate analysis suggested.

“But this wasn’t some sort of Sister Souljah moment, where Romney called out his fellow conservatives in order to curry favor with the center.  Rather what he did was clarify, elevate and translate.

I guess clarify, elevate and translate are new euphemisms for lie.  Sounds very Luntzian.

“One debate does not such a leader make.  but at the very least, the fact that Romney’s strategy worked so effectively last Wednesday — that it made him seem mainstream and appealing while also winning him plaudits from almost every sort of conservative — suggests that the Republican Party can actually be led, and that its politicians don’t have be prisoners of talking points and groupthink.”

No, no, no, this first debate wasn’t Mitt leading the GOP, it was the GOP, out of desperation at his poll numbers and the fallout from the 47% remarks, allowing Mitt to seem rational and reasonable.  Mitt is the dressage horse here, not the rider, he “pivots” when that’s what his owners want.

Here’s David Brooks, “Moderate Mitt Returns!,” NYT:

“But, on Wednesday night, Romney finally emerged from the fog.  He broke with the stereotypes of his party and, at long last, began the process of offering a more authentic version of himself.

“Most important, Romney did something no other mainstream Republican has had the guts to do.  Either out of conviction or political desperation, he broke with Tea Party orthodoxy and began to redefine the Republican identity.  And having taken this step, he’s broken the spell.  Conservatives loved it!  They loved that it was effective, and it was effective because Romney could more authentically be the man who (I think) he truly is.”

Mitt didn’t break any spell, and conservatives loved it because they sanctioned it as a way to move the poll numbers before the election.  This has nothing to do with moving policy afterwards.  Mr. Brooks, do the words “The ends justify the means” sound at all familiar to you?  Mitt wasn’t breaking from the Tea Party, just from the truth.

Anybody out there trying to sell the Brooklyn Bridge?  You really should call Douthat and Brooks. 




Mitt the Psychopath

I watched the debate late last night on the West Coast and decided to sleep on it before posting.  I’m posting this before reading any media commentary, which I will greedily do as soon as I’m done.

I expected my title to be “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing,” and to call President Obama for not pointing this out, for comparing Mitt to harmless Emily Litella (Never mind on adding $5 trillion in tax cuts to the deficit).  I couldn’t believe that the President dutifully spoke to the issues of Medicare, taxes, deficits, etc., but didn’t address the big picture, the big story, which was not any specific issue, but Mitt himself.

But after sleeping through a nightmare, I awoke feeling a little more charitable toward the Prez and a lot more terrified about Mitt.

What we saw last night was truly a charming psychopath, a Ted Bundy.  I think the President failed because he was shocked by this, and I can’t blame him.  He couldn’t exactly say to Jim Lehrer, the hall audience and the nation, “Um, excuse me, but is it just me or am I up here facing Ted Bundy?  Who the hell is this guy?”

Last night, Mitt was the clever, charming psychopath luring women he meets in a bar.  He was Moderate Massachusetts Mitt, likable Mitt.  He had nothing whatsoever to do with his party, with Cain, Bachmann, Santorum, Gingrich.  He had nothing whatsoever to do with the Mitt who won the nomination.  The guy we saw on the 47% tape, the private, real, resentful Mitt, was the guy who dismembers those women when he gets them back to his apartment.

We think of Mitt as not having a core, but last night he was a man without a conscience.  Rather than an insatiable lust for murder, Mitt has an insatiable lust for power.

To the extent Mitt was likable last night, we should be all the more afraid of him.  Anybody who gets taken in by that act deserves to end up a dismembered body in his freezer.

I’m going to go read what everybody else is saying, but I’m not going to change my mind about this.

Mitt Saves Obama Cost of Copywriters

The Obama campaign released an ad today in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Virginia whose script is just Mitt from his “47% speech,” with no editorializing or additional comments or counter arguments.  Because, really, what more do you have to say or try to spin?

You know you’re screwing yourself when your opponents’ ads are just lifted verbatim from your speeches.

Mitt Sees Our Black Prez as Drug Dealer, Getting Us Addicted to Benefits

From “Let Them Eat Crab Cake,” Maureen Dowd, NYT:

“He seemed to have bought into the warped canard that some conservatives inside and outside of Congress have pushed, that the president and Nancy Pelosi were nefariously hooking people on unemployment benefits so they’d get addicted and vote Democratic to keep the unemployment benefits flowing like crack.

“It’s literally rich:  Willard, born on third base and acting self-made, whining to the rich about what a great deal in life the poor have.

“We thought Romney was secretly pragmatic, but turns out that he’s secretly cruel, a social Darwinist just like his running mate.

“You’d assume that it would be hard now for Romney to resume bashing President Obama for demonizing and pandering on class warfare, with lines like he’s been using on the trail:  ‘he and his allies are pushing us all even further apart by dividing us into groups.’

“But, even as Mitt was spitefully demonizing and dividing in Boca, he remained cardboard-cutout un-self aware, musing:  ‘The thing which I find most disappointing about this president is his attack of one America against another America.’  This is the absolute height of cluelessness.


Mitt Isn’t an American

I know I should be elated — the election is over, and Mitt is going to lose.  Really, where does he go from here?  What can he possibly say?

But instead I find myself weepy.  My first response to the 47% video was shock followed by anger and now I can’t think about it without crying.

This is such a sad moment in our history.  I can’t recall another presidential campaign when one of the major-party candidates showed such basic and bizarre ignorance of the country he sought to lead.

In some ways, this is worse than Sarah Palin.  She didn’t know anything about American policy.  Mitt doesn’t know anything about the American people.  This man without a core truly doesn’t get who are, how we think, and what we feel at our core.

After the election, Mitt will have a lot of free time.  Ann should strap him to the roof of the car, and they should drive across the country, so that Mitt can listen to us.  Not give speeches and shake hands on a rope line with an insincere “Nice to see you,” but sit down with us and hear our stories and learn something they apparently didn’t teach him at Cranbrook, Stanford, BYU, or Harvard.

Mitt will never be president, thank God, but it isn’t too late for him to become an American.

A Golden Opportunity

What I see as a campaign-ending disaster — the Romney 47% video — Rush Limbaugh is calling a “golden opportunity” to explain conservatism!  I think you only see this as a golden opportunity if you’re someone used to eating off golden plates.

The GOP consistently tries to portray Obama as somehow unAmerican.

But really what could possibly be more unAmerican — and patently untrue — than someone who believes half his fellow citizens see themselves as victims and refuse to take personal responsibility for themselves?  That is the antithesis of who we have always been as a people and who we are today.

You could only think such a thing if you’re totally cut off from normal working people — as are both Mitt and Rush in where and how they live — and exist in a bubble of fellow extremely rich people.

This is indeed a golden opportunity, a golden opportunity to re-elect President Obama in a landslide.