Why That Crappy Presidential Debate Won't Change Anyone's Mind
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Perhaps CNN was simply seeking to counter the current right-wing conspiracy theory that nearly all national news media polls are skewed in favor of Democrats, the news media being in the tank for Obama and all.
What about the 47 percent?
Polls aside, Obama seemed to have come to the debate with a determination not to seem too combative, in the hope that Romney would be his own worst enemy. During the debates of 2008, it was often said that Obama had a judo strategy, using his opponents’ weight against them, and perhaps that’s what he hoped to effect in Denver. If he did, it failed.
Perhaps the most damning event Romney has had to respond to in this campaign is the secretly recorded video of a fundraiser, exposed by Mother Jones, in which Romney asserts that 47 percent of the American people think of themselves as victims, and expect the government to provide for them. Yet, in a debate segment of the role of government, Obama never once uttered the words “47 percent.”
While the president did raise the fact that Romney’s lie that Obama seeks to cut Medicare by $716 billion, Romney simply repeated the claim later in the debate.
Obama’s overly-cautious tack likely stemmed from the fact that national and swing-state polls show him winning, and he doesn’t want to mess that up. But Obama’s recent advances in the polls likely have something to do with his populist rhetoric on the stump, and the recent stumbles by Romney -- especially the infamous “47 percent” video. Yet he failed to use either circumstance to his advantage.
Perhaps, given the racialized character of the presidential campaign since the very beginning of primary season, Obama was concerned about coming off as the right-wing caricature of himself, otherwise known as the angry black man. But if the sliver of undecided voters that concern him heard a more forceful Obama sounding more like he’s fighting for them, I’d imagine that they might enjoy seeing that Obama.
Obama did manage to thump Romney for his absence of detail in his tax plan, which the former governor sells as cutting taxes with no impact on revenue.
“At some point, the American people have to ask themselves: Is the reason Governor Romney is keeping all these plans secret, is it because they’re going to be too good?” Obama asked. “Because middle-class families benefit too much? No.”
Obama also said that Romney’s “big, bold idea is ‘Never mind.’”
The comedian Chris rock suggested via Twitter that when, in the discusson of Romney's Medicare plan -- which Romney says won't change for people 55 and over, Obama cautioned people who are 54 or 55 to "listen up," he would have done well to also mention people who are, say, 47 -- just to get that famous number into people's consciousness.
Perhaps Obama should hire Chris Rock.
Killing Big Bird and an ode to bipartisanship
If Obama treaded lightly for fear of alienating those not solidly in his camp, Romney’s challenge appeared to be to seem reasonable to that tiny group of suburban swing voters, while throwing some red meat to his right-wing base.
For the base, Romney promised to pull federal funding for PBS -- meaning, one assumes, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the publicly financed entity that provides the Public Broadcasting System with an ever-dwindling percentage of its budget.
PBS is a favorite bugaboo of the right, whose leaders contend that its programming is hopelessly biased to the left. (Must be all that science programming. You know how they feel about science.)
Asked what he would do to trim the deficit, Romney began with this attack on PBS, addressing his comments to the moderator, who is employed by that network. “I’m sorry Jim; I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS,” Romney said. “I'm going to stop other things. I like PBS, I love Big Bird. Actually like you, too. But I'm not going to -- I'm not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for. That's number one.”
Funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting actually accounts for around one hundredth of one percent of the federal budget. Did anybody mention that? No.
Immediately, two fake Twitter accounts emerged under the Big Bird name, with @BigBirdRomney tweeting: