Last Night President Obama's "Steel Curtain" Brought Mitt Romney's Post-Truth "Wildcat" Offense to its Knees
Last night President Obama ethered Mitt Romney.
Barack Obama delivered a clinical beat down of Mitt Romney in the second presidential debate. Obama supporters will still be holding onto their misplaced dream that the President's poor performance in the first debate was some deep game of political chess. They remain incorrect.
The outcome is far more simply explained: Barack Obama was much more prepared for his second outing against Mitt Romney. While boxing is a poor fit for describing Obama and Romney's first debate, this second contest is akin to the wildcat offense in football. Romney's trick play of obfuscation, factual pivots, and post-truth speech was countered by a well-practiced and prepared defense. At this point, Romney is running a one-dimensional offense and was exposed as such. This allowed President Obama to score on both offense and defense (almost) at will.
Entering the debate I was, and remain concerned, about the stylistic limitations faced by Barack Obama in these presidential debates. Obama lost the first match because he was passive and too gentlemanly. The public and his advisers clamored for the President to show some fortitude, passion, and energy against Mitt Romney, to confront him on what is an obviously disconnected relationship from empirical reality and the facts. In short, Obama had to act "presidential."
However, he is also a president who happens to be black, playing a game that was not designed for a man who looks like him.
Obama is also a black man with all of the stereotypes, projections, and insecurities of the white racial frame transposed onto him. Of course, the Fox News crowd saw an "uppity" and "arrogant" and "threatening" black man on stage. When Barack Obama wakes up in the morning and breathes air the white racial resentment and anti-black animus of the Right is immediately activated. As such, their verdict is predictable.
By comparison, like many of you, I too am blessed with what Du Bois described as the second sight that comes with life behind the veil of double-consciousness. This evening, I saw the country's first black president putting in work. The little man came from behind the stove and took Romney out at the knees.
Some thoughts and questions:
1. Am I the only person who wished that there was a thought bubble above Mitt Romney's head? Am I alone in wishing that Romney would have broken script and ushered the racial epitaph that seemed poised to come out of his mouth at any moment?
2. Romney made "special efforts" to ensure that women were represented in his hiring and recruitment pool while Governor of Massachusetts. Funny thing, I did not know that he supported affirmative action (as what Romney did there is what said policy in practice usually involves). If the Right were at all intellectually honest, their heads would be spinning at Romney's policy position on the hiring of women--it stinks of being a "moderate."
3. Was Romney's rude demeanor a function of his entitlement as a rich man? A rich, privileged, straight, white man? His experiences as a CEO, and a particular social experience and identity wherein all people--especially women and people of color--are supposed to be deferent to him?
4. Why didn't Obama take Romney down regarding his lies about supporting Pell grants, a program he and Ryan would cut?
5. Let's call out a willful lie that is caused by conflating capitalism with democracy, and where government is framed as always being a societal evil. Governments do create jobs. They create jobs all of the time. Never mind the New Deal, we can point to many more recent examples of this fact. One does not need to go all wonky and start discussing Keynesian economics to make this basic point.
6. Why are Romney and the Right-wing echo chamber fixated on "Fast and Furious?" This is a conspiracy theory that is of little interest to low information voters and undecideds. When Romney and other talking-point conservatives bring this issue up they are confusing the general public (as most will think of the movie). Their insistence on that ineffective meme is a great example of how epistemic closure has intellectually and politically ghettoized the Right and conservatives in this country.
7. On first glance, am I the only person who thought that the brother who asked Obama a question was a black conservative plant like Herman Cain in 1994? Am I the only person, who realized that said audience member may have simply served up an easy pitch for Obama to knock out of the park with his great promo and stump speech?
8. Was the archetypal Fox News, Rush Limbaugh listener who was "hanging out with his boys" talking about the terrorist attack in Libya a Right-wing plant?
9. Romney had to feed the Culture War gods. Why are conservatives confused about a basic social science finding: people do not miraculously get jobs because they are married. Deindustrialization, and other structural inequalities contribute to the "bad culture" conservatives are so fixated on. Are they incapable of understanding this basic fact? What of all the "bad culture" in Red State America? A curious silence.
10. Apparently, Mitt Romney believes that all people are created equal. But, he belongs to a faith that until 1977 said that black people were second class citizens who go to a segregated heaven. Riddle you that one.
11. He was in the clear; why did Mitt Romney bring up his secret "47% of the American public are losers, bums, and parasites" video? Calculated risk or misstep out of desperation and confusion?
12. Obama mentioned his hometown of Chicago and the violence there. Cue the Fox News talk radio late night conspiracy talking point meme machine! "Obama," "Chicago," and "violence" are a home run for the conspiranoids on the Right.