Last night was the first of the presidential debates. Of course, if you were looking at the screen you would have seen President Obama on stage with his opponent, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, fielding question from PBS moderator Jim Lehrer.
Not so fast. Play the tapes back….sometimes it’s what you don’t see that’s most important.
There were three people on that stage: President Obama, the old Mitt Romney — formerly known as the centrist governor of Massachusetts — and the more recent Mitt Romney — aka, the one who walks in lockstep with Grover Norquist in his quest to banish anything that could possibly financially support a government, you know, those pesky taxes.
WHO was that third guy? Simply put, he was the centrist governor he used to be. Did he change his policy positions days before the debate? Yes. It seems saying that you’re against something that you used to be for (Obamacare) and for things you used to be against (eliminating tax loopholes) is a great debate strategy because it gives your opponent a moving target that cannot be easily tagged.
Many are saying that President Obama should have been much more forceful. Perhaps he should have — but as the person who IS presidential, not the person striving to LOOK presidential, he doesn’t have the time or luxury to counter-attack on every point.
Think about it: if the POTUS would have turned on Romney and called him out on his dishonesty at every turn, he never would have been able to get his own points in. He managed to get Romney to admit to a Medicare voucher plan, which was critical. People also heard that the math doesn’t add up: closing loopholes on taxes paid by the wealthiest among us is not enough to simultaneously reduce the deficit, create jobs, compete with China, leave the middle class with the tax cuts that were put in place by the President, and NOT reduce services for the nation’s citizens to crippling levels.
Many of the people who watched the debate have already decided to whom they will give their vote. It has been suggested that most will not switch their vote based on their perception of who won or lost the debate. For those on the left, it would be hard to believe that anyone is going to believe that Mitt all of a sudden cares about “the 47%” — the seniors, college students, military personnel, lower-economic class people, etc. And those on the right who are going to vote for Mitt don’t care about the aforementioned groups anyway, as evidenced by their support of GOP plans to place the burden of carrying this society on their backs and not shared by the upper 1%.
Even with repeated interruptions, the POTUS kept his responses dignified; the moderator’s repeated allowances for Mr. Romney’s interruptions contributed to Mr. Romney looking like he was more in charge — and that worked for him.
But the bottom line is that Mr. Romney is a skilled debater; he proved quite adept at changing positions (liar, liar…) with a straight face and that goes in his favour. I say let the POTUS remain classy against, let the slickness of Romney’s position shifts sink in with the audience, and then let the voters decide if showmanship versus real policies is what is in their best interests.
The Brooklyn Dame is that snarky Brooklyn chick from the UK who founded Borderless News and Views. She enjoys left-side politics, economics, finance and great seafood chased with a glass of Muscato. When she’s not plotting her escape from her corporate overlords, she’s writing ‘fight the wrongs on the Right’ articles. You can follow her on Twitter and read more of her posts on the BNV site or on BNV’s Facebook page.