Drubbing. Clobbered. Embarrassed. Schooled. Pwned.
I made a prediction last night and it was this:
This debate won't change the polls. It will harden the camps and confuse the stupid people who are still "undecided".
— Chris Savage (@Eclectablog) October 23, 2012
Why? Because we are so polarized in the USA right now that the people who are paying attention and actually get most of what’s going on in our national discussion have already chosen their candidate and are simply looking for reinforcement of the choice. The remaining people — the so-called “undecideds” — are simply low-information voters. Which is, of course, the nice way to say “dumb”.
Seriously, if you can’t make up your mind between these two candidates by now, there is something wrong. These are the people easily swayed by sound bites designed to frighten them. They are convinced that there are simple solutions to our complex national problems that can be described in one-syllable words. They believe that things can be boiled down to black and white or at least two-dimensions like a comic book.
That’s why the GOP and the SuperPAC pals are going to blanket the airwaves over the next two weeks to get those votes.
But, let’s face it: last night, President Obama blew Mitt Romney’s battleship out of the water.
The best exchange of the night, of course, was this schooling:
First of all, the sequester is not something that I’ve proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen.
The budget that we are talking about is not reducing our military spending. It is maintaining it.
But I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works.
You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.
And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting slips. It’s what are our capabilities. And so when I sit down with the Secretary of the Navy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we determine how are we going to be best able to meet all of our defense needs in a way that also keeps faith with our troops, that also makes sure that our veterans have the kind of support that they need when they come home.
Another moment that will go down in history as part of “The Hilarious Schooling of Mitt” was this:
Governor Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that Al Qaida is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not Al Qaida; you said Russia, in the 1980s, they’re now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.
But Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.
You say that you’re not interested in duplicating what happened in Iraq. But just a few weeks ago, you said you think we should have more troops in Iraq right now. And the — the challenge we have — I know you haven’t been in a position to actually execute foreign policy — but every time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong. You said we should have gone into Iraq, despite that fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction.
You said that we should still have troops in Iraq to this day. You indicated that we shouldn’t be passing nuclear treaties with Russia despite the fact that 71 senators, Democrats and Republicans, voted for it. You said that, first, we should not have a timeline in Afghanistan. Then you said we should. Now you say maybe or it depends, which means not only were you wrong, but you were also confusing in sending mixed messages both to our troops and our allies.
What became painfully obvious throughout the night was that Mitt Romney was perfectly capable of spewing out long-winded word salads full of frightening facts about the Bad Guys in the Middle East. He most certainly won the words-per-minute contest last night. The problem was that he generally struggled to connect two ideas together into a coherent narrative. It was just a series of unrelated sentences strung together to give the appearance of lucidity.
But, what was even more evident last night was that Mitt Romney didn’t have any new ideas to offer. He agreed with the President’s approach more often than not and, well, the President called him on it:
What you just heard Governor Romney said is he doesn’t have different ideas. And that’s because we’re doing exactly what we should be doing…
It got noticed, too. The Washington Post said this in an email about the debate:
“[A]t several points, Romney conceded that he would have done some of the same things that Obama did”
Arguably the most embarrassing moment for Mitt Romney came right before his closing statement in which he declared his love of teachers (despite disparaging them as union thugs putting their own self-interest over that of their students for the past 12 months.) When he finished, moderator Bob Shieffer simply said, “I think we all love teachers.”.
It was the classical drubbing. President Obama had Mitt Romney on the defensive and acting tentative the entire night because, the fact is, the President knows about foreign policy and Mitt Romney does not. So he had to bluster his way through it. And bluster his way he did, often sounding at the same time manic and defensive.
But that probably won’t matter. The only voters left in this country who still say they are “undecided” probably weren’t watching and certainly wouldn’t understand the difference between Pashtun and Pakistani or between a Syrian rebel and an al Qaeda operative (who Mitt Romney oddly called “al Qaeda-type individuals”.)
Those people will very likely have their minds made up for them by Rush Limbaugh and Shawn Hannity.
The best we can hope for is that they get lost on the way to the polls.