Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, President Obama — October 3, 2012 at 8:33 am

UPDATED: Zingerfest 2012: Tonight’s presidential debate


Trying to leave a mark, trying to make it sting

If reporting by the New York Times is accurate, Mitt Romney will be lacing his debate performance tonight with “zingers” designed to make the news. I envision his staff working hard all day today, crafting 140-character tweets that are ready to be launched the minute Mitt utters them onstage in a painfully pre-rehearsed fashion.

Here’s the problem Romney faces tonight: for the first time since the general election campaign started, Romney will face instant rebuttal for his utterances. Unlike reporting done during his campaign stops by media types unwilling to call Mitt Romney a liar and essentially worn out from debunking all of his many lies, tonight Romney will face President Obama who will have the ability to instantly refute his egregious lying.

So, the question is, will Romney trot out his lie that the president has removed the work requirement from welfare? Will Romney try to get the “he robbed $716 billion from Medicare” dog to hunt when his own plan does the same thing (except that HE gives it to insurance companies)? Will he try to convince Americans that President Obama has increased their taxes when he actually has cut them? If he tells any of these lies, they’ll be immediately refuted by the POTUS.

There is good news in all of this: after months, even years, of flip-flopping, Mitt Romney will now have to land on solid ground on many of the issues on which he has formerly taken both sides. He will not be able to change positions he takes during the debate without it being Big News. So, expect Romney to basically take NO positions. He’ll be as nebulous and vague as he can so that he’s not tied to any specific position whenever possible.

But, he WILL have some zingers and, as everybody knows, Mitt’s ability to deliver a joke is about as good as your Roomba. President Obama, on the other hand, can deliver a laugh line nearly as well as any professional comedian.

There are important thing to remember. First,no matter how many zingers Romney gets off tonight and how many of them are reported in the following news cycle, Mitt Romney is still unqualified and unfit to be president and the economic plan that he and Paul Ryan support would be harmful to our country. There’s nothing new under the sun with these two and we know what happens when their approach to our economy plays out in America: the very wealthy become wealthier, the middle class shrinks and our social safety net that protects our most vulnerable citizens is eroded. We’ve seen this show before and we know how it ends: the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

The other thing to keep in mind is that this is no longer about Mitt Romney taking every side on every issue. It’s now about what he DOES stand for. After tonight, if he actually takes any positions or makes any concrete proposals, we will know. After that, we can move on from his flip-flops and focus on his actual positions.

LOLGOP, Anne and I will be live-tweeting the event tonight. I’ll have a live Twitter stream of some of the best progressive bloggers out there so you can follow along in real time.

What we’re looking for at the moment are some of the better hashtags to use. #MittZingers and #ZingerFail are a couple. If you have a recommendation, please drop it in the comments.

See you tonight.

UPDATE: Here’s Stephanie Cutter from the Obama campaign giving a preview of tonight’s Main Event:

[Image credit: Down With Tyranny blog, used with permission]