I apologize to my international readers who don't follow American politics, but as Emergency Backup Leader (EBL) I feel it is my duty to give my opinion on last night's presidential debate.

I didn't watch the entire debate but I tuned in just in time to watch Mitt Romney use the President of the United States as a bar rag. I wondered if I was the only viewer who was thinking that one of the worst public speakers of all time was drop-kicking one of the best speakers of all time, but I see today that most pundits agreed on two points:

  1. Romney lied 500% more than President Obama.
  2. Romney totally won the debate.

That tells you everything you need to know about the value of presidential debates. Sure, the fact-checkers weighed in afterwards, but by then the damage was done. Truth is literally an afterthought in politics, and apparently overrated.

The thing that impressed me most about Romney's performance is that he invented an entirely new class of political lie that I have named the pre-flop. It's a vast improvement over his old flip-flopping ways. With the traditional flip-flop the thing you say today is the reverse of what you said in the past, and that can bite you in the ass. The pre-flop is a brilliant innovation that combines the flip and the flop in the same pledge. Allow me to paraphrase the debate to illustrate.

Romney: My economic plan is (blah, blah)

President Obama: Economists say your plan will increase the deficit by $5 trillion.

Romney: I keep telling you that I won't do anything that increases the deficit.

See? The flip-flop is built right into the campaign promise. It's an unmistakable wink to independent voters that he plans to be a pragmatist. Pragmatism looks like flip-flopping because it requires opinions to change as the situation and the available information change. It also means you'll lie to get elected, but it's just a strategy, and everyone does it, so don't worry.

I think Romney has a hypnotist for an advisor, or at least someone skilled in the dark arts of psychology and influence. I just watched him repeatedly lie to me and came away thinking he'd be a good choice for managing the economy. I'm not saying he actually would be a good choice, but he did something impressive: He made me think he wouldn't cut taxes at the same time he told his base he would. As a trained hypnotist myself, I rank his debate performance as breathtakingly brilliant. (Seriously.)

Meanwhile, President Obama was learning the hard way that the worst time to have anniversary sex is right before a debate. He looked a bit too relaxed. I think he should have lit a cigarette, taken a long puff, exhaled, and told the crowd that Romney would do for the country what the President just did for the First Lady. That would be totally bad ass. Then he could toss in a zinger about how awesome the sex was right after killing Bin Laden. I think we all know that evening was ear muff time for the Secret Service.

Jim Lehrer, who apparently died several months ago, moderated the debate. The pundits have been harsh on him today. But who else do you hire for the first debate? Do you hire someone who works for a Republican news network or someone from a Democrat news networks? Apparently the debate producers scoured the United States and decided that the only non-partisan left was a cadaver.

This is a good time to remind you that I don't support either candidate for president because neither of them meet my minimum standards, which frankly aren't that high. And I'm not convinced that voting for the lesser evil is better for the country in the long run than supporting low voter turnout which could create an opportunity for a third-party candidate someday.

I'm looking forward to the second debate.

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+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 4, 2012

I don't think I have ever said that Mitt Romney, or anyone else, cares about nothing but money. I think I've been quite consistent in emphasizing the role of ego. And what could be more flattering to the ego than an ideology which says that your own country is the Promised Land and you are one of God's specially chosen people?

And by the way, I don't think Romney is a bad person. At least not by most conventional measures. I do think he's a dangerous fanatic -- both as an energetic Mormon who believes that America is the Promised Land and wants to pump trillions into the military when it's not needed, and a dyed-in-the-wool free-market fundamentalist who wants to cut government and leave everything to the private sector (including doing nothing about green energy and global warming).
Oct 4, 2012
Obama is only a good public speaker when he has a teleprompter. Get him off script and he says stupid things. (Like his exchange with "Joe the Plumber.)
+37 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 4, 2012
[ As a trained hypnotist myself, I rank his debate performance as breathtakingly brilliant. (Seriously.)]

I'm not a trained hypnotist, but I was so glad I never had to go head to head with Romney in any kind of corporate meeting. I would have taken an a**-kicking far worse than the president. I *knew* that Romney was being twisty and weasely, but still found myself believing every word.

Towards the middle of the debate, I found myself not listening to the arguments, but trying to figure out how I would copy the effect so I could use it in my next compensation discussion with my boss.
+11 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 4, 2012
Scott, you invented the pre-flop. In this post you start by telling us why Romney is a liar, then you tell us that you don't support either candidate. You have demonstrated in the past that you can find an economist to say whatever you want, but when Romney tells you that his plan won't increase the deficit, and Obama tells you that it does, you call Romney the liar.
+16 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 4, 2012
Every time politics comes up Scott reiterates that he's not for either party or either candidate, and then proceeds to spout statements that could have come from MSNBC.

For instance, on what basis is Romney the worst public speaker and Obama the best public speaker? Remember, there were no telepromters last night. Obama isn't a great public speaker, he's a great public reader, if backed up by a great speechwriter.
Oct 4, 2012
I think the next debate should be moderated by a foreigner. I'll gladly volunteer. As a proud citizen of the most polite country on the planet, I would be capable of telling the candidates to kindly STFU as going over the time limit is incredibly rude. Jim Lehrer, even Canadians think you were too polite. Also, as a foreigner, my bias is towards neither candidate, rather, for the truth about who would better lead the economy, which was the topic for the half of the debate I listened to.

As for the debate, Mitt Romney won because he was more convincing. His convincingness had nothing whatsoever to do with logical arguments (of which he had very few) or with facts, (pretty much all of which were inaccurate) but rather his convincingness came from the fact that, throughout the debate, he was THE alpha male in the room. He didn't waste time checking his facts or making up logical arguments, he appealed to emotion, pretended to have a soul, and lied through his teeth in his best performance yet. If I hadn't been watching the campaign unfold over the last year, I would have thought Romney was absolutely the man for the job. If I hadn't heard the details of Romney's budget plan before, I would have thought wow, this man's brilliant.

In short, Romney played to the lowest common denominator, while Obama used facts and logic.

At least here in Canada our conservatives can read a budget.
Oct 4, 2012
Both Romney and Obama have waged campaigns of lying by omission. They both have lacked specifics in any of their plans.

Candidates often have wide ranging, contradictory wish lists, to appeal to broad segments of the population. Romney has been across the map. but even Presidents can't enact everything they promise. But, Obama has not offered any idea about what he would change to get us out of our current mess, except more of the same ineffective policies. I don't really see much difference.

They have both hoped that their lack of specifics will allow them to define/demonize the other. Again both have been playing that game. Romney has implied that he will cut taxes, but won't increase the deficit/debt. I haven't seen, but would like to see how he plans to do that. But, personally, I think one of the biggest lies is from the Democrats is that they can/will maintain SS & Medicare just as they are. But no one can. They will both have to change.

I still will proudly not vote for either of them. Neither candidate nor their respective parties have shown any clue of how to move us out of this abysmal muddle we are still in.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 4, 2012
I admit I haven't spent my morning scouring the post-debate analysis - but in the bit I have seen, I'm surprised no one picked up on the one thing that stood out most strongly to me as I listened to the debates: Romney spent a shocking amount to time going after Obama for not spending *enough* taxpayer money on seniors (medicare) and and for proposing to cut the defense budget just because we are winding down a war. This was not exactly the tight-fisted fiscal conservative we were led to expect.

Romney came out in favor of Obamacare as well -he just wanted to push it to the state level. That still requires money - it just comes from a different pot. (Except in places like the deep south that have never been inclined to waste state money on folks living below the refuse line. They spend already spend half what other states spend on education - and wind up taking a lot more federal money than pro-education states to make up for the damage. Same thing would invariably play out in healthcare -but that's another story.)

It sounded like a debate between spend-the-same-amount-on-different-priorities-while-increasing-taxes-to-cut-the-deficit and cut-taxes-and-spend-more-to-cut-the-deficit. No wonder Obama seemed dazed and confused!
Oct 4, 2012
>>I'm looking forward to the second debate.

Me too. I hope Obama walks out to his podium carrying Bin Laden's severed head in a bottle of formeldahyde. It could just sit next to his microphone all evening. And whenever Romney speaks, he could open the top and poke it with a stick.

Oct 4, 2012
AtlantaDude, that's one of the things I liked about that debate: letting the candidates go after each other. We need more of it.

I hate debates where candidates take turns reading a prepared statement. It's pointless. We could just watch them talk for 15 minutes on youtube on a particular subject if we wanted that.

Speaking of which, why don't Romney or Obama do that? Have an official youtube channel where they clearly point out their beliefs and records on a subject. They could also trash each other directly and without a moderator.

I'm totally stunned this isn't done...

Now I want to see both of them go at it in a no holds barred Youtube cage match.
+16 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 4, 2012
"Then he could toss in a zinger about how awesome the sex was right after killing Bin Laden."

Bill Clinton would have done it.
Oct 4, 2012
It seems that Jim Lehrer's biggest crime as moderator was that he actually let the candidates engage each other in a debate. Shame on him. Let's make sure to bring back the canned bromides for the next round.
Oct 4, 2012
[This is a good time to remind you that I don't support either candidate for president because neither of them meet my minimum standards, which frankly aren't that high. And I'm not convinced that voting for the lesser evil is better for the country in the long run than supporting low voter turnout which could create an opportunity for a third-party candidate someday.]

One of your minimum standards is not believing in God. That puts you at odds with millions of Americans who are willing to vote against anyone who doesn't at least pretend to beleive in God. That, in turn, means you are, in fact, setting a pretty high standard for president (i.e., the president has to overcome that opposition). I understand you have other reasons for not voting. Wish you had mentioned one of them as it would have likely been better.

[Actually, I don't think either candidate believes in a supernatural creator who listens to prayers and grants wishes. They both pass that test for me. -- Scott]
Oct 4, 2012
Doesn't the FCC fine you for smoking on TV? I know if it was pixelated, Obama could have had his anniversary sex on national TV, on a network, with a sheep, a midget, and fetish gear included, but I'm pretty sure smoking is a no-no.

Anyways, since Obama did increase the deficit 5 trillion in 4 years, I don't think he's entitled to mention those sorts of things. If Romney only increases it 5 trillion in 10 years, that's a huge improvement.

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