Unfortunately, in the United States of Amnesia, you pretty much can “shake it up and … start all over again”* — and to a stunning degree, get away with it.
I watched last night’s presidential debate online as it unfolded live.
While everyone is declaring Mittens Romney the “winner,” I don’t see it.
It’s obvious that the multi-millionaire Mormon Mittens has shifted his message abruptly to the center in order to appeal to the so-called “swing voters” (a.k.a. “undecideds,” “independents,” etc.). It wasn’t nearly long ago enough (it was in May) that Mittens told his fat-cat donors that 47 percent of us Americans can go fuck ourselves that we now can believe Mittens’ claim of last night that he just wuvs every last one of us.
I believe the Mittens of May, not the Mittens of October.
Only when we reduce the presidential debates to pure theater, in which truthfulness doesn’t matter (theater is, after all, fiction), only when we view the presidential debates as entertainment, like a wrestling event, can we say that Mittens “won” last night’s debate.
Mittens lied every time his lips moved — contrary to his claims, a Mittens presidency would look like much the illegitimate George W. Bush presidency did, but we wouldn’t even have Big Bird — but hey, Mittens steamrolled all over senior-citizen moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS (whom Mittens badly wants to fire)! What a bad-ass alpha male Mittens is!
Frighteningly, it apparently is the “swing voters” who (at least largely) decide presidential elections these days, and if you are one of them, you just now are paying attention to the presidential race and you have no idea that just the day before yesterday, Mittens was singing a hard-right tune. If you just first tuned in last night and you believe everything that you are told, indeed, Mittens, from his debate performance — and, like it is with theater, it was a performance — might not strike you as that bad a guy.
Luckily, we need look only to the presidential debates of 2004 — in which John Kerry clearly cleaned dipshit George W. Bush’s clock, yet Bush “won” “re”-election nonetheless — to remind ourselves that a real (in Bush’s case) or imagined (in Barack Obama’s case) poor performance in the presidential debates certainly doesn’t spell certain doom for an incumbent president’s election (real or imagined) to a second term.
I expect Mittens to gain a percent or two in the nationwide polls over the next week, but I don’t expect that boost to last, and I still expect Barack Obama to win re-election. I expect that Obama will have learned from the chatter after his first debate with Mittens and will adjust his game accordingly.
The question remains, however, as to how easily the New and Improved! Mittens can dupe the “swing voters” who just now are paying attention.
*The infamous Etch A Sketch quote, recall, was that of (former?) senior Mittens campaign operative Eric Fehrnstrom, who in March told CNN, “I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again.”
When you shake up an actual Etch A Sketch, everything disappears without a trace. Real life, however, isn’t that neat and tidy, yet Team Mittens apparently is going forward with the Etch-A-Sketch plan nonetheless. Indeed, according to the Mittens playbook, we’re even to just erase already the infamous “47 percent” remark that Mittens uttered just back in May.