"Under the president's policies, middle-income Americans have been buried. They're—they're just being crushed. Middle-income Americans have seen their income come down by $4,300. This is a—this is a tax in and of itself. I'll call it the economy tax. It's been crushing."
What the hell is Mitt Romney talking about? An economy tax? Maybe he figured joining those two words together in a negative slogan would be good advertising.
One thing is certain—Mitt didn't explain himself, and Barack Obama was so disengaged or distracted, probably thinking about his anniversary—that he never asked Romney. Nor did Obama do the most obvious thing, present a dismantling of Romney's 5-point economic plan, whose driving principle is make Exxon even richer by drilling the crap out of whales and bunnies and putting frak wells up your grandma's butt. Nor did the extremely elderly moderator of the debate, Jim Lehrer. who has had heart problems, and maybe didn't want to stress himself out too much, say what so many viewers wanted him to say:
"Would two shut up playing debaters on television, and fucking answer the questions like you give a crap about the American people—Jesus!!"Yeah, that was never going to happen. But at some point Lehrer, who often seemed the epitome of lame-spirited, utterly deferential corporate-toady-journalist, just gave up, and let the two spew—especially Romney.
It went a lot like this:
Romney: "Blah blah blah—you can't have your own facts (but I can have mine)—I don't like Obamacare (or Big Bird) blah blah blah."
Obama: "No! Blah blah blah—$5 trillion!! for rich people—I do like Obamacare (and Big Bird) blah blah blah."That was pretty much it. There was a lots of heavy-duty number-numbing about a lot of issues, but it was meaningless drivel, since there was no way for viewer-voters to know whose claims and numbers were true or more likely. Unless you arrived at the bubblegum shootout armed with nuclear-warhead-wonk, you were just listening to two guys call out numbers (like in Bingo or something) and call the other guy wrong.
Occasionally they would pay lip service to platitudes. Some of Romney's were outrageously bigoted:
"We're a nation that believes we're all children of the same God."Actually, we're a nation that believes in all kinds of weird gods and weird things—like Mormonism for example. And we're increasingly a nation of atheists.
"We can care for our own poor in so much better and more effective a way than having the federal government tell us how to care for our poor."So, our poor, our deer and antelope, our oil and gas.
Exactly whether our poor are going to be counted by the states as another form of protected wildlife, or an exploitable natural resource, Romney did not say. But, the proprietary attitude of our rich (note nobody says that, do they) towards our poor seems redolent of the attitude of antebellum slave-owners towards their human property. And that itself is a pretty good argument for keeping federal government programs like Medicaid the hell out of the hands of the states and their often degenerately backwards Republican officials.
Of course, Obama is getting the crap kicked out of him this morning for not standing up better to Romney's bullshit, and for acting like he'd rather be at his and his wife's anniversary. As Obama said at the beginning (and it really showed too):
"There are a lot of points that I want to make tonight, but the most important one is that 20 years ago I became the luckiest man on earth because Michelle Obama agreed to marry me."Unfortunately, that really was the most important, or anyway the most enthusiastic, point the President had to make in the entire night.
On the other hand, Obama got better as the debate went on, and did point out how deeply confused and dishonest so much of what Romney was saying actually was. It didn't seem to matter however, as Romney would just look at the President and say "You're wrong", and never address in specifics much of anything.
In fact, in the beginning Lehrer had promised the audience "an emphasis throughout on differences, specifics and choices", but the candidates often seemed more interested in claiming a similarity of their view to the position of their opponent, for fear of creating any distinguishable difference some voter might use to make up his mind.
Romney especially seemed loathe to provide any specifics. When Lehrer pointedly asked him if his health care plan, particularly his plan for Medicare, was to reduce it to a voucher system, Romney said:
"What I support is no change for current retirees and near-retirees to Medicare and the president supports taking $716 billion out of that program."Romney repeated the $716 billion charge—which is misleading to say the least—any time in the debate he was talking about Medicare. At no point did Romney simply answer Lehrer's question about vouchers, and instead made it seem as if everything he was promising to do would give more and better coverage for less and less money. How that would work of course Romney never would say.
In the end, Obama's weariness of being president showed a great deal. He looked at least as old as Romney, with the presidential gray hair in full display. One got the feeling Obama might have been throwing the debate, maybe consciously, because some part of him might have been thinking—perfectly reasonably too—who needs this shit?
We'll see if Obama decides to recover and take Romney down in the next debate. If not, Obama makes it a little more difficult choice for some voters. However, in the end, do we actually care whether Obama still has the energy to fend off the attacks of some idiotic nincompoop like Mitt Romney—winner of the clown contest in the Republican primary process?
If we do, and elect Mitt Romney, Barack Obama will go on to his no doubt lucrative retirement, and the USA will be back to being 100% fucked by Republicans.
As Budd says in Kill Bill, thinking here of Lady Liberty's likely disgust at America: "That woman deserves her revenge. And we deserve to die."
And maybe the USA deserves Mitt Romney.