At tonight’s debate Romney offered an aggressive mixture of right-wing myths, Republican economic magic beans, sheer lies and a new make-believe moderate Mitt Romney and Obama’s response was not to seem to mind. Go figure.
Romney’s victorious debate performance could be viewed as an apt metaphor for the Republican Party at its most successful: a party and a philosophy that largely succeeds when it does by never selling what it actually believes, what it really intends, what it really will do, and by never copping to whom and what it actually represents (The top five percent, corporate hegemony and a rigged game against workers, consumers and the middle class).
Romney, drooling rabid right-wing saliva about the safety net before tonight’s debate gave it a warm and entirely phony hug. And Obama let him. Romney sold out the hard-right views of the contemporary Republican Party one could fairly say, though Republicans won’t mind a single bit, because: a) They understood Romney’s performance as the model (that metaphor) for how Republicans traditionally win, and b) Romney rolled over an inexplicably supine Obama.
However, historical perspective is important too. Incumbents are almost invariably horrible in their first debates. Most who watched the first Reagan vs. Mondale debate in 1984 concluded that Mondale all but rolled Reagan’s comatose body up in a rug and dumped it in a local landfill. The polls took a dive for Ronnie and suddenly his re-election was very much in question. Yet after a Lazarus worthy rebound in his second debate Reagan resumed his momentum and won his landslide. In 2004,Dubya came across in his first debate against contender John Kerry as even more befuddled than his usual Gumpian self. And of course to the great regret of approximately 75% of the American voting public who would suffer mightily from the many calamities he perpetrated went on to win the usual second term.
In other words, Republican glee is likely to expire quickly. Nevertheless Obama watched the political world’s most brazen and transparent congenital liar since the Prince of Darkness Richard Nixon bloodily murder the truth tonight, and did little more about it than shrug his shoulders.