It's getting to be about that time. Tuned into MSNBC to hang with Rachel and crew. Please jump in as the night unfolds.
They just showed a clip of the "there you go again" line from Reagan in the 1980 debate: what is infuriating about that little piece of theater is that Reagan was lying through his teeth -- Carter was calling him on his opposition to Medicare in the 1960s. (Reagan's opposition was virulent.) The press corps sucked even then, failing to make Reagan's lie an issue, but rather loving the perceived smack down of Carter. So theater trumped truth, a lesson that became essential to the core the Reagan presidency -- and would later become the essence of Republican politics, a politics increasingly disengaged from reality.
Which brings me to another point that I've seen others hit on this week. It is less the debate performance than the media's packaging of the event that tends to matter most in these events. I remember the shock I felt when Al Gore's absolute thrashing of George W. Bush in the first debate was somehow turned into a Bush victory because Gore sighed. Bush was as inept in that debate as any major politician I've ever seen -- and yet the media, who really did not like Gore, handed him a spectacularly undeserved victory. Watch out for this tonight -- my sense is that the mainstream types would really like to give Romney a boost, if only for the sake of making the race more interesting.
- Where is Obama's hidden teleprompter? He seems to be talking without one, but I know that can't be the case.
- Romney needs to lose the smirk. I don't think he can help it, it comes naturally to him. Oh, the "five boys" zinger! Devastating.
- Romney's point about tax rates and small business is just utter nonsense. I am, God help me, a small business man of sorts. I am a part owner in a law firm that employs roughly 50 people and I am paid from the profits of it. I can assure you that no one in my partnership sits around and says let's not pick up this particular client or try to do more work for existing clients because marginal tax rates for the highest portion of our incomes might be 39% rather than 35%. It just doesn't enter into the calculus.
- Obama effectively invoking Clinton and the Clinton years.
- Romney interrupts like an aggressive and whiny little bastard.
- "I like Big Bird." And you too Jim.
- When you put a war on a credit card I bet you get a shit load of miles.
- I would like to see Obama step up the aggressiveness a little. I think he is letting Romney crowd him out a bit. He needs to stick it to the Mittster.
- Not to sound like Sullivan, but don't concede that Romney sees Social Security in the same fashion.
- Pretty good attack on private insurers by Obama. Nobody likes the insurance companies.
- Jim Lehrer is an unbelievably weak moderator. He's a crappy questioner and he isn't able to control the participants, especially Romney.
- I tend to think that this has been a fairly low energy affair thus far -- I can't see it changing much in terms of the dynamics of this race.
- Several people on Sully's site telling him to chill the fuck out. (I appreciate that Sullivan actually posts these comments.) My favorite -- "Take it easy. Obama seems like a normal person. Romney seems like he's been drinking Red Bull for 72 hours straight. It is not attractive.
- I have not noticed the deployment of any zingers by Romney.
- I actually think Romney has performed effectively -- with incredible mendacity, but effectively. I am curious what the reaction will be. I tend to think the press is going to extol his performance.
I maintain that this is not going to move the needle at all despite the excitement the press may feel in the morning.
Oops, spoke to soon. Air Force One zinger.
- God the mendaciousness of Romney's presentation is really overwhelming. Will anyone call him on it? I can't believe Romney is taking credit for the quality of Massachusetts' school.
- Jesus, Sullivan is a hysteric. "Obama may have lost the election tonight." I really don't think so. I think this so overstates the importance of the debates. If you don't believe me, ask President kerry.
I do think Romney outperformed Obama from a strictly aesthetic perspective. I think Romney lied outrageously, but smoothly. I would like to have seen more energy and passion from Obama. But I don't think it will have much impact.
What do you all think?
I saw someone describe Jim Lehrer as an NFL replacement ref -- pretty apt. He was pathetic.
- I think the reaction of Sullivan and the MSNBC folks was way over the top. I can't imagine that this event is going to change the dynamics of the race anymore than the opening debates in either 2000 or 2004 did.
I also think that there could be a backlash to Romney's extravagant lies during the evening. I thought Ryan's speech at the RNC would be deemed effective despite its utter disconnect from the truth. I was quite surprised at how much he got hammered in the following days. When this thing starts getting fact checked and disected -- and when the promiscuity of Romney's ideological strayings gets scrutinized -- he might end up not looking so good. I think the Obama people need to push on this in the post-debate press coverage. Romney literally seemed like he would say anything that might present him with a momentary advantage tonight, even if it contradicted a whole lot of what he has said during the campaign. I think there is vulnerability associated with that kind of move. I also think he might have come off as a hyper-aggressive jerk to some. It is difficult to assess as a fairly aggressive high information voter myself.