Friday, October 19, 2012

Sotto Voce: the Town Hall Debate


I hate "town hall" debates. We've only had them since 1992, (can you imagine Tricky or LBJ sitting through an exasperating series of earnestly uninformed questions from "regular" people?), but the media loves 'em, no doubt because Republicans visibly struggle with the format.

I have to call BS on the idea that these were "undecided" voters. The girl asking about why women "only make 72 cents for every dollar a man makes" was repeating one of the indestrucable bits of feminist camp. (it will outlive roaches).

Obama and Romney's answers to that question were ludicrous, of course.

Obama nearly asphixiated himself when he reached behind to pat himself vigorously on the back for signing the Lily Ledbetter Act. Hey, big shot, it was already illegal to not pay a woman the same as you would pay a man for the same job under the same circumstances. All Ledbetter did was extend the statute of limitations for some gender discrimination claims. Big Whoop.

Romney, of course, offered us his "binders full of women." What he didn't offer was the names of some of the high powered women he had worked with in government and in business. (Meg Whitman spent time at Bain, for example), or debunk the myth that women - as a rule - only make three-fourths of what men do. He did dance around it a little, alluding to flex time and talking about how women in his governorship appreciated his flexible approach to scheduling. But, he couldn't quite bring himself to say, "look, kid, women have to make different choices in life than men, like it or not. They have to decide whether they want to have kids, how many, and who will take care of them. The answers to those questions will impact their career prospects, usually negatively, until the kids are teen-agers. Sorry to be the one to explain that to you." But, he would never say that. The unforgiving "town hall" format does not allow for truth telling.

Romney also semi-screwed up the tax cut issue. First of all, it should be a rule in GOP Debate Club that you should never allow a liberal to get away with the line about tax cuts that aren't paid for. For God's sake, you don't pay for tax cuts! It's our money, not the government's!

Romney also made no attempt to explain (for the one millionth time) that a tax cut will not mean a decrease in revenue, just as a tax hike will not lead to an increase. Quite the reverse happens, and you don't need to mention the Laffer Curve to get there. Just mention JFK like Paul Ryan did. This was Romney showing his RINO roots, as far as I'm concered.

Romney's Big Moment came when he was able to lay out all of the economic failures of the Obama Administration. Really, it was devastating, and the reason the GOP hired him for this job. Rick Perry would never have remembered all those numbers, while Rick Santorum would have run out of breath.

I listened to the debate in the car, so I missed all of the supposedly intense body langauge between the two combatants. Instead, I heard Romney's earnest soft-shoe, always with a bit of smile lurking, and Obama's rapid fire yapping. Neither of them sounded all that great, but Obama's timbre really betrayed his youth. Romney at least sounded presidential.

I did NOT hear the great Crowley fact check. What I did hear was her constant shutting down of the argument. She simply wouldn't let Romney or Obama finish their sentences. That was completely out of bounds, moderator or not.

If time is that important, why not use a clock like they use in debate club, or the Supreme Court, for that matter? I'm sure that got nixed somewhere in the mists of time because the media wanted to be able to control the flow of conversation.

I keep hearing that Obama personally dislikes Romney. I find that incredible, as Romney is a decent man, regardless of your feelings about capitalism. I like to think Obama's media people put that out to get their base into fighting mode. If Obama truly dislikes Romney, then Obama would personally dislike a majority of the country, that majority being the earnest strivers who get married, raise a family and try to treat people decently.

Remember that 60 minutes interview where Obama smirked and said his opponents were "new to foreign policy?" (Haw! Haw!) His struggles over Benghazi are a deserved bit of nemesis for that singular bit of hubris.

Never forget that this was coming at the time when (1) Obama had declared the consulate attack to have been the result of a YouTube video even though (2) he already knew al-Qaeda was behind the attack. Romney's initial response to deplore terrorism and denounce efforts to blame the First Amendment was the correct response, but Obama was arrogent enough to think he could get away with a cover up. We'll see you on Monday for the foreign policy debate, bud.

I said this before, but it bears repeating: the GOP might be the Stupid Party, but what do you call a party where Ivy Leaguers craft argument designed to appeal to stupid people?

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