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The End of Mitt Romney’s Quest for the Presidency and The End of the Presidential Debates

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As Lowell pointed out, President Obama says Mitt Romney owes the American people the truth in place of all the misrepresentations he (Romney) made at the debate last night. Indeed, the lies Mitt Romney presented to the American people are not just grounds for a correction. They require an apology. But more than that, the many lies disqualify Mitt Romney  from the presidency. His barrage of untruths was just shameful.

But those same lies also suggest it is time to end the farce of the so-called presidential debates, at least as they have been presented to us in recent years. Those in the know about debates (and as a former debater, I am one of them) have long questioned  whether the presidential debates are real debates. A craven, saber-rattling media makes the situation worse by craving “body blows,” regardless of substance. And let’s not forget their adoration of the horse race.  But these same media ignore that you cannot win by just firing off untruths. (Some of the fact checks are linked below the fold.) And these same media folks abrogated their responsibilities by pretending the debate was about those superficial elements.

At each four-year juncture, candidates through their representatives negotiate the terms, even down to who comes up on the stage first afterwards (the wives). But all the planning cannot account for a worthless moderator and a candidate who lies faster than anyone can write or type them. I started out ready to join in the fact checking.  But the speed with which Romney fabricated was just breathtaking. I gave up. Kudos to Lowell for getting some of the facts clarified. I hope the readers of BV understand just how dedicated Lowell is and has been. It is remarkable.  

Certainly, the head-spinning Mitt Romney executed last night rendered such a format useless. Jim Lehrer proved himself a worthless moderator and shown himself too impotent to deal with a conscienceless Romney who fired off untruths faster and more aggressively than Lehrer could react. Indeed, Lehrer and the Commission on Presidential Debates have shown that in 2012 we should forget about them. Wind them down after this campaign and never pretend we do debates again. We do not.

I have never debated when the other side made up virtually every claim and cited purported  evidence that did not exist. But the President was faced with such a situation last night. It is not that there haven’t been factless arguments made before. But Mitt Romney has reached new depths of inaccuracy, “truthiness,” and downright bald-faced lies (see the links below). That is not “winning.”  

But had Obama actually taken on every one of Mitt’s lies, an impossibility given the time constraints: a) he would have run out of time; and b) everyone would have been saying the President implicitly “name-called” (too often). They would have said it did not look “presidential” (at least as the so-called mainstream media prescribe it) to have called Mittens the serial liar that he is. Given, the perverse untrustworthiness of Mitt Romney (see list of debate fact checks below and on the BV front page), the President was in a double bind. Essentially, he was screwed no matter what he did.

Here are just some of the fact checks on the debate last night:

Think Progress: 28 lies I 38 minutes (Aside: There are more.)

http://thinkprogress.org/polit…

Huffington Post: Mitt Romney’s ten most baseless claims

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

Slate: Romney shakes Etch-A-Sketch

http://www.slate.com/blogs/mon…

NYT Editorial Board: Virtually every time Mr. Romney spoke, he misrepresented the platform on which he and Paul Ryan are running. (Aside: He lied about the President’s positions at every juncture.)

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10…

Maddow: Romney thrived because he abandoned the pretense of honesty.

http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_n…

Rolling Stone: He badly misrepresented his policies.

http://www.rollingstone.com/po…

Paul Krugman: Romney’s sick joke. http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c…

04romneys-sick-joke/

How Romney got it wrong on Wall Street reform (Hint: He misrepresented everything he said about that.) http://thinkprogress.org/econo…

Think Progress: Romney admits pushing misinformation in debate.

http://thinkprogress.org/elect…

PS I will deal with the AP’s travesty of a so-called fact-check in forthcoming posts.  It is a real “piece of work.”

  • you can tell if they’re lying by looking at their lips. If they’re moving, they’re lying, dissembling, deceiving, and/or flip flopping. Their contempt for the intelligence of the American people is truly breathtaking (although the corporate/Beltway media proves every day that you can not possibly underestimate THEIR collective IQ).

    P.S. Thanks for the kind words…I try. 🙂

  • aznew

    I was actually writing up a very similar diary. Well, waste not, want not. Here are a few points I was going to make:

    Romney’s bet is that even as reporters and fact checkers hammer him, most people who saw the debate will never learn about the fact checks, or of they do, they won’t care. Romney focused on his performance, not the substance.

    That strategy let Romney “win” the debate, but time will tell whether it works longer term. I suspect it gets Romney a short-term bump in the polls, but it sets the stage for him to lose the election. At the end of the day, given the problems facing our country, there are simply too many voters who will care about the truth.

    Look for the conservatives’ victory dance of today to descend into anger at the alleged “liberal media” as this fact checking begins to take its toll.

    Still, while I think Obama played it smart by not taking Romney’s bait, there is something to be said for letting people see you standing up and fighting back. In that spirit, I think the results here amplify the importance of the vice presidential debate. While it may be unpresidential for Obama to lower himself to Romney’s level when it comes to trading charges of lying, etc., Joe Biden is under no such constraint. Biden needs to be smart about it, but in next week’s debate when Ryan begins lying (and notice I don’t say “if” he lies – Romney and Ryan have lied and will continue to lie about their positions because they know if they told the truth they would lose the election), Biden needs to “hit” him fast and hit him hard.

    What happens in the VP debate will then set the stage for the next two presidential debates, which IMHO will have a greater effect upon the outcome of the election than last night’s debate did/will.

  • Quizzical

    The thing is, if you listen to conservative talk radio, which I did yesterday while I was driving around, they are insisting that President Obama is lying in every sentence he utters, and they have probably only increased the intensity of their accusations today after the debate.

    I don’t remember anything quite like this before, and I don’t know what to make of it.

    The campaign is over for me, and I’m ready to vote.    

  • Teddy Goodson

    Unfortunately for the Democrats, the Republicans have mastered the art of emotional appeals, hence they lie with that in mind… and, according to their code of ethics, the end justifies the means; the end is to defeat Obama and Democrats, and plant themselves firmly in power, forever. Since they fancy themselves on God’s side, all is forgiven. Mitt’s rants all had a truthiness and resonated in some fashion with many voters (even the “47%” gaffe earlier— a lot of people are convinced “other people” are getting freebies that they should not be receiving).

    Another point, Americans really do prefer aggressiveness up to a point, they (including me) expect when a bully attacks, the victim should stand up for himself, and not in artrful, nuanced diction as Obama did (“there is a pattern here of not giving any details, why are the details a secret?” and a suggestion that the reason Romney could be successful with bipartisanship in Massachusetts was because he had Democrats in the majority). Lies go around the world like lightning while truth is still putting on its shoes.

    Mitt told voters what they wanted to hear, and they will probably never figure out they’ve been played for suckers until it is too late. The time to have uncovered the lies—- if not specifically item by item, then as a pattern or gestalt— was at some point immediately during the so-called “debate”— and deliver the messsage: “can you trust this man?”