It has been reported by The New York Times that Mitt Romney is now loading up on "Zingers" to use in the debate on Wednesday night. The article provides:
Mr. Romney’s team has concluded that debates are about creating moments and has equipped him with a series of zingers that he has memorized and has been practicing on aides since August.
This should be attacked pre-debate so that the framing is ready post-debate. Why is a zinger-filled debate by Romney something that can be attacked? Because what the NYTimes is reporting closely follows the narrative that has built up around the GOP candidate. He's being inauthentic, he's a rich guy trying to buy the election, and he's trivializing the whole process. Let's look at that first point.
Mitt Romney is the kind of guy who self-tans before meeting the Latino press. That has to be the most crassly inauthentic thing ever done by a presidential candidate. Moreover, we've seen his "humor" before, and he's not a funny guy. He's told lame-ass jokes about President Obama's birth certificate, about the time his wife was in an airplane that was on fire, and about how he trips a daughter-in-law to win a race or cuts into the front of the food line before his grandchildren can eat. So, if he's going to try to be funny, we know that, like everything else about him, it is not authentic.
As evidence, please consider the 23 Republican primary debates. Do you recall any Romney "zingers" in any of them? I watched at least parts of almost all of them, and all I remember are "self-deportion" and "wanna bet $10,000." There was also the time Romney grabbed Rick Perry on the shoulder and started yelling over him, and who could forget when Mitt was befuddled for about eight seconds and made those Elmer Fudd sounds (Buh-deep, buh-deep, buh-deep, buh-deep), all the while moving his head back and forth like his logic circuits had crossed. So, unless the definition of "zinger" now includes "gaffe" or "blooper," "blunder" or "faux pas," then he doesn't have a history of zinging, although when you consider his 2011-12 primary debates along with those in 2008, he may have been on stage more than any other candidate in history. Let's next consider Lloyd Bentsen.
The above video shows the best debate zinger of all time. Lloyd Bentsen flattened Dan Quayle. The thing is, it came authentically to Bentsen, who was a word-smith, and who had already served in the United States Senate for 17 years before that debate and for six years in the House before that. Moreover, he was the kind of bright person who rose to the rank of Major in the Air Force by the age of 23.
In the post-Citizens United world, the spectre of billionaires buying elections has to loom large in the psyche of the people. It is an undisputed fact that Romney is rich, and he may also be a billionaire. It is also undisputed that he's received millions of dollars in direct and indirect aid from other billionaires. Now let's look at that NYTimes quote again: "Mr. Romney’s team has concluded that debates are about creating moments and has equipped him with a series of zingers ...." As you can see, he's getting the kind of prepping that Miss Texas gets at the expense of the contestant from Rhode Island. Romney probably has a poise coach, a debate coach, "zinger" coaches and a tanning coach.
Mitt Romney has gone out and bought soundbytes just so that he can make them the property of Mitt Romney, Believe in America '12, Inc. Any "zinger" from the GOP candidate will be something bought by him, just as he's trying to buy the election. And just like he bought the primary nod.
This is a debate for the Presidency of the United States. It's not a commercial for hamburgers. Not only does the act of attempting to score debate points with a zippy soundbyte trivialize the whole affair, but the belief that scoring "zingers" is the end-all, be-all for debates underscores the friviolousness. Shouldn't the debates be about who provides a cogent policy and enunciates it with conviction? This seems like more "Conservatism Creep."
By Conservative Creep, I mean that the conservative movement has crept away from science, has crept away from fact, and they're continually creeping away from many standards of logic, ethical decision-making, factual reporting and legal reasoning in order for their candidates, who aren't the "smart people" to have a chance to muddle up the issues with trivial nonsense. We must not let them. A debate is a debate of ideas and policies, not a battle of advertising slogans.
WARNING: Over the jump, I have provided an episode of Mitty Millionaire that takes a very unflattering look at Republicans and how they treat Women, Latinos and others. It also addresses the GOP's trivialization of the debates. Please don't make the jump unless you want to see that kind of satire, and you're 18 years of age or older.