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I am starting to think that Mitt Romney is a sociopath. Who else lies so easily, so regularly, so completely without even blinking his eyes? I’ve heard from a lot of Dems tonight who seem to be upset with the President’s performance. They imagined some movie-magic takedown, some decisive knockout blow. Granted, that would have been fantastic. However, it was never going to happen. Mitt trained for this thing for eight weeks. It was the longest prep time in debate history. He wasn’t going to come on stage and  pratfall his way into losing.

I am starting to think that Mitt Romney is a sociopath. Who else lies so easily, so regularly, so completely without even blinking his eyes? I’ve heard from a lot of Dems tonight who seem to be upset with the President’s performance. They imagined some movie-magic takedown, some decisive knockout blow. Granted, that would have been fantastic. However, it was never going to happen. Mitt trained for this thing for eight weeks. It was the longest prep time in debate history. He wasn’t going to come on stage and  pratfall his way into losing.

But he did lose. Let me explain. Mitt needed to knock the President out. He didn’t. He didn’t come close. In fact, as I write this piece, immediately after watching the debate, I can’t think of one solid hit Mitt landed on the President. Oh, he swung a lot. He may even have clipped the President some. However, he didn’t connect. Not really, not on any major issue. If you disagree, please feel free to comment below. I’ll respond as the day goes on.

What did happen is that President Obama made a compelling case, almost as an afterthought. “Do you think Gov. Romney is keeping his plans secret because they are so good for you, so good for the middle class?” Boom. That tag line resonated. It cut through the obfuscation. It crystalized what was happening.
“Budgets are about choices.” If Mitt shook this off, if Mitt didn’t take this bait and said something like, “Budgets are about responsibility, etc.,” he might have won the night.

But he didn’t. He said, “President Obama is right. Budgets are about choices.” Boom, that’s the framework of the larger political debate going forward. It’s also the frame for the next three debates.

Mitt wanted this debate, this election, everything, to be a referendum on President Obama. He needed it to be that. A choice is problematic for him because he’s spent so much time in bed with the Tea Party and Ryan that he isn’t an honest broker on any issue that affects the middle class. Instead, Mitt agreed with the President’s entire meme, his entire frame. This budget debate is about choice, this election is about choice.

Mitt, thinking he was winning or maybe just out of desperation, then spent considerable time talking about 90 billion dollars in investment from President Obama in green energy and clean energy jobs. However, he didn’t make that accusation in a vacuum either. Instead, he admitted that oil production was at its highest level, natural gas the same way.

Mitt tried to spin that into a public land/private land argument, but that is an awful argument. The desire to drill on public land is a right-wing fantasy – one that independents hate with a passion. Suddenly, all that hard work Mitt put into ignoring the right wing of his own party in the debate, repudiating his own tax cut, embracing provisions of Romney Care, etc. all went up in smoke. In that one comment, Mitt again appeared to be what he actually is: an extremist who doesn’t believe in global warming.

ThenMitt tried to bring it back to jobs, but he has no credibility on jobs any more than any Republican has. Obstruction, denial, and tax cuts first, second, and third are a poor strategy. It is one that doesn’t resonate, especially not where Mitt needs it.

If this election were one month old, if the electoral map were wide open, Mitt would have had the correct strategy for this debate. But it isn’t and he didn’t. Instead, we are left with a truism of politics: “Politics is the distribution of scare and/or finite resources.”

As Mitt laid out his fictitious vision of America, where did the middle class thrive in it? Where did the middle class survive in it? Mitt’s vision, in part because it was a fabrication, in part because Mitt himself is a fabulist, was almost entirely two-dimensional. It had no depth to it. He tried Meta Speech to fool the public but it came off hollow. He tried five point plans, but those plans don’t hold up any more than the silly outlines he’s been giving for five years.

Remember please, Mitt himself now agrees that this is a choice election, that budgets are about choices, and that elections are too. He agrees now that his vision,  as fractured, fabricated and false as it is must be fleshed out. That’s the cost of buying into the President’s frame.

This is a fascinating election for so many reasons: class, race, politics, and character. It is a choice election and Mitt Romney, understanding that, attempted a campaign amputation. He attempted to cut off his entire past two years of running for President. He tried to ignore the entire Tea Party takeover of the GOP, and he tried to appear like a reasonable guy. If only he’d been on stage alone, he might have pulled it off.

 There is little doubt that Mitt won on style. He was aggressive and energetic. Peggy Noonan and a host of other conservative writers and pundits are going to orgasm over what may, on the surface, appear to be a good performance for Mitt. However, Mitt made a classic debate blunder. He bought into the President’s frame of the central issue of this election, and by so doing he will be forced into a corner from which his campaign can’t escape. Mitt Romney wanted to make this debate a referendum on the President. He wanted it, no, he needed it to be an accounting of those things the President promised and did or did not deliver. Instead, what the narrative became was, "what is the choice here? What best serves the country, my state, my city, my neighborhood, my family?” And in that discussion Mitt Romney always loses.

The President argues forward or back, others argue rich or poor, upper class or middle class, tax cuts or tax hike. Binary construction favors the President. It does so on a number of levels but the key is that it forces a contrary examination and it forces Mitt Romney to actually produce those things he spoke about tonight. I for one am dying to see his tax plan, the one that doesn’t cost 5 trillion dollars. Aren’t you? I am dying to see what his investments in public education look like, aren’t you? I want sooooooo much to see Mitt’s new energy plan, you know the one that suddenly isn’t written by the oil industry, the one that proves how much he loves clean energy? The problem with saying a list of things that are completely untrue… you kinda have to do them now.

Over the next two weeks expect to hear this: “Where is your plan, Mitt? Where is your education plan, where is your tax plan, where is your jobs plan?” He has to produce them now. Moreover, if they mirror what the President argued they did and Mitt denied they would, the President wins all over again.

Anyone who has read me here on JJP knows that I’ve been calling Mitt and his running mate Paul Lyin Ryan out on their foray in to falsehood. Here’s why candidates and campaigns don’t usually lie their ass off for months. Because the totality of their deceptions, the complete and insane nature of their lies, eventually catches up with them, and a media who has a 24 hour news cycle eventually will report the facts. It may take a couple of days, but we have time before the next debate. Mitt lied like he’d never have to give another interview or stand on the stage with the President again. Bad tradecraft Mitt, and a strategy of desperation.

The trap of the frame debate is simple. If you buy the premise, you buy the argument. Mitt Romney spent almost all his time trying to clarify why he would do a good job as President, but the final frame he eventually purchased was  “budgets are about choices.” So are elections. He did not do what he needed to change the game. Romney loses the debate and frankly, the election.

Peace,

J

Follow me on Twitter -- @JCWPolitics

This blog was originally posted on Jack and Jill Politics

Poll

As the lies trickle out over the next three days, will it have an impact on the prevailing meme of debate winner and loser?

23%5 votes
14%3 votes
9%2 votes
28%6 votes
23%5 votes

| 21 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    Justin https://twitter.com/JCWPolitics Elections Have Consequences

    by JC Watts on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 02:14:45 AM PDT

  •  I want to (0+ / 0-)

    recommend this more than once!

  •  Schultz and Matthews (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VeloDramatic

    both respond so emotionally.They process information in the exact opposite manner of Obama. With time more reasoned analysis like yours will prevail.

    Last night just continues Obama's pattern of staying maddeningly detached in extremely emotional and difficult situations. I disagree strongly with those who say he came in unprepared and with no plan. He clearly had a plan and he clearly stuck to it.  It may have been the wrong plan but I am not buying this BS that he phoned it in...

    Yes, I wanted him to kick the S### out of Mitt but I have accepted that Obama may be better at this than me.

    •  I didn't see Schultz and Matthews (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10

      But I can imagine that they lost their minds. It is difficult to explain at times, but I get what Obama is doing. Aim small, miss small.

      Justin https://twitter.com/JCWPolitics Elections Have Consequences

      by JC Watts on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 03:10:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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