Impeachment is a tactic in a legal proceeding in which the trial attorney illustrates to the jury with evidence that the witness is a liar. The attorney asks the witness questions with verifiable answers, and if the witness gives a false answer, the attorney then takes out the contradictory evidence, shows it to the witness and the jury, and demonstrates how the witness’s testimony is false. It is a devastating tool that an attorney has at his or her disposal to dispatch a witness.
If, however, the attorney is not prepared with evidence to dispute the lies of the witness, then the testimony of lies and deceit will fester and may irreparably damage the attorney’s case. In other words, you must always anticipate that the witness will say anything, even disputing the most basic and uncontroversial facts, and then use those moments as an opportunity to damage the witness’s credibility.
Last night, we saw an attorney, in President Obama, unprepared for trial. Not only did he muddle through his answers and fail to give concise statements, but most damningly, he made no attempt to impeach Romney on his various lies. The President came to the debate prepared to face the Romney we have all come to know over the last few months. He was not prepared to face the Romney that has existed for several years.
In fact, the Romney that showed up at the debate is wholly consistent with Romney’s long and historic pattern of pathological inconsistency. He is a man prepared to change his position on a moment’s notice, a man who went from a liberal republican governor to a “severe conservative,” and a man whose own campaign official admitted that their campaign is nothing more than an etch-a-sketch. This is the real Romney, and he has been standing up and waiving his arms for years. The fact that Team Obama did not pay attention is alarming, as the only way to defeat a pathological liar is with the facts.
The Romney-Obama tax cut discussion was exemplary. In it, Romney suggested for the first time that he is not proposing $5 trillion in tax cuts, a proposal that was absolutely part of Romney’s platform before the debate began. After some wrangling by the President and the moderator, Romney clarified, claiming instead that any tax cut will be offset by the elimination of deductions, which would not in any way change the effective tax rates of Americans. Beyond giving Romney a pass for an economic proposal to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, the President was unable to go in for the kill with Romney’s own prior inconsistent statements. This was repeated when Romney incredibly suggested the only reason he was in the race was for the middle class, suggested he wanted to fund Medicare while Obama wanted to gut it, suggested that he wanted to ban pre-existing conditions from the consideration of prospective health insurers, and so on.
Obama, without a doubt, could have put this election away last night. He could have engaged in a systematic dismantling of Romney’s credibility, which was already in jeopardy with the 47% comments and constant waffling on everything from Medicare to taxes. Obama could have had at his disposal dates and times or short quotes in which Romney made claims in line with the “severe conservative” we saw during the primaries instead of the faux moderate we were greeted with last night. Or simply a, “That’s not what you said last week. Were you telling the truth then or are you now?”
If, during the next two presidential debates, Romney is allowed to lie with impunity, and without being held accountable to the facts by the President, then the President will have irreparably damaged his own case before the American people. It is at this point the President’s election to lose.