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Dear Republicans:

Your candidate did not win the first debate in Denver. In a real presidential debate, the two candidates come face to face to debate their policies. In Denver this did not happen, however, because your candidate, Mitt Romney, did not argue in favor of his policies. What he did instead was undermine the whole meaning of debate by presenting a fictional set of policy initiatives that do not correspond to his actual agenda.

With verve and passion, Romney defended the policies of a fictional candidate, a candidate that doesn't even exist in this election. What does this say for what transpired on the stage? In a very basic sense, the first debate did not even meet the minimum requirements of what constitutes a debate.

Of course it is common in debates to stretch truth or deploy rhetorical devices to strengthen one's position or bash the other side. But a healthy democracy recognizes limits to such rhetorical performance. It is understood that on the stage one must still be buttressing one's real policy agenda; it is assumed that one will not lie blatantly about fact after fact, especially when the facts in question are a matter of public record and easily checked. To ignore these basic limits and enter debate with the intention to misrepresent oneself to the degree Romney did in Denver--to actually impersonate a nonexistent candidate--is not a strategy to "win" voters over to one's side; it is rather a strategy to make a sham of the process itself. It is disrespectful of American democracy as such and cheapens our political system for all who participate.

Yes, there were probably many viewers that were swayed by Romney's performance. This, however, is only to say that there are many viewers who don't know the facts behind the discussion. These people were, in other words, not so much Americans being convinced by Mitt Romney as they were Americans being shamelessly cheated by him.

If Romney chose not to argue for his actual policies in the Denver debate, one of course might ask why. Is he maybe ashamed of these policies? Perhaps he is ashamed of them and perhaps he should be. Instead of showing America his real self, Romney raised up a smoke and mirrors self, "Mitt Romney Version 9.0," a candidate dropped in from nowhere and eager to fight for things the real Mitt Romney has repeatedly told us he will not fight for. Many viewers liked this 9.0 Version. What does that prove?

How can we explain Obama's disengaged performance in this debate? It is still something of a mystery. Some have speculated that the president was so thrown off by this clownish debate partner, this Romney 9.0, that he couldn't muster an effective response (see Gish Gallup). In hindsight, perhaps the best thing Obama could have done faced with such shameless farce would have been to turn to his opponent at about the halfway mark and say: "I came here tonight to present the American people with my idea of the next four years and to contrast it to the ideas put forth by my Republican opponent. In other words I came here to debate Mitt Romney.  Who the hell are you?"

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Comment Preferences

  •  Romney cannot to that when international (8+ / 0-)

    issues come up.  He already has taken heat for his ill advised comments on various topics concerning the UK, Israel and China.  It will take more than Romney 9.0 to overcome these gaffes.  Hope the President goes after him with all his heart and soul.  In the meantime, eat Paulie up, Joe.

    •  I wondered if Romney had frontal lobe damage (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OldDragon, Catkin, RomneydoubleTax

      Romney had a nearly fatal auto accident when he was in France, where he went on his Mission.  Frontal Lobe damage can show up as a serious problem many, many years after the injury, as can be seen in boxers and football players, twenty or so years after their sports career ended.

      But then I remembered Romney's judgement "issues" when he was in Prep School;  dressing as a policeman, the gang forced haircut, etc.  Romney was an odd and sometimes very unpleasant teenager, long before his brain injury.

      What I came away from the Denver Debate was the conviction that Romney was very ill-suited to represent our country in International affairs.  Can you imagine that bombastic and condescending personality in a G-20 meeting?  Lecturing and haranguing the other world leaders?  I'll bet that would go over well.  Not.  He would probably tell some world leader that he loved their country because all the citizens were the right height and the right skin color.  Or something equally deranged.  And then things would start to go very badly.

      Romney and Netanyahu have tried to downplay their long friendship, but I'm not buying it.  Netanyahu has been a politically clever but diplomatically disastrous leader for Israel.  Does anyone imagine the current "one state plus tightly-controlled occupied territory" situation in the Middle East is sustainable or desirable?  It could be argued that Gaza has been turned into an enormous Ghetto.  The irony of that seems to escape Netanyahu and his allies, but it is a recipe for ongoing and continuous trouble in the area.  Romney is not capable of the statesmanship that is needed to help unravel that enormous ball of twine.  He would be more likely to make things far worse, given his truly deranged comments when he was in Israel about how the average income in Israel was higher than Gaza due to differences in "culture", which was a deranged misquote of the great book "Guns, Germs and Steel".

      It is possible that Romney read the Cliff Notes version, or even more likely that one of his re-enlisted neo-con advisors gave him their interpretation of the book, but what Romney said, in a major address in Israel, left most of those in the Middle East convinced that he was an ethnocentric dolt, who had absolutely no understanding of the facts on the ground.  And that is Romney's m.o.;  to just open his mouth and let things sort of tumble out, that seem as though they might support his argument, whatever it is.  He struck me in the debate as not being a man who THOUGHT on his feet, but one who TALKED on his feet.  In short, an odd form of "severely conservative" Snake Oil Salesman.  A hustler, not a thinker.

      Do we want such a man to serve as our President?  It would be questionable at any time in our history, but now?  Really?  When economic, political and environmental issues are at the point where they are?  Seriously?  Does anyone, Republican or Democrat, imagine we can let a pretty-boy fast-talking salesman into the White House?

      Fortunately for our country, Romney is his own worst enemy.  During this next month he is certain to do or say two or three things that leave the entire world looking on in jaw-dropping amazement.  They are already baffled, but they're going to become very, very afraid in the weeks ahead.

  •  Romney Attempting To Dictate Foreign Policy.... (9+ / 0-)

    to the President ought to be rich.  He could start with "I'm the one who killed bin Laden".

    Why not?  He lies about all his other accomplishments.  

  •  Nicely done. (10+ / 0-)

    You really nailed what was so breathtakingly galling about Romney's performance, which was consistent with his prior pattern of bait-and-switch policy pronouncements depending on the venue and audience, but which took that pattern to a new level of audacity.

    I used to think Romney wouldn't be as bad as some other Republicans because he was a moderate. But I'm beginning to think that somehow the Republicans have managed to distill down the essence of everything slimy, unprinicipled, venal, and devoid of morality in their party and embody it in one man named Willard Mitt Romney.

    God help us if this man -- or rather the support he receives from the election thieves -- manages to capture the White House.

    "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

    by NWTerriD on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 02:09:55 AM PDT

    •  Definitely well done (0+ / 0-)

      That would have been the perfect response by Obama when confronted with such outright lies & distortions. Obama's mistake was in thinking people knew who robme is. mot people don't.
      That would have been the perfect argument, I came to debate Myth Romney, where the heck is it, it sure isn't you.
      The MSM clearly care more about performamnces than getting the best candidate for the WH, they know RMoney's policies will hurt this country, like W's did, yet they aid & abet a liar Lie.
      I know Obama did too, but I'm sure he was in shock, & listening to crappy advice from Plouffe telling him not to appear to be the angry black male, so instead he rolled over and played dead. We'll take the semi-angry black male. How stupid do they think we are. We know Obama's not angry, Geesh, get some passion & fight for Americans, damn it. We're with you, Obama.
      He needs top go after RMoney on 3 key issues now: Hit his pattern of evasion and not be shy about it: This is war.
      He needs to be aggressive in saying you're running for the highest office in the world, yet you refuse to ome lean, we're suppose to trust you. you won't give details about your jobs plan, your economic plan, your tax plan and you refuse to give tax returns your answer is trust me?
      If you really care about this job, you'll give details so the American people can judge accordingly. I'd throw in there that he said trust me before and refused to hand over his taxes, Gingrich had to push very hard for him to get a year of returns & that year showed all kinds of strange tax evasion schemes rich people like him use that cost our nation trillion adding to our deficit. Clearly there are items in his tax retiurns that he feels are very damaging if he refuses to hand over his tax returns, and hit that repeatedly all night. Hit women's issues, tie him to Akin & forcible rape and Scotus he would elect as he said in debates Scalia, Thomas, Alito were the ones he admired.
      Keep hitting Roe V Wade all night because he said he would repeal it. That bone alone will destroy RMoney.
      Say the SCOTUS he would elect would strike Roe V Wade as he said (Either answer he's screwed here), BUT if he tries to back away as he will, just hit him on having different positions for the past 2 years & apparently he's like a water vane. They need to study Teddy Kennedy's debate to take that approach.
      Attacking him on changing positions according to audiences but doesn't believe in them, it's his platform that matters so marry him to his platform & Ryan positions in his primary to veto Roe V Wade & being severe conservative but whatever happens he's beholden to his platform as Bush was when he tried to privatise SS. Do NOT let him walk away from those, no matter how hard he tries. remind him, he won the primary by promising that audience one set of policies, if now after doubling down on 47% he panders to win votes he didn't think he'd need, he'll still ultimately owe his allegiane to the GOTP agenda because he's their nominee, so we're not impressed governor is what I'd say. Of course corret the 716 B$ lie and say yours are savings on cracking against fraud, waste which people were just caught on 438 million $ in false claims so if he wants to bring that back that already testifies that he's not interested in reducing the budget & clearly his 5 T$ tax cuts, in addition to 2 T$ from extending Bush tax cuts & 2 T$ tax cuts from raising defense. How will that reduce the budget. I've proposed a 4 T$ tax cuts with all detail no evasion because I do care about the deficit & put my money where my mouth is.
      Hit his evasiveness all night & make it a HUGE weakness, like he's hiding something on everything.
      I'd say Romney accuse me of wanting trickle down government, Obama needs to EMBRACE it throw him a curve ball & say: I am proud of the term because gov't exit for many reasons but the most important is to be the guardian & protector of middle Class interests from ever being trod upon by those who may want plutoracy of the 1%. RMoney believes in trickle up government and trickle down economics, I believe the opposite so 2 different views.
      They should edit the video and just contrats Bush in Ot 3, 2000 aying hi plan wouldn't cut taxes on the rich & play back to back snippet of RMoney saying same thing in debate Oct 3, 2012. How'd did that work out again? Play a snipet of Bush saying You can't get fooled again or can we?
      Next video to hit RMoney's flip flop tpo the center is this video, worked then will work now. they should say, the more things change the more they say the same, gop can't run on their ideas so they have to pretend to run as Democrats which they aren't. They have to be beholden to their platform of tax cut to the wealthy because that's who brung them to the dance.
      Play this FDR video "let me warn" to make the case on RMoney campaign of evasion on his tax plan, his jobs plan, his economic plan, his tax returns, his 47% beliefs in private:

  •  I only have one problem with this. (3+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure we are a HEALTHY democracy, because I don't know if the public can decode it - particularly with a media that can and does blur the lens.

    Rick Santorum made some comment to the effect of "We will never get smart people to vote for us." Yes, Rick - I know....the question is whether or not the voting public can figure all this out.

    "Because only three percent of you read books - and only fifteen percent of you read newspapers - but right now there is a whole and entire generation that didn't know anything that didn't come out of this tube." - Howard Beale

    by Audible Nectar on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 05:18:16 AM PDT

    •  Healthy democracy? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Yes, indeed. It is obvious that this time the Republicans are more than ever betting on the stupidity of the electorate--that enough of the population just won't see the level of disconnect between what Romney-Ryan are saying and the facts on the ground. The question is whether their bet will be right. So the question is really just that: How healthy is the democracy in terms of the savvy of the electorate?

      But also: How should Obama respond to this kind of worse-than-dishonest performance from the other side? One thing I'll venture: he shouldn't continue to respond as he did in Denver.

  •  Agreed (4+ / 0-)

    The cover art on the latest issue of the New Yorker magazine depicts Romney debating an empty chair.  In fact, the cartoon should have shown PBO debating an empty suit. The only man who showed up for that debate was the president.

  •  Re: Obama strategy, your thoughts on this? (0+ / 0-)

    A post-debate analysis from nymag. Do you agree? Can he adjust without getting into arguments with Romney, or harming his likeability?: (bold is my emphasis)

    First, for weeks now, the Obama campaign has been playing it safe, sitting on its lead, executing a four-corners offense and a prevent defense; Obama’s low-­altitude, low-risk speech in Charlotte was part of that game plan, which in Denver amounted to an effort to avoid unforced errors. Second, consistent with that, Obama had been advised essentially to ignore Romney and talk directly to voters; as his strategist David Axelrod put it the next day, “He made a choice last night to answer the questions that were asked and to talk to the American people about what we need to move forward, and not to get into serial fact-checking with Governor Romney, which can be an exhausting, never-ending pursuit.” Third, Obama’s team is intensely focused on preserving his main electoral advantage, which is his likability. Indeed, much of his debate prep was spent coaching him to contain his simmering disdain for Romney; onstage, that seems to have translated into Obama’s studious refusal to make eye contact with his rival. Fourth, incumbent presidents become accustomed to being accorded unceasing deference (and gratuitous toadying); it’s been four years since anyone got up in Obama’s grill and told him he was full of shit, and the shock of it was palpable. And fifth, Obama was prepared to debate the Romney who has been on display for the past two years, the Romney imitated by John Kerry in debate prep—a very different Romney from the one who took the podium. Like the rest of us, Obama was gobsmacked.
    •  Calling out lying liars in their lies (0+ / 0-)

      I think it's a great analysis of what happened. Especially the fourth and fifth elements are worth considering. The problem for Obama is that if he shows Romney the kind of withering contempt his lies deserve he will be judged as being "elitist, academic," etc. But there's nothing gained in likeability by performing as he did in Denver. I'm thinking he needs to look at Romney and be up front. "You know, you're lying about that. The facts are easily checked here. Why don't you want to debate the facts on this? You have a real policy agenda you have proposed. Why not try to defend it? Why continue lying like this?" What do you think? Would this kind of approach have pitfalls in it?

  •  the economic numbers... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    .....are favoring O. unemployment at 7.8,  (numbers under reported in July and Aug) and I would not be surprised to see it dip lower still for this month, deficit estimated to be more than $200 billion less than budgeted, a surplus of $75 billion in Sept, auto sales up by 13%, new housing starts up 4.6%, Dow Jones 7000 points higher than when he took office, record profits for companies and banks, 1.3 billion in health ins rebates, 1.4 billion prescription savings for seniors, 2.2 billion savings in student loans

    all of this accomplished WITHOUT any republican support!!!

    I'd say, "damn good job, Mr. President.

    •  it's the long game.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      .......Barack Obama knew that to make a historic impact he needed 8 years and from day one his goal was re-election and a lot of us may be unhappy with some of the things that he has/has not done but I have been convinced since he decided to run that if elected, Barack Obama would earn a place in history as one of the greatest Presidents.

      Sure, be disappointed from time to time, however taken from the standpoint today of what he has actually accomplished already, the guy retains my support and admiration. Under six years of personal attacks, this man has out the Country first. O lost 5-7% of '08 vote which was those voters who admitted they would not vote for a black man...5-7% in the year 2008??? Shameful. If not for this group of (ahem) voters, O's lead would be 8-9& %.

      For people , even low information voters, just based on facts, there really is no other choice. I am excited about the possibilities of O's re-election. The money spent, the voter suppression efforts, Congressional obstructionism......these people are desperate to make O lose, desperate because they know if he is, what he will accomplish in a 2nd term may just be the death knell of the modern republican party.

      take just the economic numbers and share them with everyone you know.........add in all the other things he has done such as ending the Iraq war, ending DADT, Lilly Ledbetter,  getting ride of Bin Laden, restoring US position in the world, saving the WORLD economy from catastrophe............there really is no contest.

      There is never anything in the bag, we have learned that in 2000 however there is no reason for O not to be re-elected for any of us that put Country first.

      The debate does not have me concerned. I appreciate everyone's comments and concerns, I really do but none of us have any idea what it is like to be President and like other things that have disappointed me, they are far outweighed by what this man has done.

      Barack Obama has earned re-election.

  •  This is not a C.T. it's just my opinion. (0+ / 0-)

    I think President Obama was low key on purpose and he did this to keep the dark money flowing into the presidential race and away from the senate and house races.  If he had clobbered R-money right off, during the debate, the right wing would have lost all hope of winning the White House and would have directed their funds down ticket.  I think our President was just low key enough to give the Repukes hope that they may win, thus keeping the dark money flowing to the top of the ticket.  IMHO.  

  •  Thanks all. . . (0+ / 0-)

    I much appreciate everyone's comments here. You've given me different angles on what happened in Denver, and done it so concisely. Agree with you entirely, wewantthetruth, certainly on supporting Obama in this.

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