Ultimately the fact that Mitt Romney was lying through his teeth on debate night, while another nail in the coffin of his legitimacy - and in the credibility of pundits who swooned over his ghoulish style despite acknowledging his absolute mendacity - is less important than the bigger picture. The fact is he only avoided ending the last hopes of his campaign by insisting that he won't cut rich people's taxes - when doing so is really the only purpose of his campaign, and the sole economic plank of the Republican Party. It's one thing when Republicans hedge and hide behind rhetoric, but when they have to come out and explicitly deny what they've heretofore insisted is an absolute economic imperative, we need to appreciate what just happened: Mitt Romney killed Ronald Reagan.
Now, conservatives don't care what their candidate says on the debate platform as as long as it looks like "strength" to them - and behaving like an emotionally disturbed 15-year-old tweaking on five Red Bulls probably does look that way to such people. They don't care what he says because lying is something conservatives accept and understand as a tool of making everyone else do what they want, and they don't care what people who mean nothing to them think as long as it results in behavior they find advantageous. This is fundamental to the authoritarian heart of conservatism - when they speak to you, they're not trying to communicate: They're trying to pull strings and push buttons so you'll give them money, serve their interests, and obey their commands. That's who/what they are, and that will never change - they're bad people who cost society more than they put back, and unlike those who have no choice, they sponge off of society just out of spite and selfishness.
Fortunately, conservatives are also not the brightest of bulbs. They may have tactical instincts for what lies to tell, but they never appreciate the long-term strategic price they'll have to pay - everything is just a predatory maneuver with them, and they never understand the kind of traps they can be led into by people who are neither like them nor willing to play the role of their prey. Romney did not think he had a choice in the matter: He had to deny an intention to cut rich people's taxes. Well, since that's all Republicans ever do, and all they care about, how potent a weapon did this self-serving idiot just hand us? We can keep him on the defensive the whole rest of the election trying to prove he's not what he is, has always been, and constantly demonstrates himself to be, and furthermore involve his entire Party in the noose. Southern/Red bloc voters don't want to cut rich people's taxes - they've just been mindfucked into seeing the issue in totally different terms.
Romney didn't create this shift in frame, but he has acknowledged it - shown it to be obvious enough that his tactical sensibilities as a predator have taken it into account. The single, overriding reason for the existence of the Republican Party; its one enduring source of funding, and the economic basis of its propaganda machinery in the media; the one purpose it exists to serve as a repository of power - to make rich people richer at the public expense - is no longer viable in the public eye, even as a matter of suspicion. With that simple, laughable lie - "I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans" - Mitt Romney plunged a dagger into the heart of his Zombie Reagan master, thinking to absorb St. Ronnie's power and become invincible. And yet all he did was evaporate the spell that has allowed the Dark Tower of the Republican Party to stand for thirty years.
Why won't he cut taxes for rich people? The whole damn Republican Party - including Mitt Romney - insists that is the sole, absolute, and infallible path to all things desirable: An infinite supply of bribes to the wealthy to thank them for permitting us peons the privilege of working for them and making them rich, at the low, low price of eviscerating our public education, healthcare, and transportation systems. They say it over and over, openly, ubiquitously in all their corrupted news media, and it's all they do or have ever done in politics since Newt Gingrich fashioned the Reagan Jihad into a permanent institution. So why would he be willing to tell such a preposterous and easily-debunked lie about his own policies, when the whole of conservative politics orbits around cutting rich people's taxes? Because it's over.
Don't get me wrong, corruption is never over. Lies are never over. Republicans, including Mitt Romney, will continue to do everything in their power to cut rich people's taxes. The difference is they can no longer even tolerate the impression that they favor such a thing, let alone campaign on it, and Mitt Romney just declared as much - to survive just a few weeks more, so the media can pretend he is a viable candidate for Presidency, he just threw the whole of the conservative movement under the bus in no uncertain terms. And conservatives will retroactively interpret his defeat as being because he did so - despite their own enthusiastic support for his lying when they thought it would work - rather than because conservatism is simply radioactive in America.
Mitt Romney is truly a man without a country, thinking it makes him strong that he will throw away anyone and anything to benefit himself. But really all it means is that his political career makes the perfect epitaph to a movement born in hate, raised in greed, and finally put to rest in a corporate cipher's nihilistic delusions of adequacy.