Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. So damn it, let's do something different.By now we can say conclusively that the Romney "bounce" from his debate performance was directly attributable to uninformed voters failing to comprehend the gusher of lies spewing from his mouth. Yes, Obama was stunned and should have been better on the spot. But we need stronger medicine than the President can deliver on his best day. Romney's epic level of mendacity compounded with the significant complexity of the issue set will defy sound bite counter-punches, no matter how pithy and cogent.
Here is an "outside of the box" proposal.
The candidates have a debate. MSNBC (for example) then rebroadcasts a delayed tape of the debate, stopping the video whenever required to allow a panel of experts to correct the record after each substantive exchange. Then the network declares a winner not on the basis of stylistic performance (who looked or sounded better) but on the basis of factual accuracy and logical coherence. FOX can do the same thing in their own "up is down," "black is white," Bizarro World universe. Who cares? They will declare Romney the winner and say that he is truthful no matter what comes out of his mouth. I would put Maddow up against Hannity any day of the week. [Actually there's a better idea, have Maddow debate Hannity.]
If the media were organized, they could actually do this analysis contemporaneously with the broadcast. The game-changing effect would be to stop the tape and have someone like Maddow or O'Donnell or Ezra Klein actually freeze the candidate and set the record straight almost in real time. An uninformed voter might actually appreciate this. It would be like listening to the debates with a trusted professor who could explain to you when the man in the suit is serving you up a crock of shit. Or like going to buy a used car with your brother who is a good mechanic. ("The paint job is nice but the engine is a piece of crap.") Did any of you pause your TV during the debate to yell at the screen? I did. Imagine what Ed Shultz could have done with Romney in real time.
Even if they were to critique Obama as well, the effect could be mesmerizing. Imagine someone really well informed who could footnote Obama's responses.
You could argue that the networks have done this piecemeal already after the debates. What I am saying is slightly different in a critical way: make it into an independent news special: "Informed Analysis of the Presidential Debate." And get someone with credibility to moderate the analysis.
If nearly 70 million people will watch the debate, I bet millions would watch such comprehensive analysis with a cogent journalistic review grounded in reality. Some might even wait and watch the analysis instead of the debate--like watching football highlights that include slow motion replays. I know I would watch rather such an analysis as it would be a significantly less painful experience. It would be satisfying to hear someone blow Romney's lies out of the water in real time using a pause button. This could completely destroy the strategy on the Right of packing more lies into each sentence than anyone can unpack in an equal amount of time: we not only educate the public on the issues, we educate them in real time about what a flagrant liar Mr. Romney really is.
The debates could be transformed from an idiot-voter-brainwashing project into a real educational experience for the public, changed from a "who is better at shooting off his mouth" contest into something that actually makes voters more intelligent. After a few doses of that, the Republicans would have to retreat completely from any debate format. Their viability as a party requires voters to be distracted, uninformed and uncritical.
Just saying. Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, right? So let's do something completely different instead. Let's change the format to show what Obama really has (integrity), instead of what he lacks (Romney's willingness to lie indiscriminately in order to win).