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Careful analysis & comparison of the Romney and Ryan debate strategies shows that both Romney and Ryan emphasize three components in their debates:

1) Filibuster:  In both debates, Romney & Ryan tirelessly maintained the position, whenever possible that "I have the floor", making it difficult for Obama & Biden to get in a word edge-wise.   Even Joe Biden wasn't aggressive enough in holding the floor.  Ms. Radditch allowed Ryan to take advantage of the filibuster strategy.  Biden was able to overcome this when he spoke straight to Ryan and to the camera, but not when he was looking at Ms. Radditch - and Obama spent too much time talking to the moderator, not looking at the camera, and not talking to his opponent directly.

2) Fast-Talk:  As part of, or in addition to the filibustering approach, both Romney and Ryan spouted semi-truths, conflations of the truth, or "facts" that they had invented.  They had considerable preparation of just throwing out as many of these as they possibly could, so that the opponent could only respond to some of them.  The opponent (Dems) were thus put in the position of having to try to refute as many false statements as they could one by one, making it harder to focus on getting their own main points across.  Biden did better at this than Obama, obviously.

3) Flim-Flam (or "the con"):  Both Romney & Ryan play fast and loose with the truth, bending and twisting and reinventing the "facts" persistently.  Like the proverbial used-car salesman, they con and flim-flam others during their sales pitch by not answering questions directly, turning the discussion around to their perceived strengths, distracting, and mystifying the listener.   Mystification is one of their most important techniques, and it is also a technique used in methods ranging from interrogation to hypnotic manipulation to abusive relationships.  To mystify is to tell someone that up is down, that left is right, that good is bad and vice versa; to tell the poor that they don't need any assistance but need simply to help themselves, for example.  

By filibustering, fast-talking, and flim-flamming the audience, Romney and Ryan managed to dominate both debates, holding "the floor".  Romney held the floor by simply refusing to go along with Mr. Lehrer's suggestions as to timing.   Ryan held the floor by simply talking or jabbering non-stop, rattling on one dubious statement after another.

President Obama will need to used some of Joe Biden's techniques to prevent the flim-flam and fast talk from continuing.   But even Joe's approach didn't keep the moderator from allowing Ryan to go on talking non-stop.  Ryan is doing what Romney wants him to do - just talk, talk, talk to keep the audience listening to you.  So something else needs to be done.

One idea would be to bring this to the attention of the next debate moderators, letting them know that Romney and Ryan have a clear strategy of filibustering by talking every spare moment, and not allowing it to continue.

We can also do our part by raising awareness of the three-fold Romney debate strategy (filibuster, fast-talk, and flim-flam).  

If the American people and debate viewers have this in mind during the debates, they will see the trickery that is involved, and Romney will have to avoid using these methods.

One help step would be for someone like Rachel Maddow to show how Ryan and Romney used non-stop talking to their advantage.  Simply bringing attention to this debate strategy and its misuse may help to prevent it from happening again or may make it become ineffective for Romney going forward.

Debate 2 is a town-hall format, and it will be interesting to see if Romney can use filibuster, fast-talk, or flim-flam in the second debate.   Not being able to get away with these tricks may itself give Obama an edge in debate 2.  

What do you think?  And what about debate #3 format?  

Do you see the use of filibuster, fast-talk, and flim-flam by Romney and Ryan in other formats, as in answering reporters' questions?   Are the reporters bringing apt attention to the flim-flam, fast-talk and filibuster (not answering questions directly) techniques during their interviews of the candidates?   Can this change by highlighting the use of the "three Fs" in mystifying American voters?

Originally posted to nycvisionary on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 05:38 PM PDT.

Also republished by Political Language and Messaging and Community Spotlight.


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Comment Preferences

  •  What do you think? (17+ / 0-)

    Do you agree with this analysis?

    Do you think Obama can use this information to improve his debating technique?

    How can the bamboozling Romney team be stopped from using these techniques effectively?

    Would it be helpful for Rachel or Ed, Al, Tweety, or Lawrence to analyze the debates and show what Romney & Ryan have been doing, using what are essentially brainwashing techniques?

    (note: these debating techniques are actually based on sophisticated psychological methods for changing peoples' attitudes, and the broader range of "shock and awe" methods including brainwashing techniques are sketched out in Naomi Klein's classic book "The Shock Doctrine").

    •  Presidential debate strategy 101 (22+ / 0-)

      1. Call Romney out ... But don't try it on every lie or half truth. That looks petulant and solely defensive, and you'll run out of time. Pick two big untruths, points where you have the high ground, and hit them directly, then show how your approach is better. Then move to your key points. An occasional reference to flim-flam and flip-flop thereafter - without lengthy proof - would hit home.

      2. Speak simply. You do not need to explain tax policy to tear apart Romney's so-called tax plan. It has no details (it's all trust me because I trust Congress), Romney's math does not work without skewering the middle class (see, "skewering" is as close as you need to get to another, even more appropriate word) and the "balance" Mr. Romney relies on comes entirely from trickle down results. You can do these three points in short sentences in 30 seconds, as an explanation to a voter, not as a rebuttal to a flat-out liar-denier.

      3.  For once, PLEASE hit trickle-down theory HARD and conclude with - perhaps said slowly and to Romney, as if to a child - "The fact is that we need to get Americans back to work ... on Jobs ... That Count ... In This Country ... Now. Nothing you have proposed will do that." Then stop talking, hopefully with a little time left and a surprised moderator and audience; your statement will be quoted for days in the media and the breakfast table.

      4.  A President will look weak and helpless if he EVER has to ask a moderator to save him. Forget relying on time limits or no interruptions. Just don't you interrupt, so if Romney does, you call him on it personally and Put Him Down to his face. (Everyone will see he deserves it.)

      5.  Find a way to use one each of the following points in the first 45 minutes ... In direct relation to a point of strength for you:
      -  "There's another example of saying one thing to one audience and a totally contradictory thing to another."
      -  "Are they [whichever group Romney has just marginalized] in The 47 Per Cent?"
      -  "You can try to wipe the slate clean and start again, but people will remember what you said."

      It's a town meeting, Mr. President. You are good at them. Talk to real people in simple, direct, occasionally fact-specific points.

      Obama and strong Democratic majorities in 2012!

      by TRPChicago on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 08:46:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A good technique that I have used (5+ / 0-)

        is simply asking ... "Are you done yet?" even while they are talking - makes others take note that they are filibustering. Also tends to keep them quiet for awhile.

        Who do you believe, Waffle Willard or Lyin' Ryan???

        by Da Rock on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 10:40:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good point IF he's sure of the time limit. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ozsea1, bluezen, jaywillie

          But you have to be very sure your opponent is going on beyond the time. (During a TV debate, looking at your watch does not normally look very good for the looker.) And, it's actually a backhand way of calling the moderator to task, too, which is OK ... so long as you're right. And ... you have to be careful of how you use your time.

          I think President Obama seems to go on for a long, long time because - forgive me, Mr. President, but I work hard for you and I want you at your best! - he puts an awful lot of extra and unnecessary words into a very excellently phrased series of nuances with language that has many syllables and does not seem designed to get to the point until a lot of time has elapsed and only then do we get the "It" and because the verb and the object will be along in a while after a few more words  ... you get the idea.

          On the stump, Barack Obama knows punch, cadence, sequencing, timing. Get him one-on-one in a debate format with someone who is glib (and Mr. Mittster is glib!) and the President forgets how to keep things simple, short and forceful.

          Obama and strong Democratic majorities in 2012!

          by TRPChicago on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 10:53:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  yes. he has developed the buzz-killing habit (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TRPChicago, fhcec, David PA

            of including excessive verbiage in every sentence.

            once in a while it's ok, but it becomes hard to follow & downright boring when used too much.

            that's what became so grating (imo) about john kerry's campaign -- there were times i wanted to shake him & yell: just say what you have to say!!

    •  You make some valid points (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      splashy, weck, shaharazade, ozsea1, vahana

      Yet I'm not sure if they hold 100% true when it comes to Joe Biden's taking little Paulie to school the other night.

      He refuted the vast majority of his lies both vocally and physically.

      Perhaps one day the Fourth Estate will take their jobs seriously. Or not.

      by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 08:58:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If the (R) strategy is brought into the open (1+ / 0-)

        & exposed to the light of day,

        American voters can see how incredibly cynical it is, in other words, just a BS sales pitch having nothing to do with anything but getting elected.

        Once this becomes clear, those who were originally impressed with Romney's debate performance may give it a second thought, realizing that they were simply flim-flammed.

        Then a lot of them will get mad that they too were duped by him, that they fell for it, and the Romney bounce will be deflated like a veritable needle to the balloon.

        •  R's contempt for voters will become clear to all (0+ / 0-)

          There was nothing genuine about Romney at all - just a performance.

          Romney & Ryan are both convinced that they can pull the wool over the eyes of 51% and get away with it.

          They're doing it in broad daylight, because most people are too naive to understand the fools they're being played for.

          It would be great to show a clip of Romney, and then cut to a clip from the flim-flam man or any other BS - con artist, to show the same methods being used.  A few cuts back and forth would help to get the point across.

          It could even be done as a satire - like as a short mock "debate training film," as it would be made by Karl Rove and John Sununu et al.    It would illustrate how to use these con-artist techniques to "win" a debate, and would also help to expose the fairly simple yet despicable game they are playing.

          "Here's how it is done"

          :  First, never answer the question, but use the question as the trigger point for your first pre-rehearsed rant that is a complete flim-flam and mystification of the viewer.

          Second, talk fast and don't let your opponent get a word in edgewise.  If they somehow manage to, then throw a nasty guilt trip on them by complaining that they let the opponent speak and simply ask for the right to do the same (mind game).

          Third, dominate the talking, so the debate turns into nothing more than a chance for you to give your stump speech to the entire nation (free advertising).


  •  Fox news influence (12+ / 0-)

    The Fox news treatment of their liberal commentators has infiltrated into these debates. Note the treatment of Bob Beckel, Juan Williams and Joe Trippi  or any liberal guest on O"Reilly, for example.  Romney and Ryan must have been coached by the Fox people.

  •  I've thought the same thing (11+ / 0-)
    Would it be helpful for Rachel or Ed, Al, Tweety, or Lawrence to analyze the debates and show what Romney & Ryan have been doing, using what are essentially brainwashing techniques?
    Of course it would be helpful.  Send them all an email.  

    Also send one to the White House and the Obama campaign.  

  •  Gish Gallop (17+ / 0-)

    The first Romney debate was a real Gish Gallop, which is a serious BS barrage.  Fast-talking non-stop BS filled with brand-new positions.  Obama didn't know how to get a word in edge-wise, so he politely let Romney blather.  Romney really insulted my intelligence during the first 'debate' and I hope Obama has the nads to call Romney on it during the second debate.  It would be wonderful if the Town Hall audience cheers and applauds when he does.  

  •  For the next two debates, President Obama (6+ / 0-)

    can select one part of the barrage of words to agree with and dismiss the remaining jabber as untrue or as politics, and not worthy of response.

    Please donate to Okiciyap food pantry. . If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.

    by weck on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 06:42:28 AM PDT

  •  The VP debate made all this obvious (12+ / 0-)

    As W.C. Fields famously said, “If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.” In today's political discourse, "bullshit" and "malarkey" are polite words for "lies." I think someone has to remind Professor Obama that if he calmly says "That's very nice but it's patently untrue" to Mitt  he's not going to look like an angry black man.

    The object in the next debate is to see if Obama can actually unhinge Mitt to the point where Mitt's just babbling. I think he can.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent, and we are all Wisconsin.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 07:04:55 AM PDT

  •  George C Scott was ever so much better (4+ / 0-)

    George C Scott was a far more likable (and principled) Flim-Flam Man than Mitt Romney.  Ditto for Michael Sarrazin as his sidekick compared to Ryan.  And the only thing THEY ever ran off the rails was a truck -- not a whole economy.

    Seriously, Romney has been responsible for far more devastation of innocent lives than the George C Scott character ever was.  The latter was just a crook.  Romney has been far worse than that.  The latter eventually took responsibility.  Romney continues to deny.

    I don't think you can buy your way even into Mormon heaven with an unrepented life like the one Romney has led.  And somewhere in a deep, dark, cobweb-filled corner of his heart, I think a part of him knows that.  But he refuses to listen to that part or even to let it see the light of day.  It's like his Bertha Rochester and it will eventually set fire to his campaign or, God forbid, his Presidency.

    Ideology is when you give the answers before you know the questions.
    It is what grows into empty spaces where intelligence has died.

    by Alden on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 08:07:42 AM PDT

  •  I just hope someone at the town hall (14+ / 0-)

    ... asks Romney whether he took the 2009 IRS amnesty for an undisclosed Swiss account or two.

    How can this not be an important question?

    Ideology is when you give the answers before you know the questions.
    It is what grows into empty spaces where intelligence has died.

    by Alden on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 08:10:46 AM PDT

    •  Well, I sure hope the words (9+ / 0-)

      "Governor Romney, what are you hiding" are spoken. Either by the President or the moderator.

      And speaking of the moderator, there seems to be general agreement by people with actual brains that Raddatz did a vastly superior job than Lehrer. Wonder if that will make the next two moderators step up their games at all?

      Progressives are defined by who they want to help; Conservatives are defined by who they hate.

      by frsbdg on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 09:00:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So frigging true and obvious ... (6+ / 0-)

    what scares me so much is post debat analysis by those I KNOW who are truly on the fence because of the flim-flam and filibuster.  These are folks who don't have the interest in pursuing true info and yet folks who i count as wanting to make informed votes.  

    I think that the tactic of the filibuster is SO effective because they both seem to have been highly adroitly trained in WHEN and HOW to use it so that the moderator is oblivious or perhaps somehow caught off guard or caught in the sense that what is being said HAS to be said ...

    It may be a matter of neurolinguistic programming they are using ...

  •  That is normal corporate speak (6+ / 0-)

    after spending 40 years in corp America myself, you learn that holding the floor is key to being noticed by the "bosses".

    The quiet hard worker will always be taken for granted while the outspoken, "knowledgeable", "suit" gets noticed.

    Who do you believe, Waffle Willard or Lyin' Ryan???

    by Da Rock on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 10:37:52 AM PDT

  •  A strong smart moderator could stop all that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse, CoExistNow, David PA

    filibustering and make it clear that it isn't allowed.

    "I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong." Richard Feynman

    by leema on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 11:07:59 AM PDT

  •  how about a mic "kill" function/button for the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CoExistNow, nycvisionary


    if romney &/or ryan's mic could be muted when they ignore the moderator's directive or engage in filibustering, that would stop them dead in their tracks.

    tamron hall (spelling?) on msnbc did it to a rw "guest" a few months back, when he started blah-blahing rw talking points instead of answering the question she put to him, & after repeatedly asking him to answer the question (& him ignoring it) she cut off his sound.  it was great!!

  •  How about a professional debate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David PA

    coach, or maybe a seasoned political debater (WJC?) as a coach?

    I'd say Biden was pretty well-coached and countered the BS well.  Surprised that you think Ryan's filibuster and other tactics allowed him to "dominate".  If anything, Biden dominated.

    Anyway, these are not novel tactics and the well-prepared debater had best be ready to deal with them, with or without help from the moderator.

    "You're only allowed a certain number of flips before people begin to doubt your character." - Mitt Romney

    by rsmpdx on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 06:28:46 PM PDT

  •  Just interrupt (0+ / 0-)

    every time a false statement is issued - call them on it right then.  I know nothing about debating, but they simply do not have the right to pass on misinformation.  Call them on it immediately and break the momentum.

  •  Instead of bitching so much (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David PA

    about their tactics, I think we need to be more pragmatic (ha, I'm the pragmatist, now) and be ready to engage in symmetrical warfare.

    Biden interrupted and laughed at Ryan many times.  I loved it.  It wasn't proper polite debate tactics, but most people here approved of it simply because we had seen how the Republicans debate the week before.  But we're kidding ourselves if we think that Biden's approach was more genteel than Romney's.  Gentility has nothing to do with the modern kabuki theater of the big media presidential debate.

    The moderators don't care about the facts that much.  Neither does the audience.  I should repeat that last part.  The pundits before the first debate were telling us up front that they were going to watch things like facial expressions and body language and miscellaneous bullshit like that.  They quoted us once again the story of Nixon's sweaty upper-lip in 1960.  Funny that to use liberals, that never seemed unfair or a silly basis for determining the winner of a debate, but we worry ourselves sick over fairness when Mitt Romney tries to out-aggression and dominate the debate by whipping out his lies too quickly to be processed in a logical way.

    I suggested before how Obama could have won that debate and the next.  Simple one-line catagorical statement about SS and Medicare.  "Republicans will tinker with SS and Medicare over MY DEAD BODY."  It sets up the scrimmage line very neatly and in one sentence: Obama defending SS, Mitt Romney wanting to "fix" it.

    Biden did that very neatly in his debate.  "Who do you trust?" he asked.  It was a very simple question that didn't rely on a rote recitation of facts.

  •  If the Town Hall meeting set up is similar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David PA, crystalboy

    to the one between Obama and McCain there is less opportunity for Romney to pull this off.  It was one, then the other, with specific time frames.  All Obama's team should do is request the moderator stand up for the rules.
    A member of his team can be keeping time and signal when Mitts goes over.

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