Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Final Debate. Winner: Obama (Shhh! Don't Tell the GOP)

You can look at polls.  You can listen to pundits.  You can watch the news.  But, in my opinion, the best way to tell if your guy has won a debate...just watch  the other guy's supporters.

More on that later.  As for the debate itself, the topic was right up the President's alley; Foreign Policy.  Still and all, I couldn't help but feel a sense of dread in the moments before the debate.  Yes, Biden laid out the ground work for Obama's debate strategy.  Yes, Obama had a strong second outing.  But I couldn't help thinking about that horrible first debate.  One more like that and we could very well be inaugurating President Romney come January.  Happily, as it turns out, I needn't have worried.

It only took about 5 minutes into the debate before it became evident just how utterly clueless Romney was on Foreign Policy.  He spent most of his time between outright agreeing with Obama's policy, and disagreeing with them while promising to adopt the same policy.  I know, sounds confusing, right?  I'm sure his "anybody but Obama" Tea-Party supporters were confused when the guy they hoped would replace Obama seemed to be going out of his way to be Obama.  Frankly, Mitt seemed to be doing everything short of growing an Afro to show just how alike his and Obama's policies are.

As I indicated, it wasn't all mutual admiration.  When he wasn't auditioning to be Obama's "Mini-Me", Romney was repeating the same worn-out Right-Wing talking points about Obama being weak on national security, the unraveling situation in the Middle East, and gutting our military.  For his part, Obama had the best comeback of the night with this...

"You mention the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets.  We have these things called aircraft carriers and planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.  It's not a game of battleship where we're counting ships, it's 'What are our capabilities?'."
The evening also afforded President Obama another opportunity to bitch-slap Romney when he started in on the whole "Apology Tour".  Obama quite nicely put Romney in his place by reminding the audience what a real diplomatic mission looks like.

"Bob, let me — let me respond. You know, if we're going to talk about trips that we've taken, you know, when I was a candidate for office, first trip I took was to visit our troops."
"And when I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn't take donors, I didn't attend fundraisers, I went to Yad Vashem, the — the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself the — the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable."
"And then I went down to the border towns of Sderot, which had experienced missiles raining down from Hamas. And I saw families there who showed me where missiles had come down near their children's bedrooms, and I was reminded of — of what that would mean if those were my kids, which is why, as president, we funded an Iron Dome program to stop those missiles."
"So that's how I've used my travels when I travel to Israel and when I travel to the region."
You could faintly hear the implied finish here, "...as opposed to when you went overseas and embarrassed us."

Based on the so-called post-debate insta-polling, Obama had a great night.  He came out swinging and made Romney look like a pathetic neophyte.  But let's get back to how I started this post. 

You remember how we all felt after that first debate where Obama did so poorly.  You heard all of the commentary, and saw all of the punditry.  The entire MSNBC panel looked as though they were all ready to commit mass suicide.  Chris Matthews and Ed Schultz both looked like they were going to need defibrillators.  Only Steve Schmidt, John McCain's 2008 campaign manager, was happy.  Beyond happy, in fact.  He looked as though he would need a towel to clean up his...happy ending...before the night was through.  That was the case with all Republicans.  While we were sitting at home, or in debate parties, crying in our Bacardi, they were celebrating the revival of the Romney campaign.

Contrast that with the next three debates.  After Biden spanked Paul Ryan like he was one of his kids, Republicans were blaming moderator Martha Raddatz and lamenting on how Biden was laughing and "disrespecting" Ryan, and claiming victory.  When Obama totally schooled Romney in their second meeting, the Right was full-throated with anger at Candy Crowley for correcting Romney when he claimed Obama did not call the Benghazi attacks an "act of terror" for 14 days (he did).  They then claimed that Crowley later retracted her correction (she didn't), and of course that their guy won.  And then there's today.  Romney's supporters are hoping to use Obama's "Horses and Bayonets" comments as an attack line.  And of course they're claiming that, despite every poll showing the contrary, their guy won.  This is not unusual on the Right.  Remember big polling conspiracy when the polls were showing Romney trailing Obama?  Remember the cries of bloody murder when the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8%?  Denial is what the Right-Wing does.  With all of this denial going on, you have to wonder what they're going to do when Obama wins the election in November.

That's the difference between the Right and the Left.  When we lose, we go into immediate funk mode.  We cry, we scream, we run the gamut.  We write articles, blog posts, tweets, and pretty much immediately write off our candidate and start calling the suicide hot-lines.  The Right is totally different.  They cocoon themselves in a fact-free bubble of denial, and God help the person who tries to bring them out of it.  It reminds me of what columnist E. J. Dionne wrote in the Washington Post about a discussion he had with a friend about liberals and polls.

We were discussing the large shifts in some of the polls on the presidential election and the feedback he receives whenever he puts out new numbers that make one side or the other unhappy. He offered an observation so priceless that it needs to be widely shared. 
“When you give conservatives bad news in your polls, they want to kill you,” he said. “When you give liberals bad news in your polls, they want to kill themselves.”

Say what you want about their bat-shit crazy, but when faced with adversity, the Right doubles-down and plants their feet.  It's probably the one thing that we can learn from the Right-Wing.  In the next two weeks we're going to be inundated by polls going all over the place.  Some will not look pretty for our side.  The answer to bad news is not to go and hide under our blankets with our favorite comfort-food, its to let the news make you stronger in your resolve.  Let it strengthen your spine.  I'm not saying we should wallow in denial.  I'm saying we should plant our feet and know that this thing is going to end our way, and let no one tell you different.

I heard a saying once that I just love.  When you find yourself at the end of your rope, tie a knot in the end and hold on tight.

NPR - Transcript And Audio: Third Presidential Debate

The Washington Post - Conservatives, Liberals, and Polls