Watching the presidential debate last week was an exercise in disbelief. Mitt Romney’s absolute shellacking of President Barack Obama was as unexpected as it was impressive, especially given Romney’s mistake-prone, tone-deaf campaign in the 18 months prior to the debate.
It was like watching James “Buster” Douglas knock out Mike Tyson. It was like Muhammad Ali being knocked to the canvas by Joe Frazier. It was like every underdog story you’ve ever read.
There is a difference between those boxing analogies and Romney’s performance last Wednesday in that those surprises were based on fact. Douglas really did deliver a crushing punch that knocked Iron Mike on his ass. Frazier landed an amazing left hook that floored Ali. It wasn’t fiction.
Romney’s victory, however, was based on fiction. Among the lies: He’ll cover your pre-existing conditions under his health plan, he really will cut everyone’s taxes while spending more on the military and reducing the budget deficit, the murder of Big Bird and/or the entire Muppet family will help balance the federal budget.
Whether anyone will hold Romney accountable for these individual points of mendacity remains to be seen. Whether his conservative followers will become disappointed that their man has done a 180-degree turn and is trying to come off as Ted Kennedy is also an open question.
But, as the Colts proved against the Packers on Sunday, a win is a win, no matter how it happens. What looked like a boring slog to an Obama landslide in the Electoral College once again seems like a wide-open race.
If you’d told me before the debate that Romney would have a 50-50 chance to win the presidency, I’d have called you a damned liar. But it appears that this is the new reality.
Part of this is due to the mainstream media, which is supposedly liberal but in reality just wants an exciting close election to talk and write about. Part of this is due to Romney’s amazing accomplishment of discrediting all independent fact-checkers as irrelevant. The truth is whatever he says it is at any given time.
When a witness in a trial makes contradictory statements, even the most inexperienced attorney will ask which version is accurate. No matter what the answer, the attorney will respond with a basic question: “Were you lying then or are you lying now?”
In Romney’s case, he gets to have it both ways. Yes, in fact, he was lying when he took hardcore conservative positions in order to win the Republican nomination over Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.
And he’s lying now, when he claims to be a moderate, reasonable politician who’s always believed in a centrist agenda.
This isn’t to explain away Obama’s inexplicable debate performance. Watching him on a color TV, he resembled Richard Nixon in that catastrophic 1960 TV debate in black-and-white. He looked ill, unable to focus and not exactly sure if he wants a job where he has to persuade people he’s better than someone like Romney.
This is the time when we who believe in freedom and equality need to redouble our efforts to make sure we don’t hand over the keys to the country to Romney and his billionaire friends. Obama may not have turned out to be Lincoln or FDR in his first term, but Romney's prescription is to double down on George W. Bush-era policies:
deregulation of the financial industry, the rolling back of environmental standards, more needless wars of choice and a giant increase in misery, civil unrest and economic devastation.
You think the economy can’t get any worse? Wait until President Romney triples the federal debt and oversees even more outsourcing of jobs that once were held by Americans. To that end, Romney is a bitter foe of the United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, which guarantees the right for consumers to speak with a U.S.-based worker, punishes companies which outsource those jobs overseas and end tax breaks for said companies.
More than 80 percent of Americans — Republican and Democrat — support the principles of this bill. Virtually 100 percent of Republican politicians, including Romney, are against it.
Romney is suddenly talking about American jobs after a lifetime of preferring to create increased profits for the CEO class. We can’t afford to go back to Bush-era economics. We can’t create billions in profits for Wall Street while Main Street falls apart.
Romney offers a vision straight out of the 1950s, where white men in crisp black jackets made all the decisions for the working class, poor and minorities. We didn’t fight the battles of the Civil Rights War of 1957-68 only to return to that past.
That’s why I’m going to take a few hours off work and vote at the county clerk’s office in the City-County Building this week. I want to proudly cast my ballot for Barack Obama and the Democrats. And then I’m going to talk to all my friends in Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida and get them on board, too.
Yes, Obama was knocked down last week. That’s why we all have to help him back up and send Romney back to his mansions, horses and luxury cars. The president needs our help more than ever. The alternative is, quite literally, the establishment of a plutocracy with a permanent gap between its rulers and people like us.