Freaked Out? Good.

To tell you the truth, the liberal freak-out over Obama’s “debate disaster” is a good thing. The complacency that was palpable two weeks ago is gone and everyone horrified at the thought of Mitt Romney essentially reigniting a third term of deficit-busting, laissez-faire Bush-o-nomics and multi-trillion dollar international pratfalls is reminding friends and neighbors that the ability to flat-out lie in front of 70 million people is not the primary virtue of an effective president. (One of, sadly, but not the first.)

Post Romney “surge”more liberals will vote than before.

The best description of the lefty meltdown I’ve heard since Oct. 3 came from David Weigel, who compared the reaction to the “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace”, the first in the third set of sequels from George Lucas.

Said Weigel in his Slate post: “Democrats walked out of the theater/turned off the TV saying ‘huh, well, I wanted it to be better’. After a few days of talking to friends, it changes from a disappointment into the worst piece of crap in human history.” That’s about right.

Or, as E.J. Dionne remarked, “When you give conservatives bad news in your polls, they want to kill you. When you give liberals bad news in your polls, they want to kill themselves.”

As I said last time, all debates require showmanship, the willingness and ability to put on a show that appeals not just to your most invested partisans but the, shall I say, “casual consumer”, people who’ll tune in maybe once before returning to Thursday Night Football or “Dancing with the Stars”.  Obama lacked the former. Romney lacks neither.

Did you see the spot-on Saturday Night Live skit on “independent voters”?

As infuriating as Obama’s performance was in failing to toss up one-liners and smackdowns, what he actually said, in its meandering, dialed-back, “too polite” way was both fair and accurate. By now, it has been conclusively proven, and proven again, that virtually everything Romney said about everything of significance was, well, a lie.

The predicament, as many pundits have noted, is how do you call a lie a lie, or a liar a liar, without actually using either word?

The larger point is that in the debate arena, with, as I’ve said before, moderators who are not going to demand specific, coherent answers to their (highly generalized) questions, “performance prevarication” is an entirely effective strategy.  I’ve told my hand-wringing liberal friends over the past week that the 70 million people who watch the debate performance, in all it’s calculated artfulness, pales in comparison to the single digit millions who’ll react with astonishment at the fact-checkers’ evisceration of that performance the next morning.

Given the near instantaneous access to factual information — on tax plans, Tax Policy Center analyses, records of previous candidate statements on abortion, the Blunt amendment, Roe v. Wade, you name it, the cable channel I’d watch is the one that throws that stuff up in a real-time crawl. It’d be, you know, fair and informative.

Make no mistake, the burden is on Obama and, tonight, Joe Biden. The modern GOP is almost entirely an election machine. It’s contempt for government has been vividly reflected in its indifference to governing — for everything that is other than re-upholstering financial advantages for its peer and donor class. To beat that game you simply have to bring the fight … with a bit of humor substituting for angry indignation.

Also over the past week, I was gratified that a couple of the big dogs, Paul Krugman and Bill Clinton, followed my lead and hammered points I made after the first debate. (I’m going to bill those two.) Krugman in his assertion that the establishment media is incapable of dealing with a campaign like the Romney-Ryan circus, where … lying … is a conscious strategy, and Bubba in his description of the Romney debate performance as the minimally informed super-salesman “closer” who is wheeled in to charm the clients without getting mired in uncomfortable details. These kids meant it when they said they weren’t interested in a campaign dictated by fact-checkers.

It’s of course disheartening that today’s Tea Party/populist conservatives can be exhilarated into tumescence by shameless dishonesty. But most of them are blindered creatures of a routinely dishonest, sales-driven rhetorical culture. A commercial culture that places no serious value on credibility as you or I know it. Put another way, they don’t really expect their “team” to deliver anything they promise, other than of course those tax benefits I just mentioned. Campaigns are just “stuff you say”. A show you put on.

As for the sad trolls who float along behind the modern conservative machine piping their toy kazoos, they are unwitting chumps.  None the less they are delighted that their “team” is sticking it to the sort of people who avoided them in high school. The basic grievances of human nature never fully heal.



52 thoughts on “Freaked Out? Good.

  1. Newt says:

    “Lying” is the best you got?

    What are the affirmitive reasons to vote for Obama? If O can’t name them, maybe you can. And what is his vision for America (not yours, his)?

    1. Your deep thinking Newt reminds me of a similar analysis from a substitute juror in the OJ trial. Asked his impression of the prosecution’s case, he said he wasn’t. “All they’ve got”, he sniffed,”is that DNA stuff.”

      As for making the case FOR Obama, feel free to read any of my previous 119 posts.

  2. bertram jr. says:


    The basic nature of human nature doesn’t change either.

    That’s why Barry is gone. Re-distribution of wealth is a non-starter, for one.

    He’s done.

    1. Bertie old man. You ought to have a sit down chat sometime with anyone who has had to sell time for a Clear Channel/Bain Capital operation. Ask them how well the Big Leverage, perpetual cusp-of-bankruptcy, 1% trickle down thing worked for them? It isn’t pretty. But the job creators did quite well.

      1. bertram jr. says:

        Bertram is well aware of the folly of the “churn of human capital” epitomized as a last ditch effort by certain “consolidated” radio companies.

        They will end up getting theirs in the end. No way to operate a business.

        McCombs was the last guy to actually get paid. “It’s a long shallow money trench, etc. etc… H.S.T so accurately posited.

        Meanwhile, has Pandora made a nickel yet?

  3. bertram jr. says:

    Even Minnesota is swinging Mitt’s way now. He’s going to win Ohio and Pennsylvania. It’s about survival for too many folks, and Barry simply ain’t fit for office. Most of us patriotic worker types don’t cotton to dead diplomats and Marines, either.

    And lies from the top covering it up.

    Or the press ignoring the dead and the resulting lies from the administration.

    Enough, I assure you, is enough.

    1. PM says:

      Really? Are you predicting that Mittens is going to carry MN? Really?

      wow, maybe I should be paying more attention to you, Bertie.

      or not.

      1. GARY PETTIS says:

        University of Colorado prediction model points to big Romney win

        “The model even predicts Romney will win Minnesota and Maine’s Second Congressional District, the electoral votes of which most pollsters consider to be ‘safe’ for President Obama. Nevada and Iowa are the only swing states it assigns to Obama.”

        You can dispute this statistical model and other like it, like someone can poke holes in the Gallup polls, but they sure look at the campaign in an entirely differently light.

        Actually, we should all be paying more attention to the current campaign realities at play. If Team Obama flubs the next three debates, you too, PM, as you wrote in another post this afternoon, will be voting for Romney.

        Regardless if the media is biased or not, it loves a campaign race that is too close too call. Before the election, that’s all we will be hearing.

        In my opinion, left-leaning Minnesota issues, such as the Voter ID amendment and Saying No to the Marriage amendment, will incite a few more social conservatives to go the polls, and along the way, give Romney a shot at winning Minnesota.

        It’s possible. Very possible.

      2. PM says:

        I suppose if I was a Romney Republican, I’d offer to bet $10,000.00

        Seriously, there are models and there are models. Just because you can model backwards doesn’t mean that you can model forwards…but, of course, the only way to really resolve this is to wait until November. Frankly, I think that this prediction is highly unlikely, but I have been wrong before….(and sometimes lightning really does strike twice).

      3. Jess Fay says:

        I don’t know how much the Universtiy of Colorado knows about Maine, but since I live about 10 feet from Maine’s 2and district, I must say, it would be quite suprising to see a Romney/Ryan win there. I don’t think they’re really even competing much. All the resources are going to our western neighbor, live free, or die, New Hampsire.

      4. Gary Pettis says:

        This presidential election campaign has been very targeted and segmented. Some districts and entire states aren’t seeing the ads and the candidate visits like Ohio and Colorado, for instance.

        I am sure that we can all agree that it is close to impossible that Obama can sweep the same states that he did before and bring out an energized base to the polls like what happened in his first election.

        Many of the college kids who voted for Obama in 08 are having hard time finding employment worthy of their degrees. I don’t sense a lot of enthusiasm for Obama in that highly coveted part of his base.

        Consequently, everyone will be watching which targeted districts or states where the big bucks were dumped, surprisingly go from blue to red or vice a versa.

        A frequently asked question election night will be, did the narrowly-focused strategies work compared to running truly national campaigns?

        In Maine, if the state’s liberal voters didn’t get a lot if attention from Team Obama, will a lot of them stay home election day, thinking the election is in the bag for Obama?

        In Minnesota, where Republicans are the majority in the house and senate, and the race between Emmer and Governor Dayton was tight even with third-party Horner in the mix, what makes you think that there will be a sudden liberal shift?

        In true Minnesota fashion, thousands and thousands of votes will be marked for Senator Amy Klobuchar and Mitt Romney for President.

      5. Jess Fay says:

        It’s an interesting point, Gary. We have a pretty interesting 3 way Senate race, though the national parties haven’t been too involved, Maine, like MN has a history of pretty high voter turnout, our percentage of out of state college students is pretty low, and we have a same sex marriage question on the ballot. With a Republican controlled legislature that has done some pretty unpopular things, my gut (and some reliable polls(though I am biased)) tell me that it might be close, but President Obama will most likely win both of Maine’s electoral votes.

      6. Erik says:

        It need not be contemplated that academically. Romney is going to win CO, VA, NC, FL, NH, IN, which improves McCain’s map to 252. He can win OH at that point and it’s over, or win WI and a couple smaller states and its over. The details don’t matter . What matters, Nate Silver, is that 252 is now Romney’s floor, and 286 is Obama’s ceiling. And that if Romney is going to improve over 252, which is likely, then he’ll probably surpass 269.

        1. Gary Pettis says:

          Erik, I liked the way you wrote “it’s over” a few times in this comment. It should give our liberal friends pause about the fact that being freaked out isn’t such a good thing after all.

      7. Erik says:

        Yes, this stuff is kind of remedial.

        In any case, Obama has more paths to victory, but his ceiling is 286. We can call Nate Silver’s post yesterday “that in which he agrees with Erik of MN”, because he came to the conclusion Obama’s ceiling is 286 only hours after I posted it here.

        And really, I think Romney will win Ohio. Polls be damned. The zeitgeist out there is not that of a tie. Romney is winning.

      8. Erik says:

        Polls be damned: I’m not a conspiracy theorist but I don’t believe the polls so much. Fact of the matter is they are not always or even regularly completely scientific. They are a journalistic composition done to measure zeitgeist, and some of the assessments within them can be editorial. So say the editorial judgment is that the race is a tie. The survey numbers will be adjusted so the poll then shows a tie.

        This of course can go on for only so long. FL is going out of play, and the polls reflect that. My guess is the last pre-election polls in OH show it outside the margin of error in favor of Romney.

        I would guess there’s better than half a chance WI goes Romney. I don’t expect all those people who just voted for Walker will vote for Obama.

      9. PM says:

        So going with your gut, eh?

        Look, you’ve got a 50/50 chance of being right, and polls clearly are frequently wrong. Further, none of us here are probably really capable of judging which polls are better or worse, and they do conflict.

        So i don’t know what to tell you other than that i think (and hope) that you are wrong.

  4. Erik says:

    Onion headline: old liberal is unemployed, washed up, but remembers being cooler than the republican kids in high school.

  5. Newt says:

    As State Dept. employees get picked off one-by-one by al Qaeda, the diplomatic corps is rapidly becoming a new Romney voting block.

    But never mind, it’s all because of an independent film.

      1. The factual illiteracy here is a bit much for a nice fall day. There’s also this … which the trolls are getting their talking points synched up over.

        Nut graph: “The purpose of the pre-election hearing, presumably, is to embarrass the administration for inadequate diplomatic security. But Issa seems unaware of the irony that diplomatic security is inadequate partly because of budget cuts forced by his fellow Republicans in Congress.

        For fiscal 2013, the GOP-controlled House proposed spending $1.934 billion for the State Department’s Worldwide Security Protection program — well below the $2.15 billion requested by the Obama administration. House Republicans cut the administration’s request for embassy security funding by $128 million in fiscal 2011 and $331 million in fiscal 2012. (Negotiations with the Democrat-controlled Senate restored about $88 million of the administration’s request.) Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Republicans’ proposed cuts to her department would be “detrimental to America’s national security” — a charge Republicans rejected.

        Ryan, Issa and other House Republicans voted for an amendment in 2009 to cut $1.2 billion from State operations, including funds for 300 more diplomatic security positions. Under Ryan’s budget, non-defense discretionary spending, which includes State Department funding, would be slashed nearly 20 percent in 2014, which would translate to more than $400 million in additional cuts to embassy security.

        The Romney campaign argues that such extrapolations are unfair, because Romney and Ryan haven’t specified which programs they would cut and by how much.”

        The thought of Darrell Issa investigating anyone is of course semi-ludicrous.

        But if a good show is all it takes to ring your bell … .

  6. Newt says:

    If anyone is a closer at the Cadillac dealership, it’s Biden. A back-slapping vacuous gas bag with a 4 handicap, spray tan, fake hair and crowned teeth.

    Ryan is going to mop up tonight.

    I’m going to crack open a 2008 Willamette Valley pinot noir and enjoy the bloodshed. A toast to my 50-plus liberal friends (drinking Blatz in their mothers’ basements.)

    1. PM says:

      Hope you didn’t choke on that nice pinot, Newt–it’d be a shame to waste it.

      Sounds like the polls say Biden won.

      1. Joe did very well. I think his pop culture status as a eccentric/goof actually helped him tonight, in that he has unique license “to be Joe”. But substantively and specifically, he had it all over Ryan, who did do a very slick job of electioneering. The guy will be around for a while.

        Raddatz was much better than Lehrer. But Biden could hasver asked a half dozen more times — to great effect — “So what EXACTLY would you do, Congressman, I hear your stump speech but I don’t hear an answer to the lady’s question”.

      2. Newt says:

        They tallied 88 interruptions by Biden. All the phony chuckles and antics tested very poorly among women viewers (who evidently dislike rudeness). While I think it was an OK debate tactic for a failed administration, Biden started looking rather bizarre after the first 2 or 3 faux chuckles. Most viewers thought it backfired.

      3. Mike Thomas says:

        Pop culture status as a buffoon pretty much was validated. His schtick the one you admonish Bill O’Reilley for was to talk over, talk loud, and repeat talking points. Pretty much he could have skipped the debate and sent a parrot that says raising taxes will be the solution to all the economy’s ills.

      4. Newt says:

        Biden did indeed come off as the lecherous, creepy uncle at the family wedding. Many in America will have a hard time forgetting how rude and strange he appeared.

        I’d fire that consultant.

  7. Bertram Sr. says:

    The SNL bit on “Low Information Voters,” a phrase I’d never heard until recently, was great. Unbelievable. The frightening thing is that there’s a portion of the undecided bloc that goes to the polls to vote for who they think is going to win.

    Ryan, by the way, has a tendency to come off as a prick. While that will appeal to a portion of the population (my son for one) it could leave a bad taste in people’s mouths. Especially if he’s a prick to Biden, who many people think of as a harmless, affable guy. Ryan needs to avoid looking like a bully — something I don’t think he can pull off consistently.

    Oh, and he needs to not get caught in a lit.

    1. You know, dad, it’d really help everyone involved, especially your low information progeny, if you took him to the woodshed of facts and logic every so often. I’m not saying he’s a lost cause. But … did he ever get any book learnin’?

  8. bertram jr. says:

    Book learnin’? Bertram Jr. is currently working his way through Grapes of Wrath, while also perusing Josh Hamilton’s tome “Beyond Belief”.

    I’ll get to Coulter next. Book learnin’. Some kind of sop to academia I suppose….where all the good little socialists are minted and kept.

    “License to be Joe”. He’s the freakin’ VP, man! Next in line for the football. And he comes off like the aforementioned boorish Cadillac salesman at Morrie’s. A clean one, articulate one, with no dialect issues…..

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