My son had to watch the Presidential debate as part of a civics assignment, and I was as happy about that as he was sad. A rousing discussion of budgetary priorities, federal deficits, and tax proposals is not the kind of stuff that engages a 14 year old boy still overwhelmed by the victory of Teddy Roosevelt at Nats Park earlier in the day. When my son thinks Presidents, he thinks giant foam heads with tiny little bodies, not wooden figures on a red and blue stage.
He had to take notes for his assignment, just as I had to take notes for my loyal readers. These are my unedited notes, documented here exclusively, since I am too old and slow to tweet my thoughts while watching TV:
- As combatants take the stage behind the podiums, my son asks, “Is this like Jeopardy where they have to buzz in if they know the answer?”
- BO gets a jobs question. Responds with standard issue stump speech lines. Ugh. Maybe I’m the only one who noticed.
- I hate that new catch phrase sweeping the Democrats “economic patriotism”. Sounds like I have to pay more taxes or die.
- MR gets jobs question. Says he can help. Really? I thought we had to help ourselves instead of waiting for the government and becoming dependent on it.
- MR gave a much cleaner answer than BO.
- That “trickle down government” line might have legs. We’ll hear that one again.
- MR says he won’t sign a tax cut that isn’t paid for. Huh? He’s got big brass ones to stand up there and make sh*t up within the first few minutes of the evening. He’s back to Dick Cheney’s “Deficits don’t matter” attitude I guess.
- If Obama is the Empty Chair, then Mitt Romney has to be the Swivel Chair. He spins into new positions with great ease, sometimes doing a complete 180 degree turn.
- How many times are these guys going to say “I agree with…” and then explain that they do not agree with each other. Some pollster told these guys to be agreeable because swing voters like that.
- MR says his priority is jobs. He should tell that t the party that nominated him. Their actions signal disagreement.
- BO loves mentioning Clinton. He’ll do that again for sure. Interesting he mentions the last 10 years but not Bush by name.
- MR seems to have had a death bed conversion. That 47% of Americans seem to be of great concern to him all of a sudden.
- MR says the deficit is not moral. So by that definition, did George W. take America from the Clinton years of morality to the Bush years of immorality?
- PAUSE: Cherie wants to know from Thomas and me who is winning at this point. I let Thomas go first. He thinks Obama is winning because of his specificity. I say Romney is winning because his lies are making more sense than Obama’s truths.
- I cannot understand how MR can pretend that his tax proposal of the last 18 months doesn’t exist!!!
- BO is winning the balanced approach to deficit reduction argument. First time tonight I felt that way.
- BO says about Medicaid cuts that “It may not seem like much on a sheet of paper but to a family with an autistic kid it does.” Good line that gets to Romney’s ‘business’ background. Painting the unfeeling accountant mentality.
- MR mentions Medicare idea floated by Tommy Thompson. Doesn’t MR know that Thompson was cut on video saying that if you want to eliminate Medicare, he’s your guy? That can’t help the Mittser pretend he doesn’t want to privatize the whole thing.
- BO trying hard to be the Clinton Democrat who weaves stories about real people into his answers. Just reminds me how much better Clinton was at that.
- BO does a good job crushing MR’s Medicare plan.
- For a Mormon who doesn’t use caffeine, MR is awfully jumpy.
- My son, the prototypical low information undecided voter, starts to to lose interest at the Dodd-Frank discussion. Can’t blame him.
- MR cites the CBO when arguing against Obamacare. Uh oh, Mitt – the same CBO says that Obamacare cuts the deficit, so On Day One when you repeal it, the deficit goes up.
- BO is a terrible storyteller. He’s not weaving together a narrative that makes any sense.
- MR keeps going back to “principles” instead of specifics. That’s not going to work for the next 30 days…is it?
- MR keeps stealing the last word on every exchange, or BO keeps abdicating the last word.
- The rumors that BO wasn’t taking debate prep seriously must have been true.
- MR’s message: “What I said about the 47% of Americans on that tape…I was just kidding. Actually, I do care.”
- Aren’t these guys allowed any water to drink?
- MR keeps trying to question BO’s facts, but that will backfire tomorrow on Mr. We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Fact Checkers Romney.
- BO has good closing line about leadership and MR’s inability to stand up to his own party on anything.
- BO sounds like he didn’t know he’d get a closing statement opportunity. Doesn’t emphasize the choice at all, and this needs to be a choice election for him.
- MR in closing looks at camera, better approach, a bit negative, not exactly morning in America, but better than Sleepy.
The Great Debate will be remembered as the debate no one remembers. Without memorable zingers, without a signature moment, without a major defining gaffe, Romney’s hands down victory on this evening will be a footnote on the 2012 campaign.
I think I’d rather watch 90 minutes of political ads than 3 more of these, but this junkie knows no limits. Biden-Ryan in 7 days and I'm stocking up on chips and salsa.