Thursday, October 4, 2012

Spinning A Bad Night

To paraphrase Gore Vidal, 50% of the American people don't vote and 50% are ill-informed. One hopes it’s the same 50%.        

Now we know it is not altogether the same fifty percent. Many avid voters are among the most misinformed. If they kept up with the two campaigns they would have known Romney disowned himself in the first presidential debate of the season. What we witnessed was a quick-change artist who morphed from that guy positioning himself to the right of Bachman, Perry, Cain and Gingrich to the new version of moderate centrist. The robot delivered his lines like the seasoned actor he is.

My sense of the first presidential debate was that both candidates ignored their base and addressed this nebulous body of fickle fence-sitters. Mitt fared better not from anything he said but from what Obama didn’t say.

So much of these events is political theater. If the sound were muted the president was a clear loser. He appeared alternately bored, tired and testy. Maybe it was the altitude, more likely, his strategy gone amok. His body language appeared to be of a man bamboozled and ill-prepared. If he was deliberately trying to be the conciliator, above the fray, avoiding a combative mode, the tactic failed. He looked scolded and demeaned.

Then there is the bubble effect. The president needs to get out more, watch cable news, have a pint at the pub, get into conversation in crowded elevators. If he wants to play basketball go to the public park. Dump Axelrod unless he can disagree with you twice a day, mandate it. Watch Fox News the same way a football coach views film of next week’s opponent. Learn when to expect a blitz, when to call audibles. The best offense is not a defense. It’s an offense.

We saw Obama reprise his role with Boehner and McConnell, ever the conciliator, withholding use of his arsenal. The chattering class on the left was left smoldering. Maybe the Tea Partiers felt the same as Mitt took on his new guise. I don’t know and I don’t know anybody to ask. It could be that the trouncing was only in the eyes of the decideds; maybe Obama won over a few who admired his constraint. The price was too high. We know you're a nice guy; we need more.

Memo to the Prez: Consider your left flank. We can win without compromising core values. We need you to articulate your accomplishments and call out Republican sedition with their congressional obstruction and allegiance to Grover Norquist. We need you to find new language to expose the virulent misogyny of the Republican Party and their attempts at voter suppression. We are waiting for you to assert the Democratic platform in terms of sensible gun laws, gay and lesbian rights, advocacy of the Dream Act and environmental protection.

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