Tonight, during the debate, I was watching television and I swear I saw Bigfoot riding a Unicorn. I saw and heard comments so fantastical …comments that seemed so unrealistic and so beyond imagination, it was too hard to believe. Therefore it triggered a visual so outrageous and impossible only my subconscious mind could process or comprehend it. Therefore, my mind saw Bigfoot riding a Unicorn and suddenly it all made even less sense.
Political Speech in 2012 is chock-full of fiction and marketing parading as fact. The statements can be simply mind-numbingly false, yet said with such confidence the statements actually feel true. Some people refer to this high-level of hyperbole and obfuscation as … well, hype and b.s.. Others call them lies and fabrications. Me … I just call them Bigfoot riding a Unicorn! or BRAU!
Romney had a strong showing at tonight’s debate. He was confident and driven to produce a specific result. He sought to prove he had command of his facts and could control an environment of equals. He succeeded. He also put the president in a position to defend what many see as weak financial performance and a struggling economy. These realities are defensible only when compared to the reality of the size and scale of the economy Obama waked into in 2009 but it will always be difficult for an incumbent to make the nuanced argument that he avoided a calamity when Romney can just say how bad things are. Romney wins that round as well.
Romney did look a little frenzied which some saw as positive and aggressive. What he did best was punching in the last 10 seconds of every round to run up points. The extra energy and getting the last word was effective especially with a moderator that let it happen. Sugar Ray Leonard used this tactic often and very effectively in his boxing matches and always moved the judges to give him that added scoring edge.
Obama had an interesting strategy which I initially did not realize yet saw clearly late in the debate. Although the last four years have seen a large number of positive results in the nation, the numbers are not as robust as any incumbent would want. He could have gone after women’s issues, the 47% , the 30%, asked for 10 specific deductions being eliminated by Romney and simply taken a much more aggressive stance. Instead Obama seems to have decided there will be future debates for him to deploy those tactics. He instead choose to emulate Mohamed Ali.
Ali invented the concept of “rope-a-dope” during his boxing career. He would get in the ropes, cover himself and then invite the challenger to punch away – seemingly beating the crap out of the Ali. However, what became clear by round three was Ali got to see everything the challenger had in his arsenal. This gave Ali the ability to eventually pick the over-confident challenger apart in later rounds.
If what I saw was the Ali strategy, here is what Obama drew out of Romney:
He got Romney to admit:
1. Medicare is a future voucher system – now his policy for every 54 year-old
2. His tax cut policy that contradicts itself gravely
3. No revenue increase ever
4. Big bird -you’re fired
5. Taxpayer subsidies of $4 billion to oil for 50 years is good; funding alternate energy very bad
6. Romney has specific tax cut percentages and values but no measurable numeric specifics for elimination of tax loopholes, etc – and only Congress will decide on the specifics.
7. Romney has a plan that covers all pre-existing conditions with no exceptions and allows 26 year olds to stay on pare pants plan.
8. No net tax reductions in high-earner taxes. Not one dime …under any circumstance.
9. Romney likes Simpson-Bowles as a model just none of the balance suggested by Simpson Bowles – but he has his own plan which is a bit different tonight than what has been publicly available yesterday.
10. Eliminating Obamacare will cost today’s seniors $600 per year in prescription costs and eliminate preventative care while giving the insurers billions on his first day in office.
There were many more very interesting punches thrown and the fact-checkers are going to have a field-day getting to the facts. At least there were real contrasts that will become much more obvious on Thursday afternoon than they were Wednesday night. This will be good for the country.
Romney had a good outing tonight and his supporters have much to be happy about. As a marketing campaign, he did what he wanted to do. He won the debate on the expectation test. His base can take a deep breath. Where he will struggle is on the facts. I found myself saying “WHAT?” more than 7 times because I heard some many BRAU! moments that were not challenged live but will be addressed in the days-to-come.
Just do me a favor, don’t listen to the crazy television ads in the months of October because BRAU! will be the order of the day.
Don’t look now, but if you are relying on television ads to convey facts, your eyes and ears are now officially deceiving you. The number of fantastical claims about to pollute the public airwaves is stunning. Stunningly inaccurate is probably the more correct word-phrase.
Tonight we heard a candidate state cutting taxes by 20% and eliminating unspecified deductions would somehow create jobs and no added debt. BRAU!
Tonight I heard that there was a way to balance a budget, reduce spending, create jobs eliminate the deficit, grow the middle class and yes, increase spending, cut taxes on everyone, not cut taxes on everyone, not raise taxes on anyone, and cut spending but not cut jobs. BRAU!
Statement: “There are 23 million Americans unemployed out-f-work or underemployed”.
I know there are 12 million unemployed Americans. This works out to be an unemployment rate of 8.1% -way too high. However, quoting the 9 million underemployed is a strange oxymoron. These folks are employed but just not happy with their job or their pay. Why are we even tracking this stat since as free-market capitalists, are we really thinking we can/should be required to do anything with that information? Using the 23 million figure when referencing actual unemployment is misleading and unnecessarily additive to the unemployment discussion. BRAU!
In other words, if I played football in college, am I underemployed because I’m not in the NFL? If I am a women making 75% of what a man makes, am I underemployed? If I earn $15 per hour but really want to earn $20 per hour, am I underemployed? If I am frustrated with my job and look at my manager – yearning for his/her job, am I underemployed? and If I have a degree in physics yet work as a security guard am I underemployed? Well, in the security guard analogy, that person is underemployed; however is it the fault of the government, the employee, or the employers?
Is someone at fault for the 9 million underemployed? Is it the employers that choose to pay lower rates or the Government not forcing employers to pay higher rates? Is it the Government for having too many policies that restrict growth or the entrepreneurs that are supposed to create growth in a free-market? Is it employers focused on cutting costs or employees lowering productivity while demanding high-wages? I’m not sure anyone is at fault but I know this, the mythology of reporting “underemployment” as something unique to this decade is silly. Capitalism can not guarantee a job for anyone, a specific wage for anyone or care about whether an employee is happy with their specific job description and it’s commensurate pay rate.
Don’t get me wrong, we want capitalism to produce high-income jobs; however competition will end up having more to do with that than anything else. Now of course we-the-people do require some level of wage once a job is created, we just can’t force any private company to hire anyone. Therefore this under-employed statistic is functionally useless as a talking point because it is vague, strange and frankly nothing we can ever solve. Quote the actual unemployment figures and stop quoting the underemployment number.
I want to be paid like Peyton, am I underemployed?
Statement : I will maintain the current tax rates, then cut tax rates by an additional 20% without adding to the deficit.
Statement: I will eliminate tax write-offs and tax deductions for upper-income people by an amount which will result in them not receiving an actual net tax-cut without adding to the deficit.
Statement: I will create 12 million jobs within 4 years of my first term.
Statement: I will get Congress to pass my Jobs plan in 2013 even though they did not pass it in 2012 once I am reelected.
Statement: America should arm the Syrian Rebels in order to defeat Assad and create peace in Syria.
Statement: Russia is our number one global threat?
Statement: I think 2014 is the right timeline to bring our troops home from Afghanistan but I think it was a mistake for the administration to announce a timeline.
Statement: I think I focused too much on getting the policy right without understanding the resistance to change in Washington.
Folks, this is getting thick.
Here’s what I am going to do tonight. I am going to take every policy position and statement I heard in tonight’s debate and list them on a chart. I am them going to search every public statement spoken by these candidates on film or from their web/printed material. I am then going to contrast and compare. Any time I see BRAU! I am going to color the comment green for the color of vomit. Anything i see as consistent will be colored blue. Anything that seems like straight-up flip-flop will be red. Anything that is a total flip-flop will be yellow.
I will then produce a colored scatter diagram and produce a political graphic