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. However, 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. Counter-factuals and proving negatives are almost impossible to argue successfully. 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 as the rounds would end. Romney won that point as well.
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 these tactics. He instead choose to emulate a Mohamed Ali strategy and tactic.
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 reveal:
1. Medicare is a future voucher system – now his policy for every 54 year-old.
2. A Tax cut policy that contradicts itself gravely is firm policy and America is left without clarity in 2012.
3. No revenue increase ever – the tax pledge “holdeth”.
4. Big bird -you’re fired! … again. By the way, you too, Lehrer.
5. Funding $4 billion to oil for 5 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 yet he has his own fungible plan which is a bit different tonight than what had 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 and he is proud to do it.
11. There is government regulation is good and necessary – just not anything related to Dodd-Frank.
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 expectations test. His base can take a deep breath. Where he will struggle is on his facts. There were some very interesting statements that are going to create a lot of clarification. I found myself saying “WHAT?” more than 7 times because I heard some many BRAU! moments that were not challenged live but will be critically addressed in the days-to-come.
Obama did not fail if I my assumption of his strategy is correct however it was a risky move since Romney did have so much to gain with a good performance. Frankly Obama looked and appeared very similar to 2008 in Florida and much the same as he did in Charlotte last month. If you recall, his delivery was initially called flat and uninspiring for those looking for soaring rhetoric. Then as now it was not immediately clear that his delivery was part of a tactic and had a strategic purpose; provide his supporters the vision of a stable, calm, secure, committed, balanced and confident leader. Kinda like a guy that scores a touchdown but instead of spiking the ball and doing the funky-chicken, simply hands the ball to the official because this is not his first time in the end-zone.
I wonder if winning a debate always equates to winning the job? History has does provide lessons that are instructive. Check these out for yourself when you have a chance.
Who knows how this all plays out but I do look forward to a tight race over serious policy positions. Let’s see if we can identify when the tactics and strategies are working according to the plan or when they fail and require changes and updates. The whole world is watching.