So, the great spectacular of the October 3 big presidential election debate is now past.
Steve Beren pretty much summed up the whole essence of the thing in his piece The triumph of style over substance:
“Indeed, it seems to me Romney thrived in large part because he abandoned the pretense of honesty. And as it turns out, winning a debate is surprisingly easy when a candidate decides he can say anything and expect to get away with it.”
That is the whole thing, in one short simple statement of two sentences. The End.
The after the event, tuning into CNN for news turns up what? I find a story about somebody with some nifty magic computer software to analyze facial expressions, applied to video of Obama and Romney during the debate. Here were people yapping, seriously, about their facial expressions and what meaning this had.
What I wasn’t seeing was anything there about checking facts of what was said, such as what we need as citizens from a functioning free press.
The result of this kind of problem is you get a debate aftermath where people are saying that Willard Romney “won” the debate, when I think it’s ridiculous to call anybody a “winner” in this mess.
What was on display right there in front of the TV audience, God, and everybody was the usual routine of Romney just saying whatever he thought he should say that would play to his advantage, including lying his ass off. It was the standard Willard Mitt Romney, and somehow, Obama let him get away with it. Plus the moderator, Jim Lehrer, made a farce of his job.
If Romney wasn’t simply stating a lie outright, or being more subtly deceptive in warping the truth, when faced with something regarding his own previous statements or positions, which always change in dependence on the situation anyway, his reactions were standard Romney, the amazing shape shifting of some form of “oh, no, that’s not what I want to do at all, my plan/position is this“.
All of us, I would assume, have encountered people like this, the kind of people who can say something, or do something that causes some problem, or is simply a plain error, and when called on it, they’ll say, “oh, no, I didn’t do that!“, or “I didn’t say that!“, or even that it just never happened, even if you watched them do it right in front of you.
He’s the little kid in the kitchen with frosting smeared all over his face and hands, asked who ate the chocolate cake left on the table, saying “it wasn’t me!”.
It’s bad enough as it is on its own. We’ve watched this for years now, as candidate Willard weaseled his way through two full presidential election campaigns, including the whole long sagas of two separate primary election campaigns, shifting and sliding around to avoid being pinned down to any actual fact and position that might be inconvenient.
It’s just grotesque that we have what is supposed to be a functioning free press that’s supposed to be addressing actual fact and hitting this with a bright light, and, instead, we get pointless babbling about some sort of style points impressions. He was lying his ass off, but gosh, he sure nailed the dismount, and now let’s look at our live satellite feed streaming data interactive jumbo screen display to see how the demographics break down of “how presidential do they look?”.
That stream of pointless swill flows, along with the full time propaganda operations of Fox News (and similar operations in other media), and if anybody does actual factual research and reporting, they’re dismissed or ignored by bunches of people calling it “that left-wing liberal media”.
In the circumstances of all that, we get a full time classic stereotype devious salesman, as a serious candidate for the office of president of the United States, and, incredibly, people accept that.
You get idiots talking about “style” and “confidence”, and seeming to have lost all sense of any bearings of navigating through any matter of public issues by referring to actual verified true and accurate fact. We’re talking about people who seem to have lost any notion of the concept of “fact“.
It’s naïve to think that there have never been just raw pandering liars in American politics before. What’s astonishing is that it could be possible to get away with such an egregious and constant and extended binge of lying and deception and pandering shape-shifting in an era some people like to call “the Information Age”. It has never been easier in the history of the world to find actual facts of matters of fact, sort out bullshit in all its varieties, and publically disinfect and dissolve it worldwide within hours.
And, yet, here we are.
It boggles the mind that anybody could seriously say that Romney won the debate on the evening of October 3, 2012. This is not to say that Obama won it either.
They both lost. We all lost. This is the state of affairs in American politics now, is it?
Willard Romney will stand up and say what he thinks and what he would do as president, and if you don’t like it? It never happened. He’ll say that he never said that, and suggest that you’re lying if you say he did, or perhaps you misunderstood. Which depends on whether you’re a political opponent or a potential voter.
On top of all this, of course, hangs a swirling cloud of stupid cliches; talking about this stuff to people hypnotized in a whole subculture of unreality is guaranteed to trigger chattering like “oh, you liberals, you leftists, you Democrats, you Obama supporters, you’re all just whining and crying because your guy sucks and he lost”, and totally miss getting so much as a whiff of a scent of the point. Among other problems, taking a good look around finds people who just simply see and comprehend and assess the world and events in any other terms, other than that kind of binary switch-flip, one box or “the other” mentality.
Even when Romney actually didn’t evade and just lie, and managed to actually stick with what he has said about what would be his policies if elected, a huge share of that doesn’t even make sense. Even then, things often don’t fit with facts and necessities of reality, dealt with sensibly.
(Example, see “defense spending”. Example, see “plan for energy independence”, with the extra twist of absurdity of Romney subtly shifting to some notion of “North American energy independence”, that fudges the picture to look more appealing, while still just deluded wrong, by adding in Canada and Mexico as “our” oil.)
As I’ve said before, the real and substantial criticism to be directed at President Barack Obama is lost among all the chatter of bizarre cartoon villain characature Obama in the realm of reality distortion of Fox News and AM talk radio (see the recent “new revelations!” old speech video comedy), while, it has to be said, at least Obama operates in the realm of reality with the understanding of actual responsibility of governance, even while he deserves serious criticism for the avoidance of some major problems. Challenger Willard Romney operates in ever shifting appearances and bullshit salemanship, and people follow up something like this past farce of a “debate” by chattering about Romney supposedly winning, while lying and shifting to whatever assertion is convenient at the moment, because they think, gosh, he was such a confident and assertive lying weasel.
As we get a day or two past this circus event, gradually bits of light break through the fog. People are addressing the severe disconnect between reality and the “performance” of Mr. Romney, here, there, elsewhere, still more, and more.
Reality is, as always, as always ever will be, profoundly unimpressed by evasion of reality in a confident and assertive style.
I can’t remember a source to cite as a quotation, but I vaguely recall somebody once saying “we get the kind of government we deserve”.
I’ve talked about it before, and events just keeping bringing this back to front and center. As has also been pointed out elsewhere, as a nation we just turned a corner into delusions when people elected retired mediocre actor Ronald Reagan as president (and then, incredibly, did it again, although considering that the only alternative on offer when the 1984 election came around was Walter Mondale, it’s harder to fault people too much for that). Large swaths of the American citizenry tossed reality out the window, embraced a kind of made-for-TV, “based on a true story” kind of image and pretense. Decades later, we now have this kind of mythology of a deified version of Ronald Reagan, more and more divorced from the actual reality, with endless repercussions that have caused, and still are causing, profound problems with the political realm in America failing to grasp reality.
Even try to suggest to many people that President Ronald Reagan was, in fact, not a patron saint of America and freedom and prosperity and everything, and they will just freak out. I mean, going absolutely apeshit. How dare you? Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. The same people who hold notions in their heads of some cartoon villain fictional version of Barack Obama tend to be people who also hold some cartoon hero version of Ronald Reagan in their heads, both profoundly separate from the actual reality of either man as president.
We have a national minimum voting age requirement of being 18 years old to vote, but I sometimes wonder what the point of this is, given that we probably have a few million grade school kids who are more appropriately informed and able to make rational decisions about choices of people to serve in elected office than a large number of American adult citizens. No joke.
I started writing this yesterday, and come back to it today to finish up, and before writing this, I flipped on a TV once again and turned to CNN. There, the story of the moment was a segment featuring somebody sitting with a CNN reporter, watching video of the October 3 event, without audio, and yapping about body language and facial expressions “shaping the debate”.
Alright, people. You have fun with that, then.
The actual big problems and issues we face are subjects I’ve been writing about, so I won’t launch into an extended review right here and now. However, one news item does beg for mention. The subject of the economy is obviously a large one, and its constantly amazing and irritating to watch how much attention it gets in the political realm, like in the setting of today’s subject, while so much of the dancing around, especially from Mr. Romney, completely skirts the most fundamental problem of the clusterfuck of bad behavior in banking and finance. Today’s news item comes from Bloomberg, discussing the complaints of terrible suffering of the bankster culture that wrecked the world, while continuing to collect piles of money for themselves. I can only say fuck those people.
Another late addition here; setting this aside again and doing some web reading, I find a new piece by Matt Taibbi, also capturing the absurdity of both the debate, and the “Romney won” idiocy.
Romney’s performance was better than Obama’s, but only if you throw out criteria like “wasn’t 100% full of shit from the opening bell” and “made an actual attempt to explain who he is and what his plans are.” Unfortunately, that is good enough for our news media, which drools over the gamesmanship aspects of these debates, because it loves candidates who sink their teeth into the horse-race nonsense that they think validates their professional lives.
Taibbi goes on to make some pretty straighforward and what should be obvious observations about the consequences of television making politics into showbiz, more than ever, and fitting right in perfectly with the problem at hand, his point of reference in an article in one of his local newspapers, where somebody did “analysis” of this TV debate, without saying a single thing about a single item about substance and accuracy in what was actually said in the debate.
Idiocracy grows, a little more every day.
It’s about time we stop this.
Or, maybe we’ll continue being schmucks dazzled by assertive and confident liars with analysis of whose facial expressions seemed more “winning”, and we’ll get exactly the kind of government we deserve. What that turns out to be could be unpleasantly surprising to some people.