Back since the days of old Methuselah,
Everyone loves a big bamboozler.
I’ll say. I was unable to watch the debate, last night, a fact for which I now feel oddly grateful. Watching MSNBC immediately afterwards, I already got to experience the sincere disappointment of Rachel Maddow, the bombastic outrage of Chris Matthews, and the deflated fighting spirit of Ed Schulz. All agreed that Obama had failed to deal Romney the knockout blow he so richly deserved.
Gone was the inspiring Obama, who does still appear occasionally on the stump, replaced by a listless technocrat whose mind seemed to be elsewhere. CNN’s snap polls augured a smashing victory for Romney, which were leapt upon by revolting Republican hacks like John Sununu and Rudy Giuliani, oozing overconfident triumphalism like a pair of backed up toilets ooze, you know what.
Fast forward to today, when a little further digging revealed that A), CNN’s poll only included white Southerners 50 or older, and B), pretty much everything that came out of Romney’s mouth was a lie. But never mind all that, the horse race is back on, and this is a good thing in several ways. First, it will lead the plutocrats to continue shoveling money into the bottomless maw that is the Romney campaign, rather than redirecting it to Senate and House races, where it would be much more damaging. Second, it will show Obama for the umpteenth time that blandly acquiescing to Republicans and their cuckoo ideas is about as popular as crabs in a whorehouse. Last, it will bring out the most repulsive side of Republicans and their media admirers; the sore winners.
Then comes the bad part. It ought to be plain by now that when Obama throws away an easy victory, it’s because he intended to. After all, he basically said he agreed with Romney about “tweaks” to Social Security, none of which seem to involve lifting the cap (currently just over $100,000) on which income is taxed to fund the successful, if rather paltry, program. He once again touted his “balanced” approach to fake bogeyman #1, teh deficitz, leaving what passes for a difference on this issue to the pathetically inadequate 3% increase on income over $250,000. Thus, what little debate we’re ever going to have on “domestic issues” is over and the bad guys (which is the entire beltway elite, fortuitously enough…) won.
Next, we’ll turn to “Foreign Policy,” which could be more accurately described as “How we make a bloated defense budget and endless, losing wars look like a plausible necessity,” and I expect even less disagreement on that score. Both will swear undying fealty to the new South Africa, Israel, as well as chest-thumping rage about Iran. Both will eagerly advocate getting “tough” on one thing or another, all of which will cost a lot of money, earn a lot of antipathy, and benefit Americans not a whit. Worse, since this debate will be entirely based on imaginary fears and delusions of grandeur, none of it will be subject to even cursory fact-checking.
What we are witnessing is the end result of decades of counterfactual babble that stands in for political discourse, particularly post Citizens United. The things that really matter to Americans and are relentlessly stealing our hopes for the future: horrendous inequality, destabilizing military adventurism, and an insatiable “private sector” utterly reliant on government indulgences for its survival, are simply, if you’ll pardon the expression, “off the table.”
We get to argue about Big Bird, instead. It’s all show business.