Why Mitt Romney Was Scheduled To Win The Debate

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 8.442% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I knew Mitt Romney would win the debate about a month back, because I saw what happened to Obama and Kerry.
See, in 2004, everybody knew who John Kerry was: robot Frankenstein flip-flopper.  We all knew he was stiff, couldn’t relate to people, constantly vacillating, a mess of a campaign. The man was an incompetent, a sad loser elected by some mystifying luck to hold the Democrat’s flag this year.  He would get destroyed during the debates.
Then he showed up and spoke pretty well.  Hey!  People were surprised that he wasn’t that bad!  He got a bounce in the polls.
Likewise, in 2008, Obama was too callow to play in national politics, a boy with no real experience, a shell of a man who would collapse at the first real touch of challenge.
Then he showed up and spoke pretty well.  Hey!  People were surprised that he wasn’t that bad!  He got a bounce in the polls.
Then in 2012, the narrative was that Mitt Romney’s campaign was in shambles, the man making gaffes left and right, Mitt too clueless and too rich to relate to anyone.  He’d look like a doof at the debates.
Then he showed up and spoke pretty well.  Hey!  People were surprised that he wasn’t that bad!  He’ll doubtlessly get a bounce in the polls.
The point is that the media loves a narrative about winners and losers, and magnifies everything going in.  Once Mitt starts to lose, that becomes the defining point of his campaign, and it becomes such a speaking point that people tend to forget that you don’t get to run for President of the United States without sounding good to someone.  And what happens every time at this point in the campaign is that the guy who’s been smeared the most actually gets to step out from underneath all of everyone else’s impressions and speak directly to America…
…and guess what?  They actually aren’t nearly as doofy as they’ve been made out to be!  And people go, “Oh, this guy is way better than I thought he was!” and revises their estimates of him. Every freaking time.
Now, I hear tell that Romney won fairly decisively this time around, for two reasons: first, while Obama is near-unstoppable if he has a chance to prepare, he is not quick on his feet.  That doesn’t mean he’s dumb, any more than the George Bush Sr. was dumb because he didn’t speak well off the cuff.  People have various strengths, and Obama is very smart but not particularly good at the cut-and-parry of debates.
Second, Romney sounds good if you know nothing.  I overheard his spiel about “We’ll cut everything that makes us beholden to China,” and damn if that didn’t sound sensible!  Now, his solutions were fucked – as has been noted, cutting the funding to PBS is like trying to regain space on a 500-gigabyte hard drive by deleting text files, and his idea of “Let’s kick it back to the states, who are also now going broke!” is a recipe for collapse.  But if you don’t know that stuff, it sounds good.  And that’s what we’re always fighting against – the people who don’t know anything and like simple solutions.  That’s why Clinton’s speech was so passed around – it was a good synopses for people who knew no better.
Will this victory lead to Romney’s victory?  Didn’t for Kerry.  Doubt it will for Romney.  But you write off Mitt at your peril.
 

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