Mexican-American presidential candidate Willard M. Romney had a great night last night. Even over at MSNBC, the most-liberal of the cable news operations, the immediate concession among everyone on the post-debate panel was that Romney had won, the lone exception being the Rev. Al Sharpton, who will concede nothing to Republicans, even if they were saying the sky was blue. But The Rev. Al did bring up a good point. He said that the reason this was not a good debate for Romney is that, in the post-debate fact-checking, Romney would go down in flames. It wouldn’t be long before reporters called out the numerous ways in which Romney lied through his teeth, and that would be that.
For a man who, in his previous career as a civil-rights advocate, was such a media whore and who is now actually in the industry, The Rev. Al is absurdly naive about the way the news cycle works. As soon as even the panel on MSNBC announces Romney as the winner, that started the stories for the next days newspapers. And those stories will give the punditry something to talk about in sort of symbiotic feeding frenzy, so that pundits announce Romney as the debate winner, reporters write about Romney as the debate winner, pundits cite those articles as evidence of their initial hypothesis that Romney won the debate, and so on. The fact that Romney lied early and often throughout the debate doesn’t matter. It’s not the story.
But, boy howdy, did he ever lie. He claimed his $5 trillion in tax cuts would be paid for by closing loopholes and that he wouldn’t raise taxes on the middle class, all while increasing defense spending. This is mathematically impossible. And while Romney’s a lot of things, he’s not an idiot. He’s well aware that closing tax loopholes on the wealthy cannot come close to paying for $5 trillion in new tax cuts. He just assumes that you and I are stupid and we won’t figure it out. And then, of course, there was his constant refrain that Obamacare is a government takeover of healthcare, which is, to anyone even vaguely familiar with the Affordable Care Act, fucking ridiculous. And that was only the beginning of his lies about healthcare. There was also his claim that Obamacare cut more than $700 billion in Medicare benefits from the elderly, which is crap. Romney also claimed that his plan would cover people with preexisting conditions — also a total fabrication. Let me say that again in plain English — if you have a preexisting condition, and have not had healthcare for more than three months, you will not be covered by Romney’s healthcare plan. Period.
Of course, it’s not surprising that Romney managed to squeeze so many lies into the debate — after all, he talked whenever he wanted and for however long it suited him. Romney made Jim Lehrer his bitch last night, and each time Lehrer forgot it, Romney slapped him around again. Had a near-sighted chicken been placed in front of the moderator’s microphone, it would have done as well as Lehrer.
For people, like me, who saw all of this as it was happening, who knew these lies as soon as they left Romney’s mouth, last night’s debate performance was not a winner for Romney. With everything that came out of his mouth, and that snide, smarmy way he kept grinning at Obama, he looked like a used car salesman about to sell a lemon to a sucker.
But, hey, he won, right?