So, not to simply rehash the VP debate discussion, but that was – again – more what I would expect out of a debate, and why debates generally don’t matter that much. Both sides will have their own highlight reels that do little to change minds but do a lot to reinforce what people already believe (for reference, CNN’s flash polls of debate viewers have it 46-39 for Obama, which feels generally accurate).
The only thing noteworthy was the genuinely uncomfortable moment above, where there was a split-second where I thought the candidates might actually make physical contact, which probably would’ve caused Chris Matthews to spontaneously combust.
As far as what was said, I’m more or less exasperated. One of these men is going to make a helluva bad President for the next four years.
New to this debate (but sadly, not to the campaign) was an apparent contest to see who could say the dumbest thing about China. I’m pretty sure Romney won – by the end of his ramble I think he was espousing what sounded like an angry, blanket tariff policy that would have KILLED in 1888. But seriously – Romney has significant business experience – I can’t believe that he actually believes this
malarkey canard. So I checked. And he doesn’t. Check out this story from 2009, including video, in which he lays out a wonderful synopsis of why everybody wins when society progresses, divides labor, and trades freely. Here’s a snippet:
A simple example — let’s pretend there’s a little country with 200 people. This is a long time ago — 100 people raise the food, 100 people build the homes. Someone comes up with the idea of making a plow, hitching it to a farm animal and now they only need 50 people to raise the food. Is that a good idea or a bad idea? To the 50 people who lose their jobs, it’s a very bad idea, and they will resist with great energy and passion the idea of allowing horses to draw plows because it will make their life far more uncertain, at best. Those of us who stand back a bit say, no no no, don’t you understand that by having these plows and releasing those 50 people that someone, one of them or someone else is going to come up with something else for them to do? Making chairs, making movies whatever that is going to make everyone better off. More productivity will make everybody wealthier and more successful.
Yes! Correct! [pounds head into table] And that’s an ad-lib situation – those aren’t prepared remarks. That’s him. Which is good, because that means he’s economically literate. But it’s also bad, because he has bizarrely pulled a 180 and made a really big deal of the fact that as soon as he hypothetically takes office, he’s going to launch a trade war against China. So, I guess my point is, Mitt Romney is dishonest. And in the blue corner, you’ve got a President that might actually be a Luddite, bemoaning the jobs “lost” due to ATMs and automated airport kiosks (not mentioned: blacksmiths, buggy drivers, coal deliverymen). This is our choice, America.
I tweeted this during the debate, but go watch these whiteboards from Marty Mazorra on outsourcing and protectionism. Not only are they instructive on why the former is good for all of us, while the latter is terrible for everyone (except a token few cronies), but, as a bonus, Marty sounds like Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park. If you close your eyes, it’s almost as if he’s making a pass at a paleobotanist in a jeep.
So there’s one more debate to go – and it’s the foreign policy one. Might be borderline unwatchable as Romney makes a case for war with Iran (maybe Syria?) and Obama hopes nobody asks about his kill list or drone war. This is EXACTLY how John Quincy Adams imagined everything would shake out when he proudly noted that our country “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.”