In debates, performance is better than facts
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 22:10
If you didn’t see the first Presidential debate, let me sum it up for you in a paragraph: Jim Lehrer would “ask” a question (to be more accurate he would state a topic, “health care,” “the economy” etc.). President Barack Obama would then talk about how Mitt Romney’s tax policy was terrible for America according to new studies. Romney would then declare the President a liar and talk about how his tax plan was great for America, according to a study. The president and the ex-governor would then “cite studies” at random and call each other liars ad infinitum until Lehrer interjected that they’re 30 minutes over the allotted time for the topic and they need to move on. Obama and Romney then proceeded to tell Lehrer that they knew they were over the time limit, but that they just wanted to make sure they had a chance to let “the American people know” that their opponent was lying.
That was essentially the entire two hours summed up into 139 words. No kidding. And if anyone else remembers anything from the debate last week, it probably concerns Romney’s declaration to fire Big Bird and Jim Lehrer. Other than that, there’s really nothing of note in the debate.
What I found most interesting about this debate is that Romney won. If you’ve read my article from two weeks ago, you know that I’m no supporter of Romney (the article concerns Romney’s inability to understand that the basic human need to eat is not an entitlement, as Romney believes or at least says). But lots of Anti-Romneyites have even come out to declare Romney the winner of the debate. Talking heads shook with fury trying to figure out how Obama let the American people down… by sticking to the truth. Everyone admits that Romney lied through his teeth in the debate. The government, the Obama administration and the statistics he presented are not the same that we’ve experienced over the last four years.
A quick search on Politifacts rates the factoids from both Romney and Obama. The only mildly true things Romney said were that Obama promised to reduce the deficit by half (rated as true) and that Massachusetts’s schools are the best in the nation (rated as mostly true). Of course, his far more specific claims come in with less truth. Among the things Romney said: Obama has cut $716 billion from Medicare (rated as half-true), Obama’s put in place a board that can “tell people ultimately what treatments they’re going to receive (rated as mostly false), that the CBO estimates 20 million people losing their insurance as Obamacare goes into effect next year (rated as false), that pre-existing conditions are covered under his own health care program (rated as mostly false) and that President Obama has doubled the deficit rather than halved it (rated as false).
What are we to get from this? That Romney is a liar? Well, yes. On an occasion where he knew he’d be standing in front of a huge percentage of the American people, he lied to present an excellent picture. Now, checking the same Politifacts page, President Obama’s comments only appear less false. Not completely true, mind you, but his markings come off better than the ex-governor’s.
Still, Romney won the debate. Everyone says so. What are we, the American people, to make of that? The message is quite simple: as long as you look good behind a podium, as long as you sound truthful, and as long as you act presidential, what you say becomes the truth. This isn’t a new concept. George Orwell warned us about the government using words to twist and bend their lies until they become the truth. In “Animal Farm” he says, “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” and in “1984” the dystopian society preaches, “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.”
I won’t say that voting for Romney will lead the American people on a path to Oceania. I won’t say that, because Obama is bringing us along that path too. Maybe it’s time we not only reexamined our “two party democracy,” but did something toward bringing about a “verit-ocracy.”