«These debates remind me of an old, old television show called To Tell the Truth where a panel of celebrities tried to identify a remarkable character from a group of imposters. The show always ended with the host demanding that the true character reveal himself. And had the final Presidential Debate followed the same format, you would have heard something like this:
“Will the real Willard Mitt Romney, please stand up!”
We needed that revelation tonight because, truthfully, it was hard to know if Romney was even there; he sounded so much like Barack Obama! Quite clearly, Romney was aiming to fix his bullyish, antagonistic image, especially with women voters. In his 2nd sentence of the night, answering a question about America's role in the Middle East, Romney hoped for the “greater participation of women in public life”. Whoa… who is this guy? Clearly not the guy who collects binders full of women.
Unlike the previous town hall debate, where Romney got a little nasty, this debate showcased a milder mannered Mitt. He even had the gall to admonish the President for attacking him!! "Attacking me is not talking about how we address these issues".... What chutzpah!
That little performance had to be a little disconcerting for Obama who has been jousting with that other Romney fellow for the better part of a year, carving out a political platform on which to stand so that the American voter can make a clear choice. But tonight, Romney honed his chameleon skills, fading from attacker to samaritan, from hawk to dove, from patrician to man of the people. It was an Oscar-worthy performance that registered surprise on Obama's face. It must be hard to hit a moving target, especially one you can't even recognize.
Following the second debate, Charles Pierce from Esquire Magazine wrote a scathing review of the Republican candidate, identifying the many personas of Mitt Romney. There was the arrogant white guy, the whiny frat boy, and the obnoxious bully: Lofty, Snippy and Dickhead. Tonight we met a fourth character, Shifty, who sounded a lot like Lofty reading from the book of Obama. In fact, he appeared to agree with Obama on almost every foreign policy matter, with just occasional hawkish interjections from you know who. While Shifty applauded the president for his use of sanctions to deter Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, Dickhead insisted America should take a stronger stand: tougher sanctions and more international pressure. Whatever that means. Obama called him on this puffery, suggesting that the same ideas, spoken in a louder voice, do not constitute a difference. Or do they? Would Dickhead actually take us into another war? Hard to know, because Shifty is constantly playing to the audience, spewing whatever rhetoric will win him a vote. It's impossible to pin him down on details.
Honestly, this debate was a bit of a bore. If it wasn't for the surprise guest that inhabits Romney's every performance, we may have opted for the baseball playoffs. The focus was supposed to be foreign policy, but eventually the talking points all came back to the economy and we were inundated, once again, with the same glut of tired statistics we've heard too many times before. But this is where Shifty likes to take the conversation because the economy is in the tank and he is a self-described successful businessman. But look at the business he was in. He made his reputation executing leveraged buyouts, purchasing companies in financial straits that need a cash infusion to stay alive. But often these companies were destroyed, the employees laid off, the pension funds ransacked and the assets sold. That's the business Shifty was in. This is the guy that says he “knows business”, he knows “how to create jobs”. This is the guy that wants to take charge of our economy! Sure, and while were at it, let's put the undertaker in charge of nutrition. Makes about as much sense.
At this point, we're more than a little tired of the endless campaigning. And although Shifty has made the process a little more exciting by keeping us guessing, we are ready to get on with it. Tonight, thankfully, was the last of the debates. When next you hear from us, our fate will be decided. If Obama is given another term, you will hear a collective sigh of relief. It will mean that Americans, who finally came to their senses in 2008, are still hanging onto a thread of sanity. On the other hand, if the crown is handed to Shifty and his friends… well, let's not go there.»