Imagine a small house made out of cardboard and newspaper, supported by cheap plastic frames in the middle of the Sahara desert. The house is surrounded on all sides with dozens of barrels of oil nearly obscuring it. Mounds of gunpowder six feet tall lay around it for a hundred yards. Dynamite, bombs, and grenades litter the piles in vast quantities, and the air is filled with a corrosive flammable gas that creates a haze for miles. At the very edge of this deadly zone is a small trail of gunpowder that heads off in the other direction for a few miles, finally going through a small hole into an impenetrable bunker. In this bunker sits none other than President Barack Obama, and he has a single match. And he carefully lights this match and then the trail of gunpowder, which speeds out of the bunker and races toward its end at the edge of the zone. Boom.
The fragile house of paper mentioned to be at the middle of said chaos is about to be the campaign of Mitt Romney within the next month during the 4 debates of October. If there was ever a time for Republicans to be uncertain about their odds for this election cycle, it’s during these debates. I don’t know if the world remembers or not, but the 2008 debates were completely dominated by Obama. I say that not referring to me agreeing with what he said, because any supporter of a candidate thinks their candidate did better. I’m referring to the way Obama articulated his positions while smashing McCain’s brilliantly, and how that was perceived by the public in all of the polling, which translated into a huge margin of victory in the election. While the McCain campaign was already losing ground at the time of the debates as Romney’s is now, the debates certainly propelled Obama to a heavy favorite.
There is no scenario in which Romney and Ryan better their chances for office during these debates. It is the moderators’ jobs to ask critical questions, for this is for the most powerful office in the world. The many questions the Romney campaign has failed to answer in detail will be asked of Romney and Ryan and then rebutted harshly by Obama and Biden, all of this while being stared down by the 60 million people watching. On the trail, it’s easy to be vague and say anything stretching the truth to rile up a crowd of supporters. But on a national stage of debate, it will be near impossible to make grandiose claims or fringed rhetoric of Obama’s failure with someone right there ready to counter it with hard facts. Romney does not perform well under pressure and is not a particularly strong speaker off script. He tried to make a 10,000 dollar bet at a primary debate, told an audience member on the trail “of course corporations are people!”, and was recently found to say he thinks that 47% of Americans are leeches on the government, and that he won’t worry about getting their votes since they have no personal responsibility.
The moderators will be foaming at the mouth to ask Romney and Ryan a number of questions that will pin them to the wall. The dreaded Obamacare healthcare reform that was modeled off of Romney’s Massachusetts plan will be one hard point for Romney to overcome on stage. They can ask Romney about that damning video where he claims half of America is a bunch of lazy dependents. They can ask Ryan about his claims that Obama is eviscerating Medicare with the same savings that Ryan included in his budget. How about the Romney Ryan plan which was found to raise taxes on modest income Americans by several thousand dollars by a non-partisan tax group? Or that their budget math was independently concluded to be lacking basic arithmetic sense to match their promises. And to be honest, it doesn’t matter what questions they are asked. Romney is doomed as I happily predicted he would be a year ago. His campaign strategy has been to be vague enough that the extreme fringes of the new Republican Party aren’t exposed that might scare away that 10% of the precious electorate Romney considers reasonable folk, while being debbie downers about everything in the U.S., emulated in the unofficial Romney motto, “You are living a miserable existence under Obama, I assure you that despite the indicators, things are truly worse than ever.”
The polls are already pulling heavily in favor of Obama in crucial battleground states, and I expect that to become a solidified lead, if not a few points greater, after the debates. Although the media and pundits think this is a close election, I do not view it as so. The Romney Ryan ticket isn’t even worth comparing in stature to the Obama Biden team. I’ll put it this way. These debates should be the equivalent of Godzilla vs. Scrooge Mcduck. Rocky vs. an oompa loompa. Gandalf the white vs. Jar Jar Binks. Luke Skywalker vs. a goomba. Obama is the Yankees and Romney is the 4 year old t-ball team. The charisma and real accomplishments of Obama will be the bane of Romney’s now seemingly half-assed bid. Make sure to bring popcorn and gummy bears when you watch. The event of someone as bad as Romney getting roasted and proverbially exploded by someone as debate hardened as Obama won’t happen again in your lifetime. Boom.
Originally published in the Flipside