04 October 2012
The debate continues
A consensus of opinion indicates that Mitt Romney won last night's debate with President Obama, both substantially and superficially, though much of the post-game talk focuses on the incumbent's alienating mannerisms and his perceived lack of enthusiasm for the event. Had I any faith that either candidate could come out of his ideological box and say something interesting and truly relevant, I might have watched the contest. Despite my neglect, I see no reason to dispute the opinionators' analysis, especially when Democratic flacks concede their man's defeat. The funny thing was that both candidates were poor-mouthing themselves, more or less, leading up to the show. Or at least they were talking each other up in a way that suggested that neither man takes the debates seriously. Since neither will be challenged by truly unorthodox opinions, with independents excluded and moderators chosen from the mainstream, the major candidates shouldn't be expected to say anything different from what they've been saying all along. Romney will say that Obama's four years prove that he should be replaced. Obama will say that George W. Bush's eight years prove that we should not turn back to the Republicans. This leaves Romney some room to maneuver should he want to convince viewers that he isn't George W. Bush. Romney could do a lot more than that in a real effort to reach so-called "persuadable" voters, but he most likely lacks the imagination to do so or the courage to say anything that might alienate or even confuse his base. The President has less room to maneuver, but his own liberalism is partly to blame for that. Despite all the paranoia surrounding him, Obama clearly doesn't have the radicalism in him to shake up the debates. If either man seemed vague that probably shouldn't be held against him. If anything, the country needs a broader, deeper debate on general principles before any ideological reconciliation can happen. We need to debate all the implications of the Republican theory of entrepreneurial vanguardism, and whether liberals and progressives can assert a civilized standard of living against the pull of perpetual competition or the inertia of limited resources. I know I'm not going to see that from Obama and Romney, but I hope I hear it from somebody soon.