Debate! Where The Gaffes Are Made Up & The Points Don’t Matter

The media (and many politicos) are in their quadrennial “the debates matter” mode, especially since the press is almost getting tired of these “Obama is kicking Romney’s butt” stories and would really like to write a “Romney campaign has momentum” story or three thousand. I don’t think it’s bias, its just that a lack of drama is the antithesis of the storyline the media wants.

I mean, sure, Obama could simply collapse under the weight of Mitt Romney’s rapier wit, collapsing at the cleverness of one of his pre-loaded comedic quips… but it’s unlikely. On the flip side, the Obama devotees who think Romney is going to self-destruct under one of Barry’s Patented Truth Bombs are also fooling themselves.

Both candidates know what they’re doing here, and while I personally think Obama has a slight edge on Romney in this type of matchup, the differences on debate skill aren’t as stark as the overall picture where Obama dominates.

Also, and this is key, gaffes in a debate don’t always help the challenger. This may sound a little counterintuitive since I’ve been arguing for months now that gaffes in service of an existing point of view do matter — the political science crowd is seeing their cold and dispassionate view of this exploded by Romney’s 47% tape. But we already forget that Bush screwed up in a few memorable ways during his debates with Kerry.

“It’s hard work.”
“I hear there’s rumors on the Internets.”
“You forgot Poland”

I would argue that Kerry won two out of the three debates with Bush. It didn’t help. John Kerry is a better debater than Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, and he was competing against a President who couldn’t master basic English, let alone a debate.

It didn’t matter in the long run. Kerry had already been defined and discounted by America, and even besting the President in a debate was not enough to convince people to see him as commander-in-chief.

For Mitt Romney, all hope is not yet lost. But he has been defined. He has been put in a rhetorical box by America largely thanks to his own mouth, but also by a focused campaign from the Obama team. Once you are in that box, it is hard as hell to escape from it. People like Sarah Palin, Al Gore, and John Kerry have all been in it and with the exception of maybe Gore, have never escaped.

I doubt that even the most brilliant debate performance from a man who can’t seem to articulate the basics of why he’s running for president will change that dynamic.

 

  • Wilbur

    How do you know what color we are, Dennis?

    • Plunket

      As it pertains to you, Wilburn, only white guys say terrbal tahl, Stillers, yinz, yoi and double yoi, and JImminy Christmas, I forgot my babushka.

    • db

      Wil,

      I’ll give Dennis that I’m white. I view myself more of a moderate than liberal, but since everyone to the left of Herbert Hoover is a socialist/liberal in his view I won’t argue. You can be whatever color. You are Wilbur; that’s enough. (If you’ve read Kipling’s KIm, you know the reference)

      It’s his response that bothers me. It confuses me but knowing the source, I find it slightly disturbing. Is it vaguely anti-Semitic? Is the capitalization of JI & C some code of which I am unaware? I’d hate to read something into a typo; but when one starts all at sea…

      • Wilbur

        He’s doing a Pittsburgh accent and aping Pbgh sports announcers. Apparently he thinks all the non-whites in Pittsburgh talk like Steppin Fetchit.

        • Plunket

          How was that ‘apparent’ to you, WIlbur? Southwestern PA colloquialisms being derived from white Scots-Irish, Slavic, Russian and Polish immigrants and the fact that persons of color in the region not of those origins have not adopted them doesn’t mean those persons of color speak like Stepin Fetchit. It just means that if you joke about using those particular colloquialisms, like you have many times here, there’s an extremely high probability that you’re not a person of color. It’s not exact and it’s not definitive, as most dialects aren’t easily defined, but the odds are such given all you’ve said here that you’re nothing other than a race-obsessed, very, very pasty-white liberal.

          • Wilbur

            You’re the one obsessing over what color we are, race-boy and racist apologist Dennis.

        • db

          Thank you.

          On one hand I’m not in favor of using accents to demean people.

          On the other hand accurate representations of accents certainly are a pleasure. Celebrating the diversity of a truly thick accent. But you’ve got to let the audience know you’re doing the accent.

          Still if Dennis Schlacher is from Pittsburgh, he’s endured yet another losing Pirates season, and there’s no reason for the rest of us to pile on.

          • Wilbur

            It’s true the Pirates are a buttload of heartbreak.

  • oi ly

    “No, Marco, actually it’s white liberals who love the nutty black conspiracies. If there’s one out there, believe me, it’s white liberals who will sniff it out before anyone else does.”

    For such a bright guy, you don’t often make any sense. If there’s a nutty black conspiracy out there, it would be a right wing nutter who first formulated it. That a liberal then sniffs it out, doesn’t make said liberal responsible for it’s creation. It’s the old, you’re a racist for pointing out racism argument. Come on Dennis, get it together.

    • Plunket

      For such a bright guy,….

      First of all, thank you.

      I didn’t say anything about the creation of the conspiracy, Oily, I said it’s the white liberal who loves them, sniffs them out, then squeals like a pig with delight when he tells everyone about it and gets to put on his indignation mask.

      Think about it, here’s a blog run by an African American who loves to discuss racial issues, but who are the ones posting here? All white liberals. All southern strategy conspiracy buffs, every one of them, all five of you, anyway. White liberals who listen to Rush Limbaugh every day waiting with bated breath for anything he might tease them with to make their day to add to their little tickler files of things they can weakly claim (but never prove) that he’s a racist.

  • M2

    Mitt drops another deuce with his specifics-free op-ed on the Middle East.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444712904578024293333633994.html

    No wonder OW right wingers are scouring the internet for old articles.

  • M2

    No, the right wing isn’t pissing on the bodies of dead americans for political gain. How dare you allege something like that!

    • Plunket

      Said the preening Truther Marco, self-righteously swallowing his whistle once again.

      • M2

        I’m sorry, Dennis. Maybe an American will get killed today so you won’t have to troll the interwebs for weeks-old articles.

        There’s always hope, Dennis.

        • db

          Marco,

          Wasn’t Dennis demanding less Government Spending just last week?

          • M2

            I dunno. Was Rush demanding less government spending last week?

          • Plunket

            Yeah, less money spent on a huge ramp-up in Bush Obama Phones in a key swing state, more money spent on our US consulates to protect their lives when they tell us they’re targets right before 9/11. Especially since our slap-happy Democratic party felt it was necessary to yell it loud and yell it proud 26 times that our president had killed Osama bin Laden and said to ask Bin Laden if he was better off now than he was 4 years ago. What a gaaaaffe that was for me, Priceless. If that’s true, that would be devastating.

          • M2

            Bath salts?

          • db

            Marco,

            I don’t mean to criticize, but you let Dennis slip in an unsubstantiated clalm that he now will assert that we’ve admitted.

            Dennis.

            Prove or substantiate:

            “a huge ramp-up in Bush Obama Phones in a key swing state”.

          • Plunket

            db, I’d be more than happy to. On the condition that you prove or substantiate your priceless comment first and explain how it wasn’t racist on your part.

          • M2

            The right loves their nutty black president conspiracies.

          • Plunket

            No, Marco, actually it’s white liberals who love the nutty black conspiracies. If there’s one out there, believe me, it’s white liberals who will sniff it out before anyone else does.

          • M2

            Yes, Dennis. All the racism from the right towards the first African American president never happened. The signs, speeches, letters, emails, gifs, jpegs, slurs – all made up by liberals.

            You really should seek counseling for your meth addiction.

          • Plunket

            Yes, Dennis. All the racism from the right towards the first African American president never happened. The signs, speeches, letters, emails, gifs, jpegs, slurs – all made up by liberals.

            I’m pretty certain that’s not what I claimed, Marco, but congrats to you for not placing a “So” in front of your dishonest interpretation this time, though I can see now why you use it as often as you do. Without it, the lie just falls kind of flat.

          • M2

            Well then plainly explain this -

            “Yeah, less money spent on a huge ramp-up in Bush Obama Phones in a key swing state”

            Just have the balls to explain the latest conspiracy you’re pushing that we’re making up.

            Go ahead. Just state your point and stop droning on with bullshit so you’re not misunderstood by us evil liberals.

          • Plunket

            Gladly, Marco.

            Right after db explains what he meant by his priceless comment.

          • M2

            What? “You first” is your argument?

            Mean Girls was just a movie, Dennis. Let it go.

  • Plunket

    ‘So, we can save how much money if we go with the cheap private protection package in Libya?’

    BBC News:US consulate in Benghazi ‘did not have enough security’

    The US consulate in Benghazi, where the US ambassador to Libya died in an attack on Tuesday, was not given the standard security contract offered to many American diplomatic missions in the Middle East, private military contractors have told the BBC.

  • M2
  • db

    No Phlunk,

    My comment was a joke. The real joke is that the Republicans do feel that way about Climate Change (what missing ice?) & evolution.

  • enlightened liberal

    A “gaffe” these days is when a Republican is caught telling the truth about their beliefs.

  • M2

    Mitt has been practicing his zingers so i am sure we’re about to get dealt a devastating 1-2-punch of awesome…

    Wait, what???

    • enlightened liberal

      “Well the jerk store called…”

      • M2

        HA! A classic.

        I hope Mitt brings a letter excusing him from answering questions about Bain.

        • enlightened liberal

          I wouldn’t put it past him- can’t wait to see if the moderator or the President ask him about Bain- it will be a “divide by 0″ moment for Mitt-bot.

          • M2

            I hope someone asks him how one can retroactively retire form their work. That one still fascinates me.

      • Plunket

        “Well the jerk store called…”

        “Did Romney really say that? If true, that will be devastating.” -db

        • Plunket

          “Just for it, unless I’m mistaken there’s no such thing as a jerk store. Just like cabin pressure at 35,000 feet, Romney would know that if he wasn’t so out of touch.” -db

          • db

            Phlunk,

            You missed it. Fox was having a show, “Air Pressure: Fact or Liberal Myth?” 35,000 people signed the petition stating their belief that Air Pressuer is a hoax. The Kansas Boaed of EducAtion is debating “Teaching the Debate”.

            Priceless.

          • Plunket

            Is that true, db?

            If so, that would be devastating.

  • db

    Oliver,

    I think we’re dancing around the definition of a “gaffe”. There will be gaffes in the debate; the media story requires it. It’s a question of whether the “gaffe” is so major as to actually change anyone’s mind.

    There haven’t been that many major errors in the debates & I’m unconvinced that debates play a major role in voter’s decisioins. So assuming President Obama’s makeup doesn’t make him look like a zombie; I don’t think there’ll be a major impact.

    • oi ly

      “So assuming President Obama’s makeup doesn’t make him look like a zombie …”

      I’m sure the conservative wizards will photoshop a zombie Obama with which to feed their low information voters.

      • db

        Sure, but I was thinking of Dick Nixon. His makeup, Jerry Ford’s Poland comment, & Lloyd Bentsen’s “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy” are the only major debate “gaffes” that I though could have had an impact.

        • enlightened liberal

          I don’t know whether it would be called a “gaffe” but the Dukakis/Bush debate about if Kitty Dukakis was raped and murdered, would he want the death penalty was quite a blow to his chances.

          • db

            Right el,

            I guess we’re heading back to the definition of ‘gaffe”. Oliver nailed it though; it’s when the “gaffe” fits into the MSM’s preset story of the election that they become important.

            This then raises the more important question of how such stories are set or created. I suggest that Fox “News” & the Rasmussen polling volume are attempts to set the story around which all else revolves. Once set nothing can change the story; see Al Gore in 2000. So why hasn’t it worked? Dennis’ “Liberal Media”? Then why did they hose Gore in 2000?