There just ain’t enough pearls to go round (now with a little more)
There’s less than a month to go till the election, and there’s barely room to fit your butt on the fainting couches in some quarters as the MSM derails from its narrative of the moment and doles out yet another gross indignity to the man who would be king.
Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to the end of this silly week—at worst, for the poll-obsessed, we should have MOAR DATA, and some of the outliers and sample sets from the immediate debate aftermath and a holiday weekend should be diluted by more substantive things to set everyone’s hair alight, woefully misinterpret, and keep the horserace narrative alive into the final stretch. And of course, there’s the hope that ole handsome Joe Biden will gallop to the rescue and serve up the mancrush red meat that some of the daftest public bedwetters I’ve ever witnessed before going back to ignoring them again so obviously crave and turn this thing around. Or not. Whatever.
In any case, his opponent, hottie Dauphin of the Damned Paul Ryan, is evidently feeling the heat. Both he and the campaign, flying in the face of gleeful predictions from the Borg that he’ll wipe the floor with the geriatric hairplug-studded gaffe machine, have been trying desperately to play down expectations for his performance. Though, since we’re talking the Romney campaign here, they’re simultaneously playing up expectations that the understuffed suit of a granny starver will deliver another gamechanger and finish this thing, since if O’Biden doesn’t stride manfully across the stage and deliver the eyewatering wedgie of a lifetime, Ryan WINS IT’S ALL OVER. I think that’s called a spread bet.
Ryan’s even channeled Queen Ann Of The Fainting Couch and issued his own preemptive strike:
Ryan: Dems’ Strategy Is To “Call Us Liars”
Paul Ryan said that Democrats’s strategy through the election is “to call us liars for a month” in an interview with Michigan radio host Frank Beckmann Monday. The day after Wednesday’s presidential debate, the Obama campaign released an ad saying Romney had not told the truth during the debate.
“It seems pretty clear that their new strategy is basically just call us liars, to descend down into a mud pit and hopefully with enough mudslinging back and forth and distortion, people will get demoralized and then they can win by default; sort of a choice of the lesser or two evils,” Ryan said.
There’s one course of action Ryan and Romney could adopt to avoid this “new strategy,” but that’s obviously never going to happen. Maybe Joe’s dug out the thesaurus since the l-word is so offensive to the Romney camp’s delicate sensibilities—they’re so unused to the help answering back—or maybe he’ll find other more subtle but no less devastating ways to convey the message.
Certainly, there’s no shortage of advice out there for both candidates, but only one person in recorded history seems to have ever formally debated Ryan (another “myth” spread by the Romney campaign—this will be his highest-profile debate, but very far from his first), and the picture she paints may sound a little familiar:
Lydia Spottswood, the Wisconsin Democrat who was defeated by Ryan in his 1998 House race, says it would be a mistake to underestimate the congressman’s oratorical abilities.
Spottswood told The Hill on Tuesday that during her showdown with Ryan — possibly his only formal debate — he proved repeatedly elusive.
“He talks in platitudes, and not specifics. So if you’re trying to nail him down on details, he’ll rotate back to general principles,” Spottswood said. “He is always trying to wiggle out from his own manifesto, or to say people misunderstand what he’s saying.”
Spottswood added that the marginalization of moderator Jim Lehrer by Romney during last week’s debate “was straight out of debating Paul Ryan,” and added that Ryan would often filibuster challenges to his previously stated positions by playing policy wonk — something she called his “Wizard of Oz routine.” But the Wisconsin Democrat said most of all, Biden should be wary of what she called Ryan’s “Orwellian” slipperiness.
“He makes stuff up when he doesn’t even have to — that’s what I experienced when he was debating,” Spottswood said. “When you would try to call him out on it, say the Department of Labor said, ‘X,’ he would say he didn’t believe those figures and just keep saying what he wants to say.”
This tactic obviously served Romney well in the first debate, coupled with a hypercaffeinated performance that fired the imagination of media hacks bored by the past year of endless primaries, a bashful moderator, and a commentariat too focused on awarding points to Mitt’s dressage dance of deception and the sketchy polling aftermath to devote much attention to his sly shapeshifting obfuscation, instead spending the week since the debate pillorying Obama for not doing it himself in the two-minute chunks allotted. It’s almost as if they feel that they have nothing to lose by installing in the White House a pants-on-fire upper-class grifter surrounded by the shadiest mob assembled since Capone popped his clogs.
As for Ryan himself in his current incarnation, he’s even more of a liability when he doesn’t lie, as Tommy Christopher points out:
Republican vice-presidential hopeful Paul Ryan made a bit of news when he abruptly cut short an interview with a local reporter in Michigan, but the hissy manner in which he ended the chat seems to have buried the ugly substance of what he said while trying to evade questions about gun control and his tax plan. Asked whether this country has a gun problem, Ryan responded that that it’s a “crime problem,” and volunteered that “The best thing to help prevent violent crime in the inner cities is to bring opportunity in the inner cities. Is to help teach people good discipline, good character.”
Mittastic! Hey, you people in the inner cities—book your lessons about good character from Paul Ryan now, before the rush!
We’ll get through this thing somehow, as we did in ‘08, probably with a liveblog of the VP debate among other things. Watch this space.
More: It’s not much use continuing to cry over spilt milk right now, but John Amato reports on an observation from Dana Milbank on CNN:
I was out there in Denver .... You know what was up on every reporters’ screen that I looked at was Twitter.
Basically the reporters were having a conversation with themselves rather than watching the debate, and this idea gelled early on that Mitt Romney was having a big night, Obama was having a lousy night, which was generally true, but it accentuated it, and basically there was a groupthink going on there that was—that was that this is a really big bad thing for Obama, and I think that we probably did our readers and viewers a disservice.
I was monitoring a whole scad of journalists’ Twitter streams myself during the debate (see my comments towards the end of our liveblog), and I saw exactly that happen in the feeds I followed, up until just 40 minutes or so in, Ben Smith of BuzzFeed broke out from the pack and announced he’d published an article awarding the debate to Romney (I obviously don’t know what conversations were going on via other means). The rest is history.
Some of these dittoheads are so bored and decadent they can’t even be bothered to pay full attention to an event they’re being paid to report on and formulate their own impressions. It’s then highly unlikely they’re going to walk that initial impression back later, for fear of losing face. That’s not just stupid.