Why Mitt Romney Won't Win The Debate Tonight: He Won't Shut Up About The Economy. Mitt, We Get It Already.

mittens.jpg
What's that? You want to talk about the economy?
Once, while reflecting on his tumultuous tenure as Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara said: "Don't answer the question you were asked. Answer the question you wish you were asked." This may have allowed the folly of the Vietnam War to continue for nearly a decade, but it was also great politicking. Don't lie, McNamara was saying -- though he did a bunch of that too -- just evade.

This is what we're going to see tonight in the first presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. We already knew that. But the strange thing is, no one will care. All that matters, it seems, is how graceful the evasion's done. Research came out last year in a Harvard study called, "The Artful Dodger: Answering the Wrong Question the Right Way," which said, more or less, that we only notice if a politician has dodged the question when the deception was "egregious."

And Mittens, baby, that's you.

The reason why Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan were so good at debates had little to do with what they said, because most of the time they said very little. Their bullshit was so beguiling that relevance didn't matter. We all just liked to listen. And this also provides a clue as to why Mitt Romney has sucked so badly lately -- and will continue sucking tonight. Mitt Romney is terrible at evasion. It's embarrassing.

All the dude wants to do is talk about the economy, and we get that. But it's become so obvious that his attempts to steer every single conversation or interview back to employment numbers has backfired completely. It's made him look stilted and tone deaf. Indeed, if Mitt Romney wasn't Mitt Romney we'd almost feel bad for him, but only if he promised us an afternoon of yachting, vanilla ice cream, and horseback riding.

Here's the truth: Mitt Romney is a terrible politician. He may be good at business or doing Mormon things like not drinking coffee, but in terms of spewing nonsense, and delivering it in a way that people don't care that nonsense is being spewed at them, is simply beyond him. What the Harvard study says is that listeners are abundantly susceptible to being duped. As soon as a question is over and the respondent begins his or her answer, the substance of the question dissolves, and all that remains is the answer. The only time, however, that this isn't true is when the answer has nothing to do with the question.

Which is why Mitt Romney will lose tonight. He's fallen victim to the cataclysmic self-delusion that if he keeps talking about the economy, he'll win the election. This has worked with past challengers, Clinton and Reagan two recent examples. And it's even worse for Obama. No president in the last 70 years has won reelection with an unemployment rate higher than 8 percent.

But Romney so overplayed that hand, so hammered at every inquiry with economic tropes and platitudes, that he's ruined the goodies and himself. Tonight, he'll continue this misadventure, trotting out capitalistic retorts no matter the question. This will annoy the audience. And Romney will lose because of it.

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11 comments
Sterling111
Sterling111

OOPS He won by a landslide.  Never underestimate your competitor.  Especially when your guy never took economics 101 and it showed.

optismist2
optismist2

Why do you feel the need to write this bs?? Hating Romney isn't going to make us love Obama.At least Romney is a sucessful buisness man. And the only thing Obama has run is this country straight into the ground. Great President if your collecting welfare or food stamps but for those who work for a living he is killing jobs, baby, Keep drinking the Kool-aid Terrance, you bigoted fool and follow the rest of the sheep off the cliff. Maybe No Balls Barry will hire you to write his speeches but make sure you put in on the teleprompter or all you'll get is a lot of ummmms. He is almost as big of a genius as you.

 

bcar99
bcar99

Your article was going well until you spewed your bigoted condescending remark about Mitt being good at doing 'Mormon' things like not drinking coffee. I dare you to write a similar article but about Obama doing 'black people things' like eating watermelon. Shame on you, bigot!

0ptimist
0ptimist

Right, because who cares about the economy? You cannot simultaneously dismiss a strategy and talk about how well it works just because you don't like the person using it. Or I suppose you can if you're the Houston Press and cognitive dissonance is a way of life.

Jim Costello
Jim Costello

So let me get this right... I am supposed to critisize in advance of hearing anything from Gov. Romney that he is not good enough in "evading" topics? I am supposed to be entranced by a Harvard study that stipulates that voters are best served by liking the politician that is lying to them? I am supposed to be unimpressed with the impact that the horrendous economy has had on me and others of the middle class? This blog/article is crap. Apparently the voters were all bedazzled four years ago with a great orator. But, we ARE NOT better off now than then.

Jackalbeagle
Jackalbeagle

@HoustonPress that is the only thing he is winning in the polls on against obama. He has no other option.

gardulest
gardulest

They Romney team surrogates are now trotting out the Jeremiah Wright tapes from 2007, because I guess we missed the significance of them last campaign. Go Racial guys, stay classy. Anything that sticks at this point....

2_MoBass
2_MoBass

@Jackalbeagle Pls follow back:)

johnnybench
johnnybench topcommenter

 @gardulest I think it's quite creative to label something that everybody already knows about and has moved on from as a "secret tape."

gardulest
gardulest

 @johnnybench Speculation is that McCain wouldn't use this stuff, in all its sparkling negativity, so it might appear new to some people this cycle. It's a real stretch, but they are grasping for anything now.

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