Thursday, October 4, 2012

GAME ON!

Mitt Romney making a point--again.
One of my favorite movies (or series of movies) is the Rocky franchise.  In Rocky I, Rocky Balboa is an unknown, unheralded chump fighter from the streets of Philadelphia who is tapped to take on the world champion heavyweight, Apollo Creed.  Apollo has been coddled and schmoozed by his entourage, and expects an easy walkover in his bout with Rocky.  Apollo and his crew view the fight with Balboa as a diversion, a chance for Apollo to say “Happy New Year” to his fans.  He never takes Balboa seriously.  As we know, Rocky quietly trains like a Spartan, and seizes the opportunity to face off with the Champion.  Despite all the predictions, Rocky goes the distance with Apollo in a 15-round classic.  As the Creed-Balboa fight begins, Rocky comes out swinging and connecting, almost knocking out Apollo in the first round.  A dazed and confused Creed returns to his corner where his trainer confronts him with one of the best lines in the Rocky movies.  Creed’s corner man pleads with Apollo to take the fight to Rocky, and tells him “He doesn’t know this is a damn show.  He thinks it’s a damn fight.”
In fact, this blog has uncovered heretofore unknown footage of Romney's debate prep:


Barack Obama, meet Apollo Creed.  Last night, at the first Presidential Debate, Mitt Romney played the part of Rocky Balboa, swinging and connecting throughout the evening with Barack Obama, while Obama played the part of the dazed and confused, not-very-happy-to-be-there incumbent.  Romney’s evening started strong, as he adroitly dissected on a  point by point basis Obama’s claims that Romney’s tax plan would result in a $5 trillion tax break for ‘millionaires and billionaires’ and $2,000 tax increases for middle class families.  At one point Romney equated Obama’s ongoing baying about Romney’s alleged tax cut to his experience raising five boys, noting that ‘they thought if they kept saying something enough times eventually I’d believe them.’  Romney schooled Obama that you keep saying my plan will result in tax breaks for rich people, and that’s just not true.  Obama seemed to eventually surrender the attack, but only after five or six unsuccessful attempts to portray Romney as Thurston Howell III. 
Romney then tarried effectively on Obama’s failed economy; his wasted $90 billion in federal grants to various solar industry companies; the ineffectiveness and costliness of ObamaCare; and various other domestic programs.  Throughout the debate Romney was glib and in control of his facts and his plans, while Obama was halting and reduced to talking points and hackneyed phrases.  Physically, Romney appeared to be fresh, lively, engaged, exchanging eye contact with Obama, Jim Lehrer, and the audience.  Obama looked stale, distracted, ill-prepared, downturned, and unhappy with the format and the requirement to actually have to defend his positions and his four-year incumbency to a national audience.  To the extent there were any memorable lines, they were delivered by Romney who introduced the notion of ‘trickle-down government,’ equated Obama’s $90B investments in alternative energy with the opportunity cost of hiring two million teachers, and on that point observed that ‘they say Government should not pick winners and losers, but you always seem to pick the losers.’ 
Two of the more inspiring moments to me were when Romney noted the moral depravity of the Federal Government running big deficits which will, by definition, be passed on to future generations.  And when asked about the proper role of Government, Romney pointed to the words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence which were superimposed on the wall behind the candidates and stated that the first and primary role of the Federal Government was to preserve and defend the principles of those founding documents.  He then preceded to invoke several of those principles, which is perhaps the first time in recent Presidential races that the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were actually acknowledged much less endorsed (except on the rare occasion when candidates are asked about the justices they would pick for the Supreme Court).
Even Obama’s supporters acknowledge their guy was off his game.  Bill Maher tweeted that he guesses everyone was right, and Obama does need a teleprompter.  Michael Moore commented that this is what happens when you ask John Kerry to be your debate coach.  And perennial cheerleader Chris Matthews was befuddled to the point of apoplexy at Obama’s lack of spit and vinegar. 
Did last night’s performances change the dynamic of the race?  Time will tell.  There are two more Presidential Debates and a Vice Presidential Debate, and you can count on both Obama and Biden coming out swinging in those events.  The Obama Campaign and their allies will double down on their personal criticism and attempts to demonize Romney.  Look for Planned Parenthood and the Unions to open up their wallets in this last month if they think their candidate is at risk.  And don’t forget that at the end of Rocky I, as tenacious and brave as Rocky fought, Apollo Creed retained his title (setting up 30 years of sequels!). 
Nonetheless, last night Romney gave his supporters, wavering Conservatives and undecided independents a solid reason to rally behind his candidacy.  And as someone who usually turns off Presidential Debates shaking my head and wondering why Republicans can’t seem to present a candidate who can effectively present the Conservative case while stringing thoughts together in a coherent way, I felt good going to bed last night.  Romney not only has an A Game, he knows how to bring it.  If you felt the same way, well, time is running out.  Get out there and support your guy.  He deserves it.   
        

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