Thank heavens we have one candidate who will stand for Big Bird. After Romney's callous remarks about how he'd fire Jim Lehrer and Big Bird to save the United States from falling into enemy hands, the President came out roaring at his campaign rallies with some new material. Here he is in Denver, speaking to Romney's promise to hit PBS and Big Bird by cutting all federal funding.
The punch line? "He'll get rid of regulations on Wall Street, but he's going to crack down on Sesame Street."
Yes, this. Exactly. Here's the thing missing, though. This isn't new. The teabircher House passed lots of bills that defunded PBS, Planned Parenthood, NOAA, EPA, NPR, medical research, the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change, the OAS, and of course, Obamacare.
That PBS line was straight out of the Ryan-drafted Republican budget proposals as passed by the House and sent to the Senate. Romney used it to play to the base along with his absurd fearmongering on "borrowing money from China" and it worked.
PBS released a statement expressing disappointment that they became a political football in the debate and also pointing out their insignificance in the overall budget picture.
We are very disappointed that PBS became a political target in the Presidential debate last night. Governor Romney does not understand the value the American people place on public broadcasting and the outstanding return on investment the system delivers to our nation. We think it is important to set the record straight and let the facts speak for themselves.
The federal investment in public broadcasting equals about one one-hundredth of one percent of the federal budget. Elimination of funding would have virtually no impact on the nation’s debt. Yet the loss to the American public would be devastating.
Indeed. But really, what that whole nonsensical speech of Romney's illustrated was how deeply vested he is in playing to his radical base instead of advancing ideas that might be good for the entire country. So vested, in fact, that he was willing to lie over and over again about his own policy ideas in order to disguise the fact that the majority of the country rejects his actual ideas outright.
John Cole over at Balloon Juice nailed it:
It’s all just so crazy for me. It’s like watching the most post-truth debate ever, and people I know and live with are calling at me screaming at me, even though they have no clue what is actually going on. Just weird. It reminds me of when I was playing Wolfenstein in 1981 on an Apple and I would open crates of surrealist art and wonder “WTF IS THAT?” Also too, AUF SCHWEIZ!
So I don’t know how to score it. On aggressiveness and overall smirks, Romney won, I guess. Obama seemed too passive or unwilling to call a liar a liar, and needs to be much more aggressive. What impact will it have on the race? My guess is Romney’s negatives will drop again and the race won’t really change much.
Although there does seem to be some impact on the day after. Via Daily Kos, Markos notes a huge shift in attitude from the murky group we call independents:
So check it—Obama's favorables are unchanged from before and after the debate, 56-44. But looking at the crosstabs, Obama stayed solid with Democrats, gained a tiny bit with Republicans, and ... kicked ass among independents. Seriously, flipping his faves among independents from 46-54 to 54-46, a 16-point shift, is a pretty big deal.
Now look at Romney's favorables. He definitely improved, from 46-54 to 51-49. He desperately needs those numbers to improve (and improve further) if he wants to be competitive. So, good news, right?
Well, Romney improved marginally with Democrats and stayed even with independents. So where did he improve? Among Republicans, where his "very favorable" jumped a solid 10 points, from 36 to 46 percent.
So is this what Romney set out to do? Solidify his GOP base and trick some Democrats into thinking that he wasn't as horrible as they thought?
So if the point of the debate was to push undecideds into his column, he appears to have done that with Republicans (by moving left, ha ha). Congrats, Mitt! But at least according to this single point, that won't bring him back into the game.
Perhaps the biggest, most significant part of the debate was the perception that Mitt moved toward the center, though it should be noted that it is a perception rooted in the lies he told. If conservatives aren't flipping out about that move, then it's a win for the Romney campaign, who has been shackled by the extremists on the party fringe.