Watching The Debate in a room full of GOPers with 60 or so televisions tuned to Fox News doesn't foster the idea that anyone other than Mittens won the evening. That opinion is to be expected. (And appears to be the consensus.) But neither does it instill the idea that the Romster decisively flipped the race and vaulted into the lead.
The setting was the Palm Beach Ale House, which the PBC GOP's Facebook page earlier in the week announced as the site of its official vantage to view the contest. Wings, beer, and the 53 percent: Who could resist?
It wasn't that much of a crowd -- 50 would be a generous count -- and they were a decorous lot. A few sported festive boaters whose red-white-and-blue hat bands lent the room some pizzazz. But even as their hero went on offense, stiff-arming moderator Jim Lehrer and trash-talking the president with abandon, the local GOPers never really got fired up. Cheers here and there, yes. But ready to follow the Romster through hell to eternity? Nah.
Predictably and dutifully, the faithful hollered out on their hot-button issues: Pipeline good, deficits bad, state government good, federal government sketchy, Obamacare bad, small business sacred. The biggest cheers came for Mittens' promise to kill Big Bird rather than "borrow money from the Chinese" to fund PBS, and his dismay at federal support of alternative energy.
The crowd was in the bag for their man, of course, totally unfazed by his dumping the GOP fetish of tax cuts, for example. Mittens' blithe denial of his oft-repeated tax promises came wrapped in family warmth. When Obama kept hammering him on the $5 trillion consequences of the GOP platform, he replied, "I've got five sons. I'm used to people saying something that's not always true but just keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping I'll believe it."
Except this time, the "repeated something" is true.
Mittens' sociopathic style and the room's response were a depressing reminder of the great philosopher Hannah Arendt's teaching: "It is a mixture of gullibility and cynicism which allows the mob to believe the most outrageous lies one day, and when, the next day, those lies are proven to be false, congratulates the liar for his tactical cleverness."
The greater problem for Dems is this: The debates -- and everything else still to come in the campaigns, for that matter -- are about the undecideds, low-information voters to whom "facts don't matter." And unfortunately, Mittens' bullying manner is probably many undecideds' idea of "leadership."
At the same time, Dems can take heart. The enemy may have gained strength, but only a bit. The Ale House crowd's tepid responses might have been a function of age -- the average was well into the 50s at least, and not in great shape -- but even the youngest, 20-something FL House District 90 candidate Sean Kasper, hemmed and hawed when asked if he could honestly say his heart was ablaze.
Asked if he'd be more jazzed if it were
Taliban Tea Party hero Paul Ryan atop the ticket, Kasper begged off. "I liked Rick Santorum in the primary," he said. "He talked about terrorism."
Around midnight after the debate, the evening's hosts at the PBC GOP posted this on their Facebook page:
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"Mitt Romney wins the first debate!
'As president you're entitled to your own house, your own plane, but not your own facts.' -Mitt Romney"
To which some wisenheimer replied:
"Whereas Mitt is entitled to all three!"
Fire Ant couldn't agree more.