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Rizwan A. Rahmani Headshot

Mitt Romney's Masquerade Party and the Debate

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I am absolutely baffled by the results of national polling just a week after only one presidential debate. While I don't think Mr. Obama sufficiently lambasted his opponent with the amount of ammunition he had at his disposal: he instead chose to be quiescent and even let his opponent come off as a moderate -- all at the heels of the excoriating press Mitt Romney had endured just weeks before, the results of which were evident in all polling. During the entire debate Romney managed to disguise his true appearance under a thick layer of artifice and a masque over his façade of duplicity. The only explanation for current poll results is that it must have fooled a large chunk of the electorate.

I question the wisdom of the president's team's decision -- and his decision to go along with a 'softer' style of debate tactics -- which let Romney slip out of their grip like a slimy eel. While it is imprudent enough to bring a knife to a gun fight, to not bring as much as a pen knife was not only politically irresponsible, it was a downright betrayal of the supporters who have put so much stock in his candidacy. The very qualities that are celebrated by his supporters, including his ability to be easygoing, jovial, personable, incisive, and humorous (qualities his opponent is not known for) were abandoned like out of season clothing by a socialite.

One thing that immediately stood out was the inability of Mr. Obama to celebrate his achievements and to enumerate them in a clear and concise fashion for the electorate to digest. He was not only remiss in calling out his opponent on his lies, he didn't even mention the fact he has now created more jobs than his predecessor did in his two terms when the economy was better, and that he has had 27 months of job gains after the near depression-like economy he was handed, that during his tenure big corporations have posted record profits, and that the stock market has doubled since its crash in 2008. I am quite perplexed as to why Democratic strategists are seemingly stockpiling this perfectly lethal ammo -- and to what end?

It is quite clear by now Mitt Romney is an amorphous political entity. He is a political chameleon who adapts his colors depending on his surroundings, which is quite evident when speaking candidly to his donors on those now infamous videos. He has slyly changed his position on many issues, hedging his bets on the short-term memory of our electorate which is too busy to deeply scrutinize him as a candidate or his past dealings at Bain Capital. He is the kind of capitalist who has absolutely no qualms about profiting at any rate or cost: he has no economic patriotism (to borrow a phrase) whatsoever. He has been quite cagey about his taxes, and his so-called blind trust (wink): if the current tax return is an indication, there is no telling what he has done in the past to game the system. While it is not illegal, it does speak volumes to his character.

Mitt Romney has been on the political scene for over a decade now. Although he ran as a Republican for his Massachusetts governorship, he shifted his position well to the left, to appeal to the liberal electorate and secure a win. He was culturally quite liberal then -- and is quite possibly still of those political leanings. He would be run out of town for his prior political stances by the current breed of dunderhead tea partiers and evangelicals who hold his party hostage to do their bidding while retarding and even regressing this country.

In light of all this readily available fodder for criticism, why the president developed a severe case of verbal constipation is something of a mystery. He looked a bit off kilter, at times peeved, and even somewhat non-confrontational -- he lost several golden opportunities to demolish his opponent politically. He has since admitted his shortcomings but to what effect? Having come from a great academic background and some teaching, he has a tendency to perch on a lofty intellectual milieu, which might play well with the academics, intellectuals, and informed voters, but is an exercise of pure folly: those are the people who will vote for him in spite of everything.

It would behoove him to come down from that perch and save the gravitas for the office, and show some swagger, bluster, even a hint of bravado, and talk in a language that is easy for average or low information voters to absorb, as he does on the campaign trail. Explain to the voters the murkiness of Romney's tax cut plan: a perfect cover for his elite supporters to feast financially upon the middle class like bull sharks once he is elected. Also talk about the health care act, Medicare, the repeal of "don't ask don't tell," student aide programs, and many other things he has accomplished. Incidentally, 67 million of these voters watched this debate: voters who likely staked their entire political curiosity on this one debate!

As a naturalized citizen, over the years I have observed how the American electorate perceives a candidate: it is more concerned about one-liners, pithy quips, appearance, and the style of the message than the content. Because if current poll-measured leanings were based on the content and substance of the their political stances, and what Romney or his running mate have been caught saying about half the population of this country, or how Romney has diametrically reversed his position on everything in just nine short years (and keeps those positions readily malleable), or how his company has benefited from his unethical dealings, or how he shored up his wealth by exploiting tax loopholes etc. etc. -- we would not have a presidential race this close.

In old Venice when Venetian elites attended a masquerade, they could freely behave lasciviously in their guises, behavior which would be considered unacceptable in any other circumstances. Mitt Romney is masquerading around in this grand ball enrobed in his costume and his masque -- a ball thrown by his rich donors, corporations, Super PACs. If people fail to see through the charade then the economic debauchery for him and his one-percent elites may never end. Mr. Obama had the chance to uncover his true identity by going against masquerade convention to show anyone still uncertain about him that he is indeed an impostor. There are two more debates, and several weeks ahead of us: let's see if he is able to still accomplish what he should have done the first time.

  Obama Romney
Obama Romney
332 206
Obama leading
Obama won
Romney leading
Romney won
Popular Vote
33 out of 100 seats are up for election. 51 are needed for a majority.
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Holdover
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Democrats* Republicans
Current Senate 53 47
Seats gained or lost +2 -2
New Total 55 45
* Includes two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats: Angus King (Maine) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
All 435 seats are up for election. 218 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
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Seats won 201 234
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