Have you heard these words before? "Is that your final answer?"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is a spin-off of a game show originating in the United Kingdom known as Cash Mountain. Regis Philbin introduced this catchy phrase to U.S. viewers when the fastest finger buzzed in their answer from a multiple choice list. Today, Meredith Vieira incites abject fear in contestants when she repeats those words. Contestants pray their final answer is the right one. Right answers mean you get to continue playing the game. Wrong answers mean you're out of the game!
Do American voters now face fears that their original answer (presidential pick) is out of the game based on their first presidential debate performance?
According to a host of fact checkers and political pundits, it appears unclear if Mr. Romney's answers are his final answers. Before the debate, Romney tunes appeased highly conservative constituents enough to award his campaign songs with many big checks. Is that the case today? Until Wednesday, October 3rd, Romney's .mp3 player (campaign trail) avoided centrist songs. Has Romney updated his playlist? If so, do Romney's conservative backers like the new playlist consisting of tighter federal regulations, no cuts in taxes, health care vouchers and entitlements to hire more teachers?
President Obama's playlist has remained consistent over his campaign. Does Obama's consistency inspire apathy or angst because it lacks drama audiences seem to crave to stay tuned in?
The fact is, we need to agree on what makes a fact, a fact. Until we agree on the facts, everyone would be a millionaire if they could manipulate the facts until they got the right answer. Given all the campaign clatter even recognized verifiable facts such as unemployment rates and stock market performance seem to fall victim to speculation as to what's the right answer let alone the final answer.
When candidates decide to change facts, we get into a game of fastest finger such that who ever changes the facts the quickest appears to be 'right.' When it comes to your vote (your final answer) will you vote for a candidate who enjoys offering flexible answers? Do you like playing it by ear too? Are you comfortable not knowing what answers the President may offer, and simply trust it'll be the right answer.
As we get ready for any debate, when we apply "Is that your final answer" to any response, we'll quickly discover just how flexible that candidate is. Next, ask yourself, do you believe such flexibility is an honorable trait in a U.S. president? Before you answer yes to valuing flexibility as an honorable trait, imagine signing any contract that includes the clause, "we reserve the right to change this contract at any time for any reason." Would you sign such a contract?
Romney's contract clearly changed on Wednesday night. Is this new centrist contract his final answer? Mr. Romney? Is this your final answer? If so, for how long?