I’ve had a full week of debates. I attended the Elizabeth Warren-Scott Brown debate on Monday at the University of Lowell. I watched the debacle last night between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. In this article, I want to talk about both of these debates, and it’s not going to be pretty.

Barack Obama Falls Asleep at the Switch

Whomever we saw last night at the first presidential debate, it wasn’t the Barack Obama of 2008. During the day yesterday, I told several people that I thought Obama was a great orator (even if I don’t truly believe he’s been a great president), and that Mitt Romney is a train wreck waiting to happen. But Barack Obama fell asleep at the switch, and Mitt Romney drove the train. ┬áRomney did what he does best: LIE. And Barack Obama allowed him to get away with it. This is the issue I’ve had with Obama from the day he was inaugurated: He dances with the devil a bit too much. During his first term, he tried to play ball with the GOP and squandered opportunities to make the real change the American people mandated in 2008. Worst of all, last night our president proved himself to be a man without conviction.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is a pathological liar. He lies so much that he thinks he’s telling the truth. In reality, the only time he’s really telling the truth is when you catch him off guard on video when he tells his rich benefactors what he really feels: Mitt Romney doesn’t give a shit about at least 47% of the population. Throw in women and LGBT Americans, and the percentage is actually higher than 47%. Shame on Mitt Romney for lying but, hey, we’re used to that. Shame on Barack Obama because Mitt Romney gave him enough lies to hang him with and Obama didn’t yank on the rope. Mitt Romney told numerous lies last night during the debate. In fact, Think Progress points out that Romney told 27 lies in 38 minutes. I can’t possibly address all of them in this piece, but I can address the most glaring.

Here it is: According to candidate Romney, he will repeal Obamacare, but people with pre-existing medical conditions won’t have a problem. In fact, Romney said that “pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.” That’s an outright lie. One of Romney’s top advisers admitted last night after the debate that people with pre-existing conditions will probably not be able to purchase health insurance after the repeal of Obamacare. Mitt Romney continues to vow the repeal of Obamacare and continues to talk about “my plan,” but does anybody really know what it is? Has anybody seen the plan anywhere? Is it anywhere but in the liar’s own head?

Here’s another: “I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut.” Well, Mitt, according to the economists at the Tax Policy Center, your cuts would amount to $360 billion in the first year and would extrapolate to $5 trillion over a decade. More glaring is the fact that Romney claims that he will pay for his tax cuts by closing tax loopholes and eliminating deductions. The problem? There aren’t enough of those to make the math work. The Tax Policy Center said about Romney’s nebulous plan that it would create a “net tax cut for higher income taxpayers and a net tax increase for lower- and or middle-income taxpayers.”

Nobody understands the Romney-Ryan plan. I’m pretty sure they have no idea what the hell they’re talking about. The fact is that everything about Romney’s campaign is nebulous. He speaks in generalities and doesn’t show anybody his plans. When Ryan was given an opportunity to explain the math behind the tax plan, he said he didn’t have time to go through all of the math. Oh, okay. We’ll just trust you clowns.

And yet another: “We’ve got 23 million people out of work or who have stopped looking for work in this country.” The official unemployed figure is actually 12.5 million. I’m not saying that isn’t bad. It is. But it’s not 23 million. As for those who have stopped looking for work, the figure is 2.6 million. How does Mr. Math inflate his number? He counts the 8+ million people who work part-time as being “out of work.”

I’d also like to talk briefly about Obamacare, which was based on the Massachusetts model called…Romneycare. Of course, Mitt liked the way it was done in Massachusetts. He raised fees, but he didn’t raise taxes. What he fails to mention is that he didn’t have to raise taxes since the federal government funded close to half of his reforms. Romney has stated he’d like to see the states adopt Romneycare. If that’s the case, it must be a great plan! And if it’s such a great plan, why not enact it nationwide? So, why are we repealing Obamacare again? Enlighten me here.

Like I said, I could go on. The lies and blatant misinformation didn’t stop here, but Barack Obama allowed them to continue. He was hesitant to call Mitt Romney the liar that he is, yet Mitt Romney didn’t have a problem calling the president a liar during the debate. This is no time to be a professor of decency. The gloves need to come off. Perhaps Obama was stunned by the sheer number of lies Mitt Romney was telling. Could he possibly call Mitt Romney a liar that many times on national television? No. And I’m not suggesting that. However, it is his job to call out Mitt Romney on the most blatant lies. The president was distracted and meandering. He stumbled on his words more than once. Frankly, he seemed totally unprepared. While the general consensus is that debates rarely turn an election, I wouldn’t suggest that Barack Obama go into the next one the same way. He needs to snap out of it.

Scott Brown Sounds Like a Desperate Man

Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown at Oct 1 debate

Photo by Deb Della Piana

I actually attended the Elizabeth Warren-Scott Brown debate on Monday. Elizabeth Warren has opened up a modest lead in the polls, and Brown is acting like a desperate man. Perhaps he’s under pressure from the GOP because this particular Senate race has been identified as one of the most critical in the nation, and I’m one that holds that opinion. Perhaps it is that pressure that has turned Scott Brown from the real issues to Elizabeth Warren’s Cherokee heritage. I don’t think that Scott Brown can stand on the issues that face the voters of either Massachusetts or the nation, because that is where his campaign has gone. He even has a web site dedicated to the issue. Really? It mystifies me because the vast majority of the people of Massachusetts do not care about this issue. I believe that the figure is approaching 70%. If that isn’t saying the issue of Warren’s heritage is irrelevant, I don’t know what is.

Even worse than Scott’s pursuit of the issue was the debate moderator’s fixation on the issue. David Gregory, moderator of “Meet the Press” and the Brown-Warren debate, managed to devote the first 18 minutes of a 60-minute debate to the issue of Warren’s Cherokee heritage. It was absurd. And once the door was open, Senator Brown kept going back to the issue over and over again. When he wasn’t talking about Warren’s heritage, he was talking about the economy, but offered little enlightenment about how to fix the economy. His simply kept repeating that he refuses to raise taxes, and used that excuse to justify his voting down three jobs bills that would have brought work not only to the nation but also to Massachusetts. Beyond these two issues, Brown reiterated his claims that he voted 50-50 in his first term…making him an Independent. Well, if he’s an Independent, he should run as an Independent and not as a member of the GOP.

On one of the final questions of the evening, Mr. Pro-Choice was asked to name his model Supreme Court Justice. His answer? Antonin Scalia. Antonin Scalia? The SJC member who has stated that he would cast a vote to overturn Roe v. Wade? So much for Senator Brown’s claim of being pro-choice (as if co-sponsoring the Blunt Amendments wasn’t indictment enough). When the audience erupted in boos over that answer, Brown scrambled around and started rattling off the names of several other current SJC judges. Suddenly they were all model Supreme Court justices. When Gregory called him on this and told him he was asked to choose one, Brown invoked the so-called beauty of being independent to justify his answer. He’s just plain full of shit.

Overall, it was a hell of a lot more lively than what we saw from Romney and Obama last night. I’d have to say that Warren kept on message about leveling the playing field and working for the middle class. This is what she has been saying from the very beginning. Brown was more aggressive, sometimes to the point of being rude. It’s safe to say that nobody delivered a knock-out punch.

What’s Wrong With these Debates Anyway?

Overall, political debates are disappointing. On a national level, let’s remember that they are all corporate sponsored. That’s a problem. The first change I’d make is to have them all funded by the government using taxpayer money. And I’d have the taxpayers submit questions for consideration so that the topics truly reflect what the American public identifies as the real issues. There are indeed many issues beyond the economy. That’s not the only thing people are worried about. Women are concerned. Immigrants are concerned. The LGBT community is concerned.

Another major issue is the format. I’m not sure how to fix that problem, but I know it needs to be fixed. I’ll have to think about that for a while. However, there is one thing I’m sure of: As a nation, we’ve become way too complacent. We make voting decisions on candidates who offer no actual plans or solid data to prove that their proposed plans will work. We are more concerned with style over substance. Somewhere along the line, once the debate topics have been decided, the candidates should have to post their concrete plans for the public to see. Now, there will be those who say that’s impossible. It’s impossible because we as a nation do not demand it. It’s like the Romney tax plan not adding up. You know, the “trust me” approach.

Keeping third-party candidates out of the debate process is just plain wrong. This is supposed to be a Democracy. What’s wrong with the American people hearing all sides? Nothing. In fact, many of the third party candidates actually have solid positions based on fact. Of course, the two major political parties don’t want anybody to see that.

Finally, we need to get rid of the members of the LAMESTREAM media as moderators. David Gregory over moderated and had too much to say. I’m now prepared to say that Jim Lehrer should never moderate a debate again. There are other options out there. We need someone who will keep control of the situation, and also challenge the candidates on the issues and their answers. Rachel Maddow? Matt Taibbi? Katrina vanden Heuvel? Amy Goodman? There’s nothing wrong with challenging these clowns. They are running for the highest office in the land. Let’s not over-respect them. They are supposed to be working for the American people.