Again, ask Ed Brayton what real debates consist of, he was a debate coach and I don’t know much. My understanding is a body of fact exists that each side is held to and points are awarded, with a real winner and a real loser at the end of the night. What we call the Winner of these spectacles hinge mostly around what the most detached, uninformed voters pick up in style and body language from a few minutes of back and forth. In that inexact context this is quickly emerged as one of the key exchanges:
HuffPo — ROMNEY: Our Navy is old — excuse me, our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917. The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission. We’re now at under 285. We’re headed down to the low-200s if we go through a sequestration. That’s unacceptable to me.
I want to make sure that we have the ships that are required by our Navy. Our Air Force is older and smaller than at any time since it was founded in 1947….
OBAMA: You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.
And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting slips. It’s what are our capabilities. And so when I sit down with the secretary of the Navy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we determine how are we going to be best able to meet all of our defense needs in a way that also keeps faith with our troops, that also makes sure that our veterans have the kind of support that they need when they come home.
BA-ZING! … This comment was delivered with complete authenticity from a man who radiated authority, telegraphing loud and clear that he has indeed sat in that CoC chair, pouring over the data and listening to advisors, before making the hard, life and death decisions this WH has effectively negotiated. Fox tried to spin the response by claiming Obama doesn’t know anything, marines still use bayonets, but the effect on social media was electric:
The “horses and bayonets” comment delighted the Twittersphere: The hashtag #horsesandbayonets became the number one trend on Twitter in the U.S. and third in the world. At one point, the phrase was mentioned on Twitter nearly 60,000 times in one minute, according to data from Tospy, a social web analytics tool. The Obama campaign capitalized on the traffic, buying the search term “Bayonets” on Twitter, HuffPost’s Mat Yurow noted.
Within minutes of Obama’s comment, a “Horses and Bayonets” Tumblr featuring GIFs and images went live, and a Horses and Bayonets Facebook page already has more than 3,000 likes.
It’s unfortunate that we don’t have substantial discussions in a nationally televised debate beyond who can best equip the military or whup up on bands of far flung terrorist fundamentalist nutcases. There are many issues where Romney could engage indy voters, even ones like me: from GitMo and torture and even privatized prisons in light of the Bill of Rights, to our tragic, failed drug policy both overseas and within our borders. Those are just a couple of items where Obama is as guilty of sort-sighted political expediency — arguably more so by some measures some metrics — as George w Bush ever was. But we don’t get to have that conversation front and center.
So where are we overall with the election two weeks from today? Obama’s prior performance in Debate Deux seems to have put a stop to Romney’s mojo from Debate Uno. Going in into The Last Debate the popular vote apparently paused oh so briefly at a dead heat, with the President maintaining a narrow, fragile lead in the electoral college. In short Romney could still win, handily, and if he does the first thing he strangles in its crib will be the healthcare reform we fought to get for the last three decades, the Obamacare that will probably save me and millions of other citizens from needless suffering and death, and the Medicare that will give us a fighting chance to live out a few golden years with some measure of pain-free dignity.
From here on out it’s all about the candidates’ respective ground games. Which boils down to getting out the vote vs. voter suppression, not just in key battleground states like Pennsylvania and Ohio and a dozen others, but in those where Obama holds a solid lead. And that means, my godless communisto-fascist redistributors, it’s all down to you and me to do what we can to get our voters out in droves.