So, I saw Paranormal Activity 4 on Monday night. Short review: Pretty disappointing, but I’ll still go to Paranormal Activity 5 on opening night.
I am happy to report, however, that my skills as a political prognosticator took a big hit from the debate. You see, one reason I was especially unenthusiastic about watching the debate in real time was that I was certain it would be a disaster for Obama. I figured Romney would just fire off the standard Republican talking points. You know the litany. Obama’s weakness led to Benghazi and Syria. He threw Israel under the bus. China and Russia push him around. He goes to the Arab world and apologizes for America. Blah blah blah. All nonsense, but all pre-chewed and easily digestible for low-information voters. I figured Obama would be on the defensive all night, and why did I want to spend ninety minutes watching that?
Boy was I wrong! Romney, as usual, just pretended that the previous year of campaigning never happened and jettisoned every position he had ever taken. He couldn’t embrace Obama quickly enough. He took the daring and controversial position of being pro-peace. The scuttlebutt among the pundits was that Romney must have had internal numbers showing that suburban women didn’t like his blatant disrespect for the President in previous debates. Romney probably figures that the base is on board now, and they will know better than to take seriously anything he is currently saying.
The pundits were also quick to make it clear that while there is no question that Obama won “on points,” savvy, sophisticated people understand that such things Do Not Matter. Never mind that Obama knew where all the countries were and spoke confidently about his policies, while Romney thinks that Syria is Iran’s route to the sea. Never mind that Romney plainly had never used the word “Pashtun” in a sentence prior to Monday night, and that his little soliloquy on the structure of Pakistan’s government came straight from Wikipedia. No. What matters is that Romney passed “the Commander-in-Chief test,” and that he assured the low-information voters that he is not a war-mongering fanatic.
I saw a telling exchange on MSNBC this morning. The pundits were all showing their profound seriousness by pointing out the irrelevance of substance and the cynical savviness of Romney’s debate strategy. Then one panelist suggested that maybe the voters were not as stupid as the pundits were suggesting. They may not know the fine points of difficult foreign policy questions, but they know when someone is faking it. She pointed to the dominant opinions on social media, which were generally mocking of Romney. The other pundits just scoffed at that idea and shook their heads sadly at such naivete. Sadly, they were probably right to do so.
In other news, here’s the latest in the Republican War on Women:
Indiana GOP U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock declared Tuesday night he opposes aborting pregnancies conceived in rape because “it is something that God intended to happen.”
Debating Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) in their final Senate race showdown, a questioner asked them and Libertarian candidate Andrew Horning to explain their views on abortion.
All three said they were anti-abortion. But Mourdock went the further, putting himself in territory near Missouri GOP Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin, the anti-abortion congressman who infamously asserted that women don’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape.”
“The only exception I have to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother,” said Mourdock, the Tea Party-backed state treasurer. “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Rape is something that God intends to happen. Charming.
Make no mistake, that is not a fringe view among Republicans. That’s the mainstream view. All Republicans of any prominence either believe precisely that, or are unwilling to offer anything but the most tepid criticism of those who do. If women did not already have the right to vote, the modern Republican Party would not support giving it to them.
As always, though, maybe I’m missing the forest for the trees. In Missouri, Claire McCaskill has a solid lead over Todd “legitimate rape” Akin. What should have been a sold Republican pick-up is now a nearly certain hold for the Democrats. Prior to the Indiana debate, that Senate race was already a dead heat. Now there’s a real possibility that it will be a Democratic pick-up. The latest polls in Massachusetts suggest that Elizabeth Warren finally has things under control. At the Presidential level, we know that in my own state of Virginia, the extreme anti-woman rhetoric from the Republicans does not play well. Gov. McDonnell probably scuppered his chance to be the Vice-Presidential nominee when his initial support for an invasive ultrasound bill led to a severe backlash among women. Hopefully all of those women will show up at the polls in November. And the polls in Ohio are still solidly in Obama’s favor.
We’ll find out soon enough. Only one poll that matters and all that…