In The Dirt

 

My high school debate coach was a diminutive, brilliant woman named Susan. All of 5-foot nothing, she had enormous glasses, a high, raucous South Carolina accent and a mind like Google for obscure facts. Once, during a break in a debate competition where I’d blown an argument, she said something totally incongruous that snapped me out of a growing funk.

She cocked a finger and beckoned me to lean down. She whispered, “Stop thinking about making points. You know the arguments. You just go in there and knock his pecker in the dirt.”

That’s exactly what Mitt Romney should be thinking about tonight.

Debate training (under the extraordinarily capable tutelage of Rob Portman) will have prepared him with the facts and messages that work, driven by the research on what we need to move targeted voters. He’ll have a nice statement to open and close. He’ll have, as one of his consultants infelicitously leaked, “zingers” with which to tweak this notoriously thin-skinned President.

But in these battles, nothing substitutes for the knowledge that you’re going to knock the other guy down on the merits of being a better candidate and a better man. Mitt Romney will square off tonight against Barack Obama the man, with no intervening filter, and no contemporaneous hallelujah chorus of media. (The spin room will be a different fight, of course.)

Romney should walk on to the stage in Denver knowing he’s arguing against a man who is held aloft on a creaky, tottering artifice of broken jobs promises, failed policies and a promised age of social and economic miracles that never came. President Participation Trophy isn’t the giant, transformative figure of 2008: he’s got a record now, and it’s ugly.

Romney should be confident that the guy he’s debating has an economic track record no amount of blame-gaming George Bush, the evil rich, or whatever posse of oligarchical, private-jet-millionaire-and-billionaire strawmen he imagines can salvage. Barack Obama will promise everything, to everyone…but we’ve seen this movie.

We’ve seen “millions of green jobs” sink into a morass of cronyism and corruption … and Obama has promised more.

We’ve seen the maxing out of the national credit card, time and again … and Obama has promised to spend even more.

We’ve seen the lowest percentage of Americans actually working spun as a revival. Family income plunges and Obama promises a recovery … any minute now.

In short, we’ve seen America’s economic Ike Turner promise that he’ll be better this time, baby.

Romney should know he’s facing a man who is just the latest avatar of a discredited central-planning fantasy that almost always ends in North Korea, not Sweden.

Romney should walk to that podium knowing he’s on stage with a man who plays the role of President but lacks the qualities of one: responsibility, probity, trust in the goodness of the people, and an unshakable conviction that America’s blessings and sterling qualities outweigh our failings.

To be sure, Romney will face a powerfully compelling, at times brilliant, debater who doesn’t play by the Marquis of Queensbury rules … but that brilliant debater also comes with a glass jaw and a seething knot of resentments and anger that shows when he’s pushed. Obama will show no mercy when it comes to distorting Romney’s positions with this usual tumbrels-and-guillotines class-warfare claptrap. Romney should return the favor.

So go out there, Mitt, knowing you’re facing a peer, not a demigod. Go out there because you’ve ground it out just for this moment: toe-to-toe with Barack Obama the man, not Obama the media confection.

Go out there loaded for bear and ready to brawl with a diminished President and a lesser man.

Knock him in the dirt.

There are 17 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Member
    @Doc

    From you mouth to God’s ear.  I’ve been praying for what you’ve so eloquently outlined all morning. 

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Member
    @WICon
    Rick Wilson:  President Participation Trophy isn’t the giant, transformative figure of 2008: he’s got a record now, and it’s ugly.

    In short, we’ve seen America’s economic Ike Turner promise that he’ll be better this time, baby.

     

    That, is absolute Gold! Nice turn of a phrase brother.

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Member
    @Essgee

    In the dirt………ya.

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Member
    @WesternChauvinist

    Oorah! Whatever it is men do before going into battle, I hope someone does it for Mitt. Smear on some face paint. Strap on some armor. Whatever it takes to put him in full battle mode. Reading this post to him might be a good start.

    Meanwhile, I’ll be home praying for a devastating victory. 

    /what’s that? was that a whistle on the play? I didn’t know “pecker” was allowed at Ricochet. Perhaps in battle mode we laugh at whistles?! I hope so.

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Member
    @paulebe

    Inspiring post, Rick.  It must be incredibly difficult for any national candidate to screen out all the many consultants, officials, donors, supporters, & c. that say “do this” and “don’t do that!”  At some point, it is just you and your opponent (yes, and his pal the moderator in this case), both with your own fears, your own weaknesses.  In this case Mitt’s opponent is a representation of evil.  He should dispose of him, confidently, as a defender of righteousness and logical thinking.

    Let the battle begin. May the better man, dear Lord, win.

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Member
    @Lumimies

    Perfectly said, except for the third to last paragraph.  Romney is clearly facing a lesser man in every way that matters: preparation, experience, ability, knowledge, and personal character.  He’s not facing a peer.  I think when we finally see these two side by side, the contrast will be distinct and astounding.

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Member
    @dittoheadadt

    I hope their preparation consisted of watching McCain’s performance in 2008…and then planned to do the exact opposite of everything.

    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Member
    @genferei

    Of course Romney will be able to take advantage of Jim Lehrer’s searching questions:

    Mr President, your administration has been plagued by scandals, insider dealing and a disturbing willingness to lie to the American people. Why should we believe that a further four years will be any different?

    Governor Romney, your time as Governor of Massachusetts and rescuing the Winter Olympics showcased your no-nonsense ability to reach across the aisle and get results in the most trying of situations. What do you think have been the worst mistakes the President made during his term in office?

    Mr President, is the penalty to be assessed by the IRS against those who refuse to purchase government-mandated health insurance a tax, as the Supreme Court – including the justices appointed by you and previous Democratic Presidents –  ruled after an unprecedentedly thorough hearing, or not a tax, as you told the American people when trying to sell your scheme?

    Governor Romney, will you, tonight, before the people of America, give your solemn pledge that once you are sworn in as President you will instruct the Department of Justice to co-operate with the investigation into the President’s Fast & Furious scandal?

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Member
    @EdwardSmith

    Amen, Brother Wilson!

    [first 2 fingers of both hand crossed – I’d cross toes but am not that dextrous]

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Contributor
    @RickWilson

    Why, thank you!

    Kowaliczko Tom

    Rick Wilson:  President Participation Trophy isn’t the giant, transformative figure of 2008: he’s got a record now, and it’s ugly.

    In short, we’ve seen America’s economic Ike Turner promise that he’ll be better this time, baby.

    That, is absolute Gold! Nice turn of a phrase brother. · 1 hour ago

    • #10
  11. Profile Photo Contributor
    @RickWilson

    Point taken.

    lumimies: Perfectly said, except for the third to last paragraph.  Romney is clearly facing a lesser man in every way that matters: preparation, experience, ability, knowledge, and personal character.  He’s not facing a peer.  I think when we finally see these two side by side, the contrast will be distinct and astounding. · 30 minutes ago

    Edited 29 minutes ago

    • #11
  12. Profile Photo Member
    @BrianMcMenomy

    Extremely well said.  Confidence comes across in the visual medium.  Romney has the assurance that Rob Portman will have beaten him up one side & down the other to prepare for the assault coming his way.  Now, relax (someone get him a half-drunk bottle of Martinelli’s sparkling cider to carry away from the dinner table as a sight gag, a la Reagan in 1984) and show the country what a real President looks like.

    • #12
  13. Profile Photo Member
    @TheNewClearOption

    “…economic Ike Turner…”

    No description of The Won has ever topped ^^this!^^.

    • #13
  14. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @Patrickb63

    “In short, we’ve seen America’s economic Ike Turner promise that he’ll be better this time, baby.”

    I had never thought of BO in this fashion, but when you said it, it became obvious.  Obama has treated America as his punching bag, and expects us to like it. 

     

    • #14
  15. Profile Photo Member
    @BarbaraKidder
    lumimies: Perfectly said, except for the third to last paragraph.  Romney is clearly facing a lesser man in every way that matters: preparation, experience, ability, knowledge, and personal character.  He’s not facing a peer.  I think when we finally see these two side by side, the contrast will be distinct and astounding. · 1 hour ago

    Edited 1 hour ago

    …to us, but not to ‘the unwashed masses’;  beauty is in the eye of the beholder, sad to say…

    • #15
  16. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Rick, it is wonderful that you talk about your debate coach from high school. She was obviously an important influence in your life.

    Your attitude is something I see with right leaning men, they do talk about the women in their lives in such an affirming way. 

    the War on women issue has got to be part of the right’s platform but in the way you exemplified. Thank you for sharing the terrific debate coaching too.

    • #16
  17. Profile Photo Member
    @AaronMiller

    The electorate is not a debate club. Swing voters are not thirsting for an intellectual smackdown.

    Political debates are battles of charisma. Being correct is less important than appearing strong and likeable while making the other guy look petty and confused.

    As you said, Obama has a glass jaw. Getting him off balance by threatening his massive ego is the key to winning this debate. Challenge the President to laugh at himself. He can’t do it.

    • #17

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