I’ve had a thought all night long. I don’t claim that it is original. In fact, it seems kind of obvious. Romney supposedly won the debate. And yet the only really memorable line from the debate is a clear blunder, and it was by Mitt Romney. Obama didn’t have a bad performance so much as he had a boring performance. My initial reaction to Romney’s performance was that it was too aggressive and that he repeated the same talking points over and over. In fact, he said “$716 billion” five times! What’s more, his low level of disfluencies made me think that he was just spouting memorized lines—as he likely was.
I’m sure that his attack on PBS was similarly scripted. It’s pretty obvious, they knew Jim Lehrer was the moderator. But I think adding “Big Bird” may have been an ad lib. Or maybe his campaign made a mistake. I know I wouldn’t have flagged it as something that would go viral. I would have argued that whether people admitted it or not, they wanted to take a poke at Big Bird and would be delighted to see Romney do it.
Just like “You’re no Jack Kennedy” in 1982, the only thing people seem to remember about this most recent debate is that Romney wants to kill Big Bird. After all the grief that Obama and company got Wednesday night and Thursday, they’ve got to have been thanking God for Friday.