Elliot: Duh-bait


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So the Good Ship Mitt won the debate with President Obama last week, and the pundit world goes wild.

(I’m, obviously, not part of the pundit universe; I’m kind of off in the pun-dat world. It’s an Irish sort of thing.)

During the debate on the evening of Oct. 3, the publisher asked me who I believed was winning the debate. Obama, I said immediately, for reasons I’m not sure about. Maybe hope. Remember hope?

I mean, Obama has a history of not being a very good debater, the way they’re set up. Hillary Rodham Clinton basically had him for lunch in the 2008 Democratic debates. But who won the nomination?

I lied about Obama on Oct. 3, which I don’t tend to do with the publisher on any date; we’ve been friends for a long time, although if you measure things in geological time, we’ve been friends for a nanosecond.

(There’s a reason we humans don’t measure time in geological time, because if we did, we’d barely exist. There’s perhaps a lesson in that.)

I lied because former Gov. Mitt Romney, a shape-changer par excellence, was having President Obama for lunch, dinner, breakfast, brunch, and appetizer, and he would have had Obama for hors d’oeuvres if Romney could speak French.

Well, yes, it’s not necessary for presidential candidates to speak French; for one thing, almost nobody but the French do. And what have the French ever done for us? I mean, outside of winning the Revolutionary War for us. And giving us French fries. (Of course, the French don’t call them French fries, they call them pommes frites. But then, the French don’t call the English Channel the English Channel, they call it the Sleeve. The French; you gotta love them.)

Presidential candidates could at least be able to repeat Gen. “Black Jack” Pershing’s words in Paris: “Lafayette, nous sommes ici.” Yes, I know; Pershing never actually said those words in 1918 as the American troops arrived to cheering French crowds (imagine that — the French cheering the arrival of American troops). Pershing’s colonel delivered the speech, because Pershing had the flu. But from what I understand, Americans’ accent in French is much better when they have the flu. Or at least a cold. 

That presidential debate last week — as do all presidential debates — resembled a real debate about as much as Fiats resemble real cars.

Said the old-time debater, who has participated in many, many debates being judged by real judges, not members of the media, who seem to be vastly impressed by shrillness rather than facts. By that measure, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly win every “debate.” By fiat.

Said old-time debater once owned a Fiat. Granted, used. Said Fiat spent most of its time broken-down in the driveway (gravel), seemingly, and stubbornly, unimpressed by oil changes, tune-ups, carburetor replacements (yes, that’s how old), battery replacements, and general whackings of the engine with stout wrenches (an age-old Irish ploy that always works, except … well). The Fiat eventually became one with the weeds, in a pseudo-Zen sort of way, thus reducing my carbon footprint. Good work, Fiat.

I wonder if Obama ever drove a Fiat, not that, in my experience, you ever actually drive a Fiat. The way he performed in the debate, he certainly looked as if he was driving a Fiat.

Oh, the week wasn’t all bad for the prez; he raised a ton of money in September, and unemployment finally fell below 8 percent.

Naturally, Republicans immediately cried foul about the unemployment data; they whined that the data were cooked. As Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman, also a New York Times columnist pointed out, there are no political appointees in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (the agency that puts out that data).

But then, Republicans tend to live on grassy knolls.

And if George W. Bush is any example, they rule by fiat.

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