Debates, to the extent they reveal something of importance about the candidates, matter.
This debate last night mattered.
Consonant with Mitt Romney's bizarre sense of political entitlement in the campaign that Romney owes the American people only what he feels like telling the American people because he is ... well ... Mitt Romney is what appears to be an anti-social, personality disorder.
Romney seems pathologically convinced of his own importance—his rightful position to power and his related view that seemingly everyone owes him deference and obedience—that he attempted last night to bully and demand of the president of United States that Mr. Obama answer Romney's veritable interrogation that was often based upon Romney's false version of history.
So blatantly false were Romney's mini-filibusters that at one point—in the only time in recent history a debate moderator felt compelled to straighten out the record in such a fashion in a presidential, general election debate—moderator Candy Crowley corrected Romney on a fact regarding the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya killing an U.S. Ambassador, a computer specialist in the state department and two contractors who are former Navy SEALs, including a civil rights activist.
"When moderator Candy Crowley quickly fact-checked Romney's allegation and determined that the president was correct -- that he did indeed call it 'an act of terror' at that time -- Romney appeared reckless, desperate and embarrassed," notes J. P. Green in an understated description of the exchange that will dominate the news for several days.
President Obama handled Romney using facts, logic and history, calling to mind Ambassador Adlai Stevenson calmly and resolutely prevailing over Soviet Ambassador Valerian Zorin on the world stage 50 years ago this month.
Not in Romney's embrace of the fanatical neo-fascism of the GOP and Tea Party's mass movement, and the authoritarian Mormonism in which Romney occupies a top position in this despotic movement marked by "secrecy, deception and bigotry." (Renato Wardle. CounterPunch, October 5-7, 2012)
Rather, Hoffer's true believer is seen in Romney in his radical mobility of self-proclaimed deep personal commitments and his portable ethics displayed to join forces with whatever movements Romney finds useful for the moment.
Hoffer sees such a personality type as Romney's as the result of inadequacies and weakness. "The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause," writes Hoffer.
While weakness and inadequacy of a proletarian 'common man' may not seem on the surface to be the traits of Willard Mitt Romney, I would argue that it is precisely the tin-plated, self-entitled, dictatorial leverage buy-out artist playing with American families' livelihoods who embodies the weak, the inadequate and the insecure—Hoffer's true believer.
The follower is every bit the true believer as the leader of a mass movement.
Wisconsin writer, Jeff Simpson nailed it: Romney's answer to every question is: "Whatever you want to hear, that's my answer."
Obama's rejoinder to Romney, whom I believe is a genuinely sick man, was heard loud and clear last night in the final words of the debate from the two candidates.
But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about.
Folks on Social Security who've worked all their lives. Veterans who've sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country's dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don't make enough income.
And I want to fight for them. That's what I've been doing for the last four years. Because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds.
When my grandfather fought in World War II and he came back and he got a G.I. Bill and that allowed him to go to college, that wasn't a handout. That was something that advanced the entire country. And I want to make sure that the next generation has those same opportunities. That's why I'm asking for your vote and that's why I'm asking for another four years.