Last Night’s Imaginary Substance


Kerry Howley believes that debates have simply become "empty promises made well." What she saw last night:

What Romney and Obama brought last night was a glorious rhetoric of specificity, though specific to a world not ours. To paraphrase Ross Douthat, it was the most wonkish debate in recent memory, and it was all nonsense. … This is a certain kind of mastery over non-facts, and I find it genuinely impressive. When forced into a misleading statement lesser intelligences will gravitate toward the general, but Obama and Romney have command of the fake particulars, and bat them around with considerable facility. Fake fact-giving is harder than truth-telling, and rather more fun to watch. I like the two worlds we learned about last night; I would prefer to live in one of them.

(Photo: Bar patrons watch the first US Presidential debate at Bullfeathers, a historic bar just feet from the US Capitol, on October 3, 2012. By Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)