I can't help myself. The Buddhist in me tells I should be equanimous, but I woke angry in the middle of the night and, breathe as I might, I have not been able to dispel the anger. I promised myself to be less political in The Buddha Diaries, but there it is: I can't help myself.
The pundits were telling us, before last night's Great Debate--as they had billed it: the most important political event in living memory, if not in the entire history of the country, perhaps the world!--they were assuring us that such occasions reveal the real man. In Romney's case, that proved disastrously true. And the real Romney turned out to be a steroid version of the same man we have been watching all along: a man so desperate for the power of the presidential office that he will do anything, say anything to achieve that end.
They had rebooted him in aggressive mode for the debate. We in the television audience were subjected to his (pace, Buddha!) oily smile and self-righteously confident harangue for what seemed like a great deal more than his time share. We have become familiar with his eagerness to backtrack on any previous action, position or policy proposal to suit his present purpose, and last night was no exception. He dodged and ducked expertly, loudly and glibly disavowing much of what he has embraced publicly in the the course of years of campaigning, denying that his words meant what he once said they did, affecting new positions to compensate for those that had provoked justified public outrage. He transformed himself, with a heavy dose of rhetoric, into a middle-class loving, poor-embracing, deficit-cutting magician, able with a turn of phrase to reduce taxes for everyone, increase military spending, and at the same time avoid cuts in anything, it seemed, but funding for Jim Lehrer and Big Bird.
Republican pundits may gloat over his overbearing performance and promote it as a demonstration of "strength" and "leadership." I saw a man exposing an inner character that lacks both pity or remorse, a man whose ruthlessness knows no bounds--but who cloaks that harsh inner being in unctuous expressions of empathy. I call his performance the most breathtaking, hectoring display of political mendacity I can remember, and can only hope that the American electorate will not be fooled by the deceptions, distortions and outright lies with which we were bombarded last night. And yes, I'm angry.