Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Quickie debate summary

After my earlier "what a waste of time" post, I have to say, I haven't been so happy about the state of America since Osama bin Laden was killed as I am after watching that debate. Not that I'm taking the main point back about the need for a third party, but, yeah, I'm pleased. This was a rarity, probably the best presidential debate I've ever seen. I wasn't bored for a second. This was Romney from the first few Republican debates, completely in charge without seeming overbearing.

Even on MSNBC - many of them were saying that Romney had won I watched five stations' post debate wrap up. It was a sweep, even if there was more quibbling on MSNBC and CNN.  Fox News' Frank Luntz had his usual focus group. There's no bias here. These are real people, 13 of 24 of whom came in supporting Obama. In 2008 the focus group gave it to Obama after each debate. Here, a number of them said they switched who they were going to vote for. That is very rare. Luntz said in all the years he had done this, he has never seen such a switch.

Why did Romney win? I don't know whether he believes it, but he said things that were true without going overboard. He made sure that he first said, we need regulations, before he explained we don't want them to crush business. He repeatedly struck down anything the president said that was untrue about him or the economy. And, when the president said you get a deduction for shipping jobs overseas, Romney smushed him. And, I have to say, to Obama's credit, he nodded, yeah, I goofed up with that. Watch the Luntz video if you can find it. Almost every single person in the focus group said Romney exceeded and Obama failed to meet expectations.

But, I don't like to repeat what everyone else is saying. I have 3 points. First, Obama did not do all that bad. He actually wasn't bad at all. The whole teleprompter thing is nonsense. What happened was that Romney simply knocked the ball out of the park. I was a little worried he was going to do just the opposite as he has been stumbling ever since his trip to London during the Olympics.

But, I don't like to repeat what everyone else is saying, so I want to make 4 points I haven't heard anywhere.

First, Obama really did not do all that bad. He did fairly well, whether I agree with him or not. It is that Romney did so well.

Second, don't underestimate Obama and his team. They are good at this. Overall, leaving aside tonight, they seem better at this than Romney's team.  They will come back. I expect we will see a lot of President Obama on tv soon and saying a lot of the things that Romney is saying, to try and steal his thunder.

Three - and this is most important. Romney still has to win - just for starters - Florida, Virginia and Ohio. Perhaps the first two, which are close, may swing to Romney after tonight. Perhaps not. But, I do not see how he swings Ohio.

Last, not as important, but Jim Lehrer did a good job, despite not being able to shut Romney up sometimes. His questions were good and actually helped distinguish the two.

So, short term, I'll eat a little crow. Good debate as far as they go. 


  1. A gazillion word post about how it all sucks,followed by wow, gosh, golly, what a great debate I wasn't bored for a second. You waffle worse than Aunt Jemima and John Kerry.

  2. I can't believe I actually hit the publish button on his comments.

  3. Conchis5:04 AM

    Sorry, David, but I couldn't disagree more. Obama was simply terrible. His mind seemed to be engaged somewhere else; he was passionless; he took no swings at any of the gopher balls lobbed by Romney; and he seemed afflicted with the same "I must be polite and concilliatory" fever which prevailed during his first 2 years as president (utterly disregarding the mandate the voters gave him at the polls)and which emboldened and empowered his political opponents (including the Tea Party)to reach their current "nothing good for the country will be permitted to happen on Obama's watch" stance. In letter grades, I'd give him an "F" --especially since we've seen him as a brilliant stump speaker in his last election. But, David, as poorly as he performed, I never saw Obama nodding in agreement with anything his opponent said.

    Romney clearly won this debate -- but he did so with rudeness to Jim Lehrer (of whom I'll write soon); with positions that were minted just for the occaision (like no decrease in present highest marginal income tax rate); and positions that either betrayed his more conservative base or were simply untrue (cutting taxes will be revenue neutral; increased defense spending will not add to the deficit). I would give Romney a C- for his "performance" -- a word I use advisedly -- based mostly because Romney was passionate and engaged.

    Lastly, for me, the biggest loser of the evening (and believe me it was hard to find a bigger loser of the evening than Obama)was my much beloved Jim Lehrer. Yes, David, he asked some good questions -- but he immediately ceded control of the debate to the candidates. He started by allowing Romney to ignore all rules; to go off topic when a question was difficult for him; and to run on spewing mantras (Romney as newly hatched champion of the middle class -- although most of them are within his 47% are victims status)which were unresponsive. The only "smart" thing that Obama did was recognize early on that Lehrer was out of control and that he, like Romney, could ignore all rules. If it's possible to award a letter grade lower that "F", I'd say that Lehrer deserved it.

  4. Well, hello, Conchis. As to the nod - I watched this a few times. Go to the place where Romney said - I have been in business for 25 years and I never heard of such a thing (deduction for taking business overseas). Seems to me that Obama nodded in agreement. Certainly it would be beneficial for Obama to point out the law if there were one, and he realized he overstretched.

    The rules of debates are strange. While it is true that Romney did talk over him, he has garnered a lot of praise, even from some Obama supporters for insisting on clearing up the record (whether it actually did so or not, is a matter of opinion). Some people are looking for a candidate who is assertive.

    If you watch Obama during the 2008 campaign, he was very much the same. This is the no-drama Obama he likes to portray. It worked last time and people saw him.

    They are closing the library I am in, but, thanks for your comment.


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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .