Saturday, October 06, 2012
Presidential Debate #1: Why the analysts are wrong!
There is an accepted wisdom about the first Presidential debate between Obama and Romney. I didn’t watch it live. I rarely watch debates or conventions because I find these events almost painful to watch. I don’t need to watch two people debate to find out who’s the candidate that most closely reflects my values. There are other, better ways of doing that. I don’t need to hear dozens of people give carefully scripted speeches to form an opinion of parties and candidates. It’s like watching non-stop commercials. Who wants to subject themselves to that?
The morning after the debate I went to the Internet and found out that Romney had wiped the floor with Obama who, according to many both Right and Left, mostly wasn’t there. The Left was so shocked that they created theories … from drugs, to altitude to secret handkerchiefs to explain their champion’s loss. Romney partisans applauded him for finally coming out of his shell, for his energy, for his enthusiasm, for his good natured attitude, for a taking the fight to Obama, for finally showing us what he could do.
Wow!!! I thought to myself, I have to see this. My wife recorded the debate and so I was able to view it in its entirety. I clicked the "play" button and prepared to be entertained. As time went on I wondered what people were seeing that I was not. Don’t get me wrong, I am a Romney supporter. I intend to vote for him. I look forward to an economic recovery unhampered by the job killing, economy destroying, crony-socialist policies of the Obama administration. I think Romney is honest, smart, clean and able to allow America to escape from the mire we’re in.
But … and here’s a BIG but ... the people I saw on that stage were the same people I had seen any number of times leading up to the debate. The same people acting pretty much the same way and saying many of the same things they have been saying all this election cycle. Except now they were saying them to each other’s faces.
I didn’t get it. Obama was not on drugs or suffering from altitude sickness, he was the same Obama we had seen many times before. Obama is a declaimer, not a debater. Give him a speechwriter and a TelePrompTer and he’ll rabble rouse with the best of them. Speaking improvisationally, he's gaffe prone ("You didn't build that") and literally gets lost in his sentences. This is evident in his press conferences in which he filibusters the compliant White House press corps in order to run out the clock from even the puff ball questions he gets asked. He has a supply of talking points and he repeats them during his public appearances. His comfort zone is limited to those talking points and he will not get beyond them. His debate demeanor is amused contempt, an expression he showed during the debate with Romney.
Perhaps the commentators have been watching too much of the press coverage of this campaign. The typical TV news coverage starts by telling us that the polls show the race is over and the election is superfluous. This is followed by a clip, a few seconds in length, typically of Obama giving a speech to students at East Cupcake Junior College promising them all free education and top executive positions after graduation, even the Theater Arts majors. This is followed by Andrea Mitchell telling us that Romney’s war on women intensified as he refused to denounce Rush Limbaugh as the anti-Christ, and that martyred Sandra Fluke still has to pay for her own birth control. In a related development Romney ignored a demand by the increasingly influential Nuns for Choice that priests perform abortions on their altars after the Mass. And did you know Romney was a Mormon?
For some reason, I thought that the talking heads had a better, more realistic view of the candidates than the farmer in Kansas or this guy analyzing the candidates via a computer screen. I thought that because they have the opportunity to see them up close and personal they knew their strengths and weaknesses. I thought that was their job. Apparently I was wrong.