Posts Tagged ‘Debate’

Third Time Pays for All

October 23, 2012

I watched the third debate last night, but I was tired and didn’t really pay much attention. I got the impression that Romney was a little less steady than he was in the other two debates. I noticed that Obama really gave the impression that he did not want to be there at all. He was more aggressive in attacking Romney but his face settled into a frown while Romney was talking.

I don’t think that Obama enjoys the political process all that much. He likes giving soaring speeches to cheering crowds but he doesn’t enjoy being questioned or challenged. Or maybe he feels he is somehow above working at campaigning for re-election, or that sharing a platform with Governor Romney is demeaning somehow. Whatever the case, he is not enjoying himself and it shows.

I am not sure how much these debates actually tell us about the candidates. The skills needed to do well in the debates are not much like the skills needed to be a successful president. It is really not necessary for a president to know all the policy details, that is what his staff is for. It is also not necessarily good for a president to make quick decisions. No president ever says anything in public that is not carefully considered. Obama has been ridiculed for his excessive use of the teleprompter, but considering that any stray comment the president makes might have profound implications all over the world, it is probably better if he doesn’t speak extemporaneously.

On the other hand, perhaps the debates do tell us something about each man’s character. We see the candidate unfiltered by the media and his protective staff. His debating style might tell us what kind of president he is likely to be. In a way, the debates are like a trial by single combat, only with words instead of weapons. We might just as well have the two candidates arm wrestle. That might be more entertaining. It would be a whole lot easier to determine who won.

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The Second Debate

October 17, 2012

I was only able to watch the first half hour of the debate last night. I don’t think I missed much since as far as I can tell, that first thirty minutes set the pattern for the rest of the debate. President Obama did a much better job than he did in the first debate, but then, he could scarcely do worse. I don’t think that Romney was quite as good as last time. Still, he was in command of all the details in a way that is simply not in Obama’s nature.

This was a “town-hall” format, in which an audience of undecided voters ask the questions of the candidates. The questions had to be submitted in advance. I do not know who picked the questions that were asked. I have to wonder about anyone who is honestly undecided at this point. Surely anyone who has been paying attention has a preference, either for or against one of these men.

I think that everyone accomplished what the set out to do. In general, Romney would speak eloquently of his plans for the future and criticize Obama’s record. Obama was combative and mostly said variants of, “you are a liar”. He kept repeating the charge that Romney wasn’t telling the truth, while saying little to defend his own record. He took credit for the expanding oil and coal production in the US, which is odd because he has been doing his best to shut down out fossil fuel industries. Romney pounced on Obama for that and for his plans to reduce the deficit. Romney made the very obvious point that Obama had doubled the deficit in the last four years so why should he be suddenly interested in balancing the budget. Obama responded with a reminder that Romney is rich and for the rich. The moderator, Candy Crowley, did her job well. She tried her best to tilt the playing field in Obama’s favor. Romney was really debating two people this evening, Obama and Crowley.

I understand that the debate grew quite bellicose after a time. It would have been quite a treat if they had actually physically attacked one another. I would pay quite a lot to see a fist fight between Romney and Obama.

So, who won? It’s hard to say. I am not sure if winning or losing something like this really means anything. Obama did well enough so the Democrats may think they have a chance in November. Romney held his own so Republicans need not feel despondent. More than that I cannot say.

 

Doogie Howser Vs. Mr. Wilson

October 12, 2012

I watched the Vice-Presidential debate last night and it was interesting. Paul Ryan turned out to be knowledgeable, well spoken, sincere, and young. For the first time in my life, there is a candidate for the highest office in the land who seems younger than me. I know Ryan can’t be much younger than me and still qualify as a Vice-Presidential candidate and a quick check on Wikipedia shows that he is about a year younger than I am, still he came across as almost boyish. I half expected his voice to crack. Still, for all his youth he carried himself with dignity.

If Paul Ryan was the boy wonder, than Joe Biden was Mr. Wilson, that cantankerous old man who is always yelling at the kids to get off his lawn. He was rude and disrespectful, continually interrupting Ryan and even the moderator. At first, while Ryan was speaking, Biden kept grinning and even laughing, even when the topic was as serious as Iran’s possible acquisition of nuclear weapons. He all but called Ryan a liar several times. As the debate went on Biden became less jolly and more angry, shouting all of his answers and generally behaving like a jackass. Strangely, Ryan remained calm and poised and did his best to get his points across. That couldn’t have been easy for him.

Who won this debate? I am not sure. I think Ryan did the better job but I am prejudiced, not just because Ryan is the Republican, but also because I think Biden acted like a bullying jerk. I do not like bullying jerks.

I imagine that the more devoted Democrats think that Biden did a terrific job. No doubt, they are boasting to one another that Biden stood up to Ryan’s lies, he kept attacking him, etc. But then, these are the sort of people who think that it is appropriate to tell a 12 year-old boy his parents should have aborted him because they have a Romney sign in their yard, or to tweet about assassinating Mitt Romney. I am not sure sure how Biden’s behavior will be seen by more normal people. It would seem that Biden hasn’t impressed the people of Iowa.

The Vice-Presidential debate probably won’t change the dynamics of the race much. After all, no one really pays much attention to the Vice-President. I do think that Biden’s debate behavior reflects very badly upon him. It is obvious that he has no respect for the dignity of the office he holds, nor with his generally buffoonish demeanor,  can he ever be taken seriously as a leader. If Obama is reelected, he had better be extra careful with his health and safety. Speaking of Obama, Joe Biden’s behavior also reflects badly on the one who picked him as his running mate. I hope that Obama does not draw the wrong lesson from yesterday evening’s debate and decide that he needs to be aggressive. Obama should be more assertive than he was in the first debate and he needs to take the debates more seriously, but if he attempts to be a bullying jerk, like Biden, it will cost him.

 

 

Straight Talking Joe Biden

October 11, 2012

The Vice-Presidential debate is this evening and I am sure it will be fun to watch. Meanwhile, I received the latest update from the Truth Team regarding all of the lies that Paul Ryan has been saying. I think they believe that if they say liar often enough, people will start to believe it. We’ll see.

David —

Over the course of his career, Joe Biden has always said exactly what he means, and people know they can count on the Vice President to be straight with them.

You can’t say the same about Paul Ryan.

Out on the campaign trail, Ryan has followed Mitt Romney’s lead — making a habit of misrepresenting or flat-out denying his unpopular, extreme positions, while distorting President Obama’s record. Both Romney and Ryan know that if they’re honest with the American people about their proposals and their records, it’ll hurt their chances to win the election.

Actually, that is sort of the problem with Joe Biden. He really does say whatever happens to be on his mind and he seems to lack the filter most of us have that keeps us from saying stupid or inappropriate comments.

 

I do hope that Paul Ryan is not underestimating Biden. Granted, that would be hard to do, but we really don’t need to be overconfident at this stage in the game. For that matter, I hope that no one is showing Romney and Ryan the latest polls. They need to campaign as though they are five points behind.

 

 

Maureen Dowd is a Twit Too

October 7, 2012

Again, no surprises there. In her latest column, Dowd imagines a post-debate conversation between Barack Obama and The West Wings’s Josiah Bartlett.

The lights from the presidential motorcade illuminate a New Hampshire farmhouse at night in the sprawling New England landscape. JED BARTLET steps out onto his porch as the motorcade slows to a stop.

BARTLET(calling out) Don’t even get out of the car!

BARACK OBAMA(opening the door of his limo) Five minutes, that’s all I want.

BARTLET Were you sleepy?

OBAMA Jed —

BARTLET Was that the problem? Had you just taken allergy medication? General anesthesia?

OBAMA I had an off night.

BARTLET What makes you say that? The fact that the Cheesecake Factory is preparing an ad campaign boasting that it served Romney his pre-debate meal? Law school graduates all over America are preparing to take the bar exam by going to the freakin’ Cheesecake Factory!

OBAMA(following Bartlet inside) I can understand why you’re upset, Jed.

BARTLET Did your staff let you know the debate was gonna be on television?

OBAMA (looking in the other room) Is that Jeff Daniels?

BARTLET That’s Will McAvoy, he just looks like Jeff Daniels.

OBAMA Why’s he got Jim Lehrer in a hammerlock?

BARTLET That’s called an Apache Persuasion Hold. McAvoy thinks it’s the responsibility of the moderator to expose — what are they called? — lies.

WILL(shouting) Did Obama remove the work requirement from Welfare-to-Work?!

LEHRER No!

WILL And you didn’t want to ask Romney about that because? It would’ve been impolite?!

Again, we see the idea that Jim Lehrer should have been actively covering for Barack Obama instead of being a fair and unbiased moderator.

I have not watched a single episode of The West Wing, but I gather it tells the story of a Democratic President in a strange, alternate universe in which liberal ideas are actually popular in America and Democrats can win without pretending to be moderates. Also, Liberals in this world are intelligent and articulate and do not have to resort to name calling. I know it is an incredible premise but the show was on for seven years, so I suppose it offered some consolation for Liberals who found the real world too harsh.

But the main point here is that Dowd repeats the idea that will soon become the conventional wisdom on that first debate, that Romney defeated Obama not because he is a better debater, or that his ideas are superior, but because he kept lying and Obama was simply too astonished by his blatant prevarications to reply.

BARTLET All right! (back to OBAMA) And that was quite a display of hard-nosed, fiscal conservatism when he slashed one one-hundredth of 1 percent from the federal budget by canceling “Sesame Street” and “Downton Abbey.” I think we’re halfway home. Mr. President, your prep for the next debate need not consist of anything more than learning to pronounce three words: “Governor, you’re lying.” Let’s replay some of Wednesday night’s more jaw-dropping visits to the Land Where Facts Go to Die. “I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don’t have a tax cut of a scale you’re talking about.”

OBAMA The Tax Policy Center analysis of your proposal for a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut in all federal income tax rates, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, the estate tax and other reductions, says it would be a $5 trillion tax cut.

BARTLET In other words …

OBAMA You’re lying, Governor.

BARTLET “I saw a study that came out today that said you’re going to raise taxes by $3,000 to $4,000 on middle-income families.”

OBAMA The American Enterprise Institute found my budget actually would reduce the share of taxes that each taxpayer pays to service the debt by $1,289.89 for taxpayers earning in the $100,000 to $200,000 range.

BARTLET Which is another way of saying …

OBAMA You’re lying, Governor.

I sincerely hope that President Obama does try something like this for the next debate. I have a feeling that Romney will have all the facts and figures he will need to verify his statements at hand and ready to use. Obama will only make a fool of himself if he keeps repeating, “You’re a liar”.

By the way, Maureen Dowd is probably the last person on earth who should be lecturing anyone on honesty, given her propensity to omit words from quotes to alter their meaning. This practice is called dowdification and in listed in the Urban Dictionary.

The omission of a word or a phrase in order to reframe a quote and alter its meaning. This is usually done to help an author portray a particular viewpoint and is very common amongst weblogs. The term is named after the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

Her dowdification seriously mischaracterized his statement

That says enough.

Michael Moore is a Twit

October 7, 2012

Of course we already knew that, but I read his tweets on Obama’s disastrous debate performance and one comment struck me as being somewhat revealing. It’s the tweet at the bottom where he calls out to Jim Lehrer.

This seems to be a common complaint from the Left, that Jim Lehrer was too even handed and fair. Evidently Moore and others wanted the playing field tilted in Obama’s favor. Isn’t that just a little like expecting the referee to be biased in favor of your team, instead of enforcing the rules fairly? Don’t they have any concept at all of playing by the rules? I suppose not. After all they don’t seem to believe in following the law or the constitution.

For whatever it may be worth, I think Jim Lehrer did a terrific job as moderator, mostly by staying in the background and letting the candidates make their case. He recognized that it wasn’t about him, but about the candidates and the voters.

One more thing, if Barack Obama cannot win a debate unless it is rigged, doesn’t that say something about him, or the ideas and policies he supports?

The First Debate

October 4, 2012

By now, the pundits all agree that Mitt Romney won the debate. This time they are absolutely right. I think that this has been the most one-sided debate that I have ever seen. Romney put on the best performance possible. He was confident, polished, articulate and knowledgeable. He seemed to have a detailed knowledge of policies and statistics and was able to use that knowledge to articulate a positive vision for the future. He even seemed to be enjoying himself.

Obama, by contrast, put on the worst debate performance that I have ever seen, with the exception of Al Gore’s outbreak of Tourette’s Syndrome in the first debate of 2000. He seemed as though he would rather be doing anything else. He seemed unprepared and his statements were mostly recycled from his campaign speeches. He would attack Romney with straw man representations of Romney’s positions and then Romney would correct him. Romney, for his part, aggressively attacked Obama and kept reminding him and the viewers that Obama has been President for the last four years, something that Obama wanted people to forget. I was afraid that Romney might be perceived as too aggressive by some voters, but I don’t think that is the case. He managed to attack Obama without seeming to be a jerk. Obama is not used to being questioned or opposed. He does not like it and it showed.

In fact, Obama spent much of the time looking down at his shoes while Romney was speaking. He looked up when he was talking, but I think he was trying to pretend Romney wasn’t standing a few feet away, across the stage. Romney looked directly at Obama when he made his attacks, a tactic made more effective when the two men were shown on a split screen. Put simply, Romney seemed to know what he was talking about and Obama didn’t. If I were hiring someone to run my business, or my country, there is no question who I would trust.

Is this the end of the election? Can Obama recover? Of course he can. We still have a month before the election and a lot can happen. There are two more debates between the two candidates and we can be certain that Obama will be better prepared next time. I think, though, that the first debate will be the most important one in that it was the first chance for most voters to see the two men together, head to head, as it were. First impressions are important and even if Obama does well in the next two debates, he is going to have a lot of work to do to overcome the bad impression he generated in this debate.

Will the debates make a difference? I don’t think that very many people will switch their votes on the basis of who did better at any of  these debates. A good performance cannot help but be beneficial to any candidate, while a bad performance has to hurt. People like to back a winner and are more likely to get out and vote for, and more importantly contribute money to, a candidate they think is likely to win. Romney’s excellent performance will help with voter turnout, if he can keep the momentum going.

I have to wonder why Obama gave such an unimpressive showing. His supporters have given a number of rather implausible reasons, the most incredible of which is Al Gore’s contention that Obama had not had enough time to become  acclimated to Denver’s high altitude. Some have noted that as a sitting President who run uncontested in the primaries, Obama has had far less recent experience with debating than Romney, who must have sat through at least ten thousand of them. There is something to that, but Obama still could have been better prepared.

I think, that the reason has to do with Obama’s personality. He is not really well suited for the job of President, at least not in temperament. I think that he likes the idea of being President more than he likes the real job. If Ed Klein is correct in his book The Amateur, Obama has never been one to apply himself to policy details. His colleagues in the Illinois State Senate and later in the Senate noted that he seemed uninterested in the actual process of legislation, preferring to give stirring speeches to working on bills. He also seems to lack the kind of back-slapping conviviality of a Clinton or a Johnson and really seems to be something of an introvert. I think then, that a debate against an opponent over policy details and programs is simply not something Obama is good at and not something he particularly wanted to do, especially against an opponent he probably doesn’t like at all. He was probably over confident as well and I do not doubt he seriously underestimated Mitt Romney.

By the way, the most interesting spin from the Left, I have seen so far is that Romney only won because he surprised Obama with his constant lying. They want Obama to be more confrontational in the next debate, especially in bringing up Romney’s remarks about the “47%”. Good luck with that. I suspect that Obama didn’t bring that up, because they knew perfectly well that Romney would be ready with an answer and perhaps a comment about dwelling on irrelevancies rather than the nation’s future. Then too, there is always Obama’s “bitter clingers” remark to throw right back at him.

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