Quick thoughts on the debate

I heard a lot of buzz on the blogs about how Obama supposedly lost Wednesday’s presidential debate. As a blogger, I felt kinda compelled to watch it, so I went on YouTube and had a look.

Unfortunately, most of Obama’s first two minutes was inaudible on the recording, but I could hear the end bit and it sounded strong. The full line, from this transcript, was:

Are we going to double down on the top-down economic policies that helped to get us into this mess, or do we embrace a new economic patriotism that says, America does best when the middle class does best? And I’m looking forward to having that debate.

Then came Romney’s first two minutes, where he spent some time pretending to care about poor people (you know, the ones he thinks have no personal responsibility), then denied his economic plan was all about cutting taxes, and then launched into five platitudes he would use to fix the economy, including energy independence, which politicians have been promising and not delivering for centuries, because the idea doesn’t make any sense.

At that point, I couldn’t watch anymore. Hearing Romney pretend to care about poor people was just too painful, worse than McCain’s constant repetition of the phrase “Joe the Plumber” in 2008 (which also made me stop watching that debate–though I was able to hold in longer then).

It’s possible that in a sense Romney was stylistically better in the rest of the debate, but I don’t see how that opening could’ve not lost him the debate in the eyes of anyone who’s been paying attention the last few months. And I really don’t think we should be judging debates based on how they’d look to the least informed imaginable audience member.

Also, Brendan Nyhan, who made a point of watching the debates and writing up his own thoughts without paying attention to what people on the internet were saying, said he saw nothing that would chance the dynamic of the race, and has some thoughts on why the “Romney won big” narrative emerged. I may try the “do a write up without looking at anything else” approach myself for a future debate or two.

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