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.

  • smrnda

    The idea that Romney was anything but an empty suit in the debates is pure media spin by news outlets who think a closer race will sell more papers and get more people tuning into the news.

    Obama wasn’t great, but Romney’s ideas are thoroughly bankrupt. The part where Romney opposes “Obamacare” (I think Obama should have used the name “Affordable Health Care Act” myself) but then Obama basically states that he either wants to repeal it and replace it with something about the same or slightly more deficient, pretty much defined the whole Republican platform at this point = if it has “Obama ” in the name, it is bad.

    And energy independence, like any other type of attempt at total national independence, has been tried by nations like North Korea or Albania, with great results.

  • http://skepticgriggsy.wordpress.comhttp://skepticity.blogspot.com Lord Griggs[ IgnosticMorgan,InquiringLynn,Fr. or Rabbi Griggs, CarneadesofGa]

    Jack Welch prattles.

  • http://chessconfessions.blogspot.com Blue Devil Knight

    Did I miss the post explaining the move from FTB to Patheos?

    • Chris Hallquist

      Not really.

      • http://chessconfessions.blogspot.com Blue Devil Knight

        Please do tell!

  • Kodie

    I had the debate on, and it was annoying. I was watching on PBS, so as soon as Romney had his little dig at PBS, I got more annoyed. When it ended and PBS guys were calling Romney the winner, I got even more annoyed. I can’t really be substantial about my observations, but I imagined taking all the words out like a Peanuts cartoon, and Romney, rather than being a strong bull charging at the conflict, he had a distinct whining pitch to his voice the whole time. He acted like he was accused of everything wrong that he does and his solution was to “but Mr. Lehrer! I neeeeeed mooooore tiiiiime! He’s bein’ mean to meeeeeee and it’s not faaaaaair!”

    I mean, I could take this at a possible scenario where if Obama were actually mis-characterizing Romney, it’s still not cool to talk like that. If one needs to correct impressions, there are other tones of voices. He wouldn’t let it go and move on, it was just too important to get the last word. So I’m basically surprised every pundit seems to think of Romney as keeping his cool. I’m trying to be objective here, but avoiding a substantial critique, since it wasn’t a substantial debate. Everyone is judging them both on poise. I had it on but wasn’t watching it closely, so I don’t know what to say about posture or smirks or gestures. I kind of liked Obama saying he rather liked the term ‘Obamacare’ so was not bothered if someone tries to use it as an insult to the whole program, and it was kind of funny for Romney to approach that word as if it were an insult. I live in Massachusetts and I think it works out pretty well for me.


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