Tell me the truth, you swing voters…

Did last night’s debate lead you, the swing voter, to shift your vote toward Romney or Obama?

Kevin Baker, at Harper’s Magazine, vented on the President with these words, calling his piece “The Man Who Would be Ex-President,” but I would still ask if the debate is shifting the vote:

I mean, think about it. He runs for president as a populist, soaking up all the liberal energy for change in the country. Once in power, he surrounds himself with failed conservative advisers, and squanders most of his mandate. Then, just as it looks as if he will still be able to defeat his clueless Republican opponent, he turns in the worst performance any presidential candidate has ever given in a general-election debate, tanking the race and turning the country over to a party of fanatical Ayn Rand acolytes and warmongers.

Homeland’s Abu Nazir never dreamed up anything this diabolical.

I know, it’s not very funny. Neither was Barack Obama’s noneffort last night. Nor am I joking about his performance being the worst in the history of presidential debates. In fact, it was the worst debate by any candidate in either the presidential or the vice-presidential debates. And I include Dan Quayle’s performance in 1988, and that poor, befuddled admiral who was running with Ross Perot.

Who would have thought that Barack Obama would come off as the candidate with a hollow core?

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://mkholmes.wordpress.com Mike H

    I wasn’t shifted in any direction, but I also think it’s the nature of the “debate.” The “debate” we saw last night was for the most part nothing more than a recitation of platforms that you could gain off either candidate’s website. There was no actual policy debate. No discussion as to why President Obama or Governor Romney’s numbers were off or misleading, or actual discussion of data (I’m thinking the 5 trillion taxes argument, and the 250,000 jobs per month idea for romney). If you conducted a Biblical Studies/Theology debate regarding the issue of predestination and merely stated your position without going into detail as to why (grammatically, contextually, historically, theologically, philosophically) your position was more accurate assessment of the text and “data” than your opponent’s, you’d get eaten alive. If both people did that, no one would consider it a debate, just a theological statement.

    I think Romney looked better. However, even as a person who leans conservative, I thought he was better in terms of presentation and interaction, not on having the “correct” view on the issues.

  • http://citygatestheology.org Sam

    In typical swing voter style … i did not watch the debate last night.

  • http://superrustyfly.wordpress.com Russell Purvis

    What is his justification on Romney looking better. I thought he just looked more forceful and more serially proned to exaggerate, though Obama did his fair share of the same.

  • Georges Boujakly

    No swinging here. Romney was simplistic and too sure of his abilities to bring the desired changes.
    The president’s answers were more nuanced with an insider’s knowing advantages.

  • RM

    I guess we pick presidents the same way we pick preachers. Swing voters just go down the street or stay home.

  • Dan Arnold

    So I am a truly undecided voter who has been leaning toward Obama, but not very strongly.

    I liked what I heard from Romney but I’m worried about what I didn’t hear from him. What I saw was Governor Romney, not the hard-right candidate-Romney I’ve seen to-date. In the last 35 minutes of the debate that I watched, he emphasized his ability to work with Democrats in Massachusetts, his desire to keep the good parts of Obamacare (aka, the Affordable Care Act) and his support for a Federal role in education. What he didn’t do is say how he can give a 20% across the board tax cut and make it revenue neutral and why it even matters if the net affect is no increase in revenue. He didn’t say how he would keep the more radical wing of his party at bay. He didn’t say how his policies are any different from Bush’s and he didn’t seem to acknowledge any role for proper regulation to prevent the kind of financial crises we had in 2008 (much less to protect the environment).

    Except for the last 5 or 6 minutes, Obama appeared defensive and poorly prepared. He didn’t offer much positive vision of how to balance the budget, how to work with congress nor was he able to articulate his vision for the role of the Federal government going forward. Obama didn’t call out the Republicans for putting the full faith and credit of the United States on the line in order to impose a their political agenda. Yet Obama couldn’t articulate why the so-called cuts to medicare will actually strengthen the program going forward. This seems to be like presidential debate 101 kind of stuff and really raised doubts about his vision and leadership.

    I have a grave concerns about the current administrations support for Abortion on demand and for its apparent presumption that religious voices are largely private and not part of the public discourse. I also worry about the sky-rocketing national debt. On the other hand, I have not heard anything from the Republicans on how to deal with issues of War, the financial malfeasance of Wall Street and the growing disparity between the haves and the have-nots. And there is no way I could see the Ryan budget as a reasonable plan to reduce the budget deficit given it’s ideological allocation of resources and it’s inability to come close to balancing the budget in my lifetime.

  • JoeyS

    Romney’s attitude was a turn off. He kept citing misinformation and acting like a bit of a bully. Saying things more forcefully and louder does not make them more true. This moderate is not impressed.

  • Ruth Anne shorter

    I am concerned about the possibility of the next president’s likely position to appoint a supreme court justice. Do I want a president who is okay with gay marriage? With partial birth abortions? With allowing a baby who survives an abortion to be not taken care of and then die from neglect? With federal government in every place in every area of our lives and not allow states to have choices? With a president who when overturned just goes ahead and does it anyway? The choice may not be easy but just looking at same sex marriage and partial birth abortions is enough for me to decide. Mitt is my choice

  • AndyM

    I’m not a voter in the USA, but I’d tend to lean towards Ruth Anne (#8).
    if you ignored the stated religious beliefs of each, would you pick the guy who is in favour of partial birth abortions and gay marriage as the professing christian? Or the guy whose beliefs are encouraging righteousness in civil society and suppressing evil?

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    I am a registered repub, but rhino.

    I must be the only one that got what happened to Obama. Obama prepped for a half way rational debate and got lies lies lies. I certainly would have not done any better because the shock lasted the whole debate for me.

  • Steve Sherwood

    I’m with Dan Arnold #6, well mostly. I’ve never had much interest in voting for Romney, but the Romney I saw last night (the one who was Gov. of MA) would be relatively appealing. Unfortunately, that guy spent the night avoiding, or denying all the things he’s said over the last year. Which one would be President? He seemed better prepared, more enthusiastic, more assertive (utterly dismissal of the moderator or the debate protocol), and, significantly less honest in comparison to his previously stated positions. That was my take.

    Andy, do opposing partial birth abortions and gay marriage sum up what it means to be “righteous in civil society and suppressing evil?” That seems like a pretty narrow definition.

  • http://existingbetween.wordpress.com/ Joy F

    As a moderate, Romney still didn’t answer any logistics. Exactly how does he plan on paying for this tax cut? What deductions will he eliminate? Sure, he was much less wooden than usual, but I still didn’t hear any answers.

    As an educator, and listening to their stances on education, I am still where I was before; leaning Obama. No it wasn’t his best performance ever, but the substance was still preferable I am not sure what on earth Romney plans to do with education.

    Romney succeeded in coming across more human. But he still didn’t explain anything which I think is what a lot of us keep waiting for. What exactly does he plan to do? How are these plans possible? Are they possible? How about some concrete answers? Vague is still vague no matter how confidently stated it might be.

  • http://www.411ministry.com Rusty

    Romney had the better tie.
    Obama looked totally disengaged.

    After the debate I continue to support Gov. Gary Johnson (libertarian)

  • AndyM

    @Steve: how do you reconcile the claim of obama to be a christian with being a guy who supports partial birth abortion?

    it isn’t the sum total of what it means for a society to be righteous, but it’d be hard to justify having social justice, equality and all that lovely warm inclusiveness while babies are being murdered in numbers that make the nazis look like amateurs.

    Does society look more like what Jesus would like it to in the outworking of the absolute demands of the democrats to be able to kill the unborn at will?

  • http://cramercomments.blogspot.com D C Cramer

    I’m independent, but perhaps it would be inaccurate to be called a “swing voter” as I haven’t decided to vote at all yet. Nevertheless, here’s my thought:

    Romney came off the rudest to poor Jim Lehrer–and not just because Romney said he would pull PBS funding! The megalomaniastic need to get the last word, even well after the allotted time was up, really got old, especially when the last word was simply a reiteration of a previous word. Maybe the way one treats the moderator isn’t a big deal. Then again, for someone who has to interact with world leaders on a regular basis, it might say something.

  • http://everythingnew.org Jeff Cook

    I’ve voted for the winner in the last 3 presidential elections if that counts as a swing voter. Rhetorically Romney crushed Obama. The performance still didn’t budge me. I decided not to vote for Romney a few months ago.

  • Robin

    I think it is worth pointing out that policy proposal specifics at this stage are irrelevant. President Obama’s primary claim at this stage 4 years ago was that his healthcare plan absolutely would not include a mandate…he raked Hillary over the coals for it…and we see how that turned out.

    The bottom line on policies is that neither one will get their priorities through. It doesn’t matter what Romney’s tax plan is. President had a magical ‘starts aligning’ moment that gave him 60 votes in the Senate and push through a generation’s worth of policy dreams. The next President will not have that luxury. The next President will govern like Clinton and W, the only policies that will get through are ones where the President makes substantial concessions to the opposition and drags his party kicking and screaming…think Clinton signing welfare reform and W passing No Child Left Behind or Medicare Part D.

    Here is where the next President will make his mark
    1. Foreign policy
    2. Supreme Court nominations
    3. Regulations, especially EPA and HHS (healthcare reform) regulations

    Any actual legislative accomplishments or changes to the tax code will be miniscule compared to these three things.

  • Ruth Anne shorter

    Addressing some posted comments, as for Romney controlling the radical wing of the party, IF you are a Christian you are called to be radical, You are called to represent Jesus and not be sucked into this world. Stop going along to get along. In comparing Bush’s policies to Obama’s, Bush had Clinton’s recession, then 9/11 and the downturn after that, and for most of his 8 yrs. the unemployment was around 5 percent, Most of our current problems and the ” wall street” issues result from the housing debacle, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were caused by Barney Frank and Chris Dodd and Maxine Waters and other Dems denied that anything was wrong with those organizations. Since the Carter administration, the Feds have been pushing affordable housing but the problem is they threatened banks if they did not loan money to people who were unacceptable risks as they could be the object of some Federal govt. interference. WHen the Bush administration tried to curb this problem the Dems denied it and it went on until the housing crisis occurred. If you are worried about balancing the budget and where the money is coming from, why would you trust Obama? He’s not had a budget since election, The last one he submitted wasn’t supported by Repubs, or dem’s. Unemployment has seen over 8 percent longer than any time in our history with no end in sight. He’s dumped 90 million into green energy with no results but closed the gulf and any other domestic drilling and gas prices, doubled since Bush are what we have to show for it. As for the discrepancy between the have’s and the have nots, as long as the economy is in the tank and Obama has no plan to get us out of this the gulf will widen, The only way the middle class will grow is if unemployment improves greatly, Obama has no plan to do that. Romney does. When untruths are repeated often enough, it seems true doesn’t it? So just do a fact check. It is scary when we want so hard to believe the guy we want to win. I just ask you first, go to your closet and get on your knees, pray for me and yourself to see what our Savior sees and ask him for wisdom. Then as Wayne Grudem says cp. 16, pps. 333-339, of his book Systematic Theology we are responsible for our actions, our actions have real results and do change the course of events, prayer is a specific kind of actions that has definite results, and we must act. This is really not fair to simplify what Grudem is saying, so please read yourself. When I see Him face to face, I do not want to have to explain that money, culture, popularity, or blindness caused my inactions, or wrong decisions.

  • http://www.righteousacorn.blogspot.com/ Anita Wilson

    Isn’t it interesting that our votes are cast to forward the perceived power ofthe office of “President Of The United States”. In reality, citizens should be paying more attention to the election our Congress representatives and our Senators. Remember folks, that the blessing of our system of government does not fall solely on our president. Our system of government does not grant all-encompassing power to the POTUS. When voting, our primary attention needs to be focused on our local municipal needs (judges, city counsel, etc.), then on our state needs (governor, congress persons, senators), and then on POTUS. Somehow, we have forgptten that the true power of our president is only granted through the others we elect. ….. Just my 16 trillion cents worth. :-)

  • CGC

    Hi Everyone,
    I have been a conservative Evangelical voter my whole life. It is quite amazing to me to watch how political conservative Christians are being dupped by the Republican party. The Republican party has been giving progressive and liberal Republicans as candidates for some time and the conservative base is clueless. The Republican party has left behind its conservative base a long time ago and the conservatives haven’t even noticed. Now we have a liberal Republican masquarading as a conservative and most conservatives are buying it. I have always seen conservatives rightly question liberal Democrats trying to masquarade as centrists or more conservative but when it comes to their own political party, the blinders are firmly on. It’s also amazing to see how Evangelicals are saying that a Mormon is a Christian while many still believe the outright lie that Obama is a Muslim! (who happens to be a Christian, even if he is a politically liberal one!). All I can say is when so many in society attack conervative Christians, its becoming harder and harder to defend them since so many are in bed with the Republican party with their eyes firmly shut!

  • MWK

    Ruth Ann – you’re fighting a losing battle on this blog.

  • Daniel

    What about Kevin Baker calling Romney a racist?

    “Yet there he was, giving a presentation devoid of substance, vision, principle, or even basic coherence. He didn’t show a spark of anger, even when Romney slyly found a way to call him a boy, comparing Obama’s statements to the sorts of childish lies his “five boys” used to tell. How the right’s hard-core racists must have howled at that! Mitt, at long last, has secured his base.”

    C’mon. That’s ridiculousness. Talk about twisting somebody’s words.

  • Bill

    #22,

    Name-calling usually results when a person loses control of the argument or has nothing else constructive to say. Time to change the channel.

  • Maurice Hagar

    I’m unaffiliated and libertarian but typically vote GOP at the national level. I make my living doing management coaching and training so, in addition to policy, I’m looking for leadership skills. Thought I might sit this election out. But Romney convinced me he has what it takes to lead.

  • Gary Lyn

    Ruth Anne
    You encourage others to be radical, to stop going along to get along.
    And then proceed to “go along” with everything the Republican says. Actually, it seems like your post is more about going against everything the Democratic candidate says.


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