Who Won the First Debate? We Did.

The thing that surprised me the most about the first presidential debate was that everyone seemed to think that Governor Romney “won.”

I was somewhat confused by this at first until I realized that the methods of judging the relative performance of the two men were entirely superficial. FWIW, I thought the governor was more aggressive than the President, but no less or more clear in his presentation of his position.

Maybe the reason everyone is so sure that Governor Romney “won” is that they were surprised he could stand up there and hold his own against President Obama. If that’s it, I don’t know why. He was the governor of a large state and he’s been running for president for most of the past six years. He ran in 2008 and I think he’s basically been running for this election ever since the polls closed in November of that year. So he should have some chops to bring to the fight. Doesn’t surprise me that he was able to put his viewpoint out there.

What did surprise me is that most people seemed to think the President was lackluster in his performance. I thought he presented his viewpoints very well.

There were no “There you go again,” “You’re no Jack Kennedy” moments to put it over the top for either candidate.

However, the question of who was the most aggressive or who managed to say their piece without tripping over their own tongue is just the usual superficiality we the people get fed about every question before us as a nation. The analysis I’ve seen is not worthy of the debate it’s analyzing. These guys really mixed it up on the issues. It’s the first time I’ve seen that in a long while.

I think the debate itself was an excellent discussion of their relative positions concerning key programs like Social Security and Medicare. It didn’t go into enough depth about the Affordable Health Care Act. I’m hopeful that will happen in the future.

They did engage in some back and forth as to who was lying about whom, and I plan to check those claims out for myself later. But I think that anyone who watched this first debate would walk away with a better understanding of how these two men differ in what they would do with the power of the office, at least in terms of taxes, medicare, and such.

It’s quite clear that there’s a real difference in philosophy between them concerning these issues. Things like Social Security, Medicare and other working-people issues are where I align with the Democrats. That may be why I didn’t see it as a Romney win the way most other people seem to. I simply disagreed with some of the things he was saying. Maybe that prejudiced me.

In the end, most people who watched the debate will probably line up with whichever candidate most closely reflected their own beliefs. If that’s what happens, it’s an excellent result, since what I’m talking about is informed voting. The vast majority of the people who did NOT watch the debate will be forced to get their opinion from the superficial criteria the “analysts” use for deciding these things.

As for who “won” tonight’s debate, I honestly think it was the American people. For once, we got to see these two men who want to be our next president talk in depth about the issues.

  • http://catholicvstheworld.wordpress.com Aaron Lopez

    I thought the exact same thing, actually. It will be interesting to see how these two candidates fare over the next two debates. If the trend continues… I wonder what will come by Election Day. I’m from New Zealand, but yes, America’s vote most definitely affects the rest of the world!

    By the way, I wanted to say thank you for visiting my blog. It’s actually the Catholic crew at Patheos which inspired me to start up my blog over there. Please keep up the faithful work =)

    Aaron.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank YOU Aaron! I love your blog. Patheos is a great place with great people. I’m glad to hear they have inspired you to do such great work.

  • http://biltrix.wordpress.com Biltrix

    The way I see it, Big Bird won that debate hands down. At least, he certainly stole the show on Twitter, thanks to Gov. Romney’s glib remark, which ultimately ended up costing him a few points, distracting most of the nation’s people who might have otherwise paid more attention to what he said for the rest of the debate, and almost breaking Twitter.

    As to your point Rebecca, I kept seeing Pres. Obama returning to the same talking points in order, diverting the issue many times, and Romney coming back to correct the President and clarify what his position was. The real smack down of this debate was when Romney said, “You’re entitled, Mr. President, as the president to your own airplane and your own house, but not to your own facts.”

    In sum, 2 points for Big Bird; 1 for Gov. Romney.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Those are good points. Romney’s comment didn’t resonate with me. I thought it was a shade too close to campaign nastiness. but then again, I was evidently watching it through different lenses than most folks. From what I’ve seen, the president is hard to shake off whatever his talking points and focus are. He stays on point. He was stone cold in the debates with McCain four years ago; lied without blinking about the baby born alive act. The governor was jazzed last night, you could see it in his face that he knew it was make or break time. I honestly think the best of it was that we FINALLY got them to talk issues instead of trash.

  • http://scpeanutgallery.com Art Chartier

    I think a better description of Romney would be “assertive” rather than aggressive… he turned on his head lights in the dark night America’s soul. And he refused to turn them off.

    If a deer is caught in the headlights, you can hardly blame the guy driving the car.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Good point Art. Assertive may be better.

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    “It’s quite clear that there’s a real difference in philosophy between them concerning these issues. Things like Social Security, Medicare and other working-people issues are where I align with the Democrats. That may be why I didn’t see it as a Romney win the way most other people seem to. I simply disagreed with some of the things he was saying. Maybe that prejudiced me.”

    Exactly.

    The debate wasn’t allowed to degenerate into silly trivia about whether more people agree with putting dogs on the roofs of cars or eating them.

    Instead, the debate mostly stayed on issues and differences in point of view about how the government should function.

    You apparently agree with the “give a man a fish” philosophy and, therefore, trend Democrat.

    Others (and I hope many more) agree with the “teach a man to fish” philosophy and, therefore, trend Republican.

    This debate helped clarify that Obama is in the former camp and Romney is in the latter (without multiple trivial distractions).

    That’s why he “won”.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Actually, I’m more a I don’t want to go back poor farms for elderly people kind of person.

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    As an aside:
    One of these days we may want to discuss what I call “The Social Justice Shuck and Jive”.

    In my experience, the only reason faithful Catholics have any remaining allegiance to the Democratic Party is because of their implicit assumption that doing so is in some way consistent with supporting/performing the corporal works of mercy.

    I contend that they are horribly mislead in that assumption (and therefore do more harm than good).

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Peter, that isn’t what I was saying at all. I think you know that, btw.

      • Dr. Peter John Resweber

        I am unclear, what isn’t what you were saying?

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          Don’t worry about it. I was just coming in from my cell phone & got things tangled. Apologies. Rewind.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          Don’t worry about it. Internet confusion. Apologies.

          • Dr. Peter John Resweber

            Well, even thouh i absolutely NEVER get anyting mixxed up,
            I guesss i can still be gracious and fourgive you for doing so.

            ;)

            (Multiple “typo” corrections to this post coming in 3… 2… 1…

            • Rebecca Hamilton

              :-) (thanks)

  • Frank

    Romney just about sealed the election. The last thing we need is four years of the same and Romney is the best chance forward. Well done!

    On another note the Dems spinning is laughable.

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    Type Alert:
    That last sentence should have read “misled” instead of “mislead”.

    Ooops! :(

  • Dr. Peter John Resweber

    Hmmmm, would I now be heading for an ‘OCD ALERT’ if I posted again to note that the prior post should have read “Typo Alert” instead of “Type Alert”?

    =8-O

    Oh, well, at least I can console myself with the realization that the ability to laugh at yourself is a sign of health…

    ;)

  • http://jscafenette.com Manny

    No there were no zingers. But that’s what made it so special. It wasn’t superficial. Romney won because he put together a clear and powerful indictment of why Obama has been a failure and a rough plan for what he wants to do if elected. Romney was magnificent. It was about the best debate performance in the history of these debates.

  • http://ackans.com Mr. V.

    Rebecca,

    I appreciate your earlier comment about the things like Social Security and Medicare and whatnot, that put you in the Democrat camp.

    One of the problems I see with politics nowadays, and it’s probably the biggest reason why I get turned off fast from politics in general, is the tendency to demonize and slam the other side. I’m a fairly strong conservative in some areas, but I’ll be the first to say I get sick of the tendency to label liberals as ungodly jerks trying to destroy America. And the liberal side is no better, often labelling conservatives as Nazi thugs, out to deny rights, keep the poor in poverty, and restore slavery.

    It often seems to be in the arena of social services, like Medicare and Social Security where debate really gets fierce. On the one hand, you have some Democrats calling Republicans Greedy Fat Cats who only care about their riches. On the other hand, you have Republicans calling Democrats Commie traitors who are trying to destroy American democracy.

    The end result is it’s the average American who suffers the most. Government spending seems to be steadily increasing, with no indication of abating. And things do not seem to improve based on the increased amount of spending.

    What we really need is an honest debate on the economy and on social services offered by the government and the limits to how much the government can and should spend. I think if we quit letting the politicians stir up and confuse things with all the rhetoric, and keep dividing up Americans into separate groups based on political beliefs, we could take the government to task and force it to be more efficient and responsive to the American people.

    Speaking for myself, and I think there are a good many conservatives who would agree, I put forth that we should continue Social Security and Medicare and even Welfare, but in a modified form and with stricter controls on it.

    I’ll just make one more remark, on Social Security, and then end this comments before it stretches on for three pages. :D I think there are a lot of problems with that system, which we are really going to see when all the Baby Boomers are retired, and the rest of us are going to be forced to spend money on a group that outnumbers us by at least a third, if not more. Simple math will show that can’t work for long without going bust. However, I don’t think the program should be scrapped. Instead, I think it should be modified so that it only helps those who truly need it. I think the idea for it originally was to have a safety net. Now, however, too many people have come to rely upon it, and in some cases, almost exclusively. Adding to the problem is the cultural trend of too many people not wisely saving up money for their ‘golden’ years. Too many Americans live in debt, from check to check. What really needs to be done is try and reverse that trend, and teach people to start saving, and setting money aside, and stop getting themselves into debt, which often continues into their golden years. If that can be accomplished, we could build a citizenry where individuals largely have provided for their years of retirement, and therefore are not in need of social security. Of course, the program should remain, for there will always be those who experience tragedy, and lose their life’s savings, and therefore need some form of safety net for their own economic protection. I think also, we should teach and promote the mindset that if one truly does not need social security funds, that one would opt out of the program. That would help keep funds available for those that truly need it.

    In any case, I don’t look down on anyone who holds a different opinion. I’m just one man, and I’m by no means an economic expert. But anyone can look at our current system and see that it’s ineffective and wasteful, and something does need to be done while we still can. That will only be accomplished by bringing both sides together and dropping all the demonizations, and getting them to hammer out a workable plan.

    • vickie

      Here is an article about how our current system for unemployment, results in unemployment benefits for millionaires. And I agree, most Democrats do not think we should subsidize millionaires, most Republicans don’t think that people who encounter misfortune should be thrown in the street. However, the stalemate, in part due to nasty rhetoric prevents working on even common sense remediation.

      http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/politics/item/13115-nearly-2400-millionaires-collect-unemployment-benefits-in-2009

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Stephen, I fear this is impossible so long as the special interests have such a hammerlock on our government.

      “What we really need is an honest debate on the economy and on social services offered by the government and the limits to how much the government can and should spend.”

  • http://wordsthathavemeaning.wordpress.com/ Russell Holder

    I happen to agree with Representative Rebecca Hamilton, the American people won… being able to see them both on stage at the same time. As to who won… this comes down to the personal bias one might have- to say one way or the other. Although I did not choose to watch or record it myself, I have issues with thoughts of our democracy most do not. The “good cop-bad cop” mentality attempts to assuage the belief of us all being Americans. When one party continues the efforts of the other is when this view comes to the clarity we need to open our eyes to. Indeed, we will again have “the lessor of two evils to choose from.” BTW… I’m a recovering Democrat, having been one my whole life, and still work for a living… becoming harder and harder to do. I thank the libertines of both parties for this… those that turned their backs to us in their actions while telling us pleasant lies and we believed them. Heads they win… tails we lose, and thoughts of Baron M.A. Rothschild,”Give me control over a nation’s currency, and I care not who makes its laws.” I firmly believe God is allowing what we will see play out… prior to His return.

    • Dr. Peter John Resweber

      Russell,

      I may be presuming too much.
      I hope not and I do not mean to offend.

      But when I read the kind of “Heads they win… tails we lose” mentality that your post seems to embody,
      I just can help but think and try to remind people:

      Hope was a theological virtue long before it was a cheap campaign slogan.
      Like all virtues, hope has an opposite which is a vice and leads to sinfulness.
      Recall that all things are possible with God.
      Never let your heart yield to the deadly vice/sin of despair.

      • Rebecca Hamilton

        Peter, I agree with you that hope is something Christians always have. However, I don’t think that hope is necessarily posited in faith in the good actions of people. I think it rests in God. As for “heads they win, tails we lose” I think that’s pretty much a foregone conclusion so long as special interests have control of our government.

        • Dr. Peter John Resweber

          You remind me of a conversation many years ago with my then girlfriend who was a liberal democrat. I was complaining about Bill Clinton’s lie and she came back with “Of course, he lies, they HAVE to lie to get elected.” After a long pause to let her words sink in I replied, “Not if WE change and refuse to put up with it. But, if we truly believe that, then we may as well admit that the experiment in self-rule is already over.”

          For God’s sake, Rebecca, you have been a representative for 16 years. You ARE the government. WE are still the government. In the end, “special interests” are no more than “ideas and groups with which we disagree”. To you and me, the National Right to Life or the American Life League are ‘valuable voices to represent real interests’ whereas NARAL and Planned Parenthood are ‘evil special interests’. However, to those in favor of baby killing, the analysis is reversed. If you disagree with a particular special interest, make the case against them, vote against them, and convince others to vote against them. They have no further power if they can’t win elections.

          This country is STILL an experiment in moral self-rule. If we don’t yield to the forces of death and despair we can prevail. Pray. Seek God’s will. Vote accordingly. Convince others to do the same. With God all things ARE possible. This nation CAN be redeemed and place back upon a righteous path. We can see to it “that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

          But, what if the good people surrender to cynicism and despair? Then (and only then) it is truly over.

  • FW Ken

    I’m old enough to remember Kennedy and Nixon debating in 1960. I didn’t understand much (something about missile gaps), but obviously, it made an impact. I feel about the same as this most recent debate. As noted in comments above, it was substantive and direct. I will say that Gov. Romney made a positive impression, mostly because it was my first time to see him unmediated by partisan media outlets.

    As a fairly conservative independent, I don’t look to the presidency, or the national government, for most solutions to problems. On the other hand, I’m unwilling to declaim that “government is the problem, not the solution”. Sorry, but sometimes government is the solution. The trick is to sort out how the different levels interact to solve problems, or get out of the way. As to the old fishing analogy, I tend to land on the side of teaching the man to fish, but if he is a blind quadriplegic, giving him a fish may be the best course. Common sense tells us that if a person is starving, they need a fish, along with the fishing pole. Perhaps the example of Joseph in Egypt is helpful: in the years of plenty, the government taxed the crops. In the years of famine, the government made sure people didn’t starve.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      My viewpoint in your words:

      “Common sense tells us that if a person is starving, they need a fish, along with the fishing pole. “


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