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October 04, 2012

"Unexpectedly!", Romney Wins Debate

If one word could be said to sum up last night's debate, it would be a meme popularized by Glenn Reynolds to describe those moments when reality rudely punctures the media spin filter:


For the first time, American voters had a chance to compare the two candidates side by side. Mitt Romney was allowed to speak to the American people directly, without the heavy handed (not to mention oxymoronic) narrative of an incompetent, insincere wannabe who veers wildly between two extremes: pathetic approval-seeking suckupitude and testosterone laced alpha bullying behaviors.

Barack Obama was given a similar opportunity to speak directly to the American people, and despite the best efforts of mediator Jim Lehrer to cue the President when he lost track of his own talking points ("LEHRER: But -- but Mr. President, you're saying in order to -- to get the job done, it's got to be balanced. You've got to have...), the side by side did not play to Obama's strengths.

Best line of the night went to Romney:

"Look, I've got five boys. I'm used to people saying something that's not always true, but just keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping I'll believe it."

That's exactly how Romney came across - the calm, firm adult dealing with an evasive, somewhat shamefaced kid. Is there any parent of teen boys who doesn't instantly recognize the body language on the right? It's submissive: the uneasy little smiles. The refusal to make eye contact. "La la la la. I'm in my own little world... I can't heeeeeeear yoooouuuuuu!"

Devastating. Even more deadly was the recurring image of the President of the United States repeatedly looking to moderator Jim Lehrer to do what the press have done for Obama since day one - run interference, block for him, tell us what he really meant to say, save him from himself:

...what Mitt did was to expose the president as the Primo Carnera of his day, the mob-owned heavyweight champ who won a series of fixed fights — until he finally found himself in the ring against an opponent who didn’t fear him, and who was more than happy to whale on him, especially once Romney figured out that Obama couldn’t hurt him. Meanwhile, Obama kept looking over at Mitt with a “I can’t believe you know all this stuff” look on his face, while periodically casting beseeching glances at moderator Jim Lehrer, hoping to be saved by a bell that never came.

Last night finally stripped the Vaseline off the lens, and viewed without the distorting filter, things certainly looked a lot different, didn't they?

Posted by Cassandra at October 4, 2012 06:49 AM

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Well, sure hope you are right, and I mirror your take on the event. I am pessimistic,however, because I believe that those in this country who are wedded to BHO will vote for him no matter what he does and no matter what he says. For them,unfortunately, facts don't matter.

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at October 4, 2012 09:01 AM

In my small sample of "people I know" the consensus is "my guy won". And that cut across all party lines. All the Democrats agree that their guy won, and all the Republicans agree that their guy won. So apparently, it was a very good night for "my guy," whoever he was.

Posted by: MikeD at October 4, 2012 09:56 AM

James Carville abandoned Obama. However, the Left can spin it to Obama being beaten up by the nicest bully who ever went to Hahvud, and therefore, is a victim who DESERVES, no, is ENTITLED to another four years.

I am not a pessimist, but after four years of the Obama camp saying how hate-filled the right is, I would not put it past the left.

I will say Obama made some good points, and in a couple of places, followed Mitt's lead in agreeing with Gov. Romney about some things. Good points: Both candidates were gracious, avoided the ad hominem attacks, and in spite of Obama's ignorance and lack of ability to defend his own policies, he stayed in it to the end. I will give the POTUS credit for that.

How much you wanna bet that Obama is being denied the golf course and instead, will be prepped at least four hours a day until the next debate?

I can't WAIT for the debate between Paul Ryan and Joe Biden.

Posted by: Carolyn at October 4, 2012 10:08 AM

Obama looked and sounded vulnerable.
Romney looked and sounded confident and in control.

Even Obama supporters must have felt they were at the receiving end of a "Jane, you ignorant slut".

Posted by: tomg51 at October 4, 2012 10:10 AM

I am pessimistic,however....

As am I. The game was supposed to change with the selection of Ryan as his running mate. Instead, Ryan moved toward Romney. The game was supposed to change after the Republican Convention's formal nomination and all those tons of new money came available. Instead, Romney disappeared for a month, and his surrogates put up vapid, muddled ads in his place. Last night, Romney won (to ape a boxing metaphor over at Grim's place) on points. But that won't move the voters a whole lot.

I'm not at all optimistic.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at October 4, 2012 10:11 AM

The only defense I've heard of Obama this morning is being offered by those as deep in the bubble as Paul Krugman: 'Well, Romney really lost, because everything he said was a lie, lie, lie.'

Here's some more body language, in the form of three gifs. I think it's an important part of the impression the candidates will leave.

Posted by: Grim at October 4, 2012 10:20 AM

Great observation from a mom's perspective!
Thanks for the fun video clip! :-)

Posted by: Margaret Elias at October 4, 2012 11:02 AM

Glad you enjoyed it :)

Posted by: Cass at October 4, 2012 11:06 AM

If, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, then
this one is "War and Peace".

Posted by: DL Sly at October 4, 2012 11:38 AM

Even MSNBC believed that Romney won big, it looked like a funeral parlor over there for President "Eye Candy". Perhaps Obama should have avoided a few entertainment venues in order to prepare for defending his record.

Posted by: TexasMom2012 at October 4, 2012 11:45 AM

MSNBC, Bill Maher, FireDogLake, public polls, you name it -- they all thought Romney wiped the floor with Obama. Will it change the voter of committed Obama supporters? Of course not. (Almost no imaginable debate performance would make me switch my vote from Romney to Obama; I'm not voting for a debater but for a President, and I already knew what their positions and qualifications were.) But focus groups of undecided voters on both MSNBC and Fox flipped in astounding numbers for Romney after watching the debates. The president's emptiness was fatally exposed before people who'd never before been paying attention, and whose only exposure to Romney had been through a poisonous filter.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 4, 2012 12:02 PM

The game was supposed to change with the selection of Ryan as his running mate. Instead, Ryan moved toward Romney. The game was supposed to change after the Republican Convention's formal nomination and all those tons of new money came available. Instead, Romney disappeared for a month, and his surrogates put up vapid, muddled ads in his place.

I was encouraged by the Ryan pick, but never thought it was a game changer. The VP is a very minor job. A lot of folks on the right said they were more likely to vote for McCain after Palin was picked up as the VP, but I never understood that.

After the election, the VP is pretty much marginalized by most administrations. I thought Ryan was a good pick b/c it showed Romney wasn't afraid of being upstaged, and b/c he'll be a good campaigner and would reassure the base. But I didn't give the pick all that much weight.

I suspect they'll make a good team, though. My initial impression of Ryan was that he wouldn't happily play 2nd fiddle but he appears to understand his role and I expect him to be a great advisor to Romney if they're elected.

Ryan didn't move toward Romney - he just understands who's running for President and who's running for VP. You can't have 2 captains on a ship, but Romney's leadership style is to seek and welcome advice and to pick smart advisors. So I saw the pick in that context - as something that should hearten the base, but perhaps not satisfy them completely (and rightly so, IMO).

Posted by: Cass at October 4, 2012 01:05 PM

If nothing else, regardless of the outcome of the election, it confirmed most of the judgements I had already formed about the two men.

Barack Obama: We've had four years to view him and pass a judgement on him. His debate responses were the same canned cliches and bromides of the Left which have been his calling cards in his public life. He may be an intelligent man, but his intellect is flaccid after years of not having his opinions questioned by a skeptical press. And that goes back to his days in the Illinois legislature and the Senate.

Mitt Romney: Mitt is a very intelligent man who has worked hard at every task in his life. He is well educated, intellectually disciplined, and very motivated. The "over achiever". His greatest trait is that he is intellectually disciplined, unlike Barack Obama (or John McCain) and exemplifies the idea of genius being "1% inspiration and 99% perspiration".

I saw Mitt in person two weeks ago as he appeared in my town. I stood about 20 feet away from him, as he spoke along with Rob Portman (US Senator-Ohio), Ohio Governor John Kasich, and Jack Nicklaus.

He's tall, he has a lot of personal warmth and energy. He seemed genuinely glad to be there and to interact with people. He has a dignified and upright bearing to his person.

I thought Mitt would do well last night, but was flabbergasted that Obama did so poorly. Really, he did not look or sound sharp or prepared. Intellectually lazy, he thought he could phone it in and win the debate. Reality has a way of catching up with people sometimes.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at October 4, 2012 01:30 PM