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Romney Wins First Debate

The Weekly Standard’s Mark Hemingway perfectly captured my sense of the first Obama-Romney debate in a single tweet:

I say this as someone who thought Al Gore and John Kerry easily won all the debates in 2000 and 2004–and certainly thought Obama beat McCain in 2008.  I don’t think it’s likely to radically change the dynamics of the race in the key battleground states. But Romney was cogent and prepared while Obama seemed as if he had been up all night and then told he had a surprise debate.

I live-tweeted the debate and initially offered that maybe Al Gore was Obama’s debate coach. Later, I decided that it was probably Clint Eastwood and that Obama would have been better off sending an empty chair.

My guess is that Obama will rebound to form next time but . . . damn.

 

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Mr. Replica says:

    I think the rest that Romney was able to get from the campaign trail was obviously the main reason he did so well in this debate. Whether or not Mitt is able to keep this up for the next debates is the question. And if Mitt decides that he should take breaks from campaigning for every future debate, how quickly will he be dinged for the fact that as president, you can’t take time off every-time something important is on the horizon?

    Obama looked tired and in no mood for a fight. That’s a problem. A person on my facebook feed thinks that Obama is just playing rope-a-dope. That next debate after Romney gets a little more confident, Obama will lay it on thick. But, I am not that optimistic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  2. Mikey says:

    I only saw about half of it, but I thought Obama rambled too much and Romney seemed to have a firmer command of the stage.

    Interestingly, Obama’s chances on Intrade went from 74 to 67 immediately following the debate, so it would appear Romney may have shifted things a bit in his favor. Whether it lasts remains to be seen, of course.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. michael reynolds says:

    Romney hands down.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  4. JKB says:

    And that kiddies is why you learn your Algebra. You just never know when there will be math.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  5. Bleev K says:

    I’m not sure who won, but I’m pretty sure I lost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  6. Fiona says:

    Mitt won. Lied through his teeth, but Obama rarely called him on it. And Jim Lerher basically handed Romney his balls.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 9

  7. JKB says:

    From the earlier debate headline post:

    The president is trying to “make sure he is sharpening his answers and shortening the time it takes to make them.”

    FAIL. Next time, don’t do your homework at a fancy Las Vegas resort. A city, by the way, not acceptable for visiting just 3 1/2 years ago. Well, if your private sector. It’s perfectly fine when on the taxpayer’s dime.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 13

  8. Jc says:

    Prez should be doing mock debates with Bill and Hilary, not with a guy who lost to W. it was his anniversary, but he ain’t getting any love tonight after that performance. That was a horrible performance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  9. Mr. Replica says:

    @JKB:

    And that kiddies is why you learn your Algebra. You just never know when there will be math.

    I have a feeling that you are trying to use the recent Arithmetic line against these “kiddies”. But, instead used Algebra, which is not the same thing.
    Arithmetic
    Algebra

    Unless of course I am missing something, please, fill me in.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  10. JKB says:

    @Mr. Replica: Unless of course I am missing something,

    Not much, just a sense of humor and perhaps the ability not to be literal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  11. gVOR08 says:

    Jim Lehrer was the big loser tonight, but I have to admit Obama was also a loser. Romney has the advantage of little record and little consequence to what he says, but his ability to lie is really impressive. Been proposing a 20% tax rate cut for 18 months which equals 5 billion? No, I pinky swear I wouldn’t do that. Absolutely straight face. But how could the Obama camp not anticipate Romney would lie?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 8

  12. Lit3Bolt says:

    Does Romney winning the debate mean Republicans now trust polls and the media again?

    I’m confused, and there’s so many tin-foil hats in the closet, I can hardly keep up with which one to wear for each occasion.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 8

  13. Romeny sounded better, but if we’re rating on content rather than presentation, they both lost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

  14. john personna says:

    You know, for four years, between debates, everybody said they want a Lincoln-Douglass style discussion of the issues. Between debates people say it shouldn’t be about who wears make-up. Debates should be about contrasts in policy.

    The odd thing for me is that we got that tonight, and Jim Lehrer correctly let things run when policy vs policy was happening.

    But instant analysis is about none of that. Instead it is about the things we said we didn’t want in the four years since the last debate. Scoring isn’t on policy, or who told the biggest whoppers.

    Think about that as you sleep.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

  15. Moderate Mom says:

    Tonight, the President looked like he wished he was anywhere else than that debate stage. The optics were terrible, especially his always looking down at the lectern, or maybe over at Leher, when Romney was speaking. Romney, on the other hand, looked at Obama the entire time he spoke and looked like he was having fun.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  16. bill says:

    commander teleprompter was exposed, so much for slick talking salesmen/charismatic leaders. he looked like king george the 1st, if he looked at his watch it would’ve clinched it. i almost felt bad for him, until i remembered why he need s to go.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 22

  17. anirprof says:

    Have to agree with James’ take, especially the tired, grumpy, almost somber affect. Maybe when things start getting declassified in 20 years, we’ll found out that Obama spent the last 24 hours with no sleep trying to avert a Turkey-Syria war and simultaneously monitoring a failed JSOC mission to send a sabotage team into an Iranian nuclear lab. Because if it wasn’t something like that, then the WH team — including the President — were criminally incompetent in their strategy and/or prep. Man, that hurt to watch.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

  18. bill says:

    @Fiona: sour grapes make for bad whine. obama was exposed as a weak speaker w/o his teleprompter and/or buddies in the media to throw him bones instead of real questions. he was an embarrassment to the office.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 25

  19. Lynda says:

    I thought Romney cleaned Obama’s clock, especially in the first 30 minutes. Mitt was especially good in that aggressive salesman mode – in control of the data and confident. Of course, the data did not really match with the vague plans he has offered but Obama rarely called him on it and looked tired/unsure in comparison. I didn’t think there were any of the classic “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy” or “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe” lines but suspect Obama will have bruises in the polls from this round.

    But my goodness did I find it boring….I would class myself as a pretty wonky but without Twitter and alcohol I would not have made it past the first 15 minutes let alone to the end. I actually found myself wishing for Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and most of all Herman Cain’s 999 which is the emergency number you call in the UK when you really need rescuing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  20. Just Me says:

    I think the fact that Obama rarely holds press conferences and the media rarely holds his feet to the fire over issues (Murdered Ambassadors, Fast and Furious, the economy, the sinking middle class etc) has made him soft.

    Obama couldn’t really put together a coherent argument tonight and even when he tried to score points, Romney seemed better prepared to deal with them.

    Obama also looked bored, tired and like he wanted to be anywhere else but on that stage.

    Romney mostly looked cheerful and eager.

    The moderation wasn’t to format, but I would prefer debates with more give and take between the candidates.

    I am not convinced this debate is going to do much to change the outcome of the race-it might tighten up in some states, but I don’t see any huge shifts in Romney’s direction. However, Romney certainly didn’t hurt himself tonight, and probably helped but it might be too little, too late.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 7

  21. Lynda says:

    If Romney’s performance tonight gives him a bump in the polls, one entertaining thing in the next couple of days will be watching all those people who last week said the polls were horribly biased now claim they are an accurate reflection of reality!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  22. al-Ameda says:

    The “debates” should be shut down, they are anything but a debate.

    Mitt was 100% on message, he had it all memorized, while Obama was less programmed and seemed less energetic. It was a dull performance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. dennis says:

    Romney showed himself to be a liar. Romney showed himself to be an intolerable asshat. And I’m still not voting for him. But y’all go ahead; see what happens…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 4

  24. Mr. Replica says:

    @Lynda:

    If Romney’s performance tonight gives him a bump in the polls, one entertaining thing in the next couple of days will be watching all those people who last week said the polls were horribly biased now claim they are an accurate reflection of reality!

    You can see something similar to that over at Breitbart, right now. They latched onto Andrew Sullivan’s remarks about how this might have cost Obama the election. And even tho these people usually can not stand Sullivan, some how he’s all good now because they like what they hear from him.
    It’s not shocking. It’s par for the course. I’m sure that IF Obama wins the next debate and gets a bump in the polls (like what Romney will receive after tonight), they will inevitably go back whining about how the media is in the bag for Obama and how the polls are biased.

    Oh, and if anyone wants to see some pure comedy, I suggest finding the video from tonight of Ed Shultz and Chris Matthews having a meltdown after the debate. It’s funny stuff.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  25. KariQ says:

    In an earlier thread I referred to Obama as a competent, but not a good, debater. That judgment is now subject to revision.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Fiona says:

    @Mr. Replica:

    Oh, and if anyone wants to see some pure comedy, I suggest finding the video from tonight of Ed Shultz and Chris Matthews having a meltdown after the debate. It’s funny stuff.

    No kidding. Matthews was completely apoplectic. I thought his head was going to explode. Pretty glum night for the MSNBC crew.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  27. Moderate Mom says:

    @Fiona: The funniest part was Matthews repeatedly saying that Obama needs to watch MSNBC. If I was a betting woman, I’d lay odds that White House TVs are continuously on MSNBC, the same way in the Bush White House they were tuned to Fox.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  28. Jeremy R. says:

    Did anyone look at the cross-tabs on that CNN post-debate flash poll? They’re the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen:

    http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2012/images/10/03/top12.pdf

    Northest, Mid-West, West: N/A
    Liberal: N/A
    Under 50: N/A
    Non-White: N/A
    No College: N/A
    Rural: N/A

    The PDF says less than 1% is denoted with an asterisk so I guess literally all respondents were 50+ southern whites?…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. Commonist says:

    Could any republican explain the infantile obsession you subhumans have with teleprompters?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 2

  30. Terrye says:

    It was a massacre. Obama looked like a deer in the headlights. I think the problem for him was that he made the mistake of believing Axelrod’s lies about Romney and then last night he had to go up against the real deal..and it was not pretty.

    I love the complaints about Romney not coming up with specifics…I do not remember Barack Obama promising Obamacare.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  31. KariQ says:

    @Jeremy R.:

    The PDF says less than 1% is denoted with an asterisk so I guess literally all respondents were 50+ southern whites?…

    No. I looked at that after I saw your post, and I see what you’re talking about. It is a very peculiar sample, clearly way over weighted to southern, older, whiter respondents than the nation as a whole. But that’s probably because older, whiter, more conservative people are more likely to watch the debates than younger folks, so when asked if they watched the debate, younger, less white, and liberal respondents said “no” and that ended the call.

    The NA probably means that the margin of error for the subgroup was high enough that they didn’t feel enough confidence to report the numbers individually. So there just weren’t enough liberals, non-whites (or residents of rural areas) to give a statistically meaningful breakdown.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. Scott says:

    Random thoughts:

    Romney “won” the debate. Obama was too defensive.

    Romney tried to reclaim the center. First time I heard him brag about his term as Governor in Massachusetts. Side note: Massachusetts voters apparently disagree since they are overwhelmingly for Obama.

    Modern American debates: throw lots of data around like huge clouds of dirt, obscure everything and make the voters adjudicate everything.

    Romney slightly irritated me with his attitude to Jim Lehrer. Some will call it aggressiveness or assertiveness. Some will call it bullying. What did others see? Should Lehrer have asserted more control?

    Boy, Obama looks old and tired.

    Did Romney shave his upper lip too close? (Hey, I said random thoughts)

    Overall, pretty dull. I can’t wait to see what the blogosphere will say. I imagine it wll be pretty predictable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  33. Eric Florack says:

    I forget who it was, but some wonk on Twitter suggested they’d not seen so enthusiastic a beating since Paul Reubens and Fred Willard went to the movies together.

    There are those of course who will blame Obama’s overwhelming loss last night on a number of things … he didn’t have his teleprompter…. some will blame his debate coaches … — they’ll blame the moderator… they’ll say Romney bullied his way to more talk time…(Untrue of course… Obama got a total of four minutes more talk time than Romney did.) …and like good Democrats… they’re going to blame everything but what needs to be blamed for the problem. Specifically, the message is the issue. The content.

    Look, I don’t care if you’re the best salesman in the world… if what you are selling is radioactive waste, you’re not going to get a line to your door to buy the stuff, no matter how good a job you do. That’s what Obama’s problem was last night. He was faced for the first time with someone willing to make the case that the policies of the left have failed. And, predictably, Obama couldn’t defend against it.

    Try as he might… and he did try…he couldn’t make the sale for four more years of failure. But then again, who could? I mean, look, I’ll give him the Bill Clinton defense here. Nobody could have done a better job with what Obama policy left Obama himself to defend.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 10

  34. Eric Florack says:

    @KariQ:

    No. I looked at that after I saw your post, and I see what you’re talking about. It is a very peculiar sample, clearly way over weighted to southern, older, whiter respondents than the nation as a whole. But that’s probably because older, whiter, more conservative people are more likely to watch the debates than younger folks, so when asked if they watched the debate, younger, less white, and liberal respondents said “no” and that ended the call.

    Well, remember, the polling was kinda limited by the nature of the “undecided” pool, hmmm?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9

  35. sam says:

    @Eric Florack:

    That’s what Obama’s problem was last night. He was faced for the first time with someone willing to make the case that the policies of the left have failed.

    How do you respond to this, BitEric?

    Matt Yglesias tweets: “It’s interesting that conservatives who think they don’t want Mitt to pivot to the center are clearly elated when he did it and it worked.” That’s true. Romney repeatedly noted that he agreed with Obama on various issues and repeatedly took rhetorically moderate positions. For example: “Regulation is essential. You can’t have a free market work if you don’t have regulation.” You sure wouldn’t have heard him say that during one of the primary debates.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  36. Commonist says:

    Eric, why don’t conservatives ever use ellipses properly? Are the five to ten dots in succession a way to communicate ‘senior moments’ or something?

    Now see here: …

    Three dots is standard throughout the English world. This form of writing:

    “Aaaaarglebargle teleprompters…………and aborshuns….and scary…….defycytts……..”

    just makes you look like an idiot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

  37. Eric Florack says:

    @sam: But he didn’t come to the center. He’s always been there. He’s not perfect by any stretch, as I keep saying. But frankly ANYTHING to the right of Obama… which I grant is a pretty broad field, would have worked to defeat him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

  38. Eric Florack says:

    @Commonist: Is that what you’re down to?
    Good lord, kid…. Here’s a clue since you appear to seriously need one… this is not a formal writing class.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 10

  39. sam says:

    @Eric Florack:

    @sam: But he didn’t come to the center. He’s always been there.

    Putting aside the fact that Centrist Romney was nowhere to be seen during the Republican debates, doesn’t your claim of his being a centrist undercut this claim of your’s?

    That’s what Obama’s problem was last night. He was faced for the first time with someone willing to make the case that the policies of the left have failed.

    Doesn’t being a centrist involve acknowledging that some policies of the left are efficacious, as are some of the right’s? And didn’t he do just that last night?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  40. KariQ says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Well, remember, the polling was kinda limited by the nature of the “undecided” pool, hmmm?

    So you think old, white, conservatives are undecided in this election? I find that hard to believe.

    In any case, this wasn’t “undecided” voters, it was all viewers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  41. Eric Florack says:

    Again… anything to the right of Obama, would have defeated Obama.

    Understand; I’ve never been a big fan of Romney, as I’ve said here and at my own place, quite a few times. Romney may argue that some of what the left offers is worthwhile. But that isn’t what won the night, and you know it. Stop trying to pull a plum out of the shit pile, Sam.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

  42. Tsar Nicholas says:

    I missed the debate. I don’t get home from work until 6:30 p.m. PST and by the time I got through enjoying a nice dinner the debate was over. Plus I haven’t watched a presidential debate in 20 years. But I just spent about a half hour perusing a few blogs and I have to say the Internet’s chattering classes are as loopy, punch drunk and out to lunch as usual.

    – Dude from Powerline thinks the entire election is over. Um, no, Chief, the election is not over. Obama could have sent a cardboard cutout of himself to the debate (maybe that would have been better than the real thing?) and yet he’ll still receive upwards of 97% of the black vote on heavy turnout along with complete lock step margins from the various other Democrat victim and identity groups. Plus debates don’t determine the outcomes of elections. Otherwise Mondale would have beat Reagan (or at least been close) and Kerry would have prevailed over W. Bush.

    – Not to be outdone the left apparently is self-medicating in large part by blaming Jim Lehrer. Whaaat? Yikes. That’s really dumb. That’s dumb even by left-wing standards. At least one useless liberal academic (and erstwhile “moderate” poseur) is blaming John Kerry. As if the debate prep dance partner is responsible for Obama’s apparent catatonia and inability to formulate cogent sentences. Again, really dumb, even by liberal standards.

    That all said, I do plan to watch the veep debate (for the first time since 1988) and I expect it to be quite, uh, entertaining. Joe Biden on live TV? Against a good-looking guy who’s as sharp as a tack? The possibilities are endless.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  43. Eric Florack says:

    In any case, this wasn’t “undecided” voters, it was all viewers.

    If so, my bad. I’ve spent most of the night watching polling reports and likely got my lines crossed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  44. sam says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Romney may argue that some of what the left offers is worthwhile. But that isn’t what won the night, and you know it. Stop trying to pull a plum out of the shit pile, Sam.

    Your problem is, you take time out from your own widely unread blog to come over here wielding a rhetorical blunderbuss, and when someone points out your, ahh, lack of nuanced thinking, you start talking about plums and piles of shit.

    Rhetorical blunderbuss = ” He was faced for the first time with someone willing to make the case that the policies of the left have failed.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  45. Eric Florack says:

    Sam, forget it. You came in trying to tell us that Romney leaning to the center is what won the day, and that’s not even close to true.

    And there’s nothing that needs to be “nuanced” about that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  46. sam says:

    @Eric Florack:

    You came in trying to tell us that Romney leaning to the center is what won the day

    Of course, I never said any such thing. What I did say, or imply, was that your characterization of Romney’s performance, as being a devastating critique of “leftist positions”, was untrue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  47. bookdragon says:

    Obama did look tired and his performance was lackluster. He didn’t call Romney directly on any of the repeated lies. He also kept looking to the side. I don’t think it was at Lehrer. It’s the direction he looked when he spoke to Michelle at the start, so I think he was looking at her (at least mildly understandable on their anniversary).

    Romney was dynamic and a completely different version of himself than has appeared anywhere for the past 9 months. I guess no one should be surprised by that given how easily he flips, but I think it threw Obama a bit to suddenly be facing ‘I’m to the left of Ted Kennedy’ Romney instead of ‘I’m severely conservative’ Romney. It’s hard to debate people with multiple personalities.

    However, I didn’t like this version of Romney either. Maybe it’s the natural aversion engineers have for marketing hucksters, but the whole full-press salesman thing just rubbed me wrong, especially given how vague he was about everything except the outright lies. I said it after the 47% video came out: he’s a confidence man, a grifter, who knows how to tell an audience what it wants to hear in order to manipulate them. And that type invariably sets my teeth on edge.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  48. Eric Florack says:

    @sam:

    Of course, I never said any such thing.

    Really?

    Doesn’t being a centrist involve acknowledging that some policies of the left are efficacious, as are some of the right’s? And didn’t he do just that last night?

    Hmmm. How is this not what you said, I wonder?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  49. john personna says:

    In contrast, The American Conservative has an intelligent review of the debate:

    I tried to live-blog this thing, but just didn’t have the energy. So here is my strongest impression of the debate overall: Mitt Romney wants the audience to believe that he and Barack Obama disagree profoundly on fundamental philosophy, but disagree only very marginally about policy.

    Over and over again, Mitt Romney would attack the President on general principles, then the President would say, in so many words, “well, the implications of that view are” and start listing policy implications, and Romney would retort: no, I don’t believe any of that, in fact that stuff you say I oppose is stuff I agree with, and that stuff you say I support is stuff I absolutely will not do.

    That’s what I saw too. Here’s how he finishes:

    I guess it’s clear how the combination played for me. How it played for a low-information voter, I don’t know.

    I’m calling that the Keynes, beauty contest method of analysis, and in my opinion it’s cynical to put your projection of the “low-information voter” at the center of things.

    Be brave enough to take your own look at what was really said.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  50. Rob in CT says:

    Bummer.

    Have to hope for a better performance in the next 2.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  51. C. Clavin says:

    No question Romney won on style points…
    But c’mon…
    We are going to lower everyones taxes, increase military spending, cover pre-existing conditions, invest in education, hire teachers, become energy independent, and balance the budget.

    You cannot eat all the candy you want and still lose weight, folks.

    This is what Bush sold you fools…we don’t need to pay for those tax cuts, we don’t need to pay for those wars, we don’t need to pay for that entitlement expansion. Now the dificit is huge and you want to blame Obama for it instead of admitting you were conned. Now you are being conned again. And you refuce to see it.
    Fairy dust and Leprechauns and Unicorns, oh my.
    Now…why Obama couldn’t manage to express that…I am at a loss to explain.
    I’m anxious to see how his campaign responds.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  52. Rob in CT says:

    I should note that I didn’t watch. I watched my Yankees beat the snot out of the Red Sox and win the AL East, and then went to bed.

    Debates are not for the high-info voter, right? They’re for the low-info voter. Undecideds.

    And, based on the reactions I’ve read so far, Obama did poorly in a pitch to them. I have no doubt Romney did his Etch-A-Sketch thing and told a number of flat-out lies. But if you cannot counter those things, you lose. That’s what debates are like.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  53. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    You sum up what I’m calling cynicism. It’s one thing to say that “flat-out lies” might be accepted by “low-information voters”. It’s another to score the debates for them and only for them.

    For me, as an analytical listener, I heard Romney get stuck and then tell a lie to get out. It happened more than once. In an information rich world that should be a loss, whether Obama called him on it, or chose to focus on something else.

    And if Obama never got stuck, never had to lie his way out of a difficult question, he won.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  54. C. Clavin says:

    The debates one moment of near-clarity:

    “…He says he will close deductions and loopholes for his tax plan: we do not know the details, He says that he is going to replace Dodd-Frank, Wall Street reform, but we do not know exactly which ones — he will not tell us. He now says he will replace Obamacare and ensure all the good things and it will be in there and you do not have to worry. At some point the American people have to ask themselves, is the reason Governor Romney is keeping all of these plans a secret because they are too good?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  55. rodney dill says:

    If Obama wanted to win he should’ve insisted they use the former NFL replacement refs as moderators.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  56. LaMont says:

    About two-thirds of the way through the debate I started to dread what was inevitably going to happen in the media! It become absolutely clear that Romeny would be considered the winner. I dreaded it becuase I knew it would be for all the wrong reasons and that approx. 60 million viewers would not be any more intelligent afterwards about either condidate than before. Yes, Romney appeard polished and ready – not much of an obstacle to clear when the bar was set so extremely low for him (thanks to widening poll numbers). And Yes, it appeared that Obama seemed to be on the defensive, giving elongated answers to explain details that most voters will never or even care to understand. Not a great tactic to use when the bar for an incumbent is usually higher than the challenger anyway – not to mention being favored in recent polls and Obama’s aggressive and finely tuned stump speech attacks against Romney’s point of views.

    So ultimately the political theatrics of the debate scores the winner instead of the content – content by which is how the debates should be judged. But heck, I never really expected that to happen anyway. However, It still does not make me less bothered by it. I will say this, Obama’s performance was inexcusable in that he never really challenged Romney on any of the facts thereby making Romney apear as a legitiment candidate when in fact, most fact checkers following the debate has confirmed that Romney either lied or mislead on almost every relevant arguement he presented.

    See below;

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/10/03/footnoting-the-debate/

    http://factcheck.org/2012/10/dubious-denver-debate-declarations/

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2012/oct/03/fact-checking-denver-presidential-debate/

    But you wouldn’t expect the average person to investigate these facts, or lack thereof! This can be really frustrating at times!

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  57. john personna says:

    BTW, if you think Romney lied with confidence and good bearing, isn’t that the sociopath’s win?

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  58. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    For me, as an analytical listener, I heard Romney get stuck and then tell a lie to get out. It happened more than once. In an information rich world that should be a loss, whether Obama called him on it, or chose to focus on something else.

    That’s nice. I wish the world worked that way. It does not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  59. Rob in CT says:

    To sum up, again John:

    if you cannot counter those things, you lose

    And it’s more than that. You have to counter those things and appear strong (but not angry), commanding (but not mean), etc.

    If Obama went into last night’s debate assuming he was going to debate the “Severely Conservative” Mitt Romney and was flustered by the appearance of Etch-A-Sketch Governor of MA “more liberal than [insert whoever sounds good here] Romney” then that’s bad.

    Look, in his shoes I also would have been flustered. Annoyed. Amazed at the chutzpah. But that is one of many reasons I’m not and will never be POTUS. He’s got to be able to call Romney out on that, and do it right.

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  60. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Which is the good fight?

    I mean, should we really all roll over and say that any lie, well-delivered, wins our presidency?

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  61. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    What I’m hearing Rob, is a total absence of analysis like this:

    “Romney mad argument X well, with the facts and experts on his side.”

    Instead I hear:

    “Let’s all surrender, to a lie well told.”

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  62. sam says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Hmmm. How is this not what you said, I wonder?

    That’s what I said, alright, but I didn’t say he won because of that. I think he “won” on style points, not substance points. Put another way, his shadow looked better on the wall of Plato’s Cave than Obama’s.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  63. LaMont says:

    @john personna:

    I don’t think the well informed voters feel that way. However, the less informed (who ultimately determines the race) will take on the notion that what Romney said must be correct becuase of his aggressive and confident debating nature. Not only does those voters realize what is true or not, they will never take the time to investigate them.

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  64. LaMont says:

    @LaMont:

    Meant;

    Not only don’t those voters realize what is true or not

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  65. john personna says:

    @LaMont:

    For what it’s worth, I was really struck when Felix Salmon, who knows his economics, tweeted this as Obama talked about the impossibility of the Romney budget:

    “That’s not my analysis, that’s the analysis of economists”. No, Barack, that’s not a vote-getter.

    What he’s saying is that you can’t go to fact in a debate. How can I not call that cynicism? And how can I not think informed voters are throwing over what they know?

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  66. stonetools says:

    I said Obama wasn’t a great debater earlier.He proved me right. Unfortunately, he was worse than I imagined.Obama reverted to law professor type-giving long, rambling, nuanced answers to questions and not counter punching when Romney left openings. I wish that Obama during his law career had spent a year as a courtroom litigator, preferably doing criminal law in a big city court. There you learn to improvise, to cross examine lying witnesses, to make and adjust your arguments according to fast changing factual situations. Apparently, Obama can’t do any of those things, which are just the skills you need in debates. One of the reasons Lincoln did so well in the Lincoln-Douglas debates is that for twenty years before those debates he was a trial lawyer-and by all accounts a good one.

    One of the problems with this debate format is that if you can lie convincingly, you can do well-and Romney can lie convincingly. It would be great if a debater got an electric shock every time they lied -Romney would be a dead man today:-) -but that’s not what happens. Obama did call Romney on a couple of his lies, but he left a lot on the table.

    It also may be that Obama was prepared to debate conservative Mitt- an unabashed defender of cutting taxes on the rich, and of privatizing Medicare. What showed up was Massachusetts moderate Mitt- defender of banking regulation and of universal health care. That probably threw Obama off.

    Finally, there is the Angry Black Man factor. Is the country ready for Obama to rip into Mitt on a public stage? Liberals might be, but maybe the rest of the country wouldn’t. There is probably focus group analysis on that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  67. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    What makes you think I’m surrendering?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  68. Rob in CT says:

    Obama has to be able to return fire in a way that works in a TV debate, John. Obviously, since I think the preponderance of facts are clearly on his side, he should be able to. Not doing so is a failure.

    stonetools makes a good point: if you are cross-examining a liar and you can’t show that he’s lying, you’re gonna lose. Justice will not be served as a result. That’s bad.

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  69. michael reynolds says:

    @Commonist:

    Could any republican explain the infantile obsession you subhumans have with teleprompters?

    That’s simple. They mean that Obama is black, and therefore intellectually inferior, so he can only sound smart when a white man writes him pretty words to say. That’s what they mean. It’s all they ever mean.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  70. stonetools says:

    @john personna:

    John, I think your problem is similar to Obama’s. Both of you seem to believe that the truth, once stated, settles the argument. Wrong. Truth has to be defended, skillfully, and forcefully.
    In debates too, it has the proclaimed in a brief, pithy fashion. Obama’s long , winding answers may work well in a law review article context, but they are terrible in a debate setting-even if they are true..

    I hate to say it, but Obama needs to develop a stock of zingers and one liners, like Ted Kennedy”s “Romney isn’t pro choice, he is multiple choice” . He absolutely has to learn to punch and counter punch -and in a way that a low information debate audience can appreciate

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  71. ptfe says:

    @Rob in CT: That’s what was frustrating about Obama’s performance. Romney opened up for easy touches almost every time he opened his mouth, but Obama didn’t seem interested enough to make a move. It was like he was given vague advice beforehand like “run on your record” and “focus on Romney’s flip-flopping” rather than being handed a pile of flash cards with Romney’s talking points and ready rebuttal lines. Every time he got around to refuting something, Obama was already three paragraphs into his explanation of how his presidency has been successful, and his refutations were meek and timid.

    Did he go into this thing with any tactical plan? Obama was always — always — touting his examples first; he never simply and brutally ripped apart anything Romney said; and he only very rarely seemed like he was anticipating arguments. His mistake was thinking that he needed to make his ideas seem like gold when all he really needed was to make his opponent look like dirt, because next to dirt, even a dull penny is pretty attractive. Obama needed to assault Romney’s fallacies and inadequacies and challenge not only what Romney was saying from behind the podium but what he has said on the campaign trail.

    To a lot of low-information voters, facts don’t matter. They won’t read Paul Ryan’s fantastical fiscal ramblings, they’ll just regard Paul Ryan as “the guy who wrote a plan that solves the debt problem!” They won’t read Romney’s health care ideas, they’ll just regard him as “the guy who’ll put money back into Medicare!” But if you’re supposed to be championing facts, you have to shove them down those low-information voters’ throats at every opportunity, so that even if they don’t believe you, they’re convincedfused enough to (a) look it up or (b) continue not caring what either of you has to say.

    And, yes, this means that a convincing con can (and often will) win. It’s why cranks can get rich telling people that pressed shark fin pills will give them bigger erect!ons, or that sending $10,000 to the guy on TV will give them a personal line to Jesus, or that They May Already Be A Winner.

    Sadly, that is also a fact.

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  72. stonetools says:

    @ptfe:

    Well said. Agree completely.
    Now I really do wonder how well Obama prepared for the debate. I’m beginning to believe he was over confident and sort of thought that Romney would trip over himself , as he often does. Well Romney didn’t.

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  73. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @michael reynolds: That’s simple. They mean that Obama is black, and therefore intellectually inferior, so he can only sound smart when a white man writes him pretty words to say. That’s what they mean. It’s all they ever mean.

    Dude… did it ever occur to you that if you keep hearing these dog whistles, maybe you’re the dog?

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  74. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I love that guys like you think you’re subtle. You’re about on the level of a toddler caught with cookies crumbs on his face and a broken cookie jar at his feet denying he took a cookie. The grown-ups all see what you’re doing. You’re only smart to yourself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  75. The Q says:

    Commonist writes that Florack’s misuse of ellipsis “just makes you look like an idiot.”

    I beg to differ. Its the words he writes and the viewpoints he espouses that make him look like an idiot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  76. The Q says:

    We should be glad there are two more debates because the media will be predictable in its analysis

    For example, no way romney tops his performance in the next debate, hence the headlines will read, “President gets back his mojo” or “Romney loses luster in second debate” etc.

    They need to put the Mo back onto Obama because it sets up the third debate rubber match which will be “for all the marbles” since its so close to election day and by then Romney’s first debate win will be forgotten.

    So, stay tuned as the Kabuki plays out. The “winner” of the third debate is the key.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  77. stonetools says:

    @The Q:

    There is something to that. But make no mistake, Obama DID lose this debate. That’s not media wishful thinking, that’s reality.

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  78. rodney dill says:

    I did notice that Mitt’s flag lapel pin looked larger than Obama’s

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  79. john personna says:

    @stonetools:

    John, I think your problem is similar to Obama’s. Both of you seem to believe that the truth, once stated, settles the argument.

    It is entirely possible that Obama and I are a little bit out there on the autistic scale. I understand that. Just the same, it seems like a time to give the autistics come cred for cutting through the BS.

    I note that this is tops on memeorandum right now:

    Romney’s Successful Debate Plan: Lying

    What if that meme sticks? Are you sure that it cannot propagate to the “low-information voter?”

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  80. Rob in CT says:

    We better hope so, John.

    It would have been better, however, if Obama had made that point succesfully in the debate itself.

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  81. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @michael reynolds: Fine, I’ll dispense with the subtlety. Sans teleprompter, Obama often comes across about as articulate as a third George Bush. Examples available on request.

    As for you… I am uncertain. Either you’re the most race-obsessed white guy ever, or still stuck on stupid and think that simply shouting “RAAAAACIST!!!!!111!!!” can still get people to shut up or get all defensive.

    Oh, hell, I’ll be generous. It could be both. I have faith in your abilities.

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  82. The Q says:

    Jemos, you’re right and Reynolds is wrong. There is no racism in America. And that 40% of wingnuts who think Obama is a Muslim are just making an innocent mistake. They all support the NAACP and affirmative action. They don’t go after food stamp recipients or welfare queens, they go after the big fat cat bankers and agri business subsidies.

    Why to prove the wingnuts aren’t racists, they get 9% of the black vote, so there Mr. Reynolds.

    We need more obviously non biased clear thinkers like Jenos to accurately portray the true color blind society we now have, thanks to Martin Luther King, LBJ and Thurgood Marshall, heroes all to the wingnut faithful. Did I get that about right Jenos?

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  83. stonetools says:

    @john personna:

    I think Pm carpenter has a point re Obama’ weakness:

    If I may, as an amicus curiae. It has always been my contention that Obama’s greatest failing as a politician is that he vastly overestimates the perspicacity of the American electorate. Obama isn’t a natural populist, a Steinbeckian Man of the People, or a Robert Penn Warren demagogue–all sublime examples of that peculiar political species that knows, just knows, how to relate to registered-voter ignorance. Notwithstanding his labors as a community organizer, Obama is a student, a reader, a thinker–a sublime example of intellectual integrity that assumes others understand essentially what he understands; hence there’s no reason to pound away at the obvious.

    Such a person is just completely unprepared for the possibility that Romney could just brazenly lie-and that his job to demonstrate to the public that Romney is brazenly lying. Thus when Obama says that Mitt’s tax plan would grow the deficit $5T, he expects Romney to concede-not just for him to say glibly that he has a whole nother tax plan that magically balances the budget.

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  84. Mikey says:

    @stonetools:

    Such a person is just completely unprepared for the possibility that Romney could just brazenly lie-and that his job to demonstrate to the public that Romney is brazenly lying. Thus when Obama says that Mitt’s tax plan would grow the deficit $5T, he expects Romney to concede-not just for him to say glibly that he has a whole nother tax plan that magically balances the budget.

    Do you really think Obama is that naive? Really? Of course he isn’t. And this train of thought really diminishes him. It’s like something you’d say about an utter novice, not a man who has won the office of the Presidency.

    This kind of excuse-making is ridiculous. Obama, for whatever reason, had a horrible night. It could be a one-off thing, from which he recovers brilliantly. Or it could indicate some deeper issues. Only he knows, and he is wisely not telling. The best thing for his supporters to do is move forward, not blame the hoi polloi or Jim Lehrer or the thin Denver air.

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  85. Lit3Bolt says:

    @The Q:

    Don’t forget Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Redstate and Pajamas Media and Outside the Beltway loves those guys too.

    In fact, Doug Mataconis, a blogger at Outside the Beltway, once said of Al Sharpton, “The man is an intellectual giant and I consider myself less racist because of Rev. Sharpton’s actions in healing the racial divide in America.”

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