According to a variety of news sources, both print and online, the first debate was a democratic flop. This is evidenced by the fact that the polls show that undecided voters were more amenable to Romney’s points than to Obama’s.
Of course, the other way to look at the debate results is that Romney has (or at least his campaign and speech-writing staff have) more valid points than we previously assumed. So now, thanks to that disastrous debate, the American people have two candidates with concrete talking points. As “democracy” goes – isn’t this a win-win? Now people have a choice based on something slightly more substantive – not just. But I get it. Partisanship trumps all.
So my far-too-belated understanding of the debate is this: Obama was too long-winded and grumpy (but wouldn’t you be too, if you were missing your wedding anniversary and *everything* that goes with it?), Romney was too vague and overbearing (but markedly more specific than he has been before), and Jim Lehrer was too timid.
Actually, that last one was the real problem. The whole debacle could have been improved if Lehrer had been a real stickler for time-limits and had demanded that each candidate get off their power-horses and follow debate rules like normal people. But all in all – it wasn’t really a riveting debate. I mean, what’s interesting is that it’s the first time that democrats and republicans were required to listen to the opposing candidate – and I think the fact that neither man was totally useless or neanderthal-like surprised voters on both sides of the aisle.
But here’s where I get confused. What I don’t understand at all is why both parties are upset at the general lack of “zingers” – i.e., totally unprofessional and irrelevant swipes at each other. Democrats disenchanted with the debate cite the fact that Obama was “lackluster” and that he should have called Romney out on some of his ridiculous comments from the past. But in my opinion, even what democrats refer to as Obama’s golden trump card – the 47% comment – would have been a waste of precious debate time. Personally, if Obama had invoked that comment, I would have lost respect. Romney spoke out of turn and was had zero basis for the numbers, but let’s get it straight – Romney didn’t say “i believe in social Darwinism so I’m not going to worry about the 47% of free-loaders because they won’t survive that long anyway.” He said (in not so many words) that he’s not going to waste his resources vying for the affections of 47% of the country who are predetermined to vote democrat. Romney’s right (haha… alliterative and punny) – he’s probably not winning votes from pro-choice women or engaged gay men, because those people have long-since decided that their interests are best served by a left-leaning president. I don’t know when leftist interest groups started making up half of America, but it’s a moot point. Because maybe Obama didn’t outright name a percentage like Romney did, but he’s certainly not spending any time campaigning in Mississippi or Alabama – he’s not even bothering to run TV ads there.
Usually when someone retreats from a lost battle, they call that strategy. Regardless, Romney’s comment was irrelevant to the first debate – where the candidates were to outline and argue the merits of their respective policies, and it had no place there.
We’re far enough along now that it’s time to stop name-calling and start properly condemning candidates based on their campaign promises and voting/policy records. Which were very interesting, and which I will do my best to outline in another post. For now, my point is just that people are reading way too much into the first debate. The 2nd, 3rd, and VP debates (especially the VP debate) will be much more telling, as they will fall closer to election day, and each candidate will have had his warm-up round. So let’s not count our chickens before they hatch, shall we?