Thursday, October 4, 2012

Get Over It: It Was a Fair Fight, And Obama Blew It Himself

I can't help but think that many of my liked-minded friends have completely missed the point of last night's debates. It doesn't matter how much dissembling Romney might have done, or how preposterous the internal logic of his statements may add up to. The moderator's role is a sideshow — moderators are a stupid modern convention that clever politicians know how to play.

Debates are not about policy discovery. They are theater. That is all. It's all about heart.

The day before, and the day after — that's the time to score the head. On stage it's all about your media training.

What makes so many Obama supporters angry is that the distance between head and heart were so wide. But there is nobody to blame for that, and for the appearance — the performance — that conveyed.

I saw Felix Salmon today (thanks again for RT'ing, even if, as you explained, it must have been a mistake / the result or boredom or all you have left to do when your own Twitter feed blew up) and after some witty (One-sided. Guess which side) banter I told him how I had watched the debate.

Even I didn't realize it until today: I essentially stopped listening after the first question to live blog it (along with the entire planet, apparently), and kept one ear and one eye open for a clue that the dynamic was changing.

Obama lost because he didn't take the initiative. He even looked at times as if he didn't want to be president anymore. He's made a case for a Democrat, but not for this Democrat, and for a person who has often seemed so blasé in office — in stark contrast to the often passionate 2008 campaigner — this is not a good meme to feed.

The setup now is for Biden to take the heat off, and for Obama to close strongly. 

But you only get one chance to make a first impression, and that was it

Here's the Storify of my Obama / Romney Twitter live blog.


BasilEden said...

No, Obama lost because Mitt did something unexpected (which we should all have expected): he flat out lied about everything. To prepare for a debate you study your opponent's positions. Obama did that. But then, on the spot, Romney just blandly asserted that the things he has been saying for two years are his positions are not his positions- that he'd never heard of them.

This put Obama in a no-win situation. Call Romney a liar and come across as mean; or say nothing and seem like a wimp. It was no-win at that point.

It's up to all of us, now, to recognize what Romney actually did was a massive bait and switch. What happened to the tea party Republican? Gone. A Maine liberal has suddenly appeared.

This is the biggest lie-fest in US Presidential history.

John Abell said...

@BasilEden I agree wholeheartedly -- except for one thing. Calling out a liar doesn't make you automatically seem mean. It's a serious charge, yes. But not doing so gives the liar a form of heckler's veto. And if that liar is also (ahem) shameless, you have no choice but to match point with counterpoint.

Obama joked the next day that it couldn't have been Romney on that stage. It was a clever comeback, though it was a day late and this dollar short: That was the Romney he knew, the guy who has blatantly lied about administration medicare and welfare policy in two ads that still haven't been pulled.

There are always things you can point to that weren't fair or right. Things that would have changed the outcome, even if you didn't change a thing about yourself. But the truth is that Gore lost in 2000 because he squandered opportunities that would have prevented SCOTUS from stealing the election from him. And Obama lost because he played the game atrociously. If at all.