October 04, 2012

First U.S. Presidential Debate: Obama vs. Romney 2012

This is the early take from the media pundits on this debate.
The verdict being that Obama lost the 1st debate.
I think that's a bit over-the-top because:

  1. Remember Obama's "long-game"?
  2. This is the 1st one. Two more to go.
  3. Are voters going to vote based on Romney's enthusiastic lying or Obama's soberly pointing out the fact that Romney doesn't really have an alternative, that Romney talks about repealing Obamacare without saying much about how.
Here are the takes from a few pundits.

Well, I’m with all the other talking heads: Mitt Romney won this debate. Barack Obama lost it. I mean, he got his butt kicked. It was, in fact, one of the most inept performances I’ve ever seen by a sitting President. Romney–credit where it’s due–was calm, clear, convincing (even when he was totally full of it) and nearly human. The real mystery was Obama. Where on earth was he? Why was his debate strategy unilateral disarmament? Why did he never speak in plain English: “Mitt, you’re selling a fantasy. Bill Clinton proved it. He raised taxes on the wealthy and the economy boomed. George Bush lowered taxes drastically and the economy tanked. How’s your plan any different than Bush’s?” Actually, the President did say something like that but it was well past most of America’s bedtime, about an hour into the debate–and he didn’t do it clearly, concisely, directly.

Joe Klein in TIME Magazine.

On points (facts aside): Romney A-/B+ (shameless but masterful), Obama C+ (missed every opportunity) Lehrer D (road kill.)

My take: In word, Obama was too be gentle &erudite; Romney too desperate. But Romney's smug smile sickened.

Ezra Klein @ezraklein
Folks who believe the media is biased towards Obama should watch the cable networks tonight. Media is biased towards winners.

You know that backstage Obama's being told, "You were GREAT Mr. President." #debate2012

final takeaway: Mitt finally shook the etch-a-sketch- the moderate re-emerged. He flip-flops like he's been tasered, but hey, he's a winner!

RT @Justin_Stangel: So now the phone lines are open. America can vote & tomorrow night @RyanSeacrest will announce the winner#debate2012

2. Romney made a shockingly better case for government being a protector of the weak and vulnerable than Obama.
1. Obama was meandering and confusing.

RT @DLeonhardt: Yes. RT @j_freedland: Risk that in next debate Obama lurches into Gore-style over-correction and comes out uber-aggressive

Mitt: "we have best health record in the world" - then why does the UN rank us 37? Outside the bubble, there are facts you know

Somewhere, Bill Clinton is shouting answers to all of Jim Lehrer’s questions at his television

Andrew Sullivan (@sullydish), a major Obama supporter, gives the president terrible marks: "stuttering, wonkish, ineffective."

if the private sector is so good at bringing down health care costs, why hasn't it brought down health care costs?

Nope. Romney does not have a lengthy description of his plan and preexisting conditions are not covered.

ok, this drives me nuts when Mitt says healthcare works at state level but not federal - do people get sick differently by state? NO!!!

Watching the debate six hours later, after 30 minutes, Obama beats Romney hollow on taxes and the economy. Romney is clearly fudging his maths.

On deficits, Romney was long-winded and he pontificated. He wants to put all his eggs in one basket -> tax cuts will lead to growth. I think America has traveled down that road under W. and came to grief as Obama points out.

Obama did well explaining to those who want to know the truth that the Bush tax cuts and two wars created the deficit.

On Medicare, Obama states a known fact: "Every study says that Medicare has lower administrative costs than private insurance does."

I can't think of a single instance when Romney comes up with similar unambiguous and uncontested statements of fact.

Obama makes a strong case for Obamacare.

Obama is sober as a president should be. Romney is trying to create false scares.

Obama hits it out of the park with this one -> "Is the reason Governor Romney keeping his plans secret because they're so good that Democrats will benefit too much? No."

So why are the commentators so disappointed with Obama's performance? Just because Romney was more energetic and had a fixed smile on his face?

Well, we have heard umpteen times about "No Drama Obama" haven't we? So that's who was on display in this debate.

May be with the recent gaffes that Romney has made, the bar was set too low for him to "succeed" in this debate and when Romney gives an error-free performance, people are gasping! ... with surprise whereas the bar gets set consciously or unconsciously too high for Obama because we have become used to this guy giving top-class performances ALL THE TIME.

So how does Obama out-Obama himself? Not possible. Commentators compared Obama's Inaugural Address on Jan. 20, 2009 with his Grant Park speech that Chicago evening and said Obama came up short on Inauguration Day. Today was similar.

Did Obama come up short? Well, he did ... compared to the best that Obama is capable of.

But today we saw realist Obama and not high-flying Obama as we've been used to for the last couple of years if not longer.

There will be two more debates and Obama will continue to play it cool while Romney will get ever more excited -- he might even start to appear a little crazy like McCain did last time around.

But make no mistake --> the headline that we'll wake up to on Nov. 7 will say: "OBAMA REELECTED."

Relax!

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