Thoughts on the debate

Both candidates were well prepared, spoke well, and were well behaved. There were no cheap shots. Though I gagged when Obama addressed his wife at the beginning and called her sweety. (I almost turned off the TV at that moment, but the call of duty prevailed.) It is stunning how much older-looking Obama has become in just four years. His face seemed shrunken and wizened. But at the same time he looked strong and confident. Romney’s maddening habit of smiling continuously while Obama was speaking made him look weak. So I turned from C-SPAN, which had a split screen view showing both candidates the whole time, to PBS, which showed only the candidate who was speaking.

On the economy, I think that voters who are concerned about the economy will get the definite impression that Romney will get the economy moving again, and the even stronger impression that Obama will not, and that these perceptions will certainly help Romney.

On Obamacare, Romney’s standard critique of it—it will hurt the economy, it involves too many regulations—and his continuing failure to attack it as a tyrannical expansion of government and bureaucratic power (as seen, e.g., in the birth control mandate), suggests that he will have no real zeal to repeal it. If he had such zeal, wouldn’t he have attacked it as the revolutionary, anti-American measure that it is, and not just for its inefficiency?

- end of initial entry -

Paul K. writes:

Some impressions of the debate.

Romney seemed a little over-excited. Early on, he was making too many unnatural-looking gestures with his hands, as if he were practicing some obscure Oriental martial art. Very distracting, but he eased up as time went on. I was disturbed by that same patronizing half smile that he wore throughout the primaries, but I guess no one told him to try something different.

Obama had an odd habit of looking down as Romney spoke. Every once in awhile, when Romney scored a telling point, Obama would smirk or even break into a grin, which was worse than Romney’s phony smile. In those moments Obama looked like a boy who smiles to show his defiance when he’s being chastised. Nevertheless, I thought Obama largely held his own. Those who like to pretend he’s helpless without a teleprompter are kidding themselves. [LA replies: Yes. Remember the VFR commenter who had this obsessive point that Obama’s IQ is no higher than 106?] I have Hannity on now and he’s a case in point, declaring this a total blow-out for Romney.

There were several times Romney drew blood, throwing out facts like one-two punches. One was when Romney recited the sorry statistics of the economy, with unemployment figures, increasing food stamp rolls, and slow growth. Another was when Romney listed the “green” companies in which Obama invested stimulus funds and that have failed, and compared the $90 billion wasted on them to the $2.8 billion tax credits for oil companies that Obama complains about. (Though I lost faith in Romney’s arithmetic when he described $90 billion as “50 times” $2.8 billion.)

It seemed to me that Romney was minimizing the differences between himself and Obama rather than drawing sharp distinctions. I suppose that’s inevitable when both candidates avoid the truth about the real problems that face us. Of course those of us who resonate to VFR are never going to be satisfied by mainstream political discourse.

Paul K. writes:

“Though I gagged when Obama addressed his wife at the beginning and called her sweety.”

I found that cloying as well. Just thank God he didn’t toss in a few bars from Al Green or he would have bumped his share of the women’s vote up to 80 percent.

A reader writes:

From what I can tell, liberals are despondent over how Obama did in this debate. Chris Matthews for example ranted on MSNBC about how Obama supposedly didn’t hit back well on anything.

I was a little surprised at the verdict, because I listened to most of it on the radio and my overall impression of that it was something of a draw, with either one of them doing better depending on the segment. I’m going to try to watch a rerun of it later to get a fuller impression. Maybe I’m just not the best at scoring these things.

LA replies:

Interesting. As I said, I felt that Romney clearly defeated Obama in the first and presumably most important part of the debate, on jobs. But I didn’t feel that the debate as a whole was such a clear victory for Romney.

Natassia writes:

I am just your run-of-the-mill average citizen. And I turned on my television with a bit of trepidation. I was worried that Romney was going to appear lukewarm and weak.

I was communicating with other run-of-the-mill average citizen family members throughout the debate. The way most of them interpreted Romney’s smile was an expression of amusement—as if he almost felt sorry for Obama because he knew he was just about to “lay a smack down.”

The average working class citizen was impressed by Romney tonight.

Numerous times I laughed out loud. Afterwards, my local NBC network claimed that there were no zingers. They must have missed the hidden dagger that Romney launched in the beginning when he slipped in Biden’s “the middle class has been buried for four years.” But I didn’t miss it, and I bet a lot of Drudge Report headline-reading average Joe citizens didn’t miss it either.

This was a definite victory for Romney among the less-intellectual American citizenry.

LA replies:

I’m glad to hear it.

Who will now speak for the more-intellectual American citizenry?

Richard S. writes:

Interesting that Eric, listening to the debate on the radio, concluded that it was generally a draw. This may be an example of political trial by television where the candidates are judged less on their key points and more on poise and composure, as in the famous JFK-Nixon debate. I do think these things should be radio only. That way, we can concentrate on what the candidates are actually saying rather than sizing them up as though it were a pageant.

Oh, and someone tell Natassia that Average Joe Citizen isn’t rushing to the Drudge Report. They’re watching SportsCenter. I think political junkies vastly overestimate how much interest the average citizen has in politics.

Dale F. writes:

I thought one of the most amusing parts of tonight’s Presidential debate was when Romney looked Jim Lehrer in the eye and said that as part of a Romney plan to reduce federal spending he would advocate the defunding of PBS.

October 4

Natassia writes:

In reply to your commenter who says that the average citizen doesn’t read Drudge, that website gets on average three million hits a day, and has been promoted pretty heavily by Sean Hannity and even Rush Limbaugh (two popular talking heads that serious intellectuals tend to disdain.)

The Sports Center junkies the commenter was talking about wouldn’t have bothered to watch the debate. As for the average citizen who has even a modicum of interest in this election, the Drudge Report is probably a site he looks at: quick and easy to navigate.

Please give us average Joes SOME credit.

And as for my sports junkie relatives who did not bother to watch the debate, they asked for my opinion. :-) See how that works?

Laura Wood writes:

Mr. Auster said Romney did not attack Obamacare as tyrannical and anti-American. I disagree. He repeatedly pointed out that Obamacare called for an unelected board that would set standards. (Obama even confirmed his point and said patients might be getting “one test instead of ten.”) I don’t remember whether Romney used the word “anti-American,” but he said this was a radical change toward government control.

I thought Romney was terrific: energetic, passionate, and in complete command of his material. I especially liked it when he said the deficit was immoral. I agree with Natassia. His smile seemed to suggest how dumbfounded and amused he was by Obama’s tendency to gloss over the facts. Obama failed to respond to his points, openly misrepresented what Romney was saying and looked weak despite the enormous, ear-to-ear grins. Romney had a great moment when he commented that Obama reminded him of his sons when they were young and said the same thing over and over again even though it was untrue.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 03, 2012 11:06 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):