Flawed perceptions?

I repeat that I did not see the totally hapless Obama that (based on a scan of the articles on Lucianne.com this morning and my reading of the Daily Kos last night) virtually all observers on left and right say they saw. I saw an Obama who spoke well and avoided the verbal tics that usually annoy me and was in command of himself and was in the game with his opponent the whole way (except for the last ten minutes which I didn’t see), though his opponent was far more aggressive and Obama was parrying rather than sending out punches of his own. Since I’m so outnumbered, there must be something wrong with my perceptions. Could it be the visuals? I have an old, standard sized TV which I hardly ever watch (last night was the first time I turned it on in months), not a widescreen job, and I was looking it at from across the room, so perhaps that’s why I missed the nuances of facial expression which revealed a tired, dejected, petulant, out-of-it Obama to others but not to me. Could this be an approximate replay of the first Kennedy-Nixon debate, where those who heard it on radio thought Nixon won, but those who saw it on TV thought Kennedy won? I didn’t think Obama won, but I certainly didn’t think he was slaughtered.

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Terry Morris writes:

This is just a guess, but I would say that people expected a much stronger performance from Obama, while expecting a lesser performance fom Romney. When they did not get what they were expecting, this translated, in their minds, to a dejected, out-of-it Obama, as you put it.

I saw basically what you saw, and I have one of those new-fangled T.V.s whose picture quality is outstanding. But I’m generally not very good at these kinds of analyses, so what I saw doesn’t necessarily mean a hill of beans.

LA replies:

Maybe because Obama was off his game, and his game galls me, and therefore this time he wasn’t galling me, I saw an Obama who I thought was doing all right. :-)

LA continues:

Here’s another possible explanation of my failure to see in the debate what most people saw. I have a negative opinion of Romney, and this took the form of a prejudice which prevented me from seeing how well he was doing.

Al H. writes:

I think the conception that Obama got slaughtered wasn’t because of one or two misplayed answers, or because of his demeanor and body language, but more of a death by a hundred cuts. I hate to use boxing analogies but they seem to fit here. For every response Obama gave, Romney countered and landed a blow of his own. This went on for every question and response. So it’s easy to see why the perception of the debate performance is what it is, from both sides.

Paul K. writes:

You asked, “Could it be the visuals?”

You mentioned that you switched from the split screen presentation to a channel that only showed the candidate who was speaking, so you missed the fact that whenever Romney was speaking, Obama was looking down as if he was texting on his iphone. (I think he was making notes.) It made him look disengaged, impatient, and somewhat annoyed. He seemed unaware that people were watching him; he should have resisted the smirks and jaunty grins while Romney was scoring points.

Granted there are many other reasons people are giving for why they thought Romney won, but this comes up.

James N. writes:

I think that you, and I to perhaps a somewhat lesser degree, marked Romney down a bit because he is NOT our champion. His answers confirmed that, if he is elected, none of the necessary changes will be made—except, of course, that Obama will no longer be President, which (for me) is sufficient reason to vote for him.

What was of interest was the clear competency and intelligence gap between a man with actual worldly achievements and an Affirmative Action baby. I was embarrassed for Obama, and embarrassed for my country that he could ever have been elevated to a position for which he was glaringly unqualified.

LA replies:

Well, imagine that in 2008, instead of Obama facing the intellectually inert, sub-pathetic McCain, in comparison with whom Obama looked mature, intelligent, and in command, Obama had faced Romney, a man of genuine smarts, who had challenged him. That’s why I argued so strongly in 2008 for Romney, to avoid the utter disaster of McCain.

Karl D. writes:

I watched the entire debate last night and turned it off immediately after as I wanted to wait until this morning to see if my reaction was the same as others. It turns out I was with the majority. I don’t think Obama was “slaughtered”! But he did get his clock cleaned. Obama looked like his having to attend the debates to begin with was beneath him. He seemed to think this was 2008 again. Where all he had to do was be present and mouth a few talking points to get elected. Romney was strong, aggressive, and on point for most of the debate. To me he came off as very presidential and made Obama look like all style and no substance. As a Traditional Conservative was I disappointed? Of course. But I expected to be. Some of the weak points for Romney I thought were his vision for the role of government. He could have really hit it out of the park if he wanted too, but said nothing. The other disappointing part was the endless drone about education and hiring more and more teachers. As if that is somehow going to change anything. And the school choice vouchers that are so popular with the GOP mainstream would be an unmitigated disaster.

LA replies:

That was an exceptionally weak point of Romney’s, that increased federal aid to education and job training was one of his five pillars for getting the economy moving again.

Buck writes:

I like to use boxing analogies. Two obviously competent candidates sparred last night. No knockout and neither was staggered. Good defense and good counter punching. It’s always iffy when a close fight is left to the bias of the judges. Neither was seriously hurt, and they’ll be both be fit for the next bout. My problem is that I despise one of them and can’t make myself like the other. I’d really like to like Romney, but I can’t. I don’t dislike him in any way like I dislike Obama, but there’s something important missing from Romney. He seems all persona. I’m sure that he’s real, I just don’t see it. I can’t get past the 100th interview of the near perfect stranger with the perfect resume and the always perfect hair. There’s just something missing. This is shallow and un-serious ( I know he’s a devout Mormon), but I’d love the paparazzi to catch him, just once, smoking a cigar and sipping a single malt while wearing a tie-dyed tee shirt, or swinging his favorite splitting maul behind the house where he spends thought time splitting firewood, or anything that gives me a hint that there-in is some kind of regular guy. He seems too perfect, which makes him seem unreal.

Obama? I can’t stand the sight or sound of him and pray that he will soon be out of public life.

Sage McLaughlin writes:

Speaking of flawed perceptions and the psychology of cognitive bias, here’s Peter Kirsanow at NRO:

Romney’s was the best performance of any presidential candidate in the television age.


Buck writes:

Al Gore blames Denver’s altitude for Obama debate loss. Maybe he joking, maybe he’s making light of what he deems a poor performance, but this is Al Gore.

Natassia writes:

You wrote: “That was an exceptionally weak point of Romney’s, that increased federal aid to education and job training was one of his five pillars for getting the economy moving again.”

Except those are the very things that average Joe citizens believe. They believe that school choice is what urban kids need. They believe that the education system is why we aren’t as productive (and perhaps that is partly true since our public education system fails to even teach the basics like proper grammar and math, and history classes have become experiments for propaganda.) They believe in job training programs.

Romney has to convince the blue dog Democrats and borderline Independents to vote for him. Those are the socially-conservative, blue-collar working class voters of all races who have traditionally voted Democratic but have been some of the worst hit by Obama’s policies. Those are the teachers and the factory workers and the city garbage collectors and police officers. He is pandering a bit to the union workers because he HAS to. It isn’t like he is going to get much of the black vote or the single, college-educated white female vote.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 04, 2012 08:20 AM | Send

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