First reactions to the second debate

A few quick thoughts about the debate, almost all on form rather than substance, which is appropriate since matters of form dominated the evening, making it difficult to focus on substance:

  • Obama looked physically fine. His sallow, sickly look I have commented on recently was gone. And he showed the energy and engagement that he had to show to make up for last time.

  • Obama’s demeanor was fine. When Romney was speaking, Obama looked directly at him, with a polite yet alert look on this face. It was day and night from his sullen, superior demeanor in the first debate.

  • Romney handled himself well. His polite smile while Obama was speaking did not seem excessive to me, as it did last time (though maybe that was because it was mostly seen in distance shots rather than close-ups). He showed himself to be fully the equal of the president and ready to be president, not the caricature of corporate greed the Democrats have cast him as. On many occasions he failed to respond adequately to something Obama had said (but maybe that’s just me, as I’m a glass-half-empty kind of person—other observers thought he was aggressive and effective in catching Obama’s misstatements). He mainly just kept driving home his point that he can fix the economy.

  • There was a certain awkwardness in the free form “town hall” format, with the candidates having to figure out when to stand up, when to walk to the center of the stage, when to confront their opponent, when to return to their seat, and so on, but both men handled the awkward situation as well as could be expected. They were both very well rehearsed.

  • The format was idiotic, and the ridiculously long-locked, overlarge, Mao jacket-wearing moderator, “Candy” Crowley, showed herself to be (to use an expression that is normally applied only to men, but, hey, women are equal now, right?) a horse’s ass. Instead of allowing exchanges between the candidates to develop, she kept loudly and obtrusively cutting them off so that she could move on to … move on to … what really mattered, which was having the next “real person” ask a question. Having the in-studio “real people” ask questions took priority over everything else. It was very unlike the first debate, in which a block of time was given to each topic, and the candidates could sufficiently address the topic and each other. In the first debate there were no distractions, just three men on a stage. In this debate there were myriad distractions.

  • The stupid, feminized “townhall format” basically killed the possibility of the exciting, dramatic confrontation between the candidates that everyone was expecting tonight.

  • On substance, the economy again took center stage, and I say the same thing here that I said about the first debate: your ordinary voter who is concerned about the economy will have the strong impression that Romney will get the economy moving again, and that Obama will just continue what he’s been doing. So in that sense the debate was a win for Romney.

  • On the other hand, Obama was in good form. He looks good, he speaks well, he has a quality of presidential authority and confidence about him, and he is the sophisticated (half) Negro president of the United States. Are the voters going to turn this historical prodigy out of office? Though the contest has become much closer since the first debate, I still think the odds are against that happening. But a Romney win is possible, which two weeks ago I did not believe at all.

- end of initial entry -

KO writes:

I am primarily opposed to Obama for a reason he obviously considers a plus point—his support for Planned Parenthood.

Having admitted that bias, my first reactions on substance were as follows:

* On the economy in general, I believe Paul Ryan was clearer about the strategy of lowering taxes in order to increase revenue.

* Romney pointed to his history of balanced budgets at Bain, the Olympics and in Massachusetts, against Obama’s doubling of the deficit.

* Romney pointed out Obama’s frustration of oil production on federal land, and that output had only increased in the private sector in spite of the Administration.

* Romney pointed out Obama’s rejection of a Canadian pipeline.

* Obama does not seem to have an immigration policy.

* Romney pointed out that growth has reduced year-by-year under Obama, that the gap between Obama’s unemployment target and the actual percentage amounted to “nine million Americans.”

* Romney pointed out that female unemployment had gone up.

* Romney called Obama out on the post-Benghazi “YouTube” video “misstatements.”

* Romney mentioned “Fast and Furious,” which may be the first time many have heard of it.

* Romney made explicit points about Chinese currency manipulation and intellectual property theft, which tied in with his strategy for improving the economy.

* Romney pointed out that Canada’s corporation tax rate is 15 percent versus America’s 35 percent, again showing attention to the details of what is making America uncompetitive.

* Romney keeps summarising his “five-point plan” for the economy, though I can only remember one without looking it up: energy independence for (North) America, including drilling in Alaska and off Virginia.

I am not American, and have been unaware of a lot of these issues. Romney strikes me as having a keen mind and making memorable points. I felt Obama was ponderous in his delivery, and I did not come away with any impression that he has any strategies.

October 17

Hannon writes:

You say Obama “speaks well” as evidenced by this debate but I would strongly disagree. His unserious, sing-songy cadence was predominant during the debate. His trademark micro-“uh” sounds between words were under better control than usual but these remained a distraction unless one is an ardent Obama fan (in which case it is no doubt an endearing affectation). Obama’s speech was uneven and difficult to follow, especially compared to Romney’s energetic and confident manner. Obama’s arrogance seemed to have been on hold during this debate but it was not enough to offset these defects.

On technical points and argumentation Obama was not very convincing either. Most notable for me was his inexplicable gaffe about gasoline prices. He said to one of the questioners in the audience that the reason gas prices were $1.83 or so in 2008 is because the economy was moribund. So, by logical inference he would have us believe that gas prices having more than doubled by 2012 is a good thing?

Socialists truly do not understand the economy and human nature. They only understand their ideology and what impedes it.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 16, 2012 11:15 PM | Send

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