The Second Presidental Debate

I didn’t post following the Vice presidential debate, so I will include some thoughts from that as well.

Let me first state clearly and concisely (before I get long-winded and vague) that last night was as clear, decisive and powerful a win in a debate as perhaps we have ever seen in national politics. If Mitt Romney won the first debate, Barack Obama won last night in a landslide. Going into last night, the President needed to regain some momentum and put a halt to the progress that Romney made in the weeks following the Debacle in Denver (if you read my thoughts, I still disagree with the narrative coming out of that debate).

I used this analogy on Facebook this morning, and I will repeat what I wrote here:

This is my analogy and I am sticking to it: Going into the first debate, the President was up a touchdown with 5 minutes to go in the game. Much to the frustration of his supporters, he went into prevent defense, which is agonizing for the winning team to watch. Romney drove the field and kicked a field goal closing the score to four. He recovered the onside kick when the media decided that the President’s performance in the first debate was the worst thing that has ever happened to this country. He once again drove the field with the support of polls showing a surge in support. He brought in Tebow (Paul Ryan) on the goal line thinking he would put it away. The Biden-led goal line defense forced a four and out with their backs to their own endzone. Last night, with first and ten from his own one yard line, the President methodically moved the ball down the field baffling the Romney defense and with one minute on the clock, scored the 47% touchdown that effectively puts this game out of reach. Despite what Fox News (and Morning Joe) has to say this morning, last night was a decisive win for the President and a reminder why this man was able to beat both the Clinton Political Machine and the Republican Party in 2008. It was no accident.

That is what I posted to Facebook this morning and I stand by it. I was in a time crunch before work, so I had to rush through what I wanted to say.

I teach a Participation in Government (PIG) class where we watched the first hour or so of the debate this morning. I spent the first 10 minutes of class discussing the concept of bias and the importance of my students feeling empowered to disagree. I was a high school senior taking PIG in the fall of 2000 when Bush beat Gore. My teacher (who was female) was an unabashed Bush supporter. I did not feel like I had no voice in the class simply because I disagreed with her. I understood then, and I hope my students understand now, that she was a human being with her own personal biases. We all view the world through the lens of our experiences. I bring into my classroom the collective experiences of my life. So when President Obama states, in regards to the Arizona “Papers-Please” law, that some police officer will have the power to stop his daughters because they might look “illegal”, and that Mitt Romney supports that law, and in fact, has the author of that law on his campaign committee, how am I, the fiance of the daughter or Ghanaian immigrants whose children with that woman may very well end up looking like Sasha and Malia Obama, the uncle of an inter-racial niece, the brother-in-law of a Chinese-American immigrant NOT supposed to react strongly. I bring those bias with me everywhere I go. Including my classroom.

There were any number of moments from last night that I could highlight as the moment that Obama won the debate (and in my opinion the election) but I am going to focus on two. The first is the question on the response to the attacks in Libya on September 11th of this year. Here is the video:

This gets really good at about the 1:00 minute mark. The President, clearly pissed at the accusation that he has not taken responsiblity and that he doesn’t take his job seriously, turns to Romney, looks him right in the eye and calls his behavior offensive. Look at the look on Mr. Obama’s face when he says “That’s not what we do.”

Romney, thinking he had backed the President into a corner jumped up (or as close to “jumped” as he can, why does he walk like he is squeezing a tennis ball between his ass cheeks?) and said that the President waited two weeks to declare it an act of terrorism. Romney says: “you said in the Rose Garden that it was an act of terror?”  and he raises his eyebrows and sticks his chin out. Obama, with a sly smile on his face says: “Please proceed Governor.” Romney should have known something was up (I will say more on this later). The moderator then reminds a clearly flustered Romney that the President did in fact refer to the Benghazi attack as an act of terror on September 12th when he gave an address from the White House. He wasn’t at a political rally in Nevada as Romney stated. And lets remember, it was Romney who went on TV the night of the attack, before any of the details were released and attacked the President, during a national incident. You simply do not do this in national politics. The crowd actually cheered the on-the-spot fact checking of Romney.

Romney was left reeling after this and never recovered.

The second moment I want to hit on here (and like I said, I have watched the debate twice now and there are any number of these moments I could highlight from the “Binder full of women” to tax-cuts etc.) is the President’s closing remarks. Romney went first and put the ball on a tee for the President. Romney said that he wants to be President for the 100%, opening the door for the President:

Romney put it on a tee and the President hit the ball out of the park, across the street and through the parking lot. This is the clearest explanation of the President’s view on the role of Government and his vision for this country that I have seen him make. I have no idea what Mitt Romney was thinking saying that (actually I do, and I will get there in a minute). This was the President at his finest and in my opinion it effectively ends this campaign. Everything that Romney thought he left in September, the 47% comments, the disaster with his response to the Benghazi attacks, everything came crashing back on top of him last night. And while it was happening he was becoming increasingly irritated, red-faced, and aggressive with both the President and the moderator.

Let me jump to two points that I want to make and this leads me right into the first one. I paused the debate this morning to remind my students that agree or disagree with the President, he is more than simply Barack Obama from Chicago Illinois. He is the President of the United State of America. He represents the most important office we have in this country and perhaps the world. You will notice as you read through this post and others that I capitalize “the President”. There is a certain level that is acceptable when it comes to (and I shutter to use this term) disrespecting the President during a debate. Romney clearly doesn’t like him, and I don’t care. What I do care about is when he is disrespectful both of the man himself and of the office. When John McCain pointed at then Senator Obama and called him “That one” it was bad. When a red-faced, tennis ball squeezed between his ass cheeks Mitt Romney tells the President of the United States of America “Sit down, you’ll get your turn”, I start to become not just annoyed because I disagree with the policies (I am open to a policy debate on any topic, I am not right about everything and I never claimed to be). I start to become annoyed with Mitt Romney the man for his disregard for the office that Mr. Obama holds. I thought Obama was pitch-perfect in how he handled these kinds of outbursts from Romney, including when he looked him in the eye and called his behavior on the response to Benghazi offensive. John McCain would not have behaved like that. Hell, I don’t think George W. Bush would have behaved like that. John Kerry certainly didn’t.

And my second big point, and I think this was an overarching theme. A number of my student’s pointed out that Romney was evasive in answer direct questions. I was sure to point out that the President also pivoted off of topics that were difficult for him to answer, but that yes, it did appear that Romney had a script in his head, and that he was going to stick to it.

I have a theory. I think Mitt Romney is Ron Burgundy. Mitt Romney is clearly talented when it comes to memorizing lines and delivering them. He did it for 90 minutes in Denver two weeks ago and cheered as a conquering hero, regardless of the blatant untruths he was spouting. Last night, Mitt Romney had a script. He was going to nail the President on Benghazi and the response, no matter what. No matter whether or not the line he memorized was true or not. No matter whether Candy Crowly told him, uh actually, Governor…. he did call it an act of terror the next day. In the clip above, right before the end of the video, Romney repeats the lie, even as the crowd is cheering and clapping the fact that he was wrong. Mitt Romney is Ron Burgundy:

The same thing happened in the closing remarks. Romney had clearly scripted that line about the 100% and he was going to use it. Well, use it he did. What he did was put his entire candidacy for the office of the President of the United States on a tee for Barack Obama to drill out of the park. He can’t think on his feet and he cannot respond effectively if he doesn’t have a pre-packaged line memorized for the occasion.

Mitt Romney was out classed, out matched and out debated last night. It is that simple. I watched Morning Joe this morning where Joe and Mark Halperin were trying to collect themselves and claimed that the President failed to lay out his plan for the next four years.

Watch the debate again gentlemen. What Barack Obama did last night was politely, forcefully and energetically debunk the entire candidacy of Mitt Romney, call him on every lie and untruth that he continues to spout on the stump and in debates, lay out exactly how we got where we are, and what he intends to do in the next four years. Obama was sprinting laps around the track smiling over his shoulder like Usain Bolt while Mitt Romney was limping behind him, shuffling like he was squeezing a tennis ball between his ass cheeks.

The Democratic Party is fired up and ready to go. We saw last night the man we voted for in 2008. As I referenced above, this was the guy who dismantled the supposedly unbeatable Clinton Political Machine in the spring and summer of 2008. Go back through the archives of this blog and read what I wrote then, it’s all still true. This is the man who despite his name, his background, the color of this skin and the fact that his former pastor said “God Damn America” beat a respected member of the Republican party, a war veteran, and a man who appeared to be more than qualified to run this country. We all freaked out in 2008, and Obama reminded us:

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7 comments on “The Second Presidental Debate

  1. Bob says:

    There’s one major flaw in your assessment of the debate. Both Obama and Crowley were wrong about Obama calling the attack an act of terror in the rose garden. In fact, Crowley herself has backtracked on the statement and cedes that Romney was right. He did not call it an act of terror until 14 days later.

    Here’s a report on Fox News:
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/10/16/fact-check-did-obama-really-call-consulate-attack-in-libya-act-terror/

    Here, you can see the video interview of Crowley on CNN stating that she was wrong and Romney was right:
    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/candy-crowley-romney-right-that-obama-didnt-call-libya-terror-but-thought-he-picked-the-wrong-word/

    And here is the White House’s Transcript of Obama’s speech in the Rose Garden. You can read for yourself that he never called it “an act of terror”, exactly as Romney stated:
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/09/12/remarks-president-deaths-us-embassy-staff-libya

    And here is the President’s schedule on September 12th, recorded on the White House’s website. You can see he made the speech in the Rose Garden at 10:35am. He then leaves for Nevada at 2:05pm, arriving at 6:50pm. At 9:10pm, the president gives a speech at a “campaign event.” Again, Romney was correct.
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/schedule/president/2012-09-12

    I appreciate your enthusiasm. However, your enthusiasm has outpaced your need for research and fact-finding. I look forward to your continued commentary as the election unfolds.

    • terry4505 says:

      I appreciate your response, but you are as wrong as the governor was last night.

      I followed the link you posted above concerning the President’s remarks on September 12th. Here is what I found:

      “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.”

      That seems pretty cut and dry to me. The President condemned the attacks as acts of terror, as he said last night.

      Posting links to what Fox News and other right-wing sites have to say isn’t going to change the fact that Romney clearly thought he had caught the President in a “Gotcha” moment, you could tell by the look on his face he thought he had him. I love the look on President Obama’s face as he says, “Please continue, Governor”. He knew exactly where this was going.

      Yes, Obama was at a rally later that day, after he spent the morning grieving with the families and addressing the nation.

      Candy Crowley corrected the record last night during the debate, you just couldn’t hear her over the crowd cheering for the President.

      I appreciate your comments and I love the discourse.

  2. Bob says:

    The part you point to comes very late in his speech. It is easily argued that statement is vague at best. He never, as Romney stated, specifically called this attack a “Terrorist attacks” in the speech. Instead, said said the following:

    “Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi.” (Note: he said killed in an attack, not in a terrorist attack).

    “The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack.” (Note: He calls the attack outrageous and shocking, but not a terrorist attack).

    “…we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.” (Note: He called them killers, not terrorists – not even murderers).

    “The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.” (Note: He calls them brutal acts, not acts of terror).

    “…this attack will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya.” (Note: He calls it merely an attack, not a terrorist attack).

    “Libyan security personnel fought back against the attackers alongside Americans.” (Note: He calls them attackers, not terrorists).

    “…last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi.” (Note: Calls it merely an attack, not a terrorist attack or an act of terror).

    And then, the words you quote. After reflecting on the attacks of 9/11/2001, He goes on to say:
    “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done” (Note: Obama does say the phrase ‘no acts of terror’. But his use of the phrase is vague and reminiscent of him just speaking of the terrorist attacks in 2001. This phrase is not directly calling the recent murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens a terrorist act. We can clearly see this by his omission to call it a terrorist attack in the previous 7 references to the attack. Further proof is made when he again references it, but merely as a “terrible act.”)

    And look, I’m not interested in “gotchya” moments. Those don’t serve anyone. But I do believe the President is weak on this issue. He is a weak Commander-in-Chief. I mean come on, its THE official address to the nation in reaction to the Terrorist Murder of our Ambassador, and its merely “attacks” from POTUS? Reagan bombed the sons-of-bitches and we were left alone for 26yrs. Where’s that resolve? Where’s that strength? Instead, we get a weak-assed statement from the Rose Garden, then its off to campaign. Weak. He’s weak on our national security. He’s weak on Job creation. He’s weak on tax reform. He’s weak on energy independence. He’s weak on our economy. He’s weak.

    There’s a reason he’s sliding in the polls. (Gallup shows a steady, widening lead for Romney – Currently Romney: 50%, Obama: 46% among likely voters.) There’s a reason so many of us are jumping ship to someone, anyone, else. We gave him his chance, and he hasn’t delivered. There are many of us who feel completely duped by his promises 4 years ago. Many of us who hoped he would do better. Many of us who hoped he could help. But many of us have seen only a continual decline, a degradation of our livelihoods. Many of us hear him and biden spout off things to us in the middle class like “my tax cuts put more money in your pocket,” but because of higher gas, energy, and grocery bills, I have much less in my pocket. Things like “I have decreased your insurance premiums,” but mine have increased nearly $800/yr in the last 2 years. Things like “I will pass immigration reform in my first year of office,” but its been almost four years and still no reform has been passed.

    I had high hopes of change, but all I have seen is more of the same. For me and many I know and love, these last four have been almost too much for us to bear. I don’t have four more years to hope he comes through. I need someone who will actually come through. Romney may not be that guy, but Obama has proven to me that he definitely isn’t, and to choose him again seems like lunacy.

    At the end of this blog post, you said “We saw last night the man we voted for in 2008.” My question is, “Where has he been since then?”

    Again, those are my two cents, before taxes. Take it for what its worth.

    • terry4505 says:

      I appreciate your comment and I read the whole thing.

      Couple of quick points… You say he is weak on national security. 3,000 Americans were killed on W.’s watch on American soil. 0 Terrorist attacks in four years under Obama. Bush said, “I don’t think that much about him (Bin Laden). Obama ordered one of the most politically risky strikes in Presidential history.

      Yes, the economy is bad. Yes people are struggling. The facts tell me that Obama inherited the worst economy since the great depression. I had a friend refer to the last four years as “our national nightmare”, and my thoughts were, we survived Bush, suck it up.

    • terry4505 says:

      And while I am thinking about it, and while we have turned Romney’s horrendous debate performance into an argument about semantics, lets be clear about something…

      What happened in Benghazi was less an act of terror than it was a frontal military assult. According to the free online dictionary, the definition of an “Act of Terror” is:

      the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear

      What happended in Benghazi was a military style attack on a foreign compound. Not unlike the Seal Team 6 attack on the Bin Laden compound. Was that action, taken by the U.S. an act of terrorism?

      I guess for me, at the end of the day, regardless of what the President described the attack as (he clearly called it an act of terrorism on both September 12th and again on September 13th, do you or do you not trust this President to calmly and deliberately find out who was responsible and respond with all necessary force?

      I am not an idoit, I see what Fox News and Mr. Romney are hoping to do here. They want Barack Obama to be Jimmy Carter and Mitt Romney to be Ronald Reagan. I think that much is pretty obvious.

      The problem for the right-wing is that these stupid facts keep getting in the way.

      The economy is rebounding based on every known metric. We are safer as a nation as the foiled plot in NYC yesterday show (remember which President ignored the threat of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil).

      • Bob says:

        And that is the entire problem I now have with Obama. I do not trust him. He is weak. I wish it weren’t so. Again, I had great hope for him. But he has not delivered. And given we only have one other choice, like him or not, I am willing to give Romney a shot to turn things around, since Obama has proven not to do what he has promised us – Job creation: hasn’t happened; Tax reform: hasn’t happened; Energy independence: hasn’t happened; Our economy: still in the tank; Emigration Reform: hasn’t happened; Deficit cut in half: He’s deepened it – His policies simply are not working. Even if Romney can’t fix our problems, at least there’s a chance. If we elect Obama again, its certain things will not improve – his record proves that.

        (And for the record, I always thought Hillary Clinton would have made a much better president than Obama).

  3. terry4505 says:

    You realize that we have separation of powers, right? The President can only do so much with an obstructionist House of Representatives (yes, I realize the house was Democratic for the first two years).

    So he is weak and you can’t trust him? Weak when he promised to end the war in Iraq, and did. Weak when he promised to hunt down Osama Bin Laden, and did. Lets go through the laundry list:

    Job creation:

    The overall economy:

    http://m.static.newsvine.com/servista/imagesizer?file=steve-benen76AEEBB1-F404-83C1-2F89-456D30651B8E.jpg&width=600

    Federal spending and the deficit:

    The current administration inherited the worst economy this country has had since the great depression. There is a reason every high schooler in America learns about the Great Depression, it was a huge freakin deal. The only reason the President has made a stronger case for how bad things were when he took office is that he would be crucified by the right-wing for making excuses.

    Change does not happen over night. Our system was built to work slowly (thank god for this, I cannot imagine what would have happened had George W. Bush been able to do as he pleased.

    Here is a quick list of his accomplishments:

    http://3chicspolitico.com/president-obamas-accomplishments/

    Look, I don’t think he is perfect. There are things I wish he would faster on, or not at all. There are things I wish he would do or say.

    But you say you don’t trust Obama. I have to ask, what about Mitt Romney makes you feel comfortable?

    Read this:

    http://bobcesca.com/blog-archives/2012/10/mitt-romney-is-neither-a-good-nor-decent-man.html

    Romney is a cold, calculating bastard that has dedicated his life to outsourcing jobs, gutting businesses for profit, and misleading the American people. This is not a genuinely good person who has the nation’s best interests at heart. You can disagree with Obama’s policies all day, I am fine with that. But I think it is indisputable that the man is working as hard as he can for the American people.

    I do not say any of this to be a dick. I disagree with you, but I don’t think you are an idiot for your feelings. I hope you change your mind.

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