I am not going to go into a long explanation about my feelings concerning the two candidates. Use the archives.
I will admit that in the minutes after the debate, I felt exactly as Chris Matthews and Ed Schultz did. I felt as if the President should have more aggressively defended his policies as well as attack Romney on both his previous statements and lies as well as the ones he was saying last night.
When Mitt Romney made a statement that was patently false, which he did more times than I could count last night, the President flashed that awesome smile of his and moved on. What he was banking on, I think, is that American people to be smart enough to know when used car salesman is lying his ass off to get you into the driver’s seat of the bucket he his trying to pitch to you.
I will say this. I wish the President had been more energetic and aggressive. A little.
However, the only universe that Mitt Romney “Won” that debate last night is the alternative universe from which Mitt originates. One where facts do not matter. Basically, Mitt Romney “etch-a-sketched” his way through 90 minutes last night. Nearly everything he attacked the about the President was something that he previously supported. And everything that the President has done that has worked, well… That’s in his plan. Everything is apparently in this “Plan of his”. The problem for Mr. Romney is, in this universe, there are things like fact checkers, who have stated both last night and today, that Romney either lied or misled on a number of occasions last night.
I am (now) teaching Participation in Government and U.S. History and Government (yes, this liberal is shaping young minds). So of course we discussed the debate this morning. I was really pleased to hear that many of the students not only watched the debates, but watched some of the coverage of it, and were able to articulate what the pundits had to say. What I said to my students this morning was this. If you put the TV on mute, and watched but did not listen. Mitt Romney won that debate last night in a landslide. He looked directly at the President, was forceful and energetic. I don’t know what the smile/grimace thing is that he does, but it is terrible. But aside from that, Mitt “Looked” strong. The President in comparison looked down a lot (was taking notes I think), nodded when Romney was talking as if he agreed with him, and looked at the camera, not at Romney when he was talking.
If, however, you were to read the transcript, i.e. take away the visual and just have the words, the President won this thing going away. Romney only wins when you suspend disbelief. The substance, as has been the issue for him from day 1, was not there. I don’t know what the polls will show following this debate. The general consensus is that Romney “won”, big. I suppose that means the polls will tighten. If however, the electorate is smart enough to know when they are being lied to, repeatedly, I don’t think their will be much change.
I am disappointed that this is the post I am writing today. I think the President had the opportunity to shut the door on Romney last night. If he hit him on the 47% comments, on the Ryan budget, on the lies and distortions, on the etch-a-sketch nature of the Romney campaign etc., if he put Romney on the defensive, it could have ended this campaign.
I do think that the incumbent is at a disadvantage. There are four years of Obama policies, some successful, some not, from which to attack. Romney has the benefit of sitting back and saying, “this failed, that failed, I’d keep that, I’d replace that, I do this and that”, but never had to actually say how he would do so. Meanwhile, the President is in the position of defending the record while simultaneously stating what he is going to do better. It is a tough spot. One that in a lot of ways President Obama put himself in, but still tough.
Pay particular attention to the part about the ’84 election at about 10 minutes in: