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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The First Debate: Let the "Romney Comeback" Narrative Begin

Posted by on Wed, Oct 3, 2012 at 8:01 PM

The debate just happened, and Democrats everywhere are admitting that President Obama was kind of terrible. It's not that Romney was especially good—he was petulant, bossy, bulldozed over Jim Lehrer's incompetent moderating, and he threw out more imaginary numbers than a B-movie alien—but President Obama was notably bad. There were no real zingers. Romney's much-lauded prepackaged zingers landed flat but not awkwardly so. President Obama got off a couple of snipes about Romney, most notably how Romney's "big, bold idea is 'Never mind"

Near the end of the debate, Andrew Sullivan wrote:

10.29 pm. How is Obama's closing statement so fucking sad, confused and lame? He choked. He lost. He may even have lost the election tonight.

I don't think that Sullivan is right about that last sentence. People are too eager to announce that a candidate has "lost the election tonight." I don't think this was a Nixon's 5 o'clock shadow moment. (I contend that Nixon's 5 o'clock shadow moment is overstated in the history of presidential elections, but that's a whole other conversation entirely.) I don't know how this will affect the polls. I suspect not too much, but the media is now about to enter a full "Romney's coming back!" narrative blitz, and it's going to be difficult for the Obama campaign to grab positive attention for the next few days. To use his overdone phrasing, "the fact of the matter is" that President Obama made his own job a hell of a lot tougher tonight.


Comments (91) RSS

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Fistique 1
What, no "Everybody. This is the end. The end of human civilization." option?
Posted by Fistique on October 3, 2012 at 8:13 PM · Report this
Mitt also came off as a dick yes he won tonight but that will hurt him
Posted by Seattle14 on October 3, 2012 at 8:14 PM · Report this
Sean Kinney 3
Mitt is an asshole and we fucking hate him. "But how is this going to effect the battleground states?"
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on October 3, 2012 at 8:18 PM · Report this
Rmoney won the debate, but it wasn't the game-changer kind of win he needed - and there's even an off chance that his aggressive walking all over Jim Lehrer will turn some undecideds off
Posted by SuperSteve on October 3, 2012 at 8:21 PM · Report this
Xenos 5
Mitt won the debate tonight; that's "debate," not election. His strategy was twofold:

- Lie his ass off

- Flip-flop on several positions, including regulations and healthcare

Okay the first might not matter because blah blah low-information voters blah, but on the second point, Mitt is playing with fire. He won tonight's debate by attempting to minimize the policy gap between himself and the President, and by continuing to praise the President's character. This means Romney has conceded the likability race, as well as the policy argument.

While Obama's base is, shall we say, flexible, Romney's base is not above protest voting/staying at home if they feel he's betrayed them. If this is a base election, the guy who loses his base is up a creek.
Posted by Xenos on October 3, 2012 at 8:23 PM · Report this
Pick1 6
Mitt won, but you could tell Obama was thrown off by the "Nevermind" stuff. While he got the good zinger, he didn't press it.

Obama should've hammered that home.

"The policies that you're speaking about tonight are interesting. Interesting in that nobody in your campaign or in the general public has heard about them until tonight. This is not what you've talked about for the last 18 months so I have very little to work with."

The phrasing of the questions "how does your policy differ from ______?" put Obama at a severe disadvantage because Romney's prep was able to, you know, check out Obama's actual policies whereas Obama had to kind of just wing it.
Posted by Pick1 on October 3, 2012 at 8:24 PM · Report this
McJulie 7
mitt was smoother, but substance free, full of lies, and with a tendency to slide into being an asshole and start babbling. Obama was too obviously tense and it hurt him, but he got more zingers in.
Posted by McJulie on October 3, 2012 at 8:25 PM · Report this
Chris Govella 8
Love Jim Lehrer's work with PBS and NewsHour but he got steamrolled. He needs to up his game.
Posted by Chris Govella on October 3, 2012 at 8:28 PM · Report this
McJulie 9
I think it was more of a draw, in other words... but seen as an Obama loss because his supporters wanted him to wipe the floor with Mitt and Mitt's supporters were happy he didn't lose it entirely.
Posted by McJulie on October 3, 2012 at 8:29 PM · Report this
Look, Romney went into this desperately needing a win, whereas Obama really had nothing to prove; and so, short of fucking a baby onstage, there was simply no way the press was NOT going to call this for Romney. I suppose the President could have gone all whup-ass on him, but in the minds of many he would have come across as a bully, so why go there if it's of no benefit.

But did you see Obama writing all those notes? You just know he's going to come back for round 2 with a long list of "here's what the man said" moments, putting Romney in the position of having to defend those positions. Obama even set the groundwork for that kind of strategy by pointing out Romney's lack of specifics in his so-called "proposals".

Strategically, I believe Obama took the high road tonight; whereas Romney, though clearly having done his homework, nevertheless came across as the bully we all know him to be. His treatment of poor, doddering Mr. Lehrer (who, IMO was the real loser tonight) was simply abysmal; not that Lehrer wasn't the source of many of his own failings this evening, but Romney went after him like Malcolm McDowell pummeling that old man in "A Clockwork Orange".

So, if the pundits want to call tonight a stunning victory for Romney, it's really only because he didn't fail as spectacularly as many anticipated, and was aided to some extent by an incompetent moderator and an opponent who, for the one night at least, didn't attempt to rip his throat out.

Personally, I'd rather leave it to the fact-checkers to determine the winner...
Posted by COMTE on October 3, 2012 at 8:31 PM · Report this
"But did you see Obama writing all those notes? You just know he's going to come back for round 2 with a long list of "here's what the man said" moments, putting Romney in the position of having to defend those positions."

Agreed with COMTE. I feel like the Obama campaign is counting this as "Round 1" and using it strategically to feel out Romney. Getting Romney backed into the corner on his new, improved plans and promises has the potential to pay off hugely in the next debates, not to mention as fodder for the campaign commercials - "Romney will kill Big Bird".

The differences in whether Romney or Obama seemed more friendly/affable/nice intrigue me. To me, Romney's smile was just creepy and hollow, but others seemed to think he looked warmer. So there is some difference of aesthetic at play...
Posted by MemeGene on October 3, 2012 at 8:43 PM · Report this
It bears repeating in times like these: Romney is unlikeable. That's not a minor flaw. People are reluctant to vote for a guy who doesn't seem to have a shred of humanity in him. The narrative on him (speaking of narratives) is that he's self-serving and arrogant. That was on display tonight in spades.

Some people - er, Republicans - like bullies. Romney showed them he's their man. But will that convince people in the middle, or those who are undecided?

On the other hand, most people like Obama. He's smart, he's empathetic, and he doesn't loose his cool. He showed all of that tonight. Plus, I do think he had the better jokes.

Plus, Obama did fine in presenting and defending his record. And he also took a few shots at Romney. I really, truly don't think that he came off as weak tonight. That right there is a big victory for him, because Romney was hoping he would.

My hypothesis: People who were sold on Romney tonight were going to vote for him anyway. As for Obama, Romney's churlish performance will not cause any of his supporters to defect.

As long as Obama doesn't get permanently tagged with a lame-looser descriptor by the media, he's going to be fine.

He actually did okay tonight! Really! He wasn't terrible. More importantly, he didn't have a cringe-inducing moment that would torpedo his campaign. Remember McCain's bug eyes last time? None of that for Obama. He played the role of the adult above the childish bickering and did okay.

I'm honestly not feeling bad tonight. I'm just hoping that the public won't buy too much into what appears to be the media's it-was-a-blowout assessment. We'll know once the polls start rolling in.
Posted by floater on October 3, 2012 at 8:44 PM · Report this
Romney was a moderate for the first time tonight. My hope is that Obama was willing to lose this debate in real time in order to win it tomorrow by demonstrating cases of Romney contradictions...using clips from the debate alongside older clips. The Obama campaign will have to go big and roll them out immediately -- before tomorrow night's news cycle can further the "Romney's game-changing debate" narrative. But that's wishful thinking and I think it's more likely now that we see a closer election instead of an Obama Mandate election.
Posted by G g on October 3, 2012 at 8:47 PM · Report this
This must be a case of me having my partisan goggles firmly attached, because I didn't see Romney win... I just saw him being a smarmy mendacious prick. Obama hemmed and hawed (and frankly they both rolled right over poor Lehrer), but he presented as a consistent, reality-based human being, in contrast to say-anything-to-win Romney.
Posted by Nitidiuscula on October 3, 2012 at 8:48 PM · Report this
This was the worst moderated debate I have ever seen, and that includes debates moderated by by fourteen-year-olds.
Posted by thryn on October 3, 2012 at 8:52 PM · Report this
I figured that the media would pull a Josh Feit & bend over backwards in a display of nonpartisan coverage, & they kind of are, but Lehrer really blew this one in Romney's favor.
Obama came off a little lethargic, his fault, but Lehrer's maladroit moderating let Romney steamroll the event.
Posted by sall on October 3, 2012 at 8:52 PM · Report this
Fish Wrench Asteroid 17
How can you win something when you don't follow the rules you agreed to at the beginning?
Posted by Fish Wrench Asteroid on October 3, 2012 at 8:54 PM · Report this
dnt trust me 18
@10 Comte, which Clockwork Orange old man are you talking about? I've seen the movie a handful of times, but never without a "pharmaceutical" boost. My memory is hazy. Was he the baldish guy?
Posted by dnt trust me on October 3, 2012 at 8:59 PM · Report this
Mitt won, hands down - carried on a tidal wave of lies and denials of his history. Almost everything he said of substance was not merely false but laughably so. The problem is, there's no reason to think he'll pay any price for it ...
Posted by Warren Terra on October 3, 2012 at 9:01 PM · Report this
DOUG. 20
Has Andrew Sullivan ever been right about anything?
Posted by DOUG. on October 3, 2012 at 9:02 PM · Report this
"My hope is that Obama was willing to lose this debate in real time in order to win it tomorrow by demonstrating cases of Romney contradictions...using clips from the debate alongside older clips."

I would like to see that.
I think Romney did better than Obama in this debate but only by abandoning his previously stated positions.
And throwing in some lies and bullshit. But mostly by abandoning his previous positions.

If Obama's team is smart, they'll be tossing together commercials featuring all three sides of each of Romney's positions and then hitting on the "which position do you think he will support if elected" message.
Might as well try to get some of his base to stay home on election day.
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on October 3, 2012 at 9:08 PM · Report this
Sean Kinney 22
This is the deal - Obama could be a mute and seem centered and rational and somewhat empathetic. Romney is a fucking DICK. BHO FTW.
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on October 3, 2012 at 9:12 PM · Report this
dirac 23
I didn't expect to be impressed by either in this Republican Primary debate, and wow, were my expectations met.
Posted by dirac on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM · Report this
Josh Bis 24
Are you serious? People think that was a good performance from Rmoney? He said nothing coherent and looked terrible doing it.
Posted by Josh Bis on October 3, 2012 at 9:14 PM · Report this
I'd bet more people watched this tonight than will read anything--blog, newspaper, whatever--about Romney's lies, etc. They saw him take charge (and Lehrer let him do so, giving him a full 2/3rds speaking time and allowing him to interrupt Obama) and that's what they'll care about. Obama's note-taking simply looked like he wasn't paying attention to Romney or the audience. Romney was speaking to watchers; Obama was speaking to Lehrer. Romney said he would do with details, hitting the same points over and over. Obama didn't say what he has been doing for 4 years, most of which is really good. He simply responded to Romney's criticisms; he was defensive, showing no energy.
Posted by sarah70 on October 3, 2012 at 9:18 PM · Report this
And I meant Romney said what he would do without details. But Americans generally don't care about details; that didn't hurt him.
Posted by sarah70 on October 3, 2012 at 9:19 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 27
Why didn't the President pursue a scorched Earth policy?

1) Mention the "47%" comment
2) Where the fuck are the tax returns, Mr Romney?
3) Bain Capital and the Vulture Capitalist
4) So you and your friend Paul want to end Medicare? What, do you really hate Grandma that much?

4 years ago, Barack Obama was fiery and passionate, He could eviscerate John McCain while appearing perfectly calm and in control. Tonight, he appeared to need a nap.

I will support Barack Obama to the end of his eight years in office. But I do hope that someday the Democrats will nominate a hybrid of John T Sherman and FDR. Someone with thunder in their veins and lightning in their eyes. A candidate that can burn his or her Republican challenger to ashes with a look.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on October 3, 2012 at 9:28 PM · Report this
Sean Kinney 28
TT - totally. F frickin D R on all your asses!!!! Are you with us???
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on October 3, 2012 at 9:32 PM · Report this
care bear 29
Consensus at my debate-watching venue was that was an Rmoney win.

All I have to say is a repeat from my live Slog comments: "Gwen Ifill! Gwen Ifill! Gwen Ifill! Gwen Ifill!"
Posted by care bear on October 3, 2012 at 9:32 PM · Report this
MSNBC verified that in fact Obama got 4 minutes more time than Romney. Just sayin'.
Posted by Jen7 on October 3, 2012 at 9:44 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 31
Obama seemed as if someone had slipped him a note 20 minutes before the debate with some bad news on it.

Something like a the Board of Directors saying -- don't tell the press, but we've picked Mitt as your replacement. If you mention it, we'll take your severance pay.

There were several times where Obama seemed to be speaking to Romney as if he were handing over the keys of power...saying things like "and when you talk to Congress, how are you going to..."

We'll see how it plays out, but I get the impression of a guy who is tired of being President and having to deal with "the public" when he'd rather have a lot of money and hobnob with superstars and intellectuals and such.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on October 3, 2012 at 9:47 PM · Report this
Original Andrew 32
Hurricane of lies aside, how could anyone listen to Rmoney's whining, aggravating voice without going completely mental? This was a "win" for him? He sounded like someone's asshole boss from hell, which he is.
Posted by Original Andrew on October 3, 2012 at 9:50 PM · Report this
I thought Obama came off like a lecturer. He had opportunities that he didn't take, and he explained things in ways that, I suspect, left a lot of folks drifting off, thinking about something else. There was no fire. He didn't need to be a bully, but he needed more involvement to connect to undecideds, to make it personal. Let's not forget, this is the American public we're talking about here, and lots of them have short attention spans.

It just didn't look like Obama was standing up for the 47%. He was, and he will, I think/hope/believe, but it didn't show tonight, and it needed to.

Romney steamrolled Lehrer, Lehrer let him, and while Obama may have had more actual speaking time (4 minutes, was it?), if the public perception is that Romney stole the show, then Romney stole the show. Truth be damned, as we are all horribly aware of.
Posted by FranFW on October 3, 2012 at 9:55 PM · Report this
"Some people eat when they get depressed. I hope Michelle put Bo outside for the night."

-Bob Owens
Posted by delbert on October 3, 2012 at 10:16 PM · Report this
It cracks me up to see you guys bitch about Lehrer. This is the first time in memory the moderator hasn't been completely in the tank for the Democrat. Gwen Ifill had her nose so far up Obama's ass in 2008, he was on tip toe.
Posted by delbert on October 3, 2012 at 10:20 PM · Report this
An entitled douchebag and a visionless technocrat walk into a debate hall...
Posted by Tent_Liberation_Army on October 3, 2012 at 10:23 PM · Report this
@ 35 That is hilarious they are never in the tank for the Dems be a big boy and stop complaining about the media.

@ 36 If you think Obama is visionless your head is in the sand.
Posted by Seattle14 on October 3, 2012 at 10:27 PM · Report this
levide 38
Certainly not Obama's best showing, and it looks like the the media will carry the night's water for Willard Mittens Floppycock (for their own benefit, of course, not his, gotta get the margin closer before November), but if that was a "win" then I'm outta the game. Willard Mittens was frantic, incoherent, aggressively rude, grandstanding, contradictory, nonsensical, and obnoxious. Obama just seemed exasperated, and rightly so, between Willard Mittens' outright lies and Jim Leher's capitulation. If this was a lose situation for anyone it's what the whole debate process has become (what with the whole pre- and post- game bullshit "analysis" from people like Wolf fucking Blitzer, and that utterly annoying CNN Derp-Meter (which just tells you what all of, what, two undecided idiots in Colorado might be thinking?), a fucking kabuki farce. Sure, expect the narrative to be a Romney "win" since it's only a month until the election and there's been no indication of a horse-race, but now it can be manufactured as such due to Obama's surprisingly lackluster performance (although Willard Mittens' utterly disrespectful performance may backfire). There's a couple more of these, expect Obama's "meep-meep" MO (as Sullivan, who's been the most egregious in the wrong-end-of-the-telescope analysis so far, likes to put it) to surface.
Posted by levide on October 3, 2012 at 10:36 PM · Report this
Two things:

(1) For all the talk about focusing on zingers because zingers are the only thing people remember a week later, Romney's most memorable zinger was a self-zinger about killing Big Bird. Well played, sir!

(2) Meep meep.
Posted by Zeusifer on October 3, 2012 at 10:45 PM · Report this
@37 Then explain MSNBC.
Posted by delbert on October 3, 2012 at 10:45 PM · Report this
Chris Matthews was on the verge of tears.
Posted by delbert on October 3, 2012 at 10:48 PM · Report this
levide 42
Has a candidate ever threatened a moderator's job during a televised debate? That could explain Leher's total capitulation.
Posted by levide on October 3, 2012 at 11:18 PM · Report this
This might be too strategic for the Dems, who are never strategic, but I'm hoping it's possible: that Obama just stood back and let Romney be a dominant asshole so they'd have nice ad material for the next several weeks. I'd certainly rather believe that than believe that Obama just can't do debates well.
Posted by sarah70 on October 3, 2012 at 11:32 PM · Report this
Sullivan is the stereotype of a gay man clutching his pearls. Obama did not lose any of his past elections because of his consistently mediocre debate performances, and he won't lose this one either.
Posted by matt! on October 3, 2012 at 11:37 PM · Report this
@27 "A candidate that can burn his or her Republican challenger to ashes with a look."

I wish people would stop expecting their elected officials to be superheroes. Look, Obama's only super-power comes from we the people.
Posted by EricaP on October 3, 2012 at 11:50 PM · Report this
Obama was whiney, distracted, and lost in the details. He had all the charm, mystery, and accessibility of a high school calculus teacher. He was Dukakis in '88, Bush Sr. in '92, Dole in '96, Kerry in '04, McCain in '08. The criticism of Lehrer as a moderator is just stupid.

Romney outclassed him from the start. I genuinely expected Obama to win this one, but as it went on I was reminded that Obama has rarely been a good extemporaneous speaker.
Posted by Mister G on October 4, 2012 at 12:38 AM · Report this
wingedkat 47
Just listened to the debate, since I couldn't watch it. The only part Romney sounded better than Obama was the closing statement, he nailed that.

Otherwise though, I don't know what everyone is talking about, I'd call it a draw.
Posted by wingedkat on October 4, 2012 at 12:40 AM · Report this
@20: Yes, Sullivan is often right about a lot of things, but he he also has a tendency to get way too emotional about things in the moment. After a good night's sleep he'll come down of the ledge and realize that (a) Romney's win wasn't that lopsided, (b) the fact checkers are going to rip him to shreds, (c) Obama always looks like he's losing while he's quietly winning (meep meep), (d) killing Big Bird is unpopular and is the main thing that will stick in people's minds, and (e) none of this will move the poll numbers much anyway.
Posted by Zeusifer on October 4, 2012 at 12:49 AM · Report this
Having watched Obama over the years one of the things I came to realize back during the Hillary/Obama debates is that Obama plays the Rope a Dope game.

Obama has also played the Rope a Dope game as President in his battles with the Republicans, and in the realm of foreign affairs.

Given that he is America's first Black President, it has served him well both in the domestic and foreign policy realms. Indeed it may be the only sensible strategy open to him.

Yes Obama took a beating tonight. Ali also spent an uncomfortable amount of time on the ropes taking a beating from men far greater then Romney. In the end we all know who The Greatest is.

Posted by Machiavelli was framed on October 4, 2012 at 12:53 AM · Report this
#47, keep drinking the Kool-Aid. This was a disaster. How bad of a disaster isn't clear yet, but I think when the dust settles Romney will be the front-runner. It was that bad.
Posted by Mister G on October 4, 2012 at 1:20 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 51
Well...everyone calling Romney a dick in nearly all the comments (which he is) tells me Obama fucked up the debate. And I think his performance was lousy at best.

Romney only looked good because he lied about his tax positions and everything else.

This election is Obama's to lose and he better nail the other two debates or will be a game changer.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on October 4, 2012 at 3:55 AM · Report this

President Obama didn't do well in the first debate -- not at all. But I wouldn't say that this alone will cost him the election. There are 2 more debates. He has to be way more engaged and aggressive the next 2 times. He must call out the lies. He mustn't let the moderator stop him from making his points.

Dang it! I was hoping for a better performance from the Prez. Oh well.

Posted by Patricia Kayden on October 4, 2012 at 3:56 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 53
Remember kids' as Glenn Greenwald tweeted, It was said that Kerry won the first debate in 2004 against Bush. So this isn't a determining factor in the election....yet.

Obama needs to get his head in the game and not be comfortable with poll number that show him in the lead. Romney tried to be the moderate governor from Massachusetts last night to trick voters.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on October 4, 2012 at 4:35 AM · Report this
Obama has been "phoning it in" for quite a long time. Even at that great show they put on in Charlotte, his speech was the weakest of the big ones. His wife and Bill Clinton did far better jobs than he did. In fact, Obama hasn't given a really outstanding speech since the 2008 campaign. Anyone who thinks he's going to be a whole lot better in debates #2 and #3 is in for a pretty rude shock, I'm afraid.
Posted by Mister G on October 4, 2012 at 5:04 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 55
Haha, Mister G is talking about Kool-Aid again.

Romney only "won" because he had more vitality and seemed way more into being there. He said nothing of substance, contradicted himself several times, and did not explain how he would achieve any of his goals.

Obama seemed unwilling to talk up any of his achievements, and was completely not interested in calling out any of Romney's lies. Keep in mind though, that Obama has to walk the "angry black man" tightrope, whereas Romney can coast on his white privilege and be as angry and assertive as he wants.

So if you know about policy and care about issues, Obama won, but this is not about that, since if you know about policy, your mind is already made up. The debates are mostly for low info voters so they can vote on who they happen to be more attracted to on TV. So Romney "wins."
Posted by Theodore Gorath on October 4, 2012 at 5:29 AM · Report this
Yup, #55, and Romney just might "win" the election.
Posted by Mister G on October 4, 2012 at 6:39 AM · Report this
Pol Pot 57
Obama's lackluster performance was the equivalent of giving life saving mouth to mouth resuscitation to Willard's political corpse. The guy was dead in the water - now, he is seen to be swimming again. Elevensy dimensional chess aside, never, ever, ever reanimate a corpse. Ever.
Posted by Pol Pot on October 4, 2012 at 6:40 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 58
Obama is saving his knock out punch for the final debate.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on October 4, 2012 at 7:41 AM · Report this
Rotten666 59
Obama lost, and everyone's attempts to spin it in a positive light is fucking pathetic.

@57 Yes. If Romney gets a bounce in the battleground states this becomes a real contest again.
Posted by Rotten666 on October 4, 2012 at 7:44 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 60
@56: I put "win" in quotation marks not because I do not think it is a real win, but because there are no winners in this style of debate, nor is it really a debate at all.

However, if this was an actual debate, Romney would be screwed because he has no information, no evidence, and no facts.

Posted by Theodore Gorath on October 4, 2012 at 7:59 AM · Report this
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on October 4, 2012 at 8:21 AM · Report this
runswithnailclippers 62
The Obama campaign needs to make their campaign mantra -- if you are thinking about voting for Mitt Romney, "which Mitt Romney are you voting for?" They need to repeat that over and over and over, complete with Romney flip flop video examples. There are lots of them. Show a picture of a ballot with 2 or 3 Mitt Romneys--then remove all but one of them. "You only get to vote for one--which one will it be?" "We won't know until he takes office."
Posted by runswithnailclippers on October 4, 2012 at 8:56 AM · Report this
With the exception of commenter, dirac, and several others, the majority of the commenters appear to believe in: the Tooh Fairy, Santa Claus, and everything they were blathered with on Sesame Street.

Geez, doucheys, it hasn't been a "debate" since the League of Women Voters pulled out, or rather refused to go along with the pre-scripted sham that Dukakis, that fraudster, and whatever r-con scumtard he was running against, changed every-frigging-thing.

Mitt Romney and I agree on that ......

Exactly, Mr. Neocon, I mean, Mr. President, you and Romney agree on far, far too much!

Reelect Wall Street (the neocon administration of Obama) or elect the next neocon administration, doucheys.
Posted by sgt_doom on October 4, 2012 at 10:11 AM · Report this
very bad homo 64
Romney lied and made shit up. How is that a win?
Posted by very bad homo on October 4, 2012 at 10:32 AM · Report this
I was pretty disappointed that Obama missed the opportunity to challenge the primary bullshit arguments Romney was using against him. First off he should have pointed out that Romney's claim that he will create 12 million jobs is something he just completely pulled out of his ass. Even if this number was not wildly improbable he hasn't provided a single credible idea for creating a single job other than more tax cuts for the filthy rich.

Secondly he should have challenged the bullshit about the Medicare cuts at every opportunity. Squeezing healthcare providers is absolutely necessary if Medicare is going to be sustainable. Limiting cost increases puts it on firmer footing. Absolute complete bullshit Republicans claiming to be looking out for 'our seniors' by restoring cuts. They want to dismantle Medicare. This should have been forcefully pointed out.
Posted by Rhizome on October 4, 2012 at 10:42 AM · Report this
Mitt Romney won. Like fuck he did. DailyKos has a nice rundown of CNN's 'random' poll - the 400-odd people questioned already had a favorability rating of Romney and Obama that is the mirror image of what literally every other poll until now has said (in their sample, Romney has over 50% favorability, Obama hovers around 40%)

Oh, and of those people polled, over 400 of them are white, southern voters who live in Atlanta, over the age of 50.

This is all there, black and white, in CNN's own documents. Why hasn't anyone made a bigger deal of the fact that their polling was, literally, done in opposite land?
Posted by johnjjeeves on October 4, 2012 at 11:09 AM · Report this
@65, Rhizome,, truly, are you usually completely clueless, dood?

It's all scripted, they each go over the questions before hand and it's all vetted, dood!

If President Obama responded poorly, that was the script he was following.

I don't pretend to know the reasons for it, but by this time any American above the retardate level should certainly understand this was never a "debate."

There is NO independent moderating party.
Posted by sgt_doom on October 4, 2012 at 11:11 AM · Report this
Oh yeah wait sarge let me get into my tin foil headgear.

Now I see.

Posted by Rhizome on October 4, 2012 at 11:15 AM · Report this
#60, yep, it wasn't a "debate," and it won't be an "election," but it will "decide" who the next "president" will be. For purposes of argument, may we stipulate that this is the U,S.A., on planet earth?
Posted by Mister G on October 4, 2012 at 11:52 AM · Report this
I, for one, will only vote for a president who supports indefinite detentions for US citizens via the NDAA, the war on drugs, the TSA, aiding dictators, corporate bailouts, the Patriot Act, war with Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya all without Congressional consent, trade wars with China, and especially the unlimited derivati...I mean bond buying scheme via the private Federal Reserve.......So it doesn't really matter which one I vote for.
Posted by Spindles on October 4, 2012 at 12:04 PM · Report this
Pay attention to what they do, not what they say. Who gives a FF about who postured better in a scripted exchange? Nobody reality based, that's for sure. Stop making these shams more important than the corporate media circus they are because it validates their propaganda about who "won", as if their metrics had any relevancy to being the president we need.
Posted by anon1256 on October 4, 2012 at 12:05 PM · Report this
The fact that Romney lied through the whole debate doesn't mean anything. This is the age of reality TV shows; he gave a great reality show performance as a Leader. I could possibly believe that Obama's listless performance was scripted if he hadn't given the same bloodless performance at the convention.

Posted by sarah70 on October 4, 2012 at 12:14 PM · Report this
#71, if Obama had won the debate you wouldn't be complaining, just like if Romney had been leading in the polls in September the wingnuts wouldn't have been whining about the "Democratic bias" in the polls.
Posted by Mister G on October 4, 2012 at 1:16 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 74
@49- The Rope-A-Dope only works if you've got some punches left in you. Obama gave ground to Congress for two years, then the Democrats lost. His greatest achievement was The Heritage Foundation/Nixon/Romney/Obama-Care. Fucking awesome strategy, losing slowly instead of losing fast....

Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on October 4, 2012 at 1:39 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 75
Even if this number was not wildly improbable he hasn't provided a single credible idea for creating a single job other than more tax cuts for the filthy rich.

Um. The economy is already projected to add 12 million jobs in the next four years regardless of what Obama or Romney do in office (and also presuming no major calamities such as a Euro collapse). The problems are: 1. Romney is using jobs that are virtually guaranteed to be there to talk up his non-existent plans; 2. 12 million jobs are still not enough to put everyone back to work.
Posted by keshmeshi on October 4, 2012 at 2:40 PM · Report this
#74 and #75 are right, and it won't matter. The Republicans whined about Clinton's job creation record being a byproduct of the restructuring under Reagan and Bush Sr., and they had a point. But no one gave a shit. So, if Obama decides he'll channel Bill Cosby and go down to a genteel defeat in the face of the usual Republican tactics, he'll set up Romney for eight years.

Who knows, maybe Obama really is tired of the job, like Bush Sr. was in '92.
Posted by Mister G on October 4, 2012 at 3:01 PM · Report this
@73, Not only is your reading comprehension not too good, but you like to think you are a mind reader as well. If the League of Women Voters withdrew its sponsorship of pres debates decades ago because "it has become clear to us that the candidates' organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions [not to mention the exclusion of anyone representing a threat to the duopoly]. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public", there is a priori no good reason to believe the refusal to condone the Kabuki theater they call 'debates' of being steeped in partisan motives. Ergo, my reaction would be the same irrespective of who had "won" according to corporate media toadies.…
Posted by anon1256 on October 4, 2012 at 3:04 PM · Report this
#77, are you old enough to remember when the debates were sponsored by the League of Women Voters?
Posted by Mister G on October 4, 2012 at 8:42 PM · Report this
McJulie 79
I'll say it again: Romney didn't win. It was more or less a draw, perceived as a Romney win because Obama supporters were disappointed and Romney supporters were relieved.

It was not Obama's best performance, and who knows why that is -- tired, distracted, thrown by Romney's Gish Gallop debating style, thrown by Romney's refusal to stand by any policy he has previously advocated, thrown by the effort of not showing how much he wanted to punch that damned liar right in the face.

But it was Romney's best performance. If you are Romney, that is as good as it gets.

There's a reason male pundits were wetting themselves over Romney's "alpha male" posturing and women were turned off. The true alpha male is not the one who babbles nonstop and won't let anyone else talk. Romney was more like a little yappy dog who won't shut up. Yeah, the little dog makes it all be about him, because of the whole not shutting up thing, but that's not power. The true alpha male is the one who gets things done, the one you can trust and rely on, the one who comes through.

It's true that the debates are not about the facts nearly as much as they are about presentation -- about who you want to see as president. And Romney didn't actually win that contest.
Posted by McJulie on October 5, 2012 at 8:48 AM · Report this
It's true that the debates are not about the facts nearly as much as they are about presentation -- about who you want to see as president. And Romney didn't actually win that contest.

The only debate I recall that ever decided the "who you want to see" issue was when Perot's running mate, James Stockdale, bombed so badly that it killed Perot's chances. At the time, I figured Perot picked the guy with full knowledge of his dementia, because all Perot ever really wanted to do was be Bush Sr.'s spoiler.

What Romney did in the first debate was make himself a credible presidential choice. Anyone who thinks Romney didn't win the debate is a Kool-Aid drinker. But the debate is just a debate, not the election. Unless Obama does better in the next two debates, we're looking at a Republican president.
Posted by Mister G on October 5, 2012 at 2:13 PM · Report this
@78, I watched my first pres debate in 1980 but have been rather inconsistent as I can't stand the posturing and demagoguery.
Posted by anon1256 on October 5, 2012 at 4:31 PM · Report this
#81, I'm a pretty damned avid debate watcher, and have been since Carter ran in '76. That was the year when debates re-started, Kennedy-Nixon in 1960 having been pretty much a one-off at the presidential level.

I recall quite clearly that the League of Women Voters debates were stilted affairs, and were heavily criticized for not giving the candidates the chance to make rebuttals. The result would be that they'd move on to the next question, and the candidates would spend half their answer on a rebuttal to the prior answers.

The League of Women Voters never addressed that flaw, as I recall, and dug in their heels on more flexibility in the format. When they exited and the "Presidential Debate Commission" was born, the result was much more dynamic debates, with more back-and-forth.

You might also recall that Reagan and Carter debated only once in 1980, because the two campaigns couldn't agree on whether or not John Anderson would be allowed in. The League of Women Voters couldn't solve that one either.

As for the "posturing and demagoguery," that's the sort of whining we typically hear from the supporters of whoever lost. If Obama had called bullshit on Romney like he should have, I tend to doubt you'd be here with your high-minded dismissal of debates.

In the end, they are TV shows, and they are less scripted and less filtered than the speeches and the ads. Not unscripted, obviously. The candidates study up like crazy, but there's only so much they can prepare for. They are not the end-all and be-all, but they give people a chance to see how the candidates think on their feet.

I think one of the most positive recent developments is the whole "fact check" deal. Romney took a pretty good beating from the fact checkers after this debate. Obama, much less so. If you are looking for some sort of airy-fairy perfection, you are not going to find it. I think the debates are entertaining and, to some degree, informative. A hell of a lot more informative than canned speeches and TV commercials.

You need to get used to the reality that your candidate (and mine), the unsinkable Saint Barack, got his ass kicked up one side of the stage and back across the other. He's coming back pretty well, but he lost the first debate, so put down the Kool-Aid, dry your eyes, and face into the wind.
Posted by Mister G on October 5, 2012 at 9:52 PM · Report this
Ipso Facto 83

As Obama, Romney Hold First Debate, Behind the Secret GOP-Dem Effort to Shut Out Third Parties (video via Democracy Now!):

GEORGE FARAH: The Commission on Presidential debates sounds like a government agency, it sounds like a nonpartisan entity, which is by design, is intended to deceive the American people. But, in reality, it is a private corporation financed by Anheuser-Busch and other major companies, that was created by the Republican and Democratic parties to seize control of the presidential debates from The League of Women Voters in 1987. Precisely as you said, Amy, every four years, this commission allows the major party campaigns to meet behind closed doors and draft a secret contract, a memorandum of understanding that dictates many of the terms. The reason for the commission’s creation is that the previous sponsor, The League of Women voters, was a genuine non-partisan entity, our voice, the voice of the American people in the negotiation room, and time and time again, The League had the courage to stand up to the Republican and Democratic campaigns to insist on challenging creative formats, to insist on the inclusion of independent candidates that the vast majority of American people wanted to see, and most importantly, to insist on transparency, so that any attempts by the Republican and Democratic parties to manipulate the presidential debates would result in and of enormous political price.


GEORGE FARAH: The best part of the history starts in 1980. In 1980, John B. Anderson, an independent candidate for president, runs against Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. President Jimmy Carter absolutely opposed independent candidate John Anderson’s participation in the presidential debates, and The League had a choice; do they support the independent candidate’s participation and defy the wishes of the President of the United States or do they capitulate to the demands of President Jimmy Carter? The league did the right thing, it stood to the President of the United States, invited John B. Anderson. The President refused to show up. The League went forward anyway and had a presidential debate that was watched by 55 million Americans. You fast forward four years later, Amy, and the Walter Mondale and Ronald Reagan campaigns vetoed 80 of the moderators that The League of Women Voters had proposed for the debates. The were simply trying to get rid of...

The Illegitimate 2012 Debates by Carl Gibson (via

The original debate sponsors, the League of Women Voters, famously stood up to the major parties when they tried to force joint sponsorship of the debate process and hamstring the format and moderator selection. In 1984, both parties vetoed 68 of the league’s choices for debate moderator, until the league called a press conference blasting both parties for trying to soften the presidential debates. And after that, no moderator proposal was rejected, because neither party wanted to be seen as undemocratic.

So the next year, both parties launched the Commission on National Elections, headed up by a former Republican congressman and a former DNC chairman. The commission suggested in its report that both parties should take control of the presidential debate process. And in 1986, both the DNC and the RNC ratified an agreement that deemed the debates would be administered by the two parties. The CPD was formed 16 months later and was chaired by Kirk and Fahrenkopf.

In 1988, the league and the CPD agreed that the CPD would sponsor the first debate, and the league the second. But when the Bush and Dukakis campaign submitted a lengthy memorandum of understanding that dictated everything from who would be invited, and how the audience was to be full of hand-picked partisan voters instead of civic leaders, to what color the numbers on the countdown clock would be, the league withdrew their sponsorship. In a press release, they accused the CPD of “perpetuating a fraud on the American voter” and said they wouldn’t be complicit in the “hoodwinking of the American public.” The rigged two-party debates have been the only option for voters ever since.

The campaigns of both Democratic and Republican candidates are still dictating every last detail about each debate in secretive, back-door agreements that the CPD always unilaterally adopts. Recent grassroots pressure has several watchdog groups demanding to see the secret debate agreement for the 2012 debates between the Obama and Romney campaigns. But don't count on the CPD, which is currently co-chaired by Fahrenkopf and Bill Clinton’s former press secretary, to release it

Posted by Ipso Facto on October 6, 2012 at 5:28 AM · Report this
Ipso Facto 84
Watch Democracy Now!'s Expand the Debate event in which Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein present actual progressive policies for the betterment of the 99%.
Posted by Ipso Facto on October 6, 2012 at 5:47 AM · Report this
Ipso Facto 85
After the debate on Wednesday, renowned activist and economist Gar Alperovitz spoke at Town Hall in Seattle, about the systemic crisis of our society, and how to bring about systemic change. Here's the video. He's talking to the "person sitting in your chair".
Posted by Ipso Facto on October 6, 2012 at 6:06 AM · Report this
Ipso Facto 86
Speaking of Town Hall, here is the always brilliant Chris Hedges speaking there in June, covering the history of our systemic crisis, and the book he co-authored with Joe Sacco: Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt.

Chris also spoke to Bill Moyers in July.
Posted by Ipso Facto on October 6, 2012 at 6:44 AM · Report this
Democracy Now is a bunch of hard-core ultra leftists.
Posted by Mister G on October 6, 2012 at 11:26 AM · Report this
@82, Dude, Obama isn't my candidate. As I said in my initial response: you can't read and you keep inferring what doesn't follow from my comments. Let's take an example: I didn't claim the LWV format made the debates as relevant as they are said to be. I only pointed out their dismay at the manipulation of the public by the duopoly. Someone's ability to perform well in a TV debate according to the metrics of corporate pundits has essentially nothing to do with being presidential material and alignment of positions with the majority of the public (hell, the public is by and large on Obama's left).
Posted by anon1256 on October 6, 2012 at 11:42 PM · Report this
@87, You obviously don't know what is ultra left.
Posted by anon1256 on October 6, 2012 at 11:45 PM · Report this
#88, dude, Obama is your candidate. You will vote for him because you have nowhere else to go.
Posted by Mister G on October 8, 2012 at 2:33 AM · Report this
I'm glad I saved this Paul Constant column. It was published at the peak of Obama's campaign, when in Nate Silver's calculations his election probability was 87.1% to Romney's 12.1%, for a 75% spread. Today, it's Obama 62.9% to Romney 37.1%, for a spread of 25.8%. Obama's election probability has dropped by two-thirds.

Paul Constant will surely keep his job at The Stranger. There will be no penalty there for his robotic, Kool-Aid drinking, cheerleading idiocy. Why? Because he told the lefties what they wanted to hear, just as Fox News tells the wingnuts what they want to hear. At least Fox isn't constantly reminding us of how much smarter they are.
Posted by Mister G on October 13, 2012 at 8:04 PM · Report this

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