Wednesday, October 17, 2012

News Flash: Nobody REALLY won the Debate..

As promised, I've held my tongue on last night's debate til now, for a number of reasons (mainly due to time constraints) and because I honestly like watching the first 12 hours or so after a debate. Why? Think about it, at what moment during a Presidential campaign can you see both sides spin the same event in two TOTALLY different lights? Let me put it to you this way, who exactly won the debate last night VERY much depends on what cable news channel you watched it on and where you get your online news from.

On the Liberal front, commentators across the board touted last night as an important victory for the President, especially compared to his rather fizzled performance two weeks ago in Denver. Many praised the President for being much more aggressive or as Robert Kuttner of The American Prospect put it:

"The president did exactly what he needed to in tonight's debate: He used Romney against Romney.". (1)

 Their point being, the President's main theme of the night was countering Mitt Romney's rhetoric with his past statements on the issues at hand.

On the Conservative front, commentators equally pushed the idea that regardless of President Obama's aggressive performance, he ultimately failed to disprove what is arguably Mitt Romney's key point about the President: That he's had four years to do all these wonderful things we talks about, and yet most of it went unaccomplished, so why should the next four years be any different?  Erick Erickson of pointed to this in his recent post on last night's debate:

"An undecided voter who voted for Obama in 2008, asked Barack Obama why he should vote for Barack Obama now. Stunningly, Obama offered no new plans, no new proposals, and no new ideas. The voter clearly said he wasn’t impressed with the past four years, but that’s all Obama had to offer. Then Romney countered." (2)

As such, while the President was certainly more lively than the 1st debate, he was still ultimately the loser of the debate.

The funny thing is, both sides are right fundamentally. For one, President Obama's performance will likely stabilize his poll numbers nationwide, which have been in a state of flux for the past two weeks. Further, his aggressive posture during the debate has already started to rally his base and bring hope to liberals everywhere that he can still win.

For Romney, his performance was strong enough to prove his first debate victory was not a fluke and he made a good deal of decent hits on President Obama and stayed on message most of the night. As such, he rise in the polls will not be "fluid" and likely not dissipate so easily. So in the long run, even if Romney didn't outright win the debate, his performance was strong enough to maintain his current position in the race.

For me, there was a clear point where both candidates performed poorly was the now infamous Libya question. For those who don't know, a member of the audience asked about who was really responsible for ignoring the requests of the US Consulate in Benghazi for additional security. Ultimately, both candidates avoided the actual question (big surprise) and went straight to rhetoric. Mitt Romney wanted to know why the administration was so "confused" in the aftermath of the attack as to why it happened. In a rather curious moment, Mitt Romney asked why waited so long to clearly state the attack on the consulate was an act of terrorism. The President countered by claiming he did say "act of terror" in his speech a day after the attack. Romney was clearly baffled by this, especially when the moderator attempted to back up the President on the issue. Romney looked obviously a bit ruffled by the whole exchange, which is understandable. Here's the funny thing, just as with the debate as a whole, this exchange was viewed VERY differently. Here's the truth: President Obama did say the words "act of terror" during the speech, but when taken in context with the whole speech, it's clear he isn't specifically calling the attack on our consulate was an act of terrorism. This was acknowledged by the case by the moderator shortly after the debate. To be honest, the whole debate was rather ridiculous considering NEITHER of the candidates ANSWERED THE DAMN QUESTION!

And that was one of my major takeaways from the debate. Both candidates proved they are quite adequate as dancing around the issues and ignoring the very question they were asked in the first place. In other words, they are what some folks back in Iowa like to call "Premium Bullsh!ters", which believe me is NOT a complement. Not that many folks are probably shocked by this, dancing around a question you don't want to answer is par for the course in American politics these days..Still pretty damn irritating though.

So, was there really a winner last night? Personally, I don't think either of the candidates "won" in the traditionally sense. Both candidates survived and made some points attacking each other and did well enough that both campaigns are pretty pleased with the results. However, instead of this being an event that will give one of the two candidates a path to victory, it simply leveled the playing field between the candidates and made this an even closer race then it already was.

All a matter of perspective I supposed..

Any opinions and/or views expressed in the above piece are purely those of the author and not of any political or non-political organization. Any re-posting of this work MUST include this disclaimer.


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