Debate Wrap-Up: Obama Limps, Romney Lies

The first debate of the 2012 election is history and the way the press covers it will tell us a lot about whether they are more interested in style or substance.

In a couple of snap polls last night, Romney came out on top with a big 2-to-1 advantage. It’s important to note however, that these polls only surveyed people watching the debate, not the electorate at large. Most Americans were not watching the debate and will develop their opinions from the media coverage. In 2008 about 52 million people watched the Obama/McCain debate, but more than 133 million people voted that year. Even so, in CNN’s poll a plurality (47%) of those surveyed said that the debate would not change how they planned to vote. Of the remaining respondents 35% were swayed to Romney and 18% to Obama.

What is most significant is the difference between the candidates in terms of substance. While Obama missed several opportunities to raise pivotal issues like unions, women’s rights, Bain Capital, tax returns, or immigration, he was cogent and factual. Romney, on the other hand, avoided any specifics (as he has done throughout the campaign) and left a trail of lies. For instance: his insistence that his tax plan would not result in a $5 trillion dollar deficit; his claim that his health plan would not raise costs for seniors or affect anyone over 55 years old; his denial that his Medicare plan was a voucher program; his assertion that he would not reduce the taxes on the rich; and many more.


Most Hypocritical Moment:
Is this the same media that is “in the tank” for Obama?

Fox Nation Consensus

Most Delusional Moment: Mitt Romney asserting that he was a bipartisan governor in Massachusetts. That is not how Democrats recall it. He was considered to be aloof and dismissive. He couldn’t remember the names of legislators much of the time. And he reserved one of the elevators in the state house for his exclusive use. I guess he didn’t even want to ride up to his office with those peons.

Big BirdSaddest Moment: When Romney reiterated his determination to kill Big Bird by defunding public television. This is something he has said repeatedly, despite the fact that it would only reduce the deficit by a tiny fraction. I analyzed this last May in a column where I wrote that…

“Despite his denials, killing off Big Bird is precisely what his plan would accomplish. There is a reason that commercial TV does not produce the sort of programming seen on PBS. For-profit networks have to cater to advertisers in order to stay in business. By necessity they are more concerned with generating profit than with quality programming.”

That was followed with a glimpse of the programming on cable networks that were supposed to compete with PBS. It is “a jumble of insipid reality programs that repeat ad nauseum.” Truly embarrassing fare like Top Chef, Toddlers & Tiaras, and Real Housewives. Not exactly educational TV.

Obama’s Best Moment:
“I think the American people have to ask themselves is the reason that Governor Romney is keeping all these plans to replace secret because they’re too good?”

Obama Debate Question

What occurs in the press for next few days will have a bigger impact on the election than the actual debate. Since most voters did not watch the debate, their impressions of the encounter will come from the media analysis. Will the media focus on style, where Obama seemed to be less aggressive and engaged? Or will they focus on substance, where Romney loaded his performance with falsehoods and contradictions? Time will tell.


6 thoughts on “Debate Wrap-Up: Obama Limps, Romney Lies

  1. The lengths you have to go to in order to make it appear as if Pres. Obama did well in the debate and came off as a confident leader who made a case for his re-election is just absurd.

    You have indicted yourself and the rest of the Left when you say that most people didn’t watch the debate and their impressions and decisions will be determined by the coverage and commentary it receives in the next few days.

    Of course, media outlets like you will do your best to characterize the President’s performance as truthful, pointed, confident and presidential. You will focus on the minutest inaccuracy that Gov. Romney said and blow it up into a “pants on fire” commentary, typical of the lies that have characterized his campaign.

    Here’s what you won’t say:

    1.You won’t state that Gov. Romney demonstrated how the President’s own record has been woefully inadequate, and how there is no plan beyond the status quo for the next 4 years.

    2. You won’t state how Pres. Obama was frustrated, and sometimes appeared as if he were listening to a Romney stump speech, nodding his head in agreement and almost appearing to support him.

    3. You won’t report how Pres. Obama appeared unsure, unpolished and sometimes stammering to find words to respond.

    4. You won’t report that at times he was gesturing to the moderator to interrupt Gov. Romney, as if requesting a lifeline so he wouldn’t be completely humiliated.

    If Pres. Obama performs in the next debate like he did last evening, the truth will get out, no matter how you spin it. All the best.

    • First of all, I went to no lengths whatsoever to make it appear as if Pres. Obama did well. My headline says he “limped.” I itemized his missed opportunities. You’re not paying attention.

      Secondly, what part of my assertion that most people didn’t watch the debate do you disagree with? It’s a simple fact. So is my assertion that their opinions will be formed by subsequent media analysis. That means spin by both sides. If you disagree with that you are terminally naive.

      Thirdly, Romney lied repeatedly and that has been affirmed by most of the fact-checkers.

      Finally, it is downright absurd for you to say what I won’t say. You have no way of knowing. In fact, some of the things you listed I agree with. Others are insipid trivialities. But more importantly, why don’t you just try responding to what I did say than pretending you can read my mind.

      • Mark,

        I am paying attention. Your headline immediately smacks both candidates upside the head, but “Obama Limps” is far more benign and temporary than “Romney Lies”.

        You blunt the thrashing that Pres. Obama took last evening by saying that “snap polls” had Gov. Romney winning, and then went on to state that this was only those people who actually saw the debate, not the electorate at large. In other words, “snap polls” are just a snapshot and won’t last.

        People like you will shape how the rest of the electorate will see things by downplaying the President’s clearly poor performance and focusing on that lying liar, Mitt Romney.

        The vast majority of your post tries to trash Gov. Romney, and ignores what really happened. Imagine calling Pres. Obama a liar for saying that he would cut the deficit in half in his first term. Or for saying that the Stimulus would result in unemployment no higher than 8.0% and would be around 5.5% by now. That would be blasphemy! How about calling Pres. Obama for claiming that companies get tax breaks for taking their jobs overseas? Is there a little bit of a white lie in there somewhere (maybe)? However, you have no trouble calling Gov. Romney a liar because you can’t figure out how how his tax plan won’t increase the deficit by $5T. I guess your “liar” threshold is different for conservatives than it is for progressives.

        You may think it’s absurd for me to say what you won’t say, but you wrote the post, not me. What you didn’t say is conspicuous by its absence. Virtually everybody who witnessed the debate on the Left saw Gov. Romney thrash Pres. Obama. Even uber-donor Bill Maher had something negative to say. By comparison, your comments could just as easily have been that Pres. Obama’s shoes weren’t shined or his tie was on crooked — window dressing.

        We can argue about inaccuracies till the cows come home, but considering this is your first blush after the debate, I can expect that by the weekend, you will have rationalized what happened so much that you’ll be proclaiming that Gov. Romney totally blew the debate and Pres. Obama overran him with facts, a sense of confidence only an incumbent can demonstrate, and a clear plan on how we are going to get out of the economic mess we”re in.

        • I think I’ll just quote you: “Gov. Romney totally blew the debate and Pres. Obama overran him with facts, a sense of confidence only an incumbent can demonstrate, and a clear plan on how we are going to get out of the economic mess we”re in.”

          And regarding this: “People like you will shape how the rest of the electorate will see things…” I wish!

          • I don’t think Gov. Romney will just walk into the White House as the result of last night. He has his own shortcomings, and gaps in the message he is putting out there.

            I like your “I wish!”. We are all legends in our own minds, but reality has a way of bursting our bubble from time to time. I appreciate the spirited exchange.

            All the best.

  2. The thing the Romney people will have to deal with is the details of his tax plan. Just like his tax returns, the american people would like to see more and just like his tax returns when they don’t offer any more, and it comes back to ‘thats all you people are going to get’, it’s not going to cut it. Romney can enjoy his victory because it will be short-lived. In the final anaylysis it will come down to who you trust more and Romney will fail in that test.

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