fidesquaerens (marta_bee) wrote,

debate reactions

I finally watched the first presidential debate on YouTube. The various pundits and commentators are right - the president did seem unfocused, unenergetic, and basically no where near the top of his game, while Mr. Romney did own the stage tonight. But strangely, I feel more driven to rally behind the president. This debate made me more likely to vote for Romney than probably anything has since that executive order saying the government could execute citizens without trials.

A few general observations:

1. Mr. Romney lied. Or didn't tell the truth; I'm not privy to his mind, so I guess it's possible he actually believed what he said. ThinkProgress identified twenty-seven myths Mr. Romney said, and that word may be better; we're talking about things that have attained the aura of "truthiness" by virtue of being told time and again, so that they seem true. They're not, though. Even as I was watching it, I was struck by how many of Mr. Romney's claims had been debunked or shown to be at least "mostly false" by nonpartisan fact-checking groups.

2. Mr. Romney was rude. Inexcusably rude, IMO. He interrupted the president, and on a few points he ignored the questions asked or even refused to let Mr. Lehrer ask a question. Not that candidates always play by the rule, and it's not like Mr. Obama always answers the question. But he also came off as condescending to Obama. At one point he referred to his five "boys" and knowing what it's like when they just keep repeating untruths. Dog-whistle issues aside (and yeah, likening the first Afro-American president to your "boys" (as opposed to your sons) did bother me), you don't liken the president to a petulant child on national television. You simply don't do it.

3. Mr. Romney came off as wanting to liquidate America. This was hard to pinpoint, but I think it came down to the rhetoric of "choice" and an emphasis on tax breaks for various individuals. There was a sense that there's precious little we as Americans can do well as a group, oriented by our government and other institutions. All that's left is to give people a refund on their taxes and let them take care of themselves. Choice is good, but in this rhetoric I hear no protection for those who don't have the resources to follow through on their choices. It also does nothing to fight institutional problems like runaway healthcare inflation or tuition inflation, or the problem of too-powerful corporations who can crash the economy and restrict free speech. These require a combined, organized effort on behalf of the citizenry (and not just that much-mentioned middle class!). If not organized by the government then organized by something else.

All of which makes it sound like I'd be voting more against Romney than for Obama. I guess there's an element of that. But deep down, what the debate had me thinking was, while I don't agree with Mr. Obama on a lot, I disagree with Mr. Romney on much, much more. Even on Obama's worst day, and Romney's best. Will that be enough to get me to vote for him, come November? I'm not sure. But it did reorient things a bit for me.

I'm curious - what did other people think? Do you agree with my observations, or think I'm offbase somewhere?
Tags: political
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