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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?



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 5th, 2012 01:19 am (UTC)
I think you are absolutely on-base on all points. I was rather shocked to hear the "pundits" giving Romney the win--he seemed so smarmy and slick to me! But I guess civility instead of aggression doesn't suit them. I am so sick of the "sports metaphors" method of political reporting I could scream. It leads to things like saying the person who is more aggressive and gets in more "zingers" won, rather than the person who was most logical and reasonable and made the most sense.

NOT the way a debate is supposed to be conducted. And I hated his condescending rudeness to Jim Lehrer as well. "I'm going to cut out Public Television. Sorry I plan to fire you if I'm elected."
Oct. 5th, 2012 02:03 am (UTC)
Eep, I missed that about firing Mr. Lehrer! I was doing other things and must not have been listening.

Maybe this pic from George Takei's FB page will give you a much-needed smile?

Oct. 5th, 2012 02:33 am (UTC)
His actual words were "I like Big Bird. I like you too, Jim. Sorry." And he smirked. The part about firing was definitely implied though--along, of course, with the rest of PBS.

Which mostly runs off private grants and pledges any more. It's already had its funding cut and cut and cut...PBS would barely make a drop in the deficit bucket.

Love that pic! That's hilarious!
Oct. 5th, 2012 02:40 am (UTC)
The whole thing is severely manufactured, to be honest (and that's why I'm glad I skipped most of it). I'm convinced that the candidates are dissimilar only at the margins and their overarching plan is essentially the same: make the White House the most powerful branch of government.

Plus, the two major parties essentially colluded to keep third party candidates like Gary Johnson and Jill Stein out, and I'm highly resentful of that. This isn't a "debate" really. It's a live TV event where both candidates are given a chance to answer a bunch of softball questions and create soundbites that will be aired endlessly until the election is done.

On the candidates themselves, I think Romney is projected as having "won" because he seemed to be more switched on last night than Obama. I thought the President seemed a bit sluggish, and where he could have made his point with brevity, he tended to ramble rather a lot. I appreciate that he's a bit of a policy wonk and he likes nuance, but that doesn't play well on TV, sadly.

I think Romney's so-called facts were mostly a bunch of fluff. It's designed to make those who pay lip service to fiscal conservatism feel like Romney is their guy, even though he didn't say anything specific enough or factual enough to justify this view.

In short, I can't wait for the entire election to just be over.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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