Friday, October 5, 2012

Obama Romney First Debate Recap or Obama's Concession Stand

   Since the world needs one more article about the Presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney, away we go.

   The consensus among everybody is that Mitt Romney won, handily. Chris Matthews freaked out, Ed Schultz was in shock, and even Bill Maher, who donated $1 million to the President's campaign, flat out said Mitt won. Of course Bill hedged that by saying that Obama had the facts on his side, and that Lehrer sucked.  Let's address this directly. 

   Jim Lehrer did a good job. Interrupting would have been contrary to the idea, people are not there to hear him talk they are there to hear the two candidates. Additionally, if you need a moderator to save you, you should not be the President. There is no moderator when talking to heads of state from China, Russia, etc... He's being used as a scapegoat by Obama supporters for the President's anemic performance. The only people complaining about Lehrer are Obama supporters. No Republicans or moderates are complaining. Complaining about the moderator is like complaining about referees, it doesn't matter what you think, only the scoreboard. The scoreboard in this case is the undecided voters. Not one single TRUE undecided is worried about the moderator. The truth of the matter is, if people don't like what someone is saying, the person talking about it more will not help the matter, it will only exacerbate it. What they are upset about is Mitt won. He beat Barack and he beat the system in a sense. One more note on Jim Lehrer, the negative attitude towards him shifted into nasty commentary on his appearance in the twitterverse. How weak is that? If you are attacking a 78 year old man on his appearance after a career that goes back to when he covered the John F. Kennedy assassination, you lose. That shows that you clearly have no substance to stand on at all, and you are one step away from yo' mama jokes in what is supposed to be a battle of ideas. 

   Stephanie Cutter, Obama's Deputy Campaign Manager, kept tweeting negatively about Mitt commenting on his demeanor? Steph, were you watching the same debate? She kept on with the hash tag #testymitt. As a candidate, Barack should be furious that that is the best she can come up with to defend her boss in the debate. It is weak, and Jen Psaki, Obama's traveling press secretary was worse than Cutter. On a talk show after the debate she said Romney looked like the attacker-in-chief, and that Obama was calm and steady? Yeah, because he was slooooooow in speech, and he was grasping for words. He used more "uhs" and "ums" than a junior high boy talking to the senior prom queen. But, what was really jaw dropping was when Jen proclaimed "If you are a senior on medicaid, if you are a senior in Florida, then you come away with that Mitt wants to voucherize medicare." The problem here is that even Obama said that if you are 54 or older you aren't going on the program that supposedly "voucherizes" medicare. This was an enormous concession, just like when Obama admitted that he and Mitt had a similar position on social security. Which is probably the first time a democrat has ever said that in a debate. It's like a southern republican saying that a west coast liberal is "solid on national defense." 

   So now that it is clear that the Obama campaign has problems, it's time to look at the President's problems. Why did he stumble when telling Michelle happy anniversary? He looked down, a lot. He wouldn't look Mitt in the eyes. Every defense of his policies seemed barely there. He complained about things that are current, like loopholes in the taxes. Barack, you have been the President for 3-1/4 years, you cannot, you MUST NOT complain about anything current. He attacked Donald Trump? Trump is not running, attacking him only shows that he has gotten under your skin, big time. Making it even worse, you KNOW that Trump, LOVED that. He loves attention right after money. Sliding down even more, he called him a small business. That may work for some misguided tax point he wanted to make, but to the average listener, that makes him sound detached. If you are calling a billionaire a small business, how on earth could you possibly relate to the family dentist employing a couple people and keeping their smiles pretty? Yeah, you really stick up for the little guy and the middle class. A few people have commented that it was like he was asleep and they were waiting for him to wake up. That is pretty fair since he has been living in a dream world the last four years. Unfortunately, the problems America has are in the real world and it needs somebody will real solutions.

   Governor Romney offered real solutions to many of the country's problems. This column has commented before that Romney needed to offer more specifics about "how" he was going to do things. Finally, at this debate he did that in as solid of a way as possible. Left pundits are knocking Romney for not being specific, glossing over how they let Obama say whatever he wanted with no details in 2008 AND NOW, but they are wrong. He was extremely specific, all things considered. You can see it like this: Imagine you are in a group, even just a family of 4 or 5, and you have to decide where to eat. Think about where the conversation starts and where it goes. Think of how off center it can get. NOW, imagine 100 senate toddlers, and 435 house of representative babies (some of these people are great public servants, this sweeping comment is for emphasis) all fighting over different nitpick details. Some of these details are based on what the people who elected them want. To ask him to be any more specific than he has been is unreasonable, and shows ignorance towards the process of governing.

   Not only was Mitt specific, he did everything else very well. One of the easiest ways to tell how a debate is going is to watch it on mute, body language will tell you almost everything you need to know. Mitt was calm, comfortable and confident. He looked presidential.  At one point when they tried to take the debate off entitlements, Mitt forced them to stay on it, and won. Republicans do not do this and they definitely do not win at it. Every time Barack attacked him with one point, he offered three points to answer. What this tells the undecided voters, is that he already has answers to big problems, and will continue to find solutions. He had command of the issues, and total command of the debate. Wes Welker, maybe the hardest working athlete in pro sports, said it best. "Romney sounds like he is using his own words. Obama sounds like he is using someone else's" The only caveat here is that it was not a sound, it was the truth.

   So now everybody has blamed the bad debate on everything you can imagine. Al Gore even blamed the high altitude. The question is, can Obama recover. The answer is: Not likely. His problem was not preparation, his problem was not Jim Lehrer, and it was not the Bogeyman. Barack's problem is much more systemic than any of this. The real issue here is the President's fundamental lack of substance of policy. He is trying to defend a gas station burrito against an Emeril Lagasse Kobe beef steak, you just cannot do it. Making it worse, it's like the cost of the two are reversed. Obama has said that other policies have failed, "we tried it their way", when the reality is HIS policies have failed. Exacerbating the issue, he clearly has a new problem with self effacing humor. He used to seem okay about it, but now that there is real criticism, the former facade of confidence is falling. Subconsciously, everyone sees it, and the press is partly to blame. Since Obama's entrance onto the national stage, the main stream press has been deeply in love with the guy. To keep the love alive, they have treated him with kid gloves, further insulated the ever present presidential bubble, and not forced him to stay on his toes.

   Competition is very important, it brings out the best and worst in people and teams. Mitt has been forced to be hyper competitive in defending and refining his position over the last two years, while Barack's biggest questions have come from Elizabeth Hasselbeck. Most importantly, and maybe the most damning of all things, is that President Obama has never had to debate his record. He coasted through the Illinois state senate to the U.S. Senate and into the democratic presidential primaries in 2008. At that point the debates were either large groups where he could coast more. When it finally got serious, Hillary had decades of political baggage, he had ideas. He was able to debate on "if's" and "maybe's." Here in 2012 he has almost 4 years of abject failure. Yes Mr. President, the democrats in congress may not like Obamacare being repealed, but the people want it.

   The trappings of success have set President Obama up for an almost certain failure. What matters now is, is he a winner at heart? Even Michael Jordan stumbled at times, he didn't even make his high school varsity basketball team as a sophomore. A real champion will overcome, but then again, a real champion has put in copious amounts of time and hard work. A champion is responsible, and responsibility looks forward, while blame looks backwards.

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