A post-presidential debate open thread

So the first presidential debate between Republican Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama is over, and I’d like to hear what you thought.

Who was last night’s winner?

Were there any moments that stood out to you as key moments in the debate?



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11 thoughts on “A post-presidential debate open thread

  1. Pres. Obama spoke and behaved like the reasonable, rational, prudent man he is, and will continue to be throughout the campaign.
    I am glad he did not appear as aggressive and relentless as Romney did. A debate shows character as well as policy competency.
    Mr. Obama has high “likeability” numbers. I am not particularly concerned with this aspect for myself, knowing full well that “likeable” is a small part of running the US Executive branch. BUT, likeable apparently gets people elected, which I certainly want for Obama. So, stay likeable, my friend…
    p.s. I emailed the Obama campaign with words to this effect as well…

  2. I’m sick and tired of hearing about the “middle class.” It sounds too much like “divide and conquer” to this Wisconsinite. I would rather hear about a fair and square deal (like the Roosevelt presidents offered) for everyone, the poor, the middle class and the rich. We need leadership that keeps the needs of everyone on the table and demands we all do our share. During my working life, I’ve seen the burden shift from investors to workers and the poor aren’t even in the discussion anymore.

  3. How can you have a debate when your opponent has a license to lie, lie, lie because he is backed by billions of ad money that silences media judgement? You remain polite and make a passive allegation; instead of a debate you get a denial. Remain presidential? I suppose. But the media knows it will remain whatever happens, because, do to slothfulness, business and ignorance they rule.

  4. The biggest loser of the debate was its moderator, Jim Lehrer. From the overall perspective as a contest of political engagement it was a less-than-presidential format largely due to Lehrer’s incapacitating ineptness. From that front, neither candidate could prevail. The character of his questions was so vacuous the candidates had no opportunity to answer outside of the standard media formula. None of their responses were queued for anything they haven’t already presented to the public. I’d have quite a bit more to say about Lehrer but I suppose Lehrer isn’t really the subject. Suffice it to say one area of focus for 2016 by both Left and Right should be scaling up the debates to a level of sophistication worthy of their purpose.

    With that said, the inferior handling of the debate itself did favor Romney, although, I would say the impact was not altogether favorable. Romney’s disregard for the parameters of debate confirmed what we already knew – he’s his own rule maker; he applies standards only he can meet which unfairly secure his position. He has the temperament of an excellent capitalist, but not of an excellent statesman. As was to be expected, Romney’s gun-blazing zingers laden with subversions, lies, and distortions proved he’s capable of performance when under controlled conditions. He demonstrated how coarse, unruly, and unpredictable he can be, but more importantly that he can’t respond naturally or thoughtfully to the issues of our day. He’s not, therefore, a creative thinker able to tackle big problems with the fluidity necessary in a national leader. And, he’s not really a risk taker if he’s risking even the slightest fragment of his own skin. While his aggressiveness may be hailed as desirable, his accompanying lack of precision in articulating policy indicates he is not presidential. He had the opportunity to ameliorate the sketchiness that undermines his veracity. He chose not to. I was disappointed by that. I had some hope that he might in order to provide truthfulness to his claims. That he did not rebut with precision but instead stayed vague with the appearance of bold defiance proved only that he is ruthlessly dishonest. He lost completely on substance but did win a little on style. If I were his debate coach, I might advise him that he needs to consciously work on his facial setting. His smug grin produces an unsettling discordance measured against his confidence. All the negatives notwithstanding, his performance could still raise his standing in the polls.

    Obama may have lost on style if his meek start isn’t strategically played. He barely won on substance if one agrees with his notion of the “genius of free enterprise.” I do not agree with that assessment of America’s prosperity. The genius of free enterprise is how it has convinced the hunkering masses that free enterprise is an equalizing agent. It is not. Nor will it ever be by its very nature. It is an antiquated and rusty economic premise that will not hold its own weight in the coming centuries. However, if one truly believes that pro-growth policy stimulates the free market system and it is the best method to improve the economy then Obama would be the choice to make in November. The audacious corruption Romney is peddling cannot be graced with the label “free market,” what’s more, he knows it. Obama, on the other hand genuinely articulates sound free enterprise policy. His debate performance was predictably weak, but solid at the same time. Weak, but by contrast less contrived and more natural. Romney’s overly aggressive jabbing didn’t rattle Obama, but I’m sure more than a few on the Left probably didn’t care for Obama not more persistently routing Romney’s jabs. But, I think it was a good play on his part to allow Romney to take the lead – if that’s what Obama was doing. If I were Obama’s debate coach, I would have advised him to do exactly as he did. Romney let out a lot of his zingers that will turn wooden and stale if he isn’t careful, and he established himself as overzealous, affronting, and without diplomatic character. Allowing him to “steal the show” (which Romney did with desperation in my view) allowed Obama to see how well Romney would launch and how much Romney would launch. Romney now has nowhere to go but substance and detail and he probably won’t go there. That gives Obama the opportunity to counter with precision and hammer on imprecision. And Obama needn’t do it quickly. He can let it unfold and/or allow Romney to unravel himself which is an even bet given Romney’s arrogance. Possibly, the best thing Obama can do is allow Romney to feel at ease – that’s when Romney will slip. That would be due to fundamental lack of substance and his ease with untruth. If Obama’s “chessing” it out – in that he’s deliberately reserved in the first debate and will successively build strength as the debates go on then he’s proving to be the greater risk taker than Romney with his jellyfish stingers. If Romney continues to perform as predictably as he has, a skilled debater can easily run him in circles, use Romney’s evasiveness to advantage, and also dissolve any and all barbs. I’m not convinced Obama is so skilled a debater. But what do I know? I’m not such a good prognosticator at times.

    My only other comment would be that a debate between all the presidential candidates would have elevated the discourse.

  5. Mr. Romney complained that Pres. Obama had misconstrued Mr. Romney’s tax plan. He isn’t going to cut taxes for the wealthy (which has been his meme since the primaries)…why not at all…he’s going to reduce the tax rates across the board while removing unnamed tax loopholes and deductions in order to remain revenue neutral. OK…sounds like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. If the revenue is unchanged how do you reduce the deficit? If my tax load is unchanged despite a tax rate cut because you took away some of my deductions…how would that inspire me to start a business or hire more people or spend more money with my neighborhood businesses?

  6. Well I thought that Mr. Romney really did well, and I didn’t expect that he would. I think he got his points across better than President Obama, and appeared to be truly engaged and “into it”. It seemed like Mr. Obama was annoyed to be there – and that didn’t come across well on TV. It seems like most – on either side of the aisle – agree that Mr. Romney “won” the debate – whatever that means. I would say it kept him in the fight, at least until his next gaffe.

    I would say that this might tighten things up a bit – still Mr. Obama’s to lose though.

  7. As I’ve mentioned on several boards, Jim Lehrer has always quized guests with an air that he doesn’t really expect the truth, but some sort of spin. The fact that he bowed to Romney’s agressiveness more than Obama’s desire to finsh a point probably just due to Obama’s inate politeness. I’d hate to think that even NPR is bowing the the billions in ad money that the Republicans have raised around the world since the SCOTUS Citizen’s United decision in 2009. Always enjoy your insightful and engaging comments, PJ, whoever you are.

  8. Thanks for posting the clip, Jeffrey Kroll. I was kinda wondering if some of Obama’s debate strategy would occur off the debate stage. I think we can see that it has. Obama supporters should be pleased. It’s a smart move given his opponent: there’s no way to debate Romney when Romney won’t accede a common playing field and won’t honestly defend policy specifics. Kind of like compromising with the GOP on Capitol Hill. Obama can make every “counterpunch” off the debate stage more effectively. Again, a very smart move on several counts: Taking his debate rebuttal to the people; speaking informally to a live audience plays to his strengths; as if his entire presidency hasn’t demonstrated it – he’s also proven that he can take the punches. Today he’s not looking so weak.

    Despite the boost Romney may receive for his performance and the many accolades for his win, he made a farce out of the first debate for being an incorrigible boor. He didn’t treat his opponent diplomatically signaling he is not presidential. The next debate Obama may appear timid again, probably a little less so but even in his timidity the contrast between who is presidential and who is not will be more clear if Romney repeats his winning performance. Romney won’t look quite so in command. Definitely not if he’s barking like a pit bull then sticks to Rove-inspired tactics or if he doesn’t really say anything at all when he answers a question. On the other hand, Romney might make a shift, but he never demonstrated “presidential” on the campaign trail, and he may have boxed himself in with his pugilism. If he’s smart he’ll prep on diplomatic demeanor to get him through the debates. Hard to say if he’s smart enough. His highest advisors are – not his campaign but his puppet masters, I mean.

    Five will get you ten that Romney’s on the stump less than 24 hours after the next debate.

  9. What did Romney bring to the lectern? Violation of debate rules? Missed call by replacement refs?

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