Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Debating the Third Debate

Three up and three down and so the Presidential debate season is over. At this point, only the most strident Obama supporters do not concede that the President was awful in the first debate. Obama was clearly off his "game" and it showed. Not only did Governor Romney hit his from all sides, but the President gave barely a defense. It was, perhaps, the worst showing for a candidate ever (and I'm including Adm. Stockdale).

However, the first debate usually goes to the challenger for a myriad of reasons. Nonetheless, whatever momentum the President enjoyed up to that point was frittered away that evening. For months, the Obama team has tried - often successfully - to paint Mr. Romney with a false brush. So when the real Mitt Romney showed up that night, many perceptions were proven false. That led to a complete reversal of momentum and put Romney in the lead in numerous polls.

The Vice Presidential debate did the President no favors, either. Rather than compensating for Obama's poor performance, VP Joe Biden went overboard with his disdain for Congressman Ryan. Instead of looking like the adult in the room, Biden came out looking like an ornery old man who wanted the kids off the lawn. His inappropriate laughter and outright tall tales (they didn't know the Ambassador to Benghazi asked for beefed up security?) showed that Ryan was more the adult and clearly more competent.

Most pundits had already declared the President the winner of the second debate even before the first question was asked. This time, Obama was more engaging and aggressive. But on the heels of the Libyan murders, there was not a lot he could say to counter Romney's damning attacks, both in regard to Libya and to the economy. Since this election has, or should be, about the poor economy, Obama was forced to defend a record that has not been positive against a contender whose strength is the economy. The best that can be said about the second debate is that neither candidate really hurt the other - although Romney's damning review of the last 4 years was a wicked shot.

Now we came to the "foreign policy" debate. Anyone who would have predicted the strategy that the governor took is kidding you. Many on the right expected Romney to hit Obama upside the head regarding Libya. However, Romney decided that this was his last chance to show the world he is Presidential. So instead of attacking the President, he took the high road. Meaning, he did not go after Obama and often agreed with him. What that did was to once again show people he isn't who Obama has painted him out to be.

Now this strategy could easily have backfired. Obama could have highlighted that if their policies were so similar, what need is there to switch to Romney. But Romney is successful for a reason and he understood that by taking the high road, he exposed the low road of Chicago politics. Instead of accentuating the similarities, Obama became snide and extraordinarily mean. He belittled the governor and more than once was very condescending. His reactions and answers - and especially his visual dark stare - did what Biden's laugh did. It showed how the real adult was and who is better tempered to be the President.

As far as the questions went, I do not believe we learned much about each other's policies that we didn't know before. Obama was caught in a big lie regarding the GM bailout and Romney's comments about Obama distancing himself from Israel was pretty strong. But in reality, all Romney really needed to do was expose Obama's 4 year record as a failed experiment that can not be repeated. Once Romney was able to move the debate back to economics, Obama was a sitting duck. And no matter how he dressed it up, the record does speak for itself.

In essence, Romney was 2 steps ahead all night. If I didn't know better, I would have guessed that Romney was the incumbent and Obama the challenger. It's not common that the debates would move the needle to far. But that was due to Obama's decision to try and paint Romney as some right-wing ideologue. The truth of the matter is that Romney was not the first choice of the right-wing conservatives. He was considered way too moderate. Obama calculated that because Romney has an R next to his name, he must be a dangerous man.

Sadly for Mr. Obama, the bubble he, and the far left live in do not allow for contradiction of their agenda or views. Obama seems to have fallen into that trap as well and it very well may have cost his his Presidency.

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