My bad. I previously presented Barack Obama as a good debater. He is quite good, in the classical sense of ‘debate.’ You know – the high school or college variety, where they keep score based on the logic, accuracy and completeness of your arguments. No cheering audience to pander to.
Real debates and political debates are two different animals though. Political debates are closer to pep rallies. No one keeps score in a logical sense and, if you ‘zing’ your opponent, people will think you ‘won.’
Mitt Romney won debate number one. He won it by pushing around the 78-year old moderator. He won it by flinging out accusation after accusation about Obama. He threw out a multitude of meaningless and inaccurate (but scary-sounding) statistics.
He says to pay for his $5 trillion tax cut he will, among other things, get rid of funding for PBS (which is like saying ‘if I drop this bag of marshmallows in the water we can dry up the ocean.’).
And he did it all with an authoritative voice and that stare-you-in-the-eye manor that all great B.S.-ers have. (I would certainly include President Clinton in this category.)
Looks matter A LOT in a political debate, and Mitt looks great.
Obama looked and sounded like a boring college professor. Yeah, all of his facts were right, but he didn’t say them in an interesting way.
Worse, he wasn’t nearly aggressive enough in his attacks on Romney. There is a delicate line to walk for a standing president. The ‘outsider’ has freedom to attack, but presidents must look ‘presidential,’ which is to say, unflappable. This is a distinct visual disadvantage.
George W Bush provided a different way to ‘zing’ Al Gore. Bush proved to be a bumbling idiot in the debates. The result? People hated Al Gore because he kept rolling his eyes at Bush’s moronic and incoherent answers.
Everybody knew Gore was a superior intellect to Bush, and had more experience than Bush, both domestically and internationally.
They voted for Bush anyway because Gore was too smug, and Bush seemed like the kind of aw-shucks guy you could have a beer with, without him talking over your head.
We just hate the idea of a president who is ‘too smart.‘
And that is where we are with Barack Obama. He reads his point-by-point answers in a tedious, spiritless fashion.
What America wants is anger, and bad guys to vilify, and solid pronouncements of who and what is good and bad.
Accuracy doesn’t matter. We are not looking for thought-provoking discussions.
As Stephen Colbert says, we like to think with our gut, not with our heads.
Final Debate observation…….
What Mitt wants you to hear: “Jobs” (He said it about 30 times)
What Mitt doesn’t want you to hear: “Minimum wage, no benefits” (This is what Romney always means by ‘jobs,’ including the ones he sends overseas)