We had so many questions going into last night’s presidential debate. Would President Obama finally put the floundering Mitt Romney out of his misery, calmly, but sternly, like a vampire hunter dispatching the undead back to the hell from whence they crawled, thereby strengthening the base and embiggening his lead? He would not. Would Romney, flopping around like a beached-salmon gasping for air, say anything, literally anything, to convince passersby to toss him back into the water where he may swim yet again, deep and free into a watery abyss of shit, if only for one more day? He would. And what about if the two candidates switched haircuts for the night just to, you know, spice things up — what would that look like? Like this, in fact.
By all other, more reliable, albeit less amazingly hilarious accounts, Obama had himself a rough night. He was out of shape and it showed, Politico said.
The debate, which was a rather even-handed affair, actually served to elevate Romney in many viewers’ estimations, mostly due to the fact that he didn’t fall into the podium and somehow end up with his pants off. One notable gaffe, if you want to call it that (“obtuse contrarian shitheaded-ness” is what I might say), came with Romney’s much derided comments about cutting funding to PBS, home of debate moderator Jim Lehrer.
“I’m sorry, Jim,” he said, reprising a standard stump speech line. “I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS, I love Big Bird. Actually like you, too. But I’m not going to — I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for. That’s No. 1.”
That line of thinking didn’t take much to deflate quickly, as this instantly viral tweet from Neil deGrasse Tyson, aka probably the best dude in the world, pointed out.
Cutting PBS support (0.012% of budget) to help balance the Federal budget is like deleting text files to make room on your 500Gig hard drive
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 4, 2012
Of course debates aren’t about what’s actually said, but rather how they are said. This is performative political sports theater, and the consensus was, even from reliable water carrying Democratic boot-spittles, that Obama didn’t bring the wood/show up to play four quarters/have anything left of his fast ball.
Many in the left-leaning media were extremely unhappy with Obama’s performance during last night’s presidential debate, but none made it clearer than MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who wailed like a Truth Siren at the president’s feckless, listless first round.
“Where was Obama tonight?” the host of Hardball exclaimed in the news network’s post-debate roundtable. “He should watch – well, not just ‘Hardball,’ Rachel [Maddow], he should watch you, he should watch the Reverend Al [Sharpton], he should watch Lawrence [O'Donnell], he would learn something about this debate.” Gawker.
Was it the natural tendency of old campaigners to play it safe in the opening quarter? Or the tendency of longtime adversaries to score points off each other rather than illuminate their differences?
Or was it that the issues on which the presidential campaign will turn are so complicated — the economy, taxation, healthcare — that it’s a challenge for anyone to make them accessible for average listeners? LA Times.
Echoing a common refrain, Matthews continued, describing Obama’s inability to push the political ball across the finish line/endzone/into the basket thusly: “Like, ‘I’ll wait an hour and a half, I think I can get through this thing. I don’t even look at this guy.’ Whereas Romney — I loved the split screen, staring at Obama, addressing him, like the prey. He did it just right. I’m coming at an incumbent. I’ve got to beat him. You gotta beat the champ, and I’m gonna beat him tonight. And I don’t care what this guy moderator, whatever he thinks he is, because I’m going to ignore him. What was Romney doing? He was winning.” Politico
If you insist on, you know, caring about what the substance of their words actually meant rather than the#swag with which they proclaimed them, Talking Points Memo has a breakdown of the “27 myths Romney said in 38 minutes.”
Pundits from both sides of the aisle have lauded Mitt Romney’s strong debate performance, praising his preparedness and ability to challenge President Obama’s policies and accomplishments. But Romney only accomplished this goal by repeatedly misleading viewers. He spoke for 38 minutes of the 90 minute debate and told at least 27 myths.
“That doesn’t sound like Romney,” said your least likeable co-worker/ rich uncle.
Most of the lies revolved around Romney’s pledges that he wouldn’t raise taxes on the middle class, but that he also wouldn’t cut taxes for the rich, all while decreasing the deficit. How would he accomplish all of this then? He wouldn’t, dumb ass. Too bad there wasn’t anyone there to call him out on it. Oh right. That one guy, President Obama.
The listless Obama, as the post-game recap narrative goes, couldn’t even bring up Romney’s most glaring recent foot-in-mandible-like-jaw moment, the infamous 47% speech. All of this despite the fact that Romney actually used the number 47 in two different statistics, both of which you can read in the full transcript here. “It’s just — it’s — we’ve got — we got — when the president took office, 32 million people on food stamps; 47 million on food stamps today.”
Heading into the debate, there was a belief, an expectation that Obama would challenge Romney on the infamous 47% remark in an attempt to paint the former Massachusetts governor as a cold-hearted patrician with little empathy for the middle class and poor. If executed correctly, it could have put Romney on defense and changed the tenor of the debate.
Obama didn’t do it, which turned out to be a major mistake.
Nor did the president question Romney on why he wouldn’t release more details about his taxes. Another opportunity lost in an effort to try and portray Romney as being an out-of-touch elitist.
Obama’s failure to take the fight to Romney and the challenger’s ability to dictate the tone and speed of the debate helped Romney win. CNN
All in all a rather disappointing night full of missed chances that left viewers feeling conflicted, not sure where to turn for reassurance, the guy lying through his metallic teeth, or the the guy who seemed like he was guaranteed victory just by showing up; it left us feeling pretty much exactly like this in fact:
Politics is hard.