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Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Obligatory Post-Debate Snark

 

This morning I’m starting to wonder if I watched a different debate from everybody else.

I think maybe I did.

Jeanne Devon and I live-blogged the debate on Jeanne’s blog on The Mudflats. At the end of the debate I said:

Well, that’s that. I don’t think there were any surprises. I’m biased, but I think Obama will be called the winner on this one, at least outside Fox…

Today it would appear that I was wrong.

Apparently Obama will not be declared the victor.

In my defense, I was basing my prediction on an analysis of past criticisms of Barack Obama’s debate performances, criticism he obviously took to heart, and an expectation of consistency by both his critics and the media.

In retrospect, I probably should have known better.

Polls taken immediately after the debate showed nearly seven in ten viewers thought Romney was the clear winner. According to Seamus McGraw writing for Fox News, Obama didn’t just have a bad night, he had a “bad attitude.”  McGraw thought the president seemed by turns detached and irritated and “clearly ill-prepared to face a motivated Romney.”

I didn’t see that.

Bad attitude? Uh, okay, Seamus, but are you sure you’re not just smelling anal leakage from Clint Eastwood in the studio next door?

Again, I’m not sure these people were watching the same debate I did. I watched the unadulterated C-Span live feed, maybe McGraw and the other pundits were watching one of Fox’s cameras, the one with the OMG! Nazis! filter engaged. Beats me.

I thought Romney and Obama were both well prepared, and I’d expect nothing less with these two.

To me, Obama seemed confident and relaxed and a bit jovial.  Mitt seemed confident as well, but I thought he seemed a little frenetic, a bit strident, but not overly so.

I thought Obama worked hard to appear politely attentive while Romney was speaking, though he wasn’t always completely successful and maybe that’s where McGraw gets his impression of irritation on the president’s part.

I think Mitt needs to work on that smirk – I don’t think it’s deliberate, but he’s got this little half smile that comes across, at least to me, as condescending and disrespectful, like the CEO waiting for you to stop talking so he can tell you why you’re wrong. And his obviously prepared zingers fell flat.

In fact there were no really memorable lines by either candidate.

I thought both candidates did reasonably well. I would have put the President ahead on likability, but that’s a perception thing and I admit to bias.  If you don’t like Obama, you’re not going to like Obama. If you don’t like Romney, you’re not going to like Romney. The debate isn’t going to change that and I thought Obama got the better of it.

Clearly, I’m in the minority this morning.

But then again, I usually am.

Frankly, I thought the whole thing was a waste of time. This isn’t a new thought, I’ve never had much use for staged political debates and other contests that consist primarily of pecker-waggling.

I’d much rather see the candidates one on one with a hardnosed panel of expert interrogators in a series of interviews, each segment devoted to a specific topic.

I want them to answer questions in detail without moving the goals posts. Don’t tell me why the other guy sucks, tell me what you would do, specifically and in detail. No generalities and we have fact-checkers online who will be providing real-time feedback for each and every one of your answers. Look directly into the camera and address America.

Start by explaining your economic policy in detail, step by step, here’s a Dry-Erase board and a marker, show your work. If it takes ten hours, well, then it takes ten hours. It’s the single most important topic America faces right now, we don’t expect it to be simple. You may consider this similar to defending a doctorial dissertation. While you’re at it, give us a detailed summary of how you will create jobs, pay off the debt and reduce the deficit, grow business, revise regulations, and address the tax code. Provide supporting information and references and the relevant footnotes. Don’t give us any crap about it being too complicated either, if you can’t explain it to the general population, you can’t explain it to the idiots in Congress. We’ve got a battery of non-partisan experts back here, they’ll be stopping you periodically to examine specific points. You may begin.

Give us a complete rundown of your foreign policy. Address how you will approach each problem in detail (we might need multiple segments for foreign policy, each night devoted to a different area). For example: Iran, when you say that all options “are on the table” explain precisely what that means and what the consequences are. List each option and explain them in detail. Start with the nuclear option, then conventional war with and without coalition/UN support, military action short of war, non-military intervention, diplomacy, and so on. Describe precisely how many American casualties you, as president, are willing to accept to achieve each goal, you may round to the nearest power of ten (i.e. 100. 1000. 10,000. And so on). Describe to the nearest billion exactly how much of the American treasury you, as president, would be willing to spend on this endeavor and exactly where that money will come from, including skyrocketing gasoline and energy prices and how many generations you expect it will take to pay off the tab.

Who are your top ten picks for the Supreme Court? Your cabinet? Chairman of the Joint Chiefs? Head of the CIA? The Federal Reserve. The EPA. And so on.

Describe how you will address the concerns, rights, and liberties of all Americans – not just the ones who voted for you.  Describe your stance on each important social issue. E.g. if you oppose same sex marriage, describe why, describe in precise detail how it affects your marriage personally or denies traditional marriage proponents their rights as Americans – you must answer this and other social issue questions as The President, i.e. you may not use your religion or political party’s talking points, you must describe your support or opposition strictly in accordance with the Constitution of the United States. Period. Again, we have a panel of experts back here and we’ll be fact checking each point. Let’s start with abortion.

We could even have a segment of questions posed by average Americans as chosen randomly via social media.

See? I think something like that would be useful. We could devote a cable channel to it. All candidates get equal time and the same battery of questions. All political contributions could be taxed a certain percentage to pay for it.

Debates, on the other hand, seem to me to be little more than political theater.

Sure, they’re entertaining to some extent, but other than that I don’t think they serve much purpose.

Especially last night’s debate.

Both Jeanne and I were hoping for a target rich environment, the kind of thing political bloggers live for – especially during a live blog where you’d really like to be able to chime with a running counterpoint of irreverent smartassery.

Honestly, I was hoping for some surprises, some stellar gaffs, some real zingers and sound bites.

Maybe even a swear word or even some fisticuffs.

Instead, well, Meh.

What did you learn last night? Both candidates spent an hour and a half repeating the same exact things they’ve been saying on the stump for the last month – including demonstratively wrong information that has been soundly fact checked and is being soundly fact checked again today.

Both Romney and Obama arrived well prepared and with their own set of talking points and neither deviated from their programs –  both sets of handlers should be proud. Both candidates were reasonably well spoken, neither said anything even vaguely surprising, there were no real quotable moments, no “gotcha” zingers. No swear words or fisticuffs, damn the luck.

I recorded the debate and after I’d logged off The Mudflats, I watched it again hoping for maybe a few nuggets I could turn into a comedy post. Four years ago in the debates between Barack Obama and John McCain, Sarah Palin and Joe Biden, combined with alcohol and well, you know the jokes just sort of wrote themselves. Last night? Meh.

There wasn’t any Jesus tossing.

There weren’t even any Nazis.

That’s why we watch debates in the first place, right? For the comedy, for the entertainment. For the mud wrestling. For the drama and the laughs. That’s the whole point. Without that, what do you have? I mean, what’s NASCAR without some spectacular crashes? Just a bunch of rednecks driving around in a circle, see? That’s what I’m talking about here. Who would watch that? Big deal. Nobody would watch Ice Road Truckers or Big Brother if there weren’t tears and fights and drama. If the mean old bastard with the giant white mustache wasn’t such a complete asshole, American Chopper would be just a couple of toothless dipshits building a motor scooter in their garage – hell, you might as well watch bass fishing. Or golf.

Presidential debates are the original reality TV – maybe we should lock the candidates and their families in a house with one bathroom for a month and monitor them on MTV.

That’s what we want in a presidential debate.

We want passion and strong language and feats of verbal derring-do. Fisticuffs would be good too. And some swearing. Jesus tossing. Also, well, you know.

Because, really, let’s face it, presidential debates aren’t much good for anything other than entertainment. It’s not like the skills displayed in a presidential debate are something the future President is actually going to use in his actual job. The president isn’t going to stand at a podium next to Wen Jiabao and argue international trade policy with China. He’s not going to stand on a stage with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and debate Iran’s nuclear program while some hapless moderator tries to keep them on track. Though, you know, it might be fun to try, “Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, you have two minutes to describe why North Korea’s long range nuclear missiles are really heroic instruments of peace. Go…” Sure, and then the press decides who the winner is, “The US President was clearly off balance when Vladimir Putin, instead of answering a question about his country’s role in the Syrian civil war, suddenly ripped off his shirt and proceeded to wrestle a large hungry Siberian tiger to the death on stage…”

What a different world that would be, eh?

This morning, most of the negative commentary regarding the debate seems focused squarely on poor Jim Lehrer instead of either of the candidates.

And that’s a shame, really.

To be fair, without the option to administer disabling electric shocks via Taser cannon or the ability to cut off microphones, I’m not sure exactly what Lehrer was supposed to do. Both candidates agreed to the rules and then both willfully violated them, and because of that I’m not so sure Lehrer deserves the level of criticism he’s getting today.

Then again, Jim Lehrer has been around for a long time, this isn’t his first rodeo. He’s a tough and savvy customer and he knew what he was getting into. Hopefully he’ll just go back to being retired and let the criticism die a quiet death.

That said, maybe we should rethink this whole thing.

Debates are basically reality TV, right?

Let’s run with that.

Instead of a distinguished newsman, maybe we should get that mean old son of a bitch from American Chopper to moderate the next debate.

Seriously, tell me you wouldn’t watch that, because that would be awesome.

Also, one of the candidates should wrestle a tiger.

Bare-chested.

To the death.

87 comments:

  1. I have to admit, I would probably watch that debate.

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  2. You say that "Polls taken immediately after the debate showed nearly seven in ten viewers thought Romney was the clear winner."

    First, no one should be taken against their will.

    Second, I'm confused as to why being of Polish decent somehow makes one an expert on American political debate and/or blessed with the ability to declare a winner to last nights discourse. Are they somehow privy to inside information, hyper-intuitive, or just really accurate guessers?

    Seems fishy to me.

    Anyway, I'm voting for Romney.

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    1. That would have been a lot funnier if you (or I, for that matter) had spelled it "poles."

      Or even "pollock" since you thought it seemed fishy. But now I'm just being silly.

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    2. I'll try and do better next time. Love your stuff, man. Always worth the read.

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  3. Holy Shite Jim....will you promise to be the next moderator Jim Lehrer finally chokes on his microphone? You'll be equipped with a cattle prod, taser and whoopie cushion.

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  4. Even when Romney told everybody his five sons are all liars it wasn't worth a tweet.

    El Draggo Grande. Obama was dull which I didn't think was possible and Romney was, well, Romney albeit a bit cranked up.

    I actually took phone calls during, which is an indicator of extreme ennui.

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  5. What you didn't see the valiant effort Myth Romney made to drag himself back into the "center" right? His attempt to scrape the TPer's off his designer loafers?

    I caught R's shifty eyes and condescending smirk too. Made me want to reach through the screen and smack him. But towards the end I also saw a lot of pained expressions on Mitt, maybe he had to pee.

    Obama at times looked annoyed as though he really expected the moderator to not be bullied and overrun by Romney's all out "gotta have the last word no matter what". Then kinda bored, as Mitt kept on and on and on repeating himself over and over. And then confused as Mittens suddenly announced himself for something he previously campaigned against, or was it something he was for and is now against? I don't know I'm confused....

    About that bare chested wrestling thing - Can they both (tiger and politician) be covered in warm Crisco first?

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    1. It was Romney's voice that made me want to reach through the screen and smack him. I think he did himself no favors with that supercilious, condescending, patronizing, sing-songy tone he took last night. He sounded like he was running for Upper Class Twit of the Year instead of President. His air of knowing what's best for the peons he despises was really offensive.

      It got so bad that at times, when he was bullying and talking over Jim Lehrer, I found myself yelling, "Shut up, already!" at the screen.

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    2. No, no Crisco. The tiger would go "Eeeewww" and start frantic grooming. The politician is too used to being greasy to care or be hindered in any way. But if you insist on grease, then I would suggest bacon grease or butter for the politician.

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    3. Totally agree with the aggravating smirk and tone of voice that just made me wanna reach out and touch someone HARD - you know - like Mittens - and smack him hard about lying - or maybe washing his mouth out with soap for said lies - like many of our mammas used to do with us... The only thing I took out of the debates is the confirmation that Mittens is a smirking self-involved bully and that our President is thoughtful and truthful. So yeah... No real take-homes despite the stunning betrayal by Mittens of his base - o wait - no - that was to be expected - oy ve!

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  6. Actually, I think YOU should moderate the debate. I'd pay to see that one.

    Re: this one -- I don't know why you thought Obambi won. He let Mittens get away with lie after egregious lie. The Center for American Progress documented 27 specific lies in Romney's 38 minutes of tongue wagging. BHO looked tired and not particularly engaged. Though he spoke 4 minutes longer, many observers though Romney dominated the clock, as well. I didn't get to see the whole thing, but the post-mortem from the CNBC panel was a combination of despair and incredulous outrage. Except for Steve Schmidt, who was delighted with Romney's performance.

    Mittens was smarmy, disdainful, and disturbingly comfortable in his blatant dishonesty. But he won because he was ruthless and aggressive. Obama lost because he was a pussy.

    I sincerely hope this shit doesn't matter, because if it does, we are well and truly fucked.

    JzB

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    1. Reference.

      http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/10/04/958801/at-last-nights-debate-romney-told-27-myths-in-38-minutes/

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    2. That's MSNBC, not CNBC. What was I thinking . . .?

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    3. I second that motion - Jim Wright for moderator... Course we'd have to Occupy the Commission on Presidential Debates first...

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  7. Jim, I know I'm quibbling here but. . . perhaps "demonstrably" would serve better than "demonstratively". Regards and please continue the excellent work.

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  8. Pretty much all the left-leaning bloggers I read are saying Obama lost as well. And all the fact-checkers are pointing out, again, the tremendous number of lies Romney told.

    As I've noted elsewhere, of all the twitter feeds and live-blogging I followed during the debate, my favorite comment was "Welcome to the 2012 debate where everything is made up and the points don’t matter."

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    1. "...and the decisions of the judges are arbitrary, capricious, and final...". Drew Carey for moderator? With a buzzer. And maybe he can make them switch genres to Shakespeare or samurai in mid-answer.

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  9. Think the best observation I read was that Obama now has 4 weeks of targets and Romney has...none. Obama could have attacked but it would have gotten an even more negative response, plus eliciting sympathy for poor Mitt. Instead Mitt was aggressive and seemed to intimidate Lehrer. While the knee jerk (emphasis on the latter)response was "Mitt won", today it's "Mitt lies". Obama's first post debate rally used and "zinged" Mitt's debate prevarications effectively. Perhaps the President's debate wasn't what we wanted and expected, but it just might have been precisely what he needed to do.

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    1. Romney has plenty of targets. He has to lie to hit any of them, but that hasn't seemed to bother him, his handlers, or the rest of the GOP/Tea Baggers at all over the past 5 years.

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  10. I thought Lehrer failed to control "who gets the last word" of the segment, or whatever, right from the beginning, and it just went downhill from there. Romney sensed that he could take full advantage of the situation and steamrolled on like when toddlers put their hands over their ears and say, "I can't hear you, I can't hear you, I can't hear you," and the President was by turns too exasperated and dignified to respond the same. The President kept looking at Lehrer like, "Really? Aren't your going to do your moderator job?"

    And in between, both of them "pivoted," a concept NPR reported on the day before. When candidates don't answer the questions asked but instead talk about what they want to talk about.

    I like the idea of a Dry-Erase board and full explanations. I would watch that. But seriously, the reality TV crowd with the attention span of fart would not, alas.

    I thought Romney's performance pathetic and disgusting, with his condescending expression, but then, I'm biased.

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  11. Debate? My ass. Jim, you're spot on: Political theater of the first water. "The medium is the message," according to some wag. This performance reminded me of the glam-rock of yore--except there wasn't any rock and damned little glam.

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  12. Paul Tuttle senior,(the mean son of a bitch w/the white mustache)has the intellectual depth of a small soap dish, but he would be superb in the role of moderator especially when it comes to him pandering to Mitten's fish out of water flip,flopping,wishy washy changing the topic and his out and out lying on every issue, behavior. Hell's bell's, Tuttle Sr.is a SMALL business man who sued his own son Paul Jr., when he left to start a business that competed with his own dad.Maybe Bain Capitol can step in and leverage buy out them both, forcing them to borrow way to much money and then shove them into bankruptcy while selling their businesses out from under them to China.... Probably serve them both right ... And presto...Another Mitten's American success story....
    Not to be making excuses for the BIG O's performance last eve as I am stepping into the contemplation department , but as the leader of the most powerful country in the free world , I feel the President certainly has a lot more on his plate to think and worry about than Mitt does.Mitt is just to busy trying to figure out where to hide all his money,not divulging his taxes for the last 10 years and making sure that no one reminds the 47% of this country what he really thinks of them.

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  13. I'm with you. I watched it and I thought Obama looked serious and focused and you could tell he was writing notes to himself in response to the mountain of lies Romney was spouting. I do wish he'd have slapped down a few of those, but he was determined to insure that his positions were defined. As for Romney, THAT SMIRK!! UGH! I am just waiting to see how Obama deals with that incorrigible liar next time around.

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  14. I still think Betty White should get to come out and fish slap everytime someone lies. What a great time we'd have, you and BW.

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  15. I have been watching the campaign coverage almost non-stop. I looked forward to the debate for weeks.

    I imagined that Romney would say something crass, cold, or insensitive. I imagined that he would repeat some of his more outrageous stances such as suggesting that the emergency room is a practical and cost effective solution for those without health insurance to obtain health care.

    Shame on me for being shocked when Romney came out on stage and started to LIE. I feel foolish now that I think about it. What ELSE would he do? You would think that he wouldn't lie when it is so easy to catch him lying. After all, there is plenty of video that directly contradicts what he said last night. But, that has never stopped him before. The sad fact is, there is a pretty large group of people who only watch the debates.

    During the debate I found myself wishing the President would call him on some of his lies. Maybe the President knows something that I don't know or none of the pundits grading the debate can guess at. You call a liar on his lies and apparently he just continues to lie. You can a craven manipulator a manipulator and what is his response. What do bullies do when you call them on it? Given the completely unabashed deceit of Mitt Romney, I can't say that it couldn't have gotten worse. I wonder, what would it have looked like if Obama had fought back.

    Now Obama's people seem to be calling Romney on his lies. Obama gave a speech where he describes his surprise about the Mitt Rommey he debates vs the Mitt Romney who has been campaigning.

    In the debate I saw, which may indeed be different from the debate you saw, there was a split screen. It showed a President looking a little angry, sort of like he was gritting his teeth. I would not say sleepy. I did seem to me as though he was not saying things purposefully.

    I am hoping that some of the fact checking going on gets through to people. Then we'll have a very different debate result. The short game shouldn't win.

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  16. Al Gore's suggestion that Barack's arriving in Denver at altitude at 2 pm the day of the debate might have caused some elevation related sluggishness vs Romney's already having been there a couple of days could have merit. Some have suggested that Obama simply rope a doped Romney by letting him spin lie after exaggeration after stretched truth without getting testy towards him and seeming angry to the viewers-then letting the infamous liberal media expose all of them. Perhaps a little of both are the truth?

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    1. And watching Tuttle Senior throw a podium at Romney in a steroid rage would be one of the greatest pieces of political theater ever.

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  17. It seemed to me that it was a draw. Mitt won on style with his smarmy aggressiveness. Obama won on substance with his facts and honesty. Lehrer was awful! (I felt a little sorry for him.) At the next debate, I'd like to see Rachael Maddow asking Mitt questions and Bill O'Reilly asking Obama questions. That would be exciting!

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    1. Except Oh'Really would interrupt him every half sentence.

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  18. Listening to it, Jim, I thought the President sounded tired and off his game. Like I said at Giant Midgets, he seemed to say "uhm" a lot. And Romney was smooth and disappointingly gaffe-free, though he lied his ass off and a few of his lines were worth sardonic laughs (e.g. I got a larf out of his line about cutting PBS, which is such a miniscule piece of the budget cutting it wouldn't make a damn ounce of difference; I loved Neil de Grasse Tyson's tweet on that point). To be clear, Romney was completely vague and substance free (I still don't understand why anyone said the debate was "wonky"--I heard no real technical policy points from either man, though that didn't surprise me).

    Also to be clear, I'll reiterate another thing I said at Giant Midgets: I could have told you who I'd be voting for this year back in 2003 after a certain national party decided invading Iraq was some kind of good idea for bad and not to mention completely dishonest reasons. The debate didn't change that a bit. I wish my man had done better than I thought he did, but it is what it is.

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    1. Obama was thinking about the questions, that's why. Real experts don't sound as confident as salesmen. But confidence persuades.

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    2. Raven: That's why the short form of confidence man is con-man.

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  19. I thought the president got a good one in with the "Are they such good ideas that you're keeping them secret." And it was pretty much a gaffe when Romney basically called his kids liars. And bad liars at that. And then there was his comment where he said small employers are responsible to 50% of all jobs, but by the end of the sentence said that hurting small employers affects 25% of all employees.

    Also, I have a link to it (which I'll post tomorrow), at least for the CNN spot poll, if you dig down into the demographics all the respondents were white, Southern, urban, and over 50. It was quite amazing.

    But I do like the Putin idea. Don't like the question the moderator asked, or the position you need to make a response from, you can choose the Physical Challenge. Everything from bear wrestling to a Nina Warrior type course. The challenge chosen by spinning a wheel like the Price Is Right spin off.

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    1. Explain my fiscal poli... I choose the Physical Challenge instead!

      Dude, you make me laugh so hard.

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    2. In case anybody is a stats wonk like myself, here's that CNN Snap Poll report. The demographic breakouts start on page 8.

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    3. Also, did you notice that the give aways to green companies went from 900 billion (50 years worth of oil subsidies, Jim!!) to 90 billion a few minutes later?

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    4. Like "Truth or Dare" literally -- I love it! Except maybe you should spin a bottle instead of a wheel.

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  20. When Romney started talking, his jerky head movements reminded me of Will Ferrell's Harry Caray parody.

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  21. The second part of the post is spot on. For the first part, I only heard the closing statements on the radio, and I felt Obama spoke more naturally, and Mitt, despite going second, read from a script. Mitt was more succint, Obama kind of rambled through what I suspect was covered during the debate. I'll call that a wash.

    I'm so sick of them answering a yes or no question with a ten minute tangent on why they support or oppose whatever policy happens to be the flavor of the day. I love the idea f making them sit down, face the cameras and actually answering the questions. Also, in my future presidential campaign I intend to use this post as a checklist of what to make sure I do while running my campaign.

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  22. The League of Women Voters used to run the debates, and they were much more real debates and much less extended stump speeches.

    From the bit I saw, Obama was thinking about his answers; Romney was confidently rattling off talking points. Obama would have done fine in a real debate. But here's the thing: a lot of people trust confidence, and never mind the content. Of what Romney said, most of what wasn't nonsense was outright lies. He changed his position from his previous positions multiple times. But he sounded like he believed it, and it persuaded.

    Afterwards, two people I was talking to in the local convenience store said that Romney came off much better; one of them was a young black man.

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  23. Totally with you Jim, on the white board and marker thing. Charts and explanations worked pretty damned well for Perot (19% of the vote as an independent), it could give Obama an opportunity to shoot down Romney's lies without being interrupted. I, for one, would love to see that.

    Or fisticuffs. That would also be fun.

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  24. Better than the "Physical Challenge"....... just lock the two of 'em in a room - - no food, no bathroom - - and whoever comes out ...... well, wins.
    Didn't watch, paddled the kayak and had dinner with like minded individuals.

    What did the cat thinK ???

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  25. Jim, your description of what we should have is in a way what I imagined the hours long debates of the past, with Lincoln-Douglas being the historic pinnacle. Two candidates with a crowd of listeners pushing them, but talking big ideas. The irony is that MItt Romney as a CEO and Barack Obama as a law professor both should be used to this type of vetting - a corporate leader looking for senior staff, professors having a doctoral student defend their dissertation. Instead we get this theater that centered on how the candidate "looked" and how they could be thrown off their game - theater. For the position of the most powerful person (so far man) in the world, we really do have incredibly low standards. How do they look on tv where they might be caught not being aware on camera? How much can they raise money so that surrogates and tricksters make and disseminate hit pieces that attack or "position" pieces with little detail of position. For the day a candidate would really say "enough, line me up with a panel and let's go!"

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  26. I think Romney's expression is a combination of condescension and constipation, with a bit of contempt thrown into the mix. His facial expressions alone make me cringe to contemplate him in a diplomatic situation.

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  27. That's it, Jim! "frenetic" and "condescending" are definitely words that fit Mitt's demeanor last night. I told another of my friends that he seemed overly aggressive and almost "manic," so apparently you & I saw the same debate regardless of how anyone else may have seen it. I WAS disappointed that the Prez didn't go at him with more ferocity, though. Would have liked to see him clean Romney's clock from the onset. You're right - even a good bout of fisticuffs would have been refreshing. But if either of them DOES end up wrestling a tiger, my money's still on Obama to do it better!

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    1. I thought the President looked extremely fatigued. No wonder, with the schedule he has between campaigning, fundraising, & actually governing a Country & dealing with a white hot Middle East crisis.

      Willard on the other hand, spent most of his time practicing for the debate, fundraising a bit & riding around on his yacht so he'd be well rested. Only a few campaign events. He put all his eggs in the debate basket & still wound up as a proven and very public, lying bully.

      Unlike you Jim, I KNEW that Romney would be touted as the winner prior to the debate. Sarah Palin was also given the "winnership" of her debate(?) with Biden. Yep, yep, that darn "lame-stream" media.

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    2. I would say aggressive. If they had been closer, Mitt would have prodded the President with his fingers - it's what he does with his employees - arrogant and aggressive - no people skills whatsoever.

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  28. I didn't think the president did as well as he could have. I thought he was speaking a bit slower and pausing a lot more than he usually does. A couple of his pauses were long enough to irritate me. (Yes, I am a New Yorker. Talk faster, dammit!) Ethissen 1's point that Obama had arrived in Denver that afternoon and may have been affected by the altitude makes sense.

    The clear loser was Jim Lehrer, not through any fault of his own. Everyone thought that the rules would be followed. Moderators should be able to turn the mikes off. Electric cattle prods would be excessive, but how about those little slapper things on sticks that you use to move cattle around?

    And I vote for Judge Judy as a future debate moderator.

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  29. I was angry at Obama for appearing to BLOW IT!
    I wanted him to come out and geld Mittins in the first half hour...but no he fell into the Prez Care Bear 'rope a dope' mode.
    Then a friend reminded me that he is not a street fighter like Truman or LBJ...he really IS a professor.
    That's true...but damn it we need him to get in there and FIGHT!
    Please don't tell me about how 'a black man cannot appear to be aggressive.....it will scare voters off' bullshit, those people weren't gonna vote for him in the first place.

    Ok, now I'm gonna finish reading your essay...thanks for letting me vent.

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    1. I'd pay money is see tiger wrestlin'...your essay had it's usual calming effect, thanks.

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  30. Jim Jim Jim that the short attention span voters would have to actually devote some intellectual capitol and research is anathema.Exccellent post.

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  31. Indian leg wrestling with lies after.
    It's the only way.

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  32. Thank you, Jim, for bringing some relevant ideas and thought to the post debate discussion. I did not watch it, mainly for the reasons you stated. I had a feeling that it would just be a pissing contest between the two, because that is all people want to hear and understand. It sucks royally, that important decisions that affect all of us are always boiled down to the lowest common denominator. A lot of time and money is wasted on campaigns screaming about how their talking points are better than the other's, and it makes me sad to know that will never change. As an American that has nothing but pride for our form of governance, I am ashamed of our politics.

    Thank you again. I've been reading and lurking here for a little while now, and your writing has kickstarted an engine within me that laid dormant for a while.

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  33. Hmm. I watched C-Span. What came across to me was the President collecting his thoughts, being measured in his responses and writing notes to himself. That doesn't make good theatre but it makes for a dependable man at the helm.

    I saw Romney blustering and not at all in control of himself, his reactions or his rhetoric. He had some set pieces he got out, but extemporising wasn't his strong point and he came across to me as flustered and panicky.

    I know who we over here would prefer to do business with. Someone who thinks before he acts and speaks. Some would say the American elections are none of our business, and they're right in that we don't have a say, but we watch them very, very carefully. Romney is popular nowhere else but among the Republicans of the United States.

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  34. "Because, really, let’s face it, presidential debates aren’t much good for anything other than entertainment. It’s not like the skills displayed in a presidential debate are something the future President is actually going to use in his actual job."

    Yeah but I'm still looking forward to the Swimsuit Competition.

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  35. I just thought a singing contest would have been better...WE know who would win that one.
    I also thought President Obama won this thing...Mitt was overbearing, loud and obnoxious, and if he(Mitt) ever talked that way around my old lady,(brown belt in Shotokan Karate) she would give him that "look" I often get, and he would slink away to think about the loud lies he spewed.
    The Pundit game is to keep the horserace going. While the right wingers figure out how to rig THIS election. I have lost faith in the integrity of our election officials...not all are corrupt, I assume...but maybe there are enough to duplicate the Bush win.

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  36. As you said, Jim, this is theater - not real debate. I think for many viewers, the content may just as well have been the "Wah, wah wah" of Linus' off-screen mother. What matters is how they said it, not what they said. In that regard, Romney delivered his responses quickly, without pauses or verbal stumbling (which to me indicates memorized & practiced responses, not thinking, but I digress). Whereas Obama seemed to be channelling James T. Kirk, but without the.. assertiveness ... that Shatner managed ... to project. I would definitely have liked to see him call "Bullshit!" much more often.

    I also wonder why no one has called Romney on his logical fallcies, apart from the outright distortions of reality:
    A) I'm going to lower taxes, but not affect revenue because I'll limit deductions, etc. Dude - if you're having us pay the same, you are not lowering taxes. You're just pretending to throw the ball for the dog.
    B) He doesn't want the Feds to mandate health care law, but it sure sounded to me like he was proposing Federal legislation to mandate that the States overhaul their own plans along certain guidelines, or was that just me?

    In the coming week I imagine we will hear either howling from the tea party extremists over much of what their candidate said, or if they choose to remain silent so as not to harm his electoral chances, the sound of heads exploding from the pressure.

    Thanks for your blog - I have become a big fan & am currently catching up on past posts. I have learned to look away from the screen before sipping the coffee (Kids, don't sip and Stonekettle...)

    Bruce

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    1. Bruce,

      Welcome aboard! You hit the nails right on the head with your logical fallacies, first and second. Especially the first one. I don't understand how these people on the right think they will fix the deficit by quote tax reform unquote that is quote revenue neutral unquote. How hard is it to figure out that you need to bring in more than you have done in order to clear the red out of the accounts? Too hard apparently. And I do concede that red could be cleared even quicker if spending cuts were made at the same time. But you don't quit buying food so you can afford to eat...it's just such "logic" I heard Mr. Romney displaying....

      Anyway, it is always good to visit Stonekettle Station and get Jim's thoughts and then catch up with the other readers' comments. Yours were great.

      Jim, thanks for another great post...you really need to get published to a wider audience!

      Old Navy Comm O

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    2. Thanks, Old Navy Comm O. I am surprised that I spend as much time here at Stonekettle reading comments as I do the blog. Reasonable & thoughtful commenters? Sometimes funny as hell, too? Perhaps the end times are near...

      On a different note, I just glanced up at my original post & noticed a typo (what? Here?) Fallcies instead of fallacies. Which leads me to submit a word verification:

      Fallcies (fawl-cees)- Logical enhancement for political boobs.

      Bruce

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  37. Personally, I wish the president on the next debate will stop thinking "bullshit" when the opponent mentions a untruth, and say it out loud. Call the Rman the best used car dealer, because thats wat he sold.

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  38. Obama did great. There were three debates. The first debate, one sets up the opponent in a place where your foe believes he got the advantage. The second debate, you set up the terms of the confrontation in place, pick your stage, and one gets the opponent shifting to the unknown battleground, still thinking he has you. And in the third debate you demolish your foe's forces. What the people remember is the last battle, not the beginning of the campaign... Obama knows history, something that the pundits have convinced themselves it is beneath them...

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  39. Anyway, I agree with you Jim, Eisenhower would have taught some pointers about strategy, if they weren't busy being faithful to their corporate masters... Next thing we know Mitt might end up being named for the Supreme Court.

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  40. OMG, it looks like Romney brought a crib card, which was strictly against the rules.

    http://my.firedoglake.com/demi/2012/10/05/did-romney-bring-notes-to-the-debate/

    Now, if it were up to me, it would be open book, open notes. But that's not the rules.

    Of course, it was one small card, and he couldn't refer to it very often. But it sure would help remembering talking points.

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  41. All is as usual today. Romney won the debate - the problem is not his lies - rather the problem is that President Obama didn't call him on them (well he tried, but then Romney repeated the lies - and the President probably was bored).

    Meanwhile the new job numbers must have been invented because the best efforts of the GOP were to keep the unemployed numbers above 8% - if the govt says they are below 8%, well the govt is telling lies. It's all in the arithmetic.

    Also, too Muslim, socialist, Kenyan immigrant - and nazis

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    1. The purpose of the "Gish Gallop" that Romney employed is to throw an incessant stream of falsehood, half-truths, evasions, and non-sequitors in such profusion that the opponent can scarely keep track of them, much less rebut them. Nor can the audience follow it even a part of it, but to them, it looks as if he "knows what he is talking about."

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  42. More of this: http://litbrit.blogspot.sg/2012/10/mitt-cheat-busted-in-8-frames.html

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  43. Thank you! I was beginning to think I saw a different debate from everyone else as well.But I did really see what everyone is talking about when they mention the arrogance and sense of entitlement: Rommney has obviously never been taught the basic rules of respecting others. His treatment of the moderator was shameful and very disrespectful. If he did have crib notes as is circulating in a video this morning that would only underscore the point that he believes rules don't apply to him.

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  44. People. Let's look at this from a tactical point of view.

    While not a rope-a-dope, the President put Romney on the record as a liar. The talking points and fact checks are flowing freely through the body politic as we speak. Tactically speaking, there is no reason for the President to expend the effort to dismantle Romney in this forum when the existing media will do it for him.

    Second. You don't expend all your ammo in the first engagement. If you blow your whole wad on first contact, you got nothing left when the tide of battle shifts and you need to reengage.

    The first debate (which incumbent Presidents have lost historically 5 to 1) is just that 1st. If there are any independents or undecideds left (or as Bill Maher calls them "low information voters") the first debate will be ancient history by American standards by the time the election rolls around.

    Obama is wise to hold his fire and conserve his ammunition until it can do the most damage, right before the election.

    Finally, Mittens has one fatal flaw, hubris. This "win" will embolden him to say even more stupid and devisive things (but I think the Big Bird Thing just killed him with the young married demographic.
    He'll feel like he can say what he wants and continue to get away with it in full view of an already skeptical press and public. He WILL FUCK UP. He can't help it.

    Don't fire till you see the whites of their eyes.

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    1. Wow yeah, thanks for that insight...Jim has wonderful insight as well and he seems to attract really good folks and a great many ahhhh...well to be nice...screwed up people too...When I start to feel overwhelmed with the screaming wingers, the corporate flunky talking heads, etc. I like to come here for some SANITY and to know I am not alone...

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  45. Thanks Jim for this re-cap.I have an old friend visiting and we decided to take advantage of my bountiful strawberry harvest with Frozen Strawberry Margaritas which was all good. It was when we decided to drink a shot of tequila every time Romney lied that got us into trouble.

    So my memories of the debate are vague and I have weird memory visions of Romney saying "Cheers" many times.

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    1. My wife and I talked about doing a debate drinking game where we'd drink every time Romney lied, or dodged a question, or interrupted, or flip-flopped. Then we decided we would rather keep our livers.

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  46. I thought the debate was like you said political theater. However I think that although Romney was declared the winner from the theatrical point of view, I think Obama won in the end. I have this feeling that the Obama attack was not to attack. They let Romney attack and attack in his frenetic way and pivoted slightly out of the way (poor phrasing here). I think that was purposeful from the stand point that they just fed out more rope for Romney to hang himself. Even as early as the next morning the Romney staff was back tracking things Romney had said, that is something they've gotten used to doing and the Obama camp knew this and used it; one more knot in the Romney noose. I would like to see Paul Sr. moderate a debate....the idea just flashes in front of my eyes as Paul Sr. tells either one of them "shut up and let's stick to the format, and by the way you both need to stop peddling shit". I'd also like the bare chested tiger fight.

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  47. I confess I didn't watch, because nothing Romney says will ever convince me to vote for the man. And I'm a bad American. Or unpatriotic. Or a socialist. Or a slut. Or whatever else Fox News is calling me this week.

    However, "pecker-waggling" is the best description of a presidential debate I've ever heard. Thank you for that. It made my day.

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  48. I didn't watch it and didn't need to. Obama still gets my money and my vote. Nevertheless, I did enjoy your commentary. You always seem to nail it.

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  49. What is with all you folks wanting to see Tiger and Obama wrestling with Crisco?

    Seriously, IMHO Obama was drained because of the Turkey / Syria border fracas. I expect to see at some point comments that he was on the phone trying to keep that from blowing up.

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  50. I have a friend from Dallas named Angus whose family has been involved in Politics for many years now and is one of the most well connected families in Dallas. He posted on Friday morning that he had recorded it while he watched it, then re-watched it and caught Romney in 27 lies out of the 38 minutes that he was speaking. I still think that the biggest lie that Obama told was telling Jim Lehrer that he did a great job.

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  51. "We’ve got a battery of non-partisan experts back here..."

    Let's just put these buys in charge and forget the rest of the drama. Lord knows we need a fresh start anyway. I've been saying forget the candidates willing to run, let's draft the best we can come up with and swear'em in. You, for intance.

    (Still unwilling to vote for anyone willing to run.)

    George Catt
    (sometimes in) Kingman, Arizona

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    1. *Guys ("Buys" may have been a Freudian slip as I feel our current officials have all been bought 'n paid for.)

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  52. The one thing many voters will take from the first debate is the idea that Romney wants to end Big Bird. This image is being re-enforced by cartoonists and PBS.

    First Romney mis-treated his dog (Even Jim let the 2 cats ride inside on the move to Alaska) and now he want to take out Big Bird.

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    1. I'm officially a "Big Bird Democrat" now.

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  53. I thought about watching the debate, but went to bed early that night instead since Obama already has my vote. Sounds like I didn't miss anything. I might have been tempted if the guy from American Chopper had been moderating, though. :)

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  54. me too: http://theobamadiary.com/a-word-from-tally-how-do-you-honestly-debate-that/

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  55. I finally saw it yesterday. Romney won the style portion. Obama got the rest. O's strategy seemed to be "lance the boil, let the pus jet out, stand back."
    I asked myself if the president was smart enough to let this happen, and said, yes he is.
    Romney's strategy was to say "I have experience, and a plan that I won't tell you about." "Trust me, it's awesome."

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  56. I wonder what the pundits will say about the veep's debate tonight...

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    1. Most pundits referred to Biden as "aggressive" which I think is reasonably apt depending on how you mean it.

      USA called it "The Curmudgeon vs Doogie Howser" which is at least catchy.

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