October 17, 2012

Debate II: Electric Boogaloo

Hatched by Korso

As is the case with most sequels, this one wasn't as good as the original. But whereas most of the time studio execs blame the writer, this time most of what was bad about last night's debate was squarely the fault of the director. Like Ralph Bakshi butchering The Lord of the Rings by turning it into a rotoscoped acid trip, Candy Crowley seemed to be trying her level best to make sure everyone in America understood that this debate was all about making Barack Obama look good by making Mitt Romney look bad.

Did she succeed? Meh. I think most Americans don't like to see a deck unfairly stacked against anyone, so in terms of her overall impression with independent voters, Crowley only made herself look foolish. How that translates into goodwill toward Romney remains to be seen, but in the end I believe it will only underscore the impression of weakness around Obama. In spite all of the bluster and his attack puppy demeanor, it always seems like the president can never quite make it on his own -- that he always needs the press to give him a leg up. Romney, by contrast, was out there on his own, operating in a tricky environment and answering questions cherry-picked by a hostile moderator from voters in a reliably liberal state.

Given the huge handicap, I'd say that Romney did remarkably well. Granted, the punditry this morning largely agree that he missed a huge opportunity by not going after Benghazi as much as he could have; but he did land some very effective jabs, particularly in regards to how oil production on federal lands has plummeted and Obama's running off to Vegas after Chris Stevens was killed. He also brought up Fast & Furious in response to the gun-control question -- though I wish he had spent more time on that, rather than going on about better education will reduce gun violence.

The lowlights? That equal pay question. Out of all the issues we face, Crowley picking that one to discuss only proves that she was completely in the tank for Obama. Same goes for bringing up contraception. Honest to God, who cares? But it gave the president another softball, and that was the point.

Bottom line: Democrats will say their guy had a great night, Republicans will say theirs did well (though not as good as the first debate). In that respect, it was rather like last week's vice-presidential debate. Sure there were some sparks, but ultimately independent voters will probably be more turned off by Obama's aggressiveness than turned on by it. Obama also didn't say anything new, and offered no real vision for a second term. As they say, you can wrap a pretty bow around a turd but that doesn't make it Godiva chocolate. And four more years of the same isn't exactly an enticing pitch for voters.

So call it a draw, if you want. Romney may not have helped himself, but he didn't hurt himself either. I do, however, think that he learned a few lessons last night, so come the next debate he'll be even more prepared. And given that the next one is about foreign policy, Romney will have a lot of juicy targets. That's when the gloves will really come off.

Hatched by Korso on this day, October 17, 2012, at the time of 7:48 AM

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