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  • Presidential Debates

    Mitt Romney's Hostile Takeover of the Debate

    On Wednesday night, Mitt Romney attempted a hostile takeover of the presidential campaign, man-handling the debate moderator, Jim Lehrer, and dominating President Obama. I wasn’t in the debate hall, so my impressions came from watching on television, as they did for most voters. Romney struck me as briskly efficient, affable and (shock!) convincingly bipartisan in how he presented himself. Obama, at least until the final 30 minutes, was discursive, meandering, and seemed poorly prepared. It’s true that Romney didn’t offer the details that pundits are clamoring for. But someone tuning in for the first time would surely have come away feeling that Romney was the candidate with a firm grasp of what he wanted to do and Obama the guy slightly out of his depth.

    Romney did two critical things very effectively. First, he parried all the obvious attacks that he knew would be coming his way. Often, he did so in ways that were deeply misleading — attacking Obama from the left on Medicare reform and “Too Big to Fail.” Second, he left a strong impression that he, and not the president, had better command of the facts, the issues, and what could be done to set the economy on a better course. “Yes, we can help,” Romney said early on. “But we need to take a different path.” That’s exactly the case he needed to make, and he did it as well as anyone could reasonably have imagined.

    The effect was mainly impressionistic — he did it without offering any new details. And he did it by emphasizing his “beliefs” (“great schools, great teachers”), which don’t necessarily align with his policies. I don’t have a sense yet of whether Obama’s steady jabs about this lack of details and the post-debate spin to the same effect will blunt the impression that Romney was the clear winner. We’ll see. But I doubt it.

    The debate was bad enough for Obama that I’ll bet that over the next few days details start to leak out about how he got cocky, got distracting by the demands of his day job, and didn’t prepare as well as he should have. That last one seems obvious already. Obama violated one of the cardinal rules of debate preparation, and it cost him. Recently, Ron Klain, a former top White House adviser to Joe Biden and John Kerry’s debate coach in 2004 wrote a memo (you can read it here) about how a successful candidate prepares for a debate. One of Klain’s main recommendations was that the candidate, when he gets to the podium, immediately write down three big things he wants to talk about and hammer away at them in every answer.

    For Obama, those three things would have looked something like this: 1) 47 Percent, 2) Cayman Islands/Swiss Bank Accounts, 3) Tea Party. He didn’t mention any of them, or at least not that I caught. In fact, the clearest sign that Romney won the debate was that liberals in my Twitter feed were bitterly tweeting out what Obama should have said — but didn’t. Romney will obviously need to continue in this vein if he is to get back in the race. But for one night, he did exactly what he needed to do.
    Sums up my impression
    In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility.

    Leibniz

  • #2
    Ditto. Obama underestimated Romney in this first debate and may take him much more seriously in the upcoming ones. The moderator was a bit of a dunce in my opinion though.
    "Draft beer, not people."

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    • #3
      Pari:

      Except for the word, 'hostile', I generally agree with the writer's summary. Instead of 'hostile', I would say Romney's takeover was 'aggressive'. I didn't detect any hostility in Romney's demeanor all night. Speaking of demeanor, Obama looked to me at times to be miffed and at other time contemptuous, and I don't blame him. But mostly he seemed bemused. Both took the high road.

      Over on CNN, the entire panel agreed that Romney was on his game while, in contrast, Obama looked like he didn't want to be there. A CNN-sponsored poll of registered voters gave the debate to Romney 67% to 25% for Obama. Romney also edged out Obama in other poll questions, such as most able leader. That said, for Romney to parlay this into a turn-around in key states like Ohio, Florida and Virginia that he has to win and where Obama held an edge going into the debate, he'll have to do well in the next two debates and Ryan will have to top Biden in their debate.

      Some commentators were surprised that Obama didn't bring up Romney's "47%" comment and Bain Capital or that Romney likewise didn't mention Obama's "you didn't build it" comment. I'm surprised any seasoned commentator would expect them to use campaign gibberish that is obviously not what the candidates really meant. Romney and Obama took the high road, as well they should have. Overall, I thought they both did well, but Romney did better.

      The Ryan-Biden debate will be fun to watch: the smiling Buddha faces the angry pit bull.
      To be Truly ignorant, Man requires an Education - Plato

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by JAD_333 View Post
        Pari:

        Except for the word, 'hostile', I generally agree with the writer's summary. Instead of 'hostile', I would say Romney's takeover was 'aggressive'. I didn't detect any hostility in Romney's demeanor all night. Speaking of demeanor, Obama looked to me at times to be miffed and at other time contemptuous, and I don't blame him. But mostly he seemed bemused. Both took the high road.
        i think the 'hostile' is simply a play on the corporate takeover thing. Doesn't work as a headline I agree but having watched quietly whilst various CEO's spar, Romney represented exactly that, a skilled CEO at home in his environment.. For the first time the US got to see the corporate exec. without the democrat narrative plastered over the top by the journalists/editors.
        Over on CNN, the entire panel agreed that Romney was on his game while, in contrast, Obama looked like he didn't want to be there. A CNN-sponsored poll of registered voters gave the debate to Romney 67% to 25% for Obama. Romney also edged out Obama in other poll questions, such as most able leader. That said, for Romney to parlay this into a turn-around in key states like Ohio, Florida and Virginia that he has to win and where Obama held an edge going into the debate, he'll have to do well in the next two debates and Ryan will have to top Biden in their debate.

        Some commentators were surprised that Obama didn't bring up Romney's "47%" comment and Bain Capital or that Romney likewise didn't mention Obama's "you didn't build it" comment. I'm surprised any seasoned commentator would expect them to use campaign gibberish that is obviously not what the candidates really meant. Romney and Obama took the high road, as well they should have. Overall, I thought they both did well, but Romney did better.

        The Ryan-Biden debate will be fun to watch: the smiling Buddha faces the angry pit bull.
        I don't think Obama did badly or was off his game, he did what he always does when not reading a speech: intellectualise and go ff message to fully explain to the rest of us. And yes, can't wait for Ryan-Biden; I expect blood to flow but also make no difference to the election. Biden seems to get a free pass for his behaviour in just the same way Russia does.
        Last edited by Parihaka; 04 Oct 12,, 08:00.
        In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility.

        Leibniz

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Parihaka View Post
          Biden seems to get a free pass for his behaviour in just the same way Russia does.
          That's a great observation! Always made me laugh before there was a G8 - it was "The G7 plus Russia." I guess we could say that American politics are "Professional Pols plus Biden."

          -dale

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          • #6
            Here's my take.

            Romney gave a good performance. But, every performance is also an angle of attack. For example:

            1. Romney prefers private insurance to medicaid "every time!". Surely, he can afford it.
            2. Romney likes Obamacare! Too bad he thinks your state legislature, not the federal government, should pass it.
            3. Romney thinks the federal government is always less effective than state government and private enterpreneurs. Why is he running for President?

            In short, Romney scored a victory. Is it his Trafalgar, or is it his Jutland?

            We will see.
            All those who are merciful with the cruel will come to be cruel to the merciful.
            -Talmud Kohelet Rabbah, 7:16.

            Comment


            • #7
              Maybe it was because I was not watching on television but rather listening in on the radio, but I thought Obama at times sounded like an incoherent mess. He was obviously blanking for responses at times and had to pull in side points as a delaying tactic while he fumbled for a coherent answer (recognize the symptoms from my time spent in highschool debate). Towards the end he sounded almost apologetic. Did not expect him to crumble like this. Really surprised.

              Comment


              • #8
                You are not wrong. Romney definitely had the upper hand in this debate. He came across as more articulated about his ideas than he had ever been. Will enough people buy it for Mitt to gain the initiative? I don't know. This, however, is what Team Romney hoped for.
                Last edited by Triple C; 04 Oct 12,, 08:38.
                All those who are merciful with the cruel will come to be cruel to the merciful.
                -Talmud Kohelet Rabbah, 7:16.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Triple C View Post
                  Here's my take.

                  Romney gave a good performance. But, every performance is also an angle of attack. For example:

                  1. Romney prefers private insurance to medicaid "every time!". Surely, he can afford it.
                  So can most people. And if we allow market forces to take over, so will everyone else.

                  Look at Lasik - 15 years ago it was expensive and a little risky. Nowadays people run up to me in the street begging to pay me money if I'll let them shoot lasers into my eyeballs.

                  Arguing against market forces for lowering prices is like arguing against gravity - it's stupid. All you have to do is let go of the hammer - it WILL fall toward the ground - trust me.

                  2. Romney likes Obamacare! Too bad he thinks your state legislature, not the federal government, should pass it.
                  And any state that wants to do the same as he did is welcome to - we can always move.

                  3. Romney thinks the federal government is always less effective than state government and private enterpreneurs. Why is he running for President?
                  ...Because he wants to turn down the Federal government dial from "11", where it's at right now. A great place to get at that dial is the Oval Office.

                  Did you really just ask that question?

                  -dale

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Attached Files
                    Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

                    Abusing Yellow is meant to be a labor of love, not something you sell to the highest bidder.

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                    • #11
                      I chuckled when Romney bragged up the Wisconsin "Tommy Thompson" privatization of welfare - he apparently didn't hear about all the fraud and embezzling and how much of the money was looted by the private welfare distributors. Great thing that - made a lot of millionaires out of "entrepreneurs"/thieves who stole it and left the country to live on our stolen funds.

                      I heard a lot of don't worry this won't affect you - your stuff is safe - its the next generation who'll feel the burden... We've got our own plan - elect me and find out...
                      Last edited by USSWisconsin; 04 Oct 12,, 14:38.
                      sigpic"If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
                      If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My wife is a huge political creature and is conservative to the bone. She was screaming at the TV all night long... "Oh no you don't! That's not true! Oh yes, yes, YES, Romney is KILLING Obama!"

                        "Dear, you sound very stressed. There is a cure for that." Alas, such was not to be. ;)

                        It almost looked like Obama was going to vomit towards the end. His meandering answers while he tried to form a coherent thought was painful to watch. And I'd recommend NOT to watch the Ryan/Biden debate, unless you are into blood sports like cock-fighting or bear-baiting.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by citanon View Post
                          Maybe it was because I was not watching on television but rather listening in on the radio, but I thought Obama at times sounded like an incoherent mess. He was obviously blanking for responses at times and had to pull in side points as a delaying tactic while he fumbled for a coherent answer (recognize the symptoms from my time spent in highschool debate). Towards the end he sounded almost apologetic. Did not expect him to crumble like this. Really surprised.

                          Actually, to get a better feel for the candidate views, I found it is far better to listen than to watch. (It's also easier to count Barry/Barrack's uhh's and ummmm's.)
                          "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." - John Adams

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Triple C View Post
                            In short, Romney scored a victory. Is it his Trafalgar, or is it his Jutland?
                            Excellent comparison :)

                            I think this was his Jutland...but as Reinhard Scheer, rather than John Jellicoe.
                            “He was the most prodigious personification of all human inferiorities. He was an utterly incapable, unadapted, irresponsible, psychopathic personality, full of empty, infantile fantasies, but cursed with the keen intuition of a rat or a guttersnipe. He represented the shadow, the inferior part of everybody’s personality, in an overwhelming degree, and this was another reason why they fell for him.”

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Much like his presidential work ethic, Barry/Barrack's performance in the debate last night was lackadaisical and nonchalant. He made the false assumption that his popularity and obvious brilliance would overshadow his piss-poor record over the last three and a half years. That won't work this time around. He also seemed lost without his teleprompter to give him answers, especially since his usual rhetoric was shot down by Romney.

                              Was Romney aggressive? Just enough to keep the usual democrat smear BS from getting out of hand. He kept the debate on point. I would say he is more passionate than aggressive. He seems as if he really wants the job and would make every effort to do it well.

                              Whereas Romney looked at Barry/Barrack as he spoke, Barry/Barrack was too busy looking elsewhere...mostly looking down at his watch like he couldn't wait to get out of there, or else looking at the moderator to save him. (Perhaps using John Kerry as his debate coach wasn't such a great idea! ) Barry/Barrack did get four more minutes to speak than Romney also.

                              For amusement, I watched the MSNBC post debate show. Holy cow, what a bunch of petulant children! Reverend Al blathered on with dire predictions on Romney. Chris Tingles was nearly in tears. MadCow was her usual delusional self.


                              Had I been an "undecided" voter, I saw no reason last night to reward Barry/Barrack with an additional four years.
                              "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." - John Adams

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