Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Presidential Debates: Round One

Romney: Full of sound and fury and saying nothing of substance. 

The first presidential debate (10/3/12) focused on policy, not zingers to provide fodder for tomorrow's headlines. There were big, significant topics--entitlements, taxes and spending, the deficit, and education.

I wasn't enthused about Obama's performance but I didn't find his answers rambling as some are proclaiming; he actually said what he would do and why. 

Romney spoke in negatives. He stated what he was not going to do but never said what he was going to do. For example he insisted that his proposed tax cut will not add to the deficit; however he never explained how a 20% reduction in each marginal tax rate, across the board, could be implemented without adding to the deficit  Such a tax cut would result in a significant reduction in revenues and Romney's proposed tax plan also includes a $3 trillion increase in military spending, an increase that the military has not requested  A decrease in revenues and an increase in expenditures don't add up to no increase in the deficit or as the President said, "It's math, It's arithmetic." 

By the way, the President directly challenged Romney's assertions in clear, concise language:
"The fact is that if you are lowering the rates the way you described, governor, then it is not possible to come up with enough deductions and loopholes that only affect high-income individuals to avoid either raising the deficit or burdening the middle class," Obama said. "It's math. It's arithmetic."--Obama
I found it interesting that Romney's style was to claim agreement with Obama's policy on some key issues. Romney declares that he agrees that the financial industry needs regulation but wants to promote his own plan and wants to repeal the Dodd-Frank regulatory act. He alleges that he supports the version of Obamacare that he engineered as governor but finds fault with how Obama didn't obtain any consensus and shoved health care reform down our throats.  He insists that he agrees that public education must be a key focus.

The question, which the President did raise, is why is Romney keeping the details of his alternative plans on these major issues secret? Are they too good to be true?

I don't think that the President hit a homer but neither do I think that Romney won. I'd call it a tie. Romney essentially said nothing except to parrot vague generalities about the need to get the country back on track with no specifics as to how he plans to do that. 

President Obama didn't go for the jugular. It's not the man's style and frankly I think that his approach is more effective in the long run. Attack and confrontation provide temporary satisfaction but folks eventually stop listening to someone who shouts a lot.

It's one debate. I'm not ready to dismiss Obama as ineffective. In 2008, he didn't walk to the same drummer as most presidential candidates. The odds were against him getting the nomination. He didn't shout and confrontation was not his style. He was measured and detailed  in presenting his platform. Why would anyone expect this man to morph into the Godfather? I'm not certain as to why, but this president is often judged based more on who his followers want him to be rather than who he really is.


Lisa :-] said...

I pointedly did NOT watch the debate. I was permanently cured of any and all interest in that activity years ago. These are not debates, they are opportunities for the candidates to present their talking points. My feeling is that most folks have already made their choice. These "debates" are like football games--over-hyped, over-analyzed, and fan loyalty is not won or lost by the (perceived) outcome.

Sheria Reid said...

I tend to agree with you Lisa. I still find them fascinating but I think that they have little influence on how people choose to vote.

Sal said...

Hi Sheria,
Halfway into the first debate I turned off the TV and put my puzzled self to sleep. I woke up this morning feeling sickened at what I had watched transpire during the first half of the debate that I watched.

The first thing I thought about was how in the world was an unmoderated Romney allowed to tell lie after lie, interrupt the President and Jim Lehrer...How did this in all reality happen? Why didn't the President call him out on his lies? Why didn't Lehrer call him out with "fact checks?" Why in the world didn't he ask the right questions? How did Romney get away without revealing any specifics when all his lying and posturing was going down? It was like "Mitt on Meth!"

As for Jim Lehrer, he should never be allowed to moderate anything ever again. He had no control over what was happening and that was more than apparent. He can go back to being a journalist and leave the debate moderating to someone more capable. He couldn't at this point moderate a 7th grade middle school debate.

What happened to our President? I think there was a lot of expectation involved with him, and at the same time the bar was so low for Romney that people didn't expect much from him, and he surprised them by looking like he could finsih a sentence without flipping. He was rude, obnoxious, at for many unfortunately that appeared like a win.

There are two more debates. I want our president to stop listening to his handlers and be himself, which is when he is at his best. I think this can still happen.

I'm part of a family who loves this president. I voted for him in 2008 and I'll vote for him again.

I can't even entertain the possibility of a Romney win. Why are people so eager to give up their rights and end up being 2nd class citizens? If he wins, we are handing over the remnants of our Democracy.


Phyllis ZG said...

Your last sentence says it all. I loved a post from an older woman I saw yesterday: "Why are this President's supporters always so ready to throw him under the bus?" But as I mentioned in a Facebook comment to you, this is a different landscape from 2008 when the Undecideds gave Obama the debate win for being reasonable & "reaching across the aisle" to McCain - something Romney clearly co-opted for this debate. I bet Romney (who hasn't had to fulfill duties as Leader of the Free World while preparing for these debates) watched a lot of footage of Obama/McCain & sculpted part of his approach on Obama's '08 successes. The bad news - anecdotal, but still troubling - came in a phone call I made yesterday at the Obama North Raleigh office. The woman, an Independent identified as an Obama supporter, said she was solidly behind him until the debate - she'd expected Romney to put his foot in his mouth, and instead he appeared forceful, reasonable, and competent, while Obama came across as ineffective. I ignored the "five-minute rule" and had a lengthy conversation with her, where I pointed out that Romney tailors himself for whichever audience he has - the 47% comment came behind closed doors at an exclusive fundraiser, and he was speaking off-the-cuff. I said our President was "accused" of being "professorial" in the '08 debates, that I didn't want him changing his thoughtful, reasoning personality for a debate appearance. I think she's still voting for Obama, but she'd been at some ladies' group where some members were passionately for Romney, and she was impressed by their fervor. I countered with the President's really astounding accomplishments in the face of unprecedented crises and opposition, that I didn't want a cocky hothead out of touch with the lives most of us lead leading our country. I told her to look at some of the fact-checking sites that clearly pointed out Romney's misstatements. We'll see. Meanwhile, I'll work to Get Out the Vote.

Sheria Reid said...

Thank you,Phyllis, for all that you do to get out the vote.

Beth said...

You know from our email exchanges that I agree with you. The next debate should be considerably more interesting. (This one was pretty boring.)