Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Presidential Election: Time to Turn the Debate to Substance

My friend Leslie over at Parsley's Pics posted an article, "God Forbid Should Biden Not Perform Perfectly," in which she chides "fickle liberals" for continuing to focus on bemoaning their disappointment in President Obama's debate performance last week.

Another friend commented that liberals finding Obama's debate performance to be lackluster are not responsible for Obama's slipping in the polls.

I agree that in spite of the incessant fixation on Obama's "poor" performance from some liberals, there is no direct correlation of the criticism from some of the President's base and current polls that show him with fewer Electoral College votes than last week. 

However, the chronic complaining hasn't accomplished anything positive either. Liberals and conservatives have for the most part already decided who gets their vote. The target group in these last few weeks are the Undecided. As the candidates rev up their appearances and their ads, each hopes to grab those who are undecided and tip the scales in their favor in the hallowed swing states.

The problem that I have with liberals and the noisy critique from some quarters lamenting Obama's debate style is that it aides the opposition in keeping the focus on trivialities rather than substance. The other problem that I have is that the undecided are important and the way to snag them isn't with expressions of disappointment in the president's performance. He has a staff to evaluate the weaknesses of his debate performance and how to liven it up so that he too can present fluff over substance and thereby compete with Romney.  

I just don't think that continued expressions of disappointment about the first debate communicates any reasons to the undecided why they should support the president. No one is going to be drawn to support a candidate whose own base keeps declaring him to be a loser.

It's similar to a business that's floundering. If you want to attract investors to shore up the business and make it profitable again, you don't do so by publicly focusing on the company's failings.

The media keeps rehashing the debate as if Obama's IQ suddenly dropped by 30 points. It was a misstep and instead of wailing and gnashing of teeth, my view is that we, meaning liberals, need to do everything that we can to shift the focus back to the issues and meet the fixation on style over content with solid facts. Facts are unchanging, unlike Romney's version of reality.

I'm not interested in in-house debates among liberals. We all want the same thing. What we have here is a difference in approach. I think that getting Obama re-elected is the priority and we need to do whatever it takes to make that happen, including cutting out all the in-house bickering among liberals about our candidate. As lousy as Romney is, and as much as some elements of the GOP are unhappy that he is the candidate, for the most part, they publicly stand behind him. Conservative bloggers don't as a rule express any serious displeasure with Romney's performance, even when he tells 27 lies in 38 minutes. (Fact Check: Romney Told 27 Myths in 38 Minutes During the Debate)

We've beaten the debate performance drum long enough; I think it's time for a new rhythm.

(I was feeling down after hearing on the evening news that Romney was polling higher after the first debate, until I checked out Nate Silver's blog, 538: "Mitt Romney gained further ground in the FiveThirtyEight forecast on Monday, with his chances of winning the Electoral College increasing to 25.2 percent from 21.6 percent on Sunday." All increases are not equal.)--Oct. 8: A Great Poll For Romney, In Perspective


Lisa :-] said...

My feeling is that Romney had performed so poorly up until the debate that the media and everyone else has seized upon his debate performance to convince themselves that he is a viable candidate. And, you know...I hate polls almost as much as I hate debates.

Mark said...

Nothing made the center take a second look at George Bush more than when he was criticized on the right. For example, before 9/11 - No Child Left Behind. The right hated his cooperation with Kennedy, but it increased his standing as a bipartisan.
When the left dances in lockstep to "Obama right or wrong" it just increases the perception of the center that he is in the tank of MSNBC, exactly the kind of leftie that Fox portrays him as.
NOTHING we say or do is going to shift the right in regards to the President--we can't worry if they are gleeful that we sometimes disagree with each other. But I reject the notion that somehow our arguing is part of the problem instead of part of the solution. If the criticism causes the President to step up the way I know damn well he can in the next debates, then it will have been invaluable. If he does you will see no dissent. If he doesn't, then he's forgetting that being a good politician is absolutely essential to being a good President. In fact (sadly) it's most of the job. And (double sadly) Romney is proving that you might be able to lie your way into the job. People say they HATE politicians, and yet half the electorate is voting for someone who embodies every single worst stereotype of a politician there is. Welcome to America.

Ken Riches said...

I hope we can get off the debates and onto the substance as well, the coverage has become self fulfilling.

Leslie Parsley said...

Amen. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

The funny thing is: I watched that debate.. and while I could tell that the President wasn't in his best form, I did not think it was that bad... I could not believe my ears next morning, hearing how it was interpreted.. I felt that the criticism was way overblown.