My Debate Thoughts

I watched, and I thought that Romney did well, but I didn’t think overwhelmingly so. Apparently, though, there’s a consensus that it was a wipe out.

I guess I didn’t realize how poorly Obama was doing because he didn’t look any different to me. I’ve just never seen the Chicago Jesus that everyone else seemed to. It’s almost like the scales have fallen off everyone’s eyes, and I never had them. Was this the moment that everyone else finally noticed that the emperor was wearing nothing but his birthday suit?

I’d also add that Obama has always been a hot-house plant, cocooned in his own advisers and a fawning media. McCain was a terrible candidate and lousy debater. I think that this was the first time he’s ever had to deal with reality, and he just wilted. Jen Rubin agrees:

The liberal media, and MSNBC specifically, have no one to blame but themselves, however. They have never given President Obama the sort of scrutiny he got last night. They have mouthed the president’s false talking points (“a $5 trillion tax cut for the rich”), egging the president on. When Mitt Romney debunked these easily, Obama had nowhere to go. He looked lost without the protective blanket of compliant media and over-eager left-wing bloggers.

…the media, who too often view themselves as on the president’s team, should share in the blame. They built him up. They parroted his excuses and four-Pinocchio attacks. But they couldn’t save him when it mattered most. They made the campaign about gaffes and polls, which are of no use in a debate. They lambasted Romney, man of the 59-point job plan, for lack of detail without ever urging the president to come up with any substantive policy commensurate with the challenges we face. They might want to rethink their approach to presidential boosterism.

Here’s a concept. How about reporting the news, instead of being Democrat campaign surrogates and operatives?

[Update a few minutes later]

Related thoughts from Paul Rahe:

If Barack Obama seemed halting, uncomfortable, exhausted, and depressed last night, it was because he was saddled with defending the indefensible. What could he say? He had promised shortly after becoming President that his program would bring unemployment way down. He and his allies in Congress had sold Obamacare in part as a jobs bill. And the facts were there to be seen — exceedingly high unemployment and underemployment coupled with persuasive evidence that the growth needed to boost the economy was not in the offing. Instead of coming out of a recession, we were on the cusp of a new recession, and nearly everyone sensed it. For the first time in his life, Barack Obama was cornered. For the first time in his life, he was to be held accountable for his achievements. He was the ultimate affirmative action baby, and he had always been given a free pass. He had always run — for chairman of the Harvard Law Review, for the Illinois state senate, for the United States Senate, and for the Presidency — on promise. Now he was an executive running for re-election, and he was going to be held responsible for what he had done and for what he had failed to do. And, to make matters worse, he had been deprived of his security blanket. He did not have a teleprompter to fall back on.

Yup. It’s the first job he’s ever had where he had real responsibility, and he wasn’t up to it. And that was obvious to many of us, but not enough, four years ago.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Another blind squirrel finds a nut. Michael Moore: “This is what happens when u pick John Kerry as your debate coach.”

John Kerry is another person by whom I’ve never been as impressed as I’m supposed to be.

[Update a few minutes later]

A good comment:

Yes, Obama has all the hall marks of a smart, yet lazy student. He is charming and knowledgeable enough to get in a few good comments in class to impress the teacher, but when it comes down to actually putting effort into writing a paper or studying for the final he doesn’t. The thing is you can get very far by being superficially smart. But, there is always a point when some one finally catches you. Obama has just been caught my friends.

In the past Obama always had a higher job to run to to avoid doing and being responsible for his current job. You can’t climb the ladder higher than president though. There is no running now. Now we see what he is really made of.

Now he has to answer to Mitt who is the old fashioned kind of smart student. The one that puts in long hours of study and reads every assigned reading and the optional ones too.

I think that everyone is starting to see that, even his media sycophants.

[Update a few minutes later]

You know, anyone who watched Obama get schooled by Paul Ryan in the health-care summit, and by Netanyahu on Middle-East issues, saw a preview of last night’s debate, if they were paying attention. It’s easy to get him out of his comfort zone when confronted by reality.

[Update a while later]

More on the same theme from Victor Davis Hanson:

For so long Barack Obama has assumed that he will not face cross-examination from the media that he simply has little grasp of policy details, and in exasperation seems to look around for the accustomed helpful media crutch. But there is no such subsidy in a one-on-one debate, and only now it becomes clear just how the media for the last six years have enfeebled their favorite.

I wonder if they’ll learn any lessons? Or if perhaps they’ll finally write the guy off, which means going after him like jackals on a wounded gazelle.

66 thoughts on “My Debate Thoughts”

  1. A related topic – I live in California and don’t own a television, so I’ve been spared the worst of the ad blitz. I was astonished when, visiting my family in New Hampshire, I found that the Obama campaign’s most common offering was a recording of Romney’s 47% speech, pretty much verbatim and in context, against a backdrop of images of minorities, disabled people, and veterans. I thought two things: 1) I agree with Romney, so this really makes me want to vote for him more, and 2) If you’re a minority, veteran, or disabled person who happens to not need government assistance, are you necessarily proud and grateful that you are now being grouped by your physical characteristics into the 47%? Wouldn’t that kind of piss you off?

      1. No I’m not feeling sorry for myself, and yes Obama was off his game.

        I’m disappointed and surprised that Romney spent the entire night running from everything he said in the primaries. Romney’s now NOT going to cut taxes? Because if you lower my rates AND my deductions, the net is the same.

        Romney likes requiring insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions and will mandate that they do so? That’s what he said. Romney’s going to put back $700 billion in Medicare, despite the fact that Ryan’s budget retains those cuts?

        It’s easy to win a debate if you promise everybody a pink unicorn that doesn’t eat or shit. Romney promised pink unicorns.

        1. Romney has never said he was going to cut taxes. He said he was going to cut tax rates. Just because you don’t understand the difference doesn’t mean that smart voters won’t.

          1. The “rate” vs. “tax” distinction is purely semantic.

            Assume my tax rate is 50% and with deductions I pay $5,000 in taxes. If you change the rate to 25% and reduce my deductions such that I pay $5,000, what difference does it make?

            That’s exactly what Romney promised last night. He will lower your rate and deductions such that you pay exactly the same dollars to the government. (That’s the definition of “revenue neutral.”)

            What good does that do anybody?

          2. What good it does is that it lets you earn money and keep more of it without having to spend more of your money to chase after tax credits and deductions. It limits the economic damage done by collecting taxes.

            If you are paying a 50% tax rate, however, (combined Federal State and Local?), Chris, you must be “one of the rich” or one of the “1 percent” and you shouldn’t be worried about having to contribute to the social good by paying taxes? If you are in that category, you should be pleased with a “revenue neutral” trade of this kind as it gives you more freedom of where to invest your money.

          3. By the way, if you are in the 50% rate category (and yes, you could be paying that rate in California and other places with combined taxes), I am thinking that your tax bill is a lot higher than $5000 by the way.

          4. “McCain was a terrible candidate and lousy debater. I think that this was the first time he’s ever had to deal with reality, and he just wilted. ”

            Um Rand, Senator and Captain McCain, United States Navy, Retired, might be a lousy debater, but don’t you think he has had to face a number of difficult “realities” over the course of his life?

          5. Paul Milenkovic – I picked the numbers for my example out of the air with an eye to easy math.

            In my example, the money out of my pocket is the same, so there’s no “more money” for me to spend. In general, I don’t chase deductions. I borrow money to buy my house and I give to charity as I think sufficient, so changing the rate and zeroing out deductions means my taxes are unchanged.

            There is no net effect of reducing rates while eliminating deductions. It’s a wash.

          6. “The “rate” vs. “tax” distinction is purely semantic.”

            Tell Spain that. Their tax revenues are plummeting as companies fail or move out of the country because of corporate tax rate increases.

          7. There is no net effect of reducing rates while eliminating deductions. It’s a wash.

            So glad you can see that it’s not a $5T tax cut.

          8. Another distinction between rate vs tax that isn’t semantic. My tax rate goes from 30% to 50%. I decide that I no longer want to work all day to only take home a half day’s work, so I only work a half day. So, since we can pull numbers out of our ass, I’ll say that I was making $10,000 for working all day. That meant when my rate was 30%, I paid $3,000 in taxes. When my tax rate goes up to 50%, I now work half ($5000), and pay only $2,500 in taxes. Huzzah! I paid less in taxes despite my tax rate going up.

            For an example of this in action, see France’s tax roll next year. To see the reverse in action, vote Romney/Ryan.

          9. Al – if Romney’s tax plan is a wash, why is he doing it?

            Leland – well, yes, if you want to take home less money, you can work less hours. Sounds like cutting off your nose to spite your face to me, but then it’s your nose.

          10. Cutting tax rates 20%, as Romney has promised, reduces revenue by $5T over ten years. That isn’t in dispute. The question is how much of loss would be offset by eliminated deductions, credits, and other “tax expenditures”. It’s hard to answer the question because Romney has refused to name a single example of one he’d support eliminating, much less an assortment that would add up to $5T.

            Most of the $5T would go to the wealthy; they pay the most in income tax, they get the most benefit from an income tax rate cut. Romney swears that he’ll get just as much revenue from the wealthy as before his rate cut, but even adding up every single deduction and credit that the wealthy enjoy doesn’t get you enough revenue to equal what is lost to the rate cut. And even if it did, there’s no way that you could get Congress to eliminate every single tax break enjoyed by people earning over $250k. Can you imagine the blowback from churches and charities if contributions from millionaires were no longer tax deductible? From the housing industry, if the mortgage interest deduction went away? From the wealthy themselves?

          11. Thank you Gerrib for accepting the concept. Now, realize the opposite is true. If tax rates decrease, people will be more interested to work harder for the extra money they take home. So one can lower tax rates and thus increase tax revenue. And thus, its not just semantics. Again, see the French, who also provide another aspect; some of us have enough money to vote with our feet. You don’t?

          12. Cutting tax rates 20%, as Romney has promised, reduces revenue by $5T over ten years. That isn’t in dispute.

            To the contrary, even that is in dispute for obvious reasons such as uncertainty about future revenue and the effects of tax rate reduction.

            As to whether the alleged tax cuts could be offset by cutting loopholes, I don’t know. But I do know it’d be easy to meet your standards of concern. Just have the CBO throw out a forecast that shows the tax scheme is revenue neutral. That’s pretty easy to do with the right assumptions.

          13. >What good does that do anybody?

            Lower rates make tax shelters less preferable, opening up investment alternatives for the investor and broadening usage of the capital base for everyone.

        2. Al – if Romney’s tax plan is a wash, why is he doing it?

          Are you honestly arguing that a massive, convoluted tax code requiring both accountants and lawyers for even relatively modest incomes is better than one that does not?

          Have you never bothered to listen to anyone explaining this? Really?

        3. It is pretty funny to see an Obama supporter claim Rokmey is offering unicorns that don’t poop to everyone.

          Rommey did offer some specifics, like cutting tax breaks to oil companies. Obama brought up cutting tax breaks for corporate jets as a way to increase tax revenue in the future but he already tried this and it failed miserably. Obama doesn’t have anything new for the next four years. He also cited cutting around $10b as justification to spend over $1t each year.

          Romney gave a great answer about why there were not more specifics, because he would negotiate with both parties in congress and not tell them he won and hand them a list of demands. To which Obama responded, sometimes the best way to be bipartisan is to tell the other party what to do and not listen to any of their concerns or make any compromises with them.

        4. Chris, what Romney’s plan does is 1) simplify the tax code 2) stops the government from picking winners and losers 3) most importantly, grows the economy so that even though the tax RATE goes down, the total tax REVENUE goes up.

          It’s kind of like if you run a business and you want to increase sales, you might have a 20% off sale. But if you have a decent product or service, your revenue WON’T go down 20% and will most likely go up because you you’ll have more customers, and your current customers just might buy more.

          Why is that so difficult to understand? It’s been proven to work over and over and over. Remember when Obama asked if he would still raise taxes on the rich even if he knew tax revenue would go down, and he said he would because it was an issue of fundamental fairness? That’s proof he doesn’t get it.

          1. DKL, tell ’em about the Laffer Curve. Mystify them with facts.

            At 100% tax rate, no one will work. Revenue will be ZERO.

            At the other end of the rates, most everyone will work, and there WILL be revenue.

            Somewhere in the middle, you get the maximum taxes that will be tolerably extracted from the productive. Higher, they won’t work, lower, you get less revenue.

            Why do I have to explain this?

  2. Ace has a pic up of Michelle after the debate and she looks like she is about to stagger over to Rommey and try and bite his ear off.

    It was a rough night for MSNBC. First, Obama didn’t do so well and then in the post debate punditry, Guilani smacked down Maddow and that guy who has the same hair, glasses, and clothes as Maddow, Mini-Maddow.

    Anderson Cooper was questioning the partisan breakdown of their snap poll, as if CNN poll respondents were 75% Republican.

    I didn’t think it was a blow out but when Lawrence ODonnel said only the people could pick the winner and we wouldn’t know who won for days, it was pretty apparent Obama lost bad enough that his propaganda team couldn’t spin this.

        1. I don’t know. You always have a sense that she’s not that thrilled with being First Lady. He certainly didn’t look happy to be debating. You have to wonder if he’s just throwing in the towel. It’s a lot harder job than he thought it was. They may both be looking forward to their retirement in Hawaii, and are just going through the motions to try to help down ballot.

          1. I think she enjoys being First Lady just fine. The work level is very low and the perks are great. According to a report from a few days ago, US taxpayers have paid $1.3 billion flying the Obamas around over the past few years. Even multi-million dollar book deals won’t allow them to live that large ever again.

          2. I had the same thought. It’s not clear that he wants the job, though it’s clear the media will do anything, bury any story, distort anything about Mitt, to make sure he gets it.

        2. ah, but I’ll bet that Mitt got the “To the winner go the spoils” treatment from Ann….

          To be honest with you, Obama might have been relieved…I just don’t see Michelle being the kind of woman one would warm up to…unless you were another Klingon, I suppose…

  3. I’ve been concerned about the future of the United States and have been looking at Mitt Romney as being the only way to stop the ‘fundamental transformation’ now underway. Today my position has changed. I now enthusiastically support Mitt Romney. This is a big difference–I’m motivated now.

  4. How about reporting the news…

    Obama is toast. It’s time to face the real issue. The media have become the enemy. What to do?

    They all work for somebody. If that somebody was interested in reporting the news they wouldn’t have a job if they didn’t. What we’ve got to do is destroy the guy on top. This is war. You don’t pull your punches. You do get dirty.

    Destroy the guy at the top until the only guys at the top are interested in reporting the news. Instead of fighting thousands of targets you focus on the top. Hold the top responsible for every one of their reporters. Any unethical behavior by any of the thousands means you take out the top.

    Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Expect it to take generations.

    1. Ken, I believe the topic is the debate. Please stay on topic.

      Just kidding. Hey, if I were a libertarian and if I thought the media was biased, I still wouldn’t agree with your war talk. That kind of talk isn’t necessary in a free market. Someone (like Fox) just needs to offer a better product. Also, the Chick-fil-A debacle indicates that focusing on “the guy at the top” is kind of silly. When the news media offers a really great chicken sandwich, served with a smile, people buy it, regardless of the guy at the top.

      Back on topic: I enjoyed reading about my big freakout, and also, it was funny to see the words “freak out” used by a news organization.

        1. What? Oh, you think I’m not freaking out? No, I was very disappointed, and you could say I was freaked out when the debate ended. I knew it was all just style, but style matters to people who *still* haven’t made up their mind.

          Since I tend to think of Obama in heroic terms (I know, ha ha ha), I was thinking, without evidence, that maybe he was busy all day with a national security matter – maybe the incident on the border with NATO ally Turkey, or, better yet, maybe ordering a super duper commando raid into Libya to capture the people who attacked our embassy. But maybe he just had indigestion.

          1. “Style” includes content-less jabs like “47” and “Bain”. Why did he not include either of those items? It must be either:

            1) They don’t poll well. or
            2) Obama’s too nice a guy.

            What’s your choice Bob?

          2. Well, it is strange that after watching him for so long, so many people are disappointed (to this extent) only now, for this one evening. Which is the simpler explanation: 1) Obama was having an off-night and Obama’s tens of millions of supporters noticed, or 2) Obama has always been like this, and Obama’s tens of millions of supporters only noticed now, and at the exact same time?

          3. Curt, I’d say you just gave me a false choice, but if I was forced to choose, I’d say #2. But surely there are many other explanations. Maybe he really wasn’t doing so well, either, as I joked, because of indigestion (mundane maladies really do happen after all), or because he was distracted by something he viewed as more important, like national security. Another explanation popular in the press is that his debate skills were rusty due to being surrounded by sycophants. Another explanation is that everyone has already heard about “47%” and “Bain”, so there is no need to bring them up — that’s the strategy McCaskill is using – not bringing up Akin’s comments regarding rape because voters in Missouri already know about them. We have no idea why Obama did or didn’t do something, so I’m not sure why you sound so sure of yourself.

            In fairness, Rand and I appear to be buying into an either-or explanation for the Democrats’ reaction – and there probably are multiple additional explanations there too.

          4. ” that maybe he was busy all day with a national security matter”

            No, actually, he toured Hoover Dam. Honest.

          5. Yeah, I linked to that here. I was surprised, but I was even more surprised when he didn’t mention hoover dam as a model for future public works programs in the debate. I’m not seriously suggesting that national security was the reason, but the timeline allows for it — hoover dam on Tuesay afternoon, national security issue Wednesday afternoon.

          6. All of your other explanations (except the “old news” one, which is absurd on its face) go out the window if the pattern holds through the other debates. Then it comes down to my two. And yes, I kind of guessed which one you’d choose.

          7. but I was even more surprised when he didn’t mention hoover dam as a model for future public works programs in the debate.

            Come on Bob, you can’t buy that. The Left and Obama’s Energy Plan actually has a list of dams for -removal-. Here in Washington State, we have a -lot- of hydropower. And we’re in the process of removing them.

            Obama honestly doesn’t believe you need to -get- something tangible for your government spending. He was questioned on this -almost- fiercely in Feb 2009 over the difference between “infrastructure spending” and “just government spending”. His quote (while looking completely puzzled at the entire drift of the questions) was: “It’s all good! … Right?”

          8. he didn’t mention hoover dam as a model for future public works programs in the debate

            Because that would have had a large percentage of the greens hyperventilating. And Obama needs every one of them healthy and breathing properly on election day.

          9. Curt, this subject is trivia, but I’ll play. You’re saying the attacking the 47% comment doesn’t poll well. Well, that’s testable, so lets see. I typed “47%” and “polls” into google, I see two trends in the resulting news articles: 1) A majority of people say the comment made them less likely to vote for Romney (example:
            and 2) People say that Romney’s comment has received too much attention (example: see the same link).

            If that makes you feel vindicated, good for you! Have a nice day!

          10. Hoover dam can be a model for projects which aren’t actually literally dams.

            But _if_ the pprojects are energy related, he could say “a greener version of Hoover Dam”.

          11. What Al said about building dams. The Green-Progressive side of the DNC decided long ago that it was unnatural. They don’t like high-speed rail either.

          12. “It’s all good! … Right?”

            And in the three full years since… not a single followup question from the media.

            And in Washington State rallies, he’s proud of providing money for dam removal.

            Hoover/FDR: Infrastructure spending means building dams
            Obama: good spending means tearing dams down.

            Yes, they’re “green jobs”. But (1) they are freaking temporary, and (2) that ain’t infrastructure.

            It’s the “hire ditch-diggers and ditch-fillers because it’s all good” plan.

          13. I don’t think people remember the 2007 and 2008 Democratic primary debates. Obama was never strong in them, though he got a bit better over time. He’d much rather talk, at length, about wonky policy questions, and point out every way in which he agrees with his opponent, than go on the offensive. He wasn’t great against McCain either; he didn’t need to be. At least he avoided a “you’re likable enough” sort of gaffe last night; I can’t think of anything he said that would make good fodder for a TV ad.

            Romney, on the other hand, now gets to explain how his plan covers people with pre-existing conditions (it doesn’t), how he can cut tax rates 20% and still collect as much in taxes from the wealthy (he can’t), how repealing Obamacare doesn’t affect current seniors (it does), etc. He shook the Etch-a-Sketch pretty hard, but not everyone has forgotten what used to be on it.

  5. When the debate began everyone was nervous, focused, and you could feel the tension in the room. The moderator introduced the candidates, mentioned the coin toss, and said the topic was the one on everyone’s mind: Jobs.

    So of course Obama began with [paraphrasing] “But first, let me take a moment to talk about ME for a while, and oh, my lovely wife. blah blah ME blah blah anniversary blah blah”.

    What an astounding lack of focus and concern (except about himself). It condensed the last four years quite nicely.

    1. If you were Barack Obama and the subject was jobs, wouldn’t you rather talk about yourself and the Mrs. instead?

  6. IMHO, the biggest reason that BO got spanked last night is that he has to defend HIS record for the past 4 years. In the last election, he spent almost all his time running against Bush and his record. Now, he can’t run against anything and his record is horrific. The media spent the last 4 years covering for him, so now that he’s being questioned on his current job, he has no defense and shows that he isn’t even used to being questioned on it.

    1. Stewart: “I should probably familiarize myself with my presidency and learn some of the various numbers and things that go along with it.”

      It ties in with Obama not being used to being questioned on it.

      He doesn’t know, because he hasn’t needed to.

  7. Amen on the Plastic Jesus. I’ve been saying Obama was an empty suit, a hothouse flower, since 2005. No one wanted to listen. They were in love.

    I think he did so badly because it wasn’t scripted and he couldn’t have his beloved teleprompter. His reputation as an orator was built on two things, his scripted teleprompter speeches and his (likewise scripted) evangelical exhortations. Neither are of any damn use in a debate without the script..

  8. “Or if perhaps they’ll finally write the guy off, which means going after him like jackals on a wounded gazelle.”

    Not a chance. Just watch.

  9. Lord, are the lefties blind.

    Obama has always been mediocre. It’s just the left thinks “mediocre” is “brilliant” when the person has a dark skin tone.

    The non-racists have never been fooled — because they judged him on the same standards they use for every politician.

    And remember — 2008 was the first election where he couldn’t disqualify his opponent.

  10. You don’t have to offset the total of $5 trillion. Any tax cut you give brings in more revenue than prior to the cut. This is known. You only need to make up the DIFFERENCE with loophole closure.

    Democrats only do arithmetic, Republicans do real math.

  11. If Obama should lose his bid for re-election, his supporters and operatives in the “mainstream” media will learn nothing from their defeat, nor change their ways : they are fanatics of the leftist ideology, True Believers of their cause, like Islamists fundamentalists but worse; they see the world as unfolding in a sort of morality play, in which they are the only force for what is good and right, a vanguard of the future of Humanity, and their opponents depraved and benighted, whose views they may dismiss out of hand without understanding them. The feel justified, as possessors of the Truth, in seeking to advance their agenda, to act without scruple. And they have no shame.

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