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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

First presidential debate

I watched the debate and I was actually a bit bored. But I was surprised when the conventional wisdom solidly agreed that Romney won. I didn't think he was especially strong and I didn't think Obama was especially weak, but the consensus said otherwise. (Chris Matthews was almost apoplectic on TV right after the debate.)

The left, including me, has been hand wringing ever since. The polls following the debate showed Romney closing the gap with Obama nationwide, in several swing states, and, most troubling, with women.

Andrew Sullivan wrote a column that captured the despair among Obama supporters:

"I'm trying to rally some morale, but I've never seen a candidate this late in the game, so far ahead, just throw in the towel in the way Obama did last week - throw away almost every single advantage he had with voters and manage to enable his opponent to seem as if he cares about the middle class as much as Obama does. How do you erase that imprinted first image from public consciousness: a president incapable of making a single argument or even a halfway decent closing statement? And after Romney's convincing Etch-A-Sketch, convincing because Obama was incapable of exposing it, Romney is now the centrist candidate, even as he is running to head up the most radical party in the modern era.

. . . I'm trying to see a silver lining. But when a president self-immolates on live TV, and his opponent shines with lies and smiles, and a record number of people watch, it's hard to see how a president and his party recover. I'm not giving up. If the lies and propaganda of the last four years work even after Obama had managed to fight back solidly against them to get a clear and solid lead in critical states, then reality-based government is over in this country again. We're back to Bush-Cheney, but more extreme. We have to find a way to avoid that."

But all is not lost, of course.  Here's some commentary from the always articulate Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic

"My point is this: I am sorry that the president finds debating before the public to be annoying. And I am very sorry that more Americans don't delve into the footnotes of position papers. And I am very sorry that Mitt Romney was mean to the moderator, and lied to the viewers. And I am especially sorry that Barack Obama was evidently shocked -- shocked! -- to find the party of poll-taxing, evolution-disputing, and climate-change denying engaging in such tactics. 

But this is the war we have. And this president has signed up to lead the fight. I think he understands that. Over the past four years Obama has proven to be very slow, but very deadly. I doubt that's changed."



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