October 11, 2012
What a difference one debate makes. Last week people kept asking me if I thought there was a chance Mitt Romney could still win. This week people are talking about Romney winning all the swing states, which is what two university professors from Colorado predicted back in the summer.
Romney won the debate, which should not be a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. Romney had, according to one count, 22 debates during the Republican presidential primary, and at every one the other candidates were after him because he was perceived as the front-runner. He may not have been the best debater going in, but practice makes perfect, and if you watch his performances in the final debates, he was impressive.
President Barack Hussein Obama by comparison was not impressive in the debates with Sen. John McCain. He was more impressive than McCain, but that is an extremely low standard. Obama didn't wow people with his debate skills during the 2008 Democratic primary.
Since being elected he has held fewer press conferences than even President George Walker Bush. He hasn't done many interviews where he was asked substantial questions, preferring to appear on shows like The View and The Late Show with David Letterman.
My goodness, this is a man who used teleprompters to speak to kids in an elementary school.
But I think one of the major factors in the Romney-Obama debate that gave Romney a huge advantage was the fact that many people for the first time were seeing Romney without the press filters. I remember seeing Romney in High Point in August. He seemed personable, very comfortable in front of the crowd and a good speaker. He was not at all what I had been lead to believe he was by the mainstream media, which always talk about how stiff and socially awkward he is. He dresses well and he is a 60-something grandfather, so he is not as informal as a 20-year-old in a T-shirt, but we don't want a 20-year-old to be president, which is why the Constitution forbids it.
The mainstream media has focused on Romney's gaffes and the times when he has not been at the top of his game.
Isn't it incredible, the mainstream media could put Vice President Joe Biden's gaffes above the fold day after day, but those are largely ignored or reported as an aside. Biden, if you read what he has actually said out on the campaign trail, appears to be a complete buffoon or suffering from some dementia or both. One of the last times he was allowed to sit down for a nationally televised interview he announced the president's decision to support gay marriage before the president.
In the debate, just as Romney gained by being himself, Obama lost big time by being himself. How many times have most people seen Obama speak without a teleprompter? He has to give press conferences without a teleprompter, but he sticks very close to his friends in the media. The White House knows what questions some reporters will be asking in advance and those are the ones who get called on.
I remember the first time I saw Obama give a speech with teleprompters and I was shocked at how bad he was because all I had heard was what a great speaker he was, and I didn't see it. Obama reads from a teleprompter in a weird kind of singsong that the mainstream media have decided is the epitome of great speaking. But if Obama were a Republican the mainstream media would report that he reads from a teleprompter in a weird kind of singsong that could lull tired reporters to sleep if they weren't careful. Take away the teleprompter and you have what you had in the Oct. 3 debate – a man who really doesn't have much to say but spends a long time saying it.
People expected Romney to be much worse than he really is because of the press, and expected Obama to be much better because of the press. The importance of presidential debates cannot be exaggerated. Campaign events can be staged. In fact, whenever possible they are as carefully staged as any Broadway show. But the campaigns cannot control the debate stage. They have to accept what they get, and what you see is what you get.
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The liberal media are upset because some of the more self aware among them just realized that they have been working hard to help Chauncey Gardiner get reelected president. Chauncey Gardiner is the character in the novella Being There by Jerzy Kosinski, and is played in the movie by Peter Sellers. Gardiner was a man who had spent his entire life in the courtyard garden of a big city mansion. When the wealthy owner dies it is learned that this man, whose name is actually Chance, has no employment history and, according to the government, doesn't exist. He has never left the garden and the mansion, and everything he knows about the outside world is from watching television. He is forced to leave the garden and, by accident, becomes the protégé of another wealthy man. Because he only speaks in platitudes about the garden, which is all he knows, his mentor, the media and the president decide he is a genius.
It pretty much describes Obama, except there is no evidence that Obama knows anything about gardening. Obama speaks in platitudes, which the media reports as brilliant. Obama tried to go after Romney for not having a plan, but Obama's plan for the country the first time he ran was "Change." What kind of plan is that? He can't run on that plan again because most Americans don't like the change that he has brought to the country, and he is the president.
Obama's plan for the next four years is "Forward." You have to give him credit. "Change," and the long version, "Change you can believe in," was a pretty good plan for a challenger, but would not be good for an incumbent. But who can argue with "Forward"? In fact, you have to go forward; there is no reverse in life. You just keep marching forward whether you want to or not. So what Obama is saying in his second term is, if you elect me, the country will keep moving forward deeper into the 21st century, and that is certainly a promise that he can keep. Of course, some naysayer might mention that even if Obama is not elected the country will move forward into the 21st century at exactly the same rate.
But Obama is not saying much else, which is one reason he had such a bad debate. Two other reasons are that people do not like Obamacare, which is his signature program, and nobody likes the state of the economy, which four years ago Obama promised to get rolling. He has certainly spent enough money to do something, it just hasn't worked.
As Romney reminded Obama, when during the debate Obama said he was going to cut the deficit, he's been president for four years and the deficit is more than double what it was under Bush. Obama said he would cut it in half but he must not be good with fractions because instead of dividing it by two he multiplied it by two.
Speaking of that, I love the fact checkers who note that Obama did not double the deficit because it was over $1 trillion in 2009. But evidently the fact checkers were not given a calendar because Obama was president for most of 2009, and one of the first things he did after being sworn into office was spend about a trillion on the stimulus plan where he planned to put the money into "shovel ready" government projects only to discover that there is no such thing....continued on page 2