OPINION ~ I didn’t watch the debate – I just couldn’t. I read it in transcript form afterwards. I know it is widely believed that Mitt Romney won, but I don’t agree. I think both candidates lost. I think they both sucked. Romney told a series of outright lies – the bit about the pre-existing conditions was incredible – while Barack Obama seemed unaccountably disinterested in the intellectual challenge of the exercise, repeatedly leaving the gross absurdities hurled his way by Romney unchallenged.
Romney’s performance was better than Obama’s, but only if you throw out criteria like “wasn’t 100% full of shit from the opening bell” and “made an actual attempt to explain who he is and what his plans are.” Unfortunately, that is good enough for our news media, which drools over the gamesmanship aspects of these debates, because it loves candidates who sink their teeth into the horse-race nonsense that they think validates their professional lives.
For instance: in my local paper, the Star-Ledger in New Jersey, I read an analysis entitled, “Romney’s debate performance was presidential game changer, analysts say.”
The unnamed authors of this analysis delivered a blizzard of sports metaphors about Romney’s performance. “It’s a new race for the White House,” they said, after Romney “changed the game with an aggressive, confident performance” – needed, because “Obama’s forces had hinted earlier that all they needed from the debate was one good punch to knock Romney out,” after the challenger “spent the summer and early fall stumbling.”
On the internet, they complemented this keen analysis with a cartoon picture of the two candidates as superheroes punching each other, complete with “Pow!” and “Bam!” Batman-style effects.
Why was Romney so effective, according to the Star-Ledger? Because “the Romney viewers saw during the nationally televised debate from Denver was the one his friends have long known: a conversational, smart, decent-on-his-feet guy, eager to defend his plans to cut taxes and change government health insurance for future generations.”
Obama, meanwhile, came off as “wonky and lacking punch,” because he was “so intent on answering questions.”