Michael Wolraich's picture

    Live-Blogging the Debate! Gloves Off! Pants Off! OK, Pants Back On! Just the Gloves!

    Gentlemen, your objectives are clear.

    Obama: Get those nuts on the table or the pedestal or whatever it is you're using. Wait, it's Town Hall style. Just thrust out your pelvis then. You're big! You're bad! You're mad as hell and you're not going to take it any more! (It's OK, it's just pretend.)

    Romney: No apologies! Keep on rolling out those double-speak plans and fake studies. Americans suck at math! They do not care if man means what he says so long as he says what he means. You know that I mean.

    Crowley: You are the master of your domain. I want to see some alpha males asses get kicking!

    Uncommitted voters: Try not to look dumb, you're on national television. (Seriously, you're still uncommitted?)


    9:06 Romney promises to hire all the kids in America.

    9:08 No more "green jobs." Obama is now into "manufacturing jobs." Throws in a little jab at Romney. Not good enough. I said NUTS! But at least it looks like you're awake this time. Red Bull?

    9:10 [Gasp!] Obama said "isn't true." First zinger of the night: Romney doesn't have a five-point plan, he has a one point plan, help the people at the top. Drink up, folks!

    9:12 Crowley, shutting 'em up. I like it.

    [My live feed is getting delayed, so if these times don't look right, quit whining and synchronize your clock to my schedule.]

    9:15 Obama, you seem to grasp the basic concept of making an attack, but you're still missing something. Try to look incensed.

    9:18 Romney has a theme for the night: I'm the Job-Guy! Keep it up big guy!

    9:21 Easy there tigers. We're being buried in "not trues." You're both losing a little gravitas here.

    9:23 Obama's grill is finally getting hot. I like it. Burn that steak, baby!

    9:25 Romney, you're starting to look like a little bit of a weenie with the "my turn to talk" routine. Better to just let wind thing go. No one cares about wind anyway. Wind blows.

    Damn! CNN.com crapped out on me. I missed Obama's big swing, most of it.

    9:34 Obama: The Math Doesn't Add Up. It was a helluva of speech. Well done, sir!

    9:36 Romney, like I said, no apologies! Keep it up.

    9:37 Crowley, you go grrrrl!

    9:40 Obama, not really seeing the Pell grant connection to women's pay, but I'll let it slide.

    9:42 Romney, we're all glad that you treat your staff well, but you do understand that all the people you're promising jobs to are not actually going to work for you, right?

    9:45 Obama gets his nuts out for women. That's how you should have answered the last question, dude. But it was nicely done if belated.

    9:48 Romney, you're still suffering from the weenie factor. Stop whining about time!

    9:53 Wow, Obama turns praise of George Bush into a criticism of Romney. Nice touch, sir.

    9:56 I have to say in all seriousness that Obama has managed to put Romney on the defensive for the entire debate. He just spoke about his own record at length. But then he followed it up with a criticism of Romney. I suspect that it will distract Romney from the attack. Let's see.

    9:58 Nope, Romney goes for the jugular. Aw crap, CNN.com shut me down again. Why don't they do this during the boring speeches.

    10:00 Maybe I missed something, but Romney lost his way to the jugular. Now he's talking about immigration. Dude, that was your shot! You gave as a mediocre zinger and then changed the subject.

    10:03 Romney, my friend, you walked into that one. Now we're on immigration, and you're back on the defensive. This not good, dude. You need those Latino voters. You didn't think this one through.

    10:05 Romney, Romney, Romney...you're sputtering, my friend. Americans don't want clarifications about your position on e-fucking-verify. You're weenie-ing out!

    10:08 Obama made a funny: "Not as big yours"

    10:11 "When folks mess with Americans, we go after them." OK, Pres, put your wordsters on that one. I think you can do a bit better than that.

    10:14 Romney, you're off your game, man. I lost you on the Libya thing. You're looking kinda shell-shocked.

    10:17 Righteous indignation from Obama! Now that's what I'm talkin' about.

    10:18 Crowley with the live-action fact-check! She wins the debate moderator of year award just for that.

    10:20 Bravo to Uncommitted Voter for broaching the verboten topic of gun control. Obama wiffs it.

    10:22 The NRA executives are salivating as they plan their next fundraiser.

    10:26 Crowley fires a bullet at Romney! (Legally purchased)

    10:28 Not sure why you're jumping into education, Obama. Important sure, but this is wrap up time. Close. The. Deal.

    10:32 Obama, much better. Hit Romney on his job boasts. This is your chance to close, my friend.

    10:36 Romney: "I care, I really, really care, really really, and I love God" Now you're doing the used-car salesman thing. You sound anxious.

    10:38 Low blow, Obama, hitting the 47 percent without Romney having a chance to respond. Well done sir! Oh damn you CNN!!!!!!!!!! I missed the last 30 seconds.

    Please pardon me while I launch a small cyberattack on CNN's servers. I will return with my much-anticipated debate verdict in a few minutes.

    OK, here it is, the moment you've all be waiting for. Take a seat while I blow you away with my searing post-debate analysis.

    Obama: Mission accomplished, my friend. You were tough, you were focused, you were at ease, you were awake. You even got incensed once and it was very nearly convincing. Yes, I saw it despite CNN.com's attempt to thwart me. It must be admitted that you're not the best debater ever to grace America's HD TVs and 1280x800 macbook monitors (well maybe, but that's only because they're new inventions), but it was the finest debate performance that I've seen from you. There were no slam dunks (except for the one that Crowley assisted), but you kept Romney on the defensive, and you didn't let him get away with shit. Well done.

    Romney: You looked like a weenie. Yeah, I'm talking to you. You didn't apologize, true, and you didn't wilt, but you got frazzled and defensive. Your job was hammer Obama like the last time so that people would keep imagining you as a president. Instead you complained about your talk time and got huffy when you though Obama misrepresented your positions. America doesn't want huffy. America wants ass-kicking. And you did not ass-kick, plain and simple. You will pay for it in the polls.

    Crowley: It was a tough gig, what with all those Undecided Voters and Presidential Candidates, but you nailed it. You gave them their space but kicked butt when butt needed kicking. The instant fact-check was a beautiful thing. Best moderation I've seen. You win the debate.

    Undecided Voters: No one cares

    Good-night, Obama. Good-night Romney. I'll see you at the next debate. If you're lucky, I'll spare you my withering commentary. If you need pointers, in the meantime, you know where to reach me.



      If only they would listen.  But here we go.  They're on stage.  That's a good start.

    Obama sounds like he's on something this time.  Wow!


    Candy told Mitt to shut the ....up!



    8:16 Obama STANDS UP!

    Now Barry goes in for the kill, just refer to what Mitt said....last week....last year....last?

    Oh now he moves in for the kill.


    Now Mitt lies!








    Romney's playing CEO. Or Judge Judy.  "I'm SPEAKING!"


    8:27CT, I just got thru watching Mitt lie through his behind. What a bastard!

    Now Barry....THIS IS WHAT I HAVE DONE!

    Your first 250 grand.....

    The only reason i CANNOT sign this bill right now is because of the repubs.


    all right

    Sounds okay to me

    Now he quotes --oh my god--60 minutes and then he talks about MITT'S INCOME!


    Sorry you missed it, Genghis.  It was pretty good.


    I ran Mass and I ran the Olympics and I balanced just like I am balancing this answer just like that.....


    Obama's doing the single mom thing.  All right!  Show 'em why you can relate.

    8:37 Now my Prez brings up grandma and the glass ceiling and.....


    Frazier is at the ropes!


    Romney invented flexible schedule.   Awwwww.  He loves women.

    Candy shuts up mitt again but he lies about contraceptives anyway is just a lie and.....



    Every woman should have access to contraceptives?  He'd better tell his veep choice to lay off then.

    I wish to make this comment too for my memory tomorrow or next week for chrissakes.


    the end

    Fear not, Richard.  The fact checkers will be all over this debate.  They love that sort of stuff.

    Mitt's pantaloons are on fire.




    With 38 minutes to go, I am surprised by Candy....she is really doing a fine job!

    I am really struck by this and I am writing this down so that I remember!

    And I will remember that you wrote this

    And I will remember that you remembered.

    And I'll remember....like Chandler and Joey recognizing they do hug...we will just move on.



    Not like I'm like I am gay or anything...:P

    Not that there's anything wrong with that. . .

    9:55 Mitt's best response. God I wish Obama would crush this smug bastard. Ugh.

    Can we talk about intransigence in congress?  Please?

    Not right now.  This about who controls the oval office.

    Can you believe Mitt @ 9:05CT is giving the legal analysis.

    what a prick!

    Romney is imploding

    Just my humble opinion Trope but I think Mitt is getting PISSSSSSSSSSSSSSED.

    9:10 CT, this is how a Chief Executive should react!


    Okay, he did it.  Obama said he was ultimately responsible for what happened in Libya.

    Romney is using the Libyan tragedy to make points.  Lousy of him.  Really lousy.

    I think Mitt is failing miserably.. but I love his pension thing, "You invested in China too Mr. President, have you seen your pension?" Does he not know that Federal Employees pensions are not monies invested in the market. What a dweeb.

    Obama took responsibility for the Libya attack. He didn't throw Hillary under the bus. He called out Romney as an opportunist and moved on.

    That was great.

    You are correct rmrd!

    Obama, you should CRUSH him on this Libya business.

    SMOKED him.

    Romney just failed on the Terrorism in Libya facts.. he is stammering and sounds like a fool.

    Oh my god.  Act of Terror or demonstration.  That was incredible.  Obama was grand.  So proud.


    Now Barry is off on a question concerning guns.


    We are working on background checks.

    Weapons designed for soldiers should not be on the street!

    (a little stumbling, but not bad!)

    Wow, Obama was really pissed.  Nice.  He reined himself in and did a great job on responsibility - has any repub ever taken responsibility for anything?

    Righteous indignation indeed.  We need to see more of that.

    We got eight minutes Ramona!


    Oh the anti gun folks and the gun folks all got together in Mass--that is Mass not Miss and then I read about this one guy who had no parents who went and shot up....


    7 minutes


    Holy freakin cheezs....guns to dug lords

    the quiet audience turns on Romney

    I know I know

    I am still thinking about parents and Ole Mass and not Ole Miss......

    Oh forget it.


    Barry responds in a good way actually.

    Obmaa pivors guns into education....PERFECT

    Romney resorts to currency manipulator - he loses

    he's confusing me

    two minutes to go

    And Mitt claims China is manipulating the currency (which is bullshite) and also having sex with his wife....maybe the sound went out but I am sure that is what Mitt is worried about with one minute left.

    poor poor Anne Romney

    Stumbling bad on jobs. Jesus.

    Advanced jobs, better. Salvaged.

    We got the two minute warning and Romney gets the last question and he loves America and he loves American Cheese and he loves American Gods and he is a missionary and he really loves good things and what a guy!


    Some scab referee just threw a flag!

    Good closing, Obama.  Had nothing to do with the question but it was good!

    Weak ass closings. 

    Missed the first 10 minutes. After that, 55/45 for Obama. Best shot was on Libya. 

    Oh my God! He saved "47%" for the close! BOOM!

    Totally a cojones move, but also bravura tactically. No chance for Romney to rebut, last impression of the night, a knife in the heart at the end of a 15-round title bout.

    I thought it was brilliant, too, Doc.  Mitt got skunked. 

    Good job, Michael, even with the CNN gremlins.

    Saw about 2/3rds of the debate.  Based on that portion, I think the incumbent Republican beat the challenging Republican.

    Other than that .  man, depressing.  This country is really in the pits.  Neither of these guys has a real plan for growth and progress.  Both are running for comptroller-in-chief.

    How about you go throw your ice water somewhere else?  Nobody here seems depressed.

    Do you want opinions or high school pep rally?

    Right now we're into the pep rally.  We'll go back to class tomorrow.

    Just deleted a whole bunch of comments for nastiness. Dan, I sent you an email.

    Ok ok, if you're gonna be all hard-core and insist on substance, then no, neither of them offered a goddamn thing in the way of new ideas or even a solid plan. 

    Still, on the FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT, Obama won.

    Rachel liked it.

    Chris liked it.


    The repub says, the bleeding has stopped.

    sort of

    well more than sort of

    this guy really does not like real repubs anyway.


    I  as I believe as a liberal:

    Candy Crowley did a great job.  I didn't think she would, given her usual gushing over Republican pols.  I take back everything I said about her before the debate.

    I was soooo very surprised by Candy, no kidding.

    I will never diss this woman again.


    Can you imagine, out of the blue, she shuts down one of Mitt's lies in front of 50 million folks?


    Great wrap-up, too.  Obama did what he had to do and Romney didn't look so presidential.  I'm okay with that. 

    If Romney won't share his tax returns, will he at least share his binders full of women? 


    Mitt just loves women!

    Mitt wishes to do all he can to keep them as women!

    Just like Islam for chrissakes.

    Oh you women.

    Don't you understand?

    If God wanted women in power he would have named Ms. David as King of Israel for chrissakes.

    I just do not understand you people!

    Funny. This is my favorite:

    Sometimes simplicity communicates more.


    It seems to me that Romney's 'aggression', which in the first debate made him seem 'assertive' to a lot of people, was shown last night to actually be the actions of a bullying b*st*rd who will hold you down and shave your head for disagreeing with him.

    I like your conclusion, I forgot to come back last night and read it. It's spot on.

    It was an interesting debate over all, I think the Libya misstatements by Romney really hurt him. That is the problem with listening endlessly to the Faux News folks who distort and lie about everything, Romney looked stunned when he was rebuked by the President and Ms. Crowley, who totally rocked last night. She was awesome.

    The President was fierce on this point, I was shocked only because I've never seen him so fierce. Maybe once when he took on the house Republicans at their meeting. But damn, last night he brought his fighting game, I didn't know if he would, so I am super glad he did.

    Well time to get back in my binder all the dishes are in my binder, so at least I'll be busy!

    Romney looked stunned when he was rebuked by the President and Ms. Crowley,

    I think there is a good chance it will be seen, not just today, but in a few years, as a defining moment in recent presidential debate history. 

    The President realized that he--not the after-the-debate factcheckers, not the pundits--had to be quick enough on his feet and well prepared enough to call Romney, in real time, on enough of his falsehoods to help paint a picture of Romney as fundamentally unscrupulous and untrustworthy.  What Romney didn't count on was being busted, completely busted, by a moderator who was exceptionally well prepared and deigned--how dare she!!!--to introduce cold, hard fact into the discussion in the form of the WH Rose Garden remarks by Obama following the Libyan tragedy.

    I thought it exposed to everyone paying attention the essence of who Romney is as a politician: say it with conviction and earnestness, say it aggressively, and people watching will believe it's true.  It's the reductio ad absurdum or whatever the heck that phrase is of the idea of the post-factual society.  His campaign had acknowledged it: they weren't going to be constrained by fact-checkers.  So it's justice that last night, for that moment, at least, they could not just make up their own reality and get away with it.  Again.

    No, Candy Crowley *proved* to millions of viewers, there are such things as facts.  And no matter how earnestly, how insistently, you may say something, Mitt Romney, no matter how much you may seek to score points by insisting on something that is provably false, that doesn't make it true. 

    He was sooooo busted.  Talk about getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar, for *everyone* to see.  He was totally blindsided.  The huckster, lying-ass snake-oil salesman just did not count on that happening in his wildest dreams.  He thought the media had been totally intimidated by the Right wing, to the point where it never occurred to him something like what actually happened could happen.  

    It was rich.  The Romney crowd knows their guy just had his credibility shredded in front of a national TV audience.  And so they are reacting as you would predict they would--by viciously attacking Candy Crowley.  For having the sheer audacity--how dare she!!!--to interject, for the benefit of the viewing audience, a most inconvenient fact for Mr. Romney.

    Score one for Candy Crowley.  Score one for little "t" truth.  Turns out it still can matter, after all. 


    I agree AD, well said! He was sooo busted.. it was kind of embarrassing, but it made me feel relieved, finally, called on an obvious lie, FINALLY, in front of everyone who watched that debate, in front of the world!

    I got messages last night from people everywhere who were interested in that debate, they thought that moment rocked.

    He might have been mistaken, instead of deliberately lying.  But once Crowley busted him, his reaction illuminated for all to see who Romney is as a public figure.  Instead of doing the honorable, and probably also smart, thing by acknowledging what was now perfectly obvious to all, that what he'd said was simply incorrect, he didn't do that.  Nope.  Wasn't going to be constrained by fact-checkers.  Or basic decency.  Or good judgment on the part of someone who understands that his credibility and integrity as someone seeking the highest office in the land are of paramount importance.  He was the unscrupulous bully, giving a nation of watchers the full Monty.    

    I've been watching that clip over and over all day because I love the way Mitt Romney looks at the President of the United States like he's just caught a fourteen-year-old boy in a lie. And then how he stumbles when Candy Crowley, pretty apologetically, corrects him. But then he just launches right back into the same bullshit. What I didn't realize is that it came after the President spoke about the events in Libya. I watched those remarks about five minutes ago. The President is righteously indignant, talks about greeting coffins at Andrews, talks about how the buck stops with him and then Romney gets up and tries to play gotcha. Romney looked small. It's even more damning after the President looked so much like the PRESIDENT. With that moment, and the fact that the internet is having some fabulous binder fun today, I think Romney has diminished any credit he got at the last debate for "looking presidential." I hope that's enough to make him finally go away, after campaigning for five years.

    Amen to all that, O.

    I think you're overstating a bit. Had the dispute concerned Romney's tax plan, it would have been different, but who really cares whether Obama did or did not say "act of terror?" Also, it looked to me like Romney was caught on a mistake rather than a deliberate lie, and I'm guessing that's how it looked to most people.

    I do agree that Crowley's fact-check moment will influence future moderators. But I worry that the next person to try it won't pull it off so well. Crowley had already spent an hour establishing herself as a firm, impartial, almost parental presence. The fact of the matter in question was indisputable, and she delivered the line with such calm force that there was no way for Romney to challenge her. By contrast, imagine Chris Matthews shouting over Romney and injecting himself into the debate.

    I think you're overstating a bit.


    Two points in response.  First, the Libyan tragedy evoked strong visceral emotions from many people I know who don't react that way to most of what goes on in the news.  And that was before Obama spoke with gravitas and dignified passion last night about what it is like to greet the caskets.  The economic policy debates and countercharges in this campaign have by contrast been played out mostly on an abstract level filled with statistics and economic policy assertions, which most viewers probably do not really have a particularly easy time grasping, and continue to struggle to relate concretely in any way to what so many are experiencing with this economy.  (Neither candidate has won the economic policy debate, through appealing, comprehensible and plausible-sounding proposals.  They're just hoping they can make the other side lose it.)  So on Libya, for sure, yes, it's not voters' #1 issue of concern.  But what happened does evoke feelings for many.  And that may elevate the importance of how viewers see and judge the two candidates responding to it, beyond where it ranks in the issue pecking order of concern.

    The other point I'd make is that Romney's big gain in the first debate was to come across to many people as a credible candidate capable of, well, performing in a way viewers could plausibly see as meeting the "presidential" eyeball test.  Many objected that he did so playing fast and loose with facts and the talking points that he tried to pass off as a "plan" to generate 12 million jobs.  If one believes that narrative is important in campaigns then last night was a step backward for Romney on the credibility front.  From that perspective, the fact that the issue that most betrayed him last night turned out to be Libya, and not the economy, does not necessarily make the damage to his credibility less on that account.  How big and how enduring all TBD.

    But we'll see, right? 

    Mitt and Republicans are engaged in 100% pure partisan politics with the Libya tragedy. As usual.

    The ambassador died of smoke inhalation, he was  not shot, burned to a crisp and hung like a slaughtered sheep from a bridge, or beheaded, as happened to Americans in Iraq under George W. Bush.

    Known unknowns it seems to me are, how did the fire start, was it intentional or incidental, did whoever was involved know anyone was still in the building? Nonetheless that the ambassador was there?  If some terrorist wanted him dead why didn't they go in, identify, and kill him? The first Libyans who found him, carried him to the hospital where the doctors tried to revive him.

    All a President can do, and must do, is tell the nation the information is he has at the time soon after the event. He said it was a terror attack and he was right.

    I didn't say that the Libya attack doesn't matter. I said that the number of days it took Obama to call it an act of terror doesn't matter. For Romney to be caught in a lie or error on that point is not important except insofar as it tarnishes his overall credibility, which is your second point as I understand it.

    It does to an extent, but it won't become a linchpin for the Obama offense the way the 47 percent thing did. Unless Romney continues to make an issue of Obama's response to the Libya attack--which if they're smart they'll drop immediately--there will be no easy way for Obama to bring it up and turn the episode into an enduring indictment of Romney.

    But yes, I'm sure we'll see.

    Considering that the next debate is about foreign policy, don't you think that Romney will try again on this front?  He has a week, and all kinds of people trying to turn this turd into a birthday cake. Obama needs to be ready for this, but I kinda think he will be. 


    I'm just saying that Romney hasn't learned his lesson on this.  He is, after all, a big HONCHO, and it is up to him to put The President of The United States of America in his place.  --or he apparently thinks so.


    I have to admit that I do fantasize about Obama discussing Mittens' foreign policy credentials, which include insulting our staunchest ally (England:  Note to Obama --> if Romney mentions your gaffe about Egypt not being an ally, just bring up Romney's gaffe about a secret? meeting with MI 5 and insulting the entire country of England).



    No, Candy Crowley *proved* to millions of viewers, there are such things as facts.  And no matter how earnestly, how insistently, you may say something, Mitt Romney, no matter how much you may seek to score points by insisting on something that is provably false, that doesn't make it true.

     I thought Crowley was ok and I am glad that she stung Romney a bit. Something I didn't notice and I haven't seen elsewhere is discussed in the following link. It is interesting even if not terribly significant in the current campaign. Of course it isn't significant in this election campaign because none of our politicians are making it so and the general electorate are not demanding that they do so. 

     Candy Crowley's weird dismissal of climate change.


    Correction: Candy Crowley did not make what was described as a "dismissive statement" on climate change during the debate moderation. She made the statement later while explaining how she chose which of the audience submitted questions to ask.

     To change the subject somewhat, assuming each person in the audience submitted a question, the range would be large enough that in affect Crowley was asking the questions, not individuals from the audience of "undecideds".

    Of course it isn't significant in this election campaign because none of our politicians are making it so and the general electorate are not demanding that they do so. 

    The hypothetical Martian checking out the scene would be scratching its head on this one: "What, on earth, are these people thinking?" 

    I was hoping we would get something like this posed to the candidates during one of the debates: "Do you agree or disagree with the scientific consensus that the temperature of our planet is increasing due in significant part to human-produced carbon emissions?  How dangerous and urgent do you see the current situation?  What, if anything, will you try to do about it, and believe should be done about it, if you win this election?" 


    I was also hoping climate change would be questioned and discussed.

    What, if anything, will you try to do about it, and believe should be done about it, if you win this election?"

    I might alter that question slightly. I would probably rephrase it slightly and ask: What, if anything, will you try to do about it, and believe should be done about it if you are the next President, and, will you support such actions and urge others of your party  to support them even if your opponent wins and it is his initiative rather than your own?

    1. You could see Romney puffing himself up around the Libya issue, completely convinced it was necessary to portray himself as Commander in Chief material. The problem with that was that he'd been puffed full of speculation by the Right, and they forgot the golden rule of foreign policy - namely, that most of it is done in secret, with you on one side of the curtain, and your opponent, the President, on the other. So (engaged) Presidents tend to have spent about 100 times more on these issues that their challengers. But Mitt turned into a self-impressed puffball, and I'm actually quite pleased to have called the moment beforehand, noting that he was set up for Obama to crush him. Which.... he did. Or rather, almost did. Candy actually dropped the hammer.

    2. For the rest of the night, I wasn't as thrilled as some people. I missed the first ten minutes, but from what I saw, Mitt was better on jobs. And better when he hammered Obama on what he had failed to do. 

    3. The President is, when you come down to it, and realize how much prep and practice he's had over the years, a pretty poor debater. I can't tell you how often I was groaning as he wandered from attempted personal anecdote to shot at soaring phrase to attempt to puncture Mitt to policy wonk fact. Anecdote-Vision-Attack-Wonk = a really poor debater. Seriously, he kept trying to hit all those bases in every answer, and every time, a wheel would pop off and he'd kinda lose me. So I know we all felt better on the evening, fair enough, but I can't see it directly convincing many people.

    4. Still. Dems can now go forward feeling like the bleeding has stopped. But Romney now officially looks like a guy who's in the race, who can compete. We can say he didn't look fully Presidential, but you know what? Neither did Obama. Candy delivered the big blow last night. And in this race, there's an undertone worth noting, where Candy, and before that Biden, and before that Clinton, all helped buoy him up. 

    5. I'd say, coming down the home stretch - and assuming Mitt doesn't hand them too many more hostages - the Dems/Obama need a big punch message, and preferably on jobs or housing. Something to sound substantial, and contrast with Romney. I liked AD's idea from a day or two ago. Because right now, Romney is getting back into that side of things, which is absolutely nutty considering his Bain years. 


    55/45 for O.

    I agree completely on #3. Sadly, I stopped watching before the Libya comment because my "Live" feed kept dropping out. For the portion I watched, it was more like 55/45 for Romney. I suspect I would have given it to Obama if I had seen the Libya moment.

    I'll take door #3 and go beyond it. He's always been mostly terribly boring to me. I never got the reason for Obamamania and that it happened is still a great mystery to me. The debates with Romney have clarified one major reason for me why I find him so boring: in whatever oral medium he communicates, he doesn't express passion or excitement about anything. It's really hard for me to maintain attention if he's going on for long, though I force myself to do it.

    For those who describe him as professorial, well, being able to communicate passion or excitement about something is a requirement for a good professor.  For those who found his first campaign speeches exciting, I always got real tired of the MLK and RFK retreads about midway through. And I suspect his Constitutional law classes might have been real snoozers.

    Throw in the coolness and preference for avoiding basic human interaction and I don't get why it happened--Obamania--even more. (I'm a loner myself but I didn't chose things like community organizing and politics for a career. And I know that when I have to do social things to turn on pretending I'm my Mom, who was a high level empath, and that when I do a lecture, I must sound passionate and excited. Both things possible but exhausting for a loner.)

    Even Dukakis (famously analyzing his wife's theoretical rape) sounded more passionate about some of his wonk ideas, and also seemed to be able to relate to individual people better.

    Obama's a good writer, and  a good analyst if given the luxury of time to analyze. He once astutely said something about being a mirror for other people's passions, and that inevitably many will therefore be disappointed.

    I should add that I think it is possible for a boring and cool personality to be a good president. Just that it's difficult for such a person to become one and stay one. I still think to this day that the whole 2008 campaign sure was some weird juju.

    I should add that I think it is possible for a boring and cool personality to be a good president.

    I agree.  But who would you identify as a president who was not boring (other than Bill Clinton, perhaps, as a guess)? Are you talking about boring as a speaker?  Or a boring personality more broadly?

    Going beyond presidents, are there elected officials you find interesting, or at least not boring?

    Eisenhower was an example of a boring president. So much so that John and Jackie had an open door to create something labeled Camelot just with a few tricks and treats, some humor and communications skills, some baubles, and everyone thought it was a new day instead of not that much change at all.

    On the whole, though I think you are overestimating what I am talking about by throwing in the question of what I think interesting, because I said he was boring. I think most career politicians know how to sound passionate and excited about something or other at times, that's the kind of "not boring" I mean. Obama rarely does, he's really cool and boring. And on the interpersonal thing,  from what I read, he doesn't even talk much when playing golf or basketball  Many successful politicians are salesmen and schmoozers, on all the time. Seems to me a lot of complaints on liberal blogs are about Obama not pushing anything are really his dislike of salesmanship. Forgetting that many once found his "force me to do it" from the bottom up thing new and intriguing. Leadership is salesmanship. Sound like you are interested in and passionate about whatever you are talking about, that's how you make it interesting to the listener.

    Ok, I think I understand what you're saying now.

    Yes, there's this absolutely weird separation between two groups of democratic voters that is equally mysterious to me. As  I watched people weeping at his speeches and shouting out "I love you"  the whole 2008 campaign was just a total WTF moment for me. I guess as a severe introvert I just don't get those group moments others seem to have.

    I was moved that this country, in light of our history, elected a person of color as our president.  I would confess to struggling to understand why people who self-define as progressives, or who in any way have felt emotionally engaged or moved by the history of the struggle for civil and voting rights for people of color in this country, would not have any such feelings.  I only have a hypothesis on that.    

    Apart from that, on the contents of most of Obama's speeches (with some notable exceptions, such as Cooper Union, his speech on race during the Reverend Wright firestorm--but not his 2004 Democratic convention speech, which everyone else I know went nuts about and I thought was fine but not remarkable on content) I wasn't hearing anything on substance that struck me as remarkable, that I hadn't heard in essence many times previously.   

    I was and still am very proud that my country elected a black president. That doesn't make him a charismatic sparkling personality. Like oceankat said, I didn't and still don't get the "I love you's" from the adoring crowds.

    And I also feel discomfort with the flip side:  knowing that some people voted for him mostly because of the color of his skin, without bothering to learn that he wasn't their kind of guy policy-wise. (Or even in willful denial that he was not their kind of guy policy-wise, because of the color of his skin..)

    (Ironically, his policy prescriptions, overall, with particular exceptions, were agreeable to my own preferences. So were Hillary Clinton's. I thought they were nearly identical policy-wise, Hillary maybe a little teeny teeny bit more liberal on some issues. Though having more political skills, she had other downsides equivalent to his lacks,  )

    It's was like they wanted to create their own Camelot or something, after watching the myth overplayed in entertainment media their whole lives. I admit this made me suspect of the Obama team's use of references to the Kennedys, and the whole Ted and Caroline support thing, too, they willfully participated. People hoping for things that never existed in the first place, something about that I am real uncomfortable with.

    P.S.. If you don't understand what I am saying here, please don't ask me to elaborate further. I'm no expert on the manipulation of mass emotions throughout history, just a student and watcher, What I said here is the best I can do, and just my opinion.

    Of course I'm happy that a black person was elected president when just 60 years ago they were being lynched in the south, jim crow laws, segregation laws, etc.

    I just don't get the passion shown during and for his speeches. Even his race speech was trivial to me. His back was up against the wall. He needed to pull his ass out of the fire. He gave a purely political speech to white people to keep them from abandoning him. Totally within  their comfort zone. I don't think he said anything significant or challenging and he shouldn't have. He saved his ass, good job.

    I think there are other better public speakers. I like the populist barn burner speeches like Kucinich gives. But you know, he doesn't make me cry and I've never had the impulse to shout out "I love you" to Kucinich. I just don't get the adoring crowds at Obama's speeches.



    I agree that Romney was better on jobs, which was the one point that he really had to win. If Romney has a path to victory, that's it.

    I also agree that Obama is a weak debater. I just thought that it was his finest debate. And I thought that the formula you astutely recognized was actually quite effective with a slight modification. I haven't gone back to look at the tapes, but I remember the order as Anecdote-Vision-Wonk-Attack. The first three established his creds--down-to-earth, visionary, knowledgeable. The last one drove the debate. By finishing with a punch, he repeatedly put Romney on defense. Romney kept using the first part of his talking time to indignantly rebut Obama's previous attack, which put him in poor position to capitalize on the next question for a counterattack.

    I'd like to see Obama hit Romney on Bain, but I don't know how they can do it effectively. Unless they dangle something fresh and juicy, the media won't bite on an old story. The last debate is on foreign policy, though, so we can expect to China to play a prominent role. That's the one clear opportunity I see. 

     China for trade policy issues? Or as a new strategic threat? 

    I tend to think of foreign policy as mainly military policy and who we send money or weapons to and who we need to fear and how we intend to deal with them.

    What you tend to think is incorrect:


    With China even more so than most other countries; you can't separate trade out of the whole China package, it's like it's what they do. (For now, that is. Sometimes they decide to close off from the world for a couple a decades or centuries.)

    With China even more so than most other countries; you can't separate trade out of the whole China package, it's like it's what they do.

    Which is why I asked if China's big part as a debate subject would be about foreign trade.
    I think it is obvious that America's foreign policy is projected in many ways other than thorough trade agreements and I believe that some aspects of our foreign policy are more important to examine and possibly modify real soon than is our trade relationship with China, important as that subject is.
     How does showing me the State Departments website indicate that my thinking is wrong? The State Department is just one part of the mix in forming and administering our foreign policy' That said, under Policy Issues the site put trade policy as the tenth item behind Afghanistan, China, [The whole picture of China, I suppose], climate change, counter terrorism, conflict stabilization, cyber security, democracy and human rights, East Asia and the Pacific, and then economic issues. Not necessarily their hierarchy of importance but not in alphabetical order either.
     There are seven other categories of information. Scrolling down all the sub-categories it seems that for most of them our American policy methods of inducement to other countries to see things our way comes down to what I said before.


    Oh No! Looks like they are in alphabetical order. I take everything back.

    In that vein, looking ahead a bit...I think we can predict R in the FP debate will press two lines of attack in addition to accusing Obama of being soft on China. 

    He'll try to amp up the line he used last night asserting that Obama supports some daylight between us and Israel.  Because we all know that if there is any daylight between us and Israel, whomever certain someone is responsible for that is soft and untrustworthy on backing Israel and maybe even "anti-Israel", while above all betraying that they are in fact a closet Muslim.

    And R will try to score points with a "who lost Iran?" (on becoming or being on an irreversible path to becoming a nuclear state) attack.  While of course offering no better alternative policies that could have been pursued.

    I doubt that the severe tensions between supporting efforts to promote real elections in more of the Arab world, versus the likely ascendance to greater political power of more assertively and uncomfortably for some Islamist parties and individuals that in a number of cases that leads to (so apparent during the the spring 2010 Tahrir Square uprising), will be made clearer and more apparent to viewers.  My guess is Romney will just blast away at Obama's ostensible "failings" in foreign policy while offering nothing better by way of approaches he would try. 

    Maybe if Romney blasts him for not supporting democracy in the Middle East enough, O can come back at him with a "So, Mitt, you have no concerns about militant, anti-US Islamist regimes coming into power if that happens?  Just checking."  Or if R goes the other way and blasts O for "allowing" more anti-US Islamist forces to gain political power in the Arab world, O could come back with "So you see no downsides or complications to lining up behind Arab dictators who deny human rights protections and repress in other ways their own people?" 

    More likely Romney would, if the subject comes up, say something typically delusional such as we can of course have it all--we can be seen publicly as more aggressive, full-throated supporters of real elections/democracy in the Arab world, but without Islamist and other regimes more hostile to the US coming into power.  If we only had assertive, strong leadership, of course.

    I think it's good luck for Obama that the last one is on foreign policy, because he should be able to clean Romney's clock.

    But rather than focus on the gotcha's or fact check stuff - which Romney could easily get wrong, but nobody would really care - I'd be looking to get Romney feeling like he had to keep pumping up the volume, making himself stronger and more macho, until he said something truly stupid and over-reaching. You can see that he desperately wants to look tough and statesmanlike, but - while he can pull it off on the economy - on foreign policy, he's a dork. I'd be looking to needle him about not being there, not facing the tough decisions, not understanding, etc.... and then when he over-spoke, jump in with a crowbar to make him look like a clown. Because there's no way Mitt is going to try to low-ball and under-state his way through the foreign policy debate.

    Also, I'd repeat about 5 times, "Now, I know Governor Romney spent a significant number of years overseas, in FRANCE, I believe... During the VIETNAM WAR, I believe.... FRANCE, wasn't it, Governor Romney? During the VIETNAM WAR, wasn't it, Governor Romney? And apparently, he even learned to SPEAK FRENCH. Which he found very useful while trying to CONVERT CATHOLICS away from their faith. In FRANCE. While speaking FRENCH. During the VIETNAM WAR."

    That should be pretty much enough to bring even the deepest Muslim-haters onside.

    Also, I'm sure he varied the order in which he rang those 4 bells, but I think it's a better way to speak or debate if you tell an anecdote, then hit the punchline. Give us the wonkish fact, then hit the punchline. Set up - boom. Set up - boom. Don't try to do it all. I felt at times like he was stepping on his own lines.

    Fair enough. I was paying more attention the way he managed to get a pass on many of his accomplishment speeches by spitting in Romney's eye at the end of each speech.

    I'd be willing to bet no matter how much training he gets for the foreign policy debate, he's still going to make some real boners. It was the same with W, he was so bad they had to take him off the campaign trail for classes with bigwigs in Texas, and he still performed poorly against Gore. And it didn't matter. Because most voters aren't interested and put boners on foreign policy low on the totem pole. Romney seems to me as bad as W once was.

    BUT then there's China--you are correct to bring it up. I suspect a lot of polling on China in crucial swing states about whether they are the cause of all our economic woes. Stuff like owning our debt, taking jobs for lower pay, buying up energy, and generally on our tail so much that some of those voters worry they won't be able to chant USA #1 anymore. If Romney could somehow keep coming back to China in every question, the debate might help him a lot.

    Trade problems with China? 

    Lived in FRANCE.

    You are probably correct that the French label would work turning off the same voters I am thinking  about. Cavaet: I am practicing demographic interpretation without a license here. cheeky

    Except that it gives Obama a chance to zing him on outsourcing jobs. China is a tricky issue for Romney and other Republicans, even without the Bain baggage. They're pinioned between the free-traders and the stand-toughers. If Obama plays it well, he could make Romney look like a two-faced hypocrite. (Which is made somewhat easier by the fact that Romney is a two-faced hypocrite.)

    They're pinioned between the free-traders and the stand-toughers.

    Yes! This has interested me, too, how he handles this, understanding what the pretzel moves are. But I must admit I am not interested enough to go read Romney campaign white papers on it. I was hoping to be able to lazily get the general gist from like whether Pat Buchanan was screaming about it or not. wink

    Huntsman Speaks Out
    Republican primary contender Jon Huntsman sounds off on the U.S. presidential race -- and the big issue the candidates aren't talking about.
    INTERVIEW BY ISAAC STONE FISH, ForeignPolicy.com, October 17, 2012

    [....] Foreign Policy: Put yourself in the shoes of the moderator at the upcoming foreign-policy debate on Oct. 22. What do you think he should ask about China? [....]

    What Happens After You Label a Country a Currency Manipulator?
    You ask them to stop it.
    BY JOSHUA E. KEATING, FP Explainer @ ForeignPolicy.com, October 17, 2012\

    [....] There is widespread agreement in Washington that Chinese currency policies are harmful to the U.S. economy. Some economists have estimated that they could be costing the United States as many as one million jobs. But what would actually happen if Romney made such a declaration?

    Technically, not a whole lot. Under legislation passed in 1988, the secretary of the Treasury is required to [....]

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